We were told we were having a girl, instead we had a boy.
“Would you like to know the sex?” My obstetrician asked as my husband and I sat watching our first baby move on the ultrasound screen. “Yes absolutely!” I said excitedly. Now, this is important to note, I am a planner. I like to be organise and prepared well before baby’s arrival.
I didn’t really have a gender preference. We had been trying to conceive for SO many years, I was just so very excited that I was finally going to be a mummy. The gender revealed to us at our 20 week morphology scan was that this baby is a girl. At each appointment onward, my obstetrician would check baby on screen and continue with the ‘she’ pronouns. “She is doing really well” I was told at each appointment.
I bought EVERYTHING pink thing imaginable. I painted her room a blush pink with flowers all over her walls. I made a floral cotton rug for the floor & matching pillows for our rocking chair that I sat in nightly, singing to her in my belly so she’d know her mummas voice and ‘our song’ for when she arrived home. I bought pink floral linens, swaddles and filled her drawers with pink singlets and pretty little dresses and shoes.
We chose her name and would talk to her. She was already a part of our family. I loved this little girl more than I thought it possible to love anyone in my whole life.
We didn’t keep the gender a secret. We had a ‘very pink’ baby shower. By the time of our planned Caesarean section, we had everything packed into our floral printed nappy bag. Pink onesies, pink swaddles, ladybug mittens – you name it.
My c-section went smoothly. We played music and my husband held my hand. We heard that first little cry. Filled with joy, she was finally here.
“IT’S A BOY” my obstetrician exclaimed.
That’s not funny, I retorted.
“He isn’t joking” my husband chuckled in disbelief.
“IT’S A WHAT!?!?” I said loudly. And with that, I made a room full of people go silent, all but this little person crying.
Having a little trouble catching his breath, my now son, spent some time in a humidity crib while I was in recovery. Daddy went with him and I was told I would meet them back in the room. Alone in recovery I thought I was dreaming. What the hell am I to do with this baby boy? Who was this kid and where was my baby girl that I had been singing to every night for the last six months? I didn’t know him. What happens if I don’t love him like I loved my baby girl? All of these thoughts ran through my head as I laid there alone, trying to make sense of what had just happened. Having a baby itself was A LOT to take in, but having a baby that I didn’t know was too much.
As I arrived in my maternity room, I put on a brave face. I smiled and cuddled and gooed and gahed. Friends and family had sent balloons and floral arrangements “congratulations on your baby girl!” they all read. I looked at that little face and didn’t feel the way I thought I should. Sure, he was little and cute… but he didn’t really feel like mine. Guilt washed over me. He was healthy and he was happy. Why didn’t I feel that instant maternal love I had been told about? Why didn’t I love him like I loved her? Why was I mourning a little girl I never really had!?! That was the hardest part. How do you mourn someone that you never knew? It sounds so silly but it hurt just like any other loss.. and no one could understand. It was very isolating.
I hear people say “oh I have heard of this happening but never actually met anyone directly.” Well, hi! nice to meet you. 👋
After a lot of crying & beating myself up for not feeling ‘like a new mum should’, I worked on getting to know my new son. I would talk to him when it was just the two of us in the middle of the night. We started to bond through moments of firsts: first song, first cuddle, first smile.
I couldn’t go into our pink coated nursery for six weeks after we got home. The door stayed closed and our son slept in our room in his bassinet. Eventually I opened the door and said goodbye to the little girl I had been expecting. I began to make it this room, his room. I won’t lie: the disappointment didn’t heal over night. It was a long road, but day by day it got easier. He was my son and I was his mumma, and although we had a later start in the bonding department, you, my boy, gave me that “ I am a mumma” love.
- Names have been removed for privacy