Like many moms, I joke that I have a love-hate relationship with pregnancy. I love feeling my baby kick and the idea of life growing inside of me, but my body tends to hate being pregnant. When I found out in September that I would be having another baby, I braced myself. But this time, it was different. I ended up feeling even worse than when I was pregnant with my twin boys. With my violent sickness and new pregnancy cravings, we concluded that this baby had to be a girl.
In the weeks leading up to the mid-pregnancy ultrasound I was thinking pink. But the old wives tales, gender predictions, and wishful thinking were wrong. I’m thrilled to be adding another busy, noisy little guy to our crew, but I did have a moment of reconciling my dreams of raising a girl with the pronouncement of “It’s a boy.”
Today’s generation of parents has been more eager than previous ones to discover their baby’s sex before it’s born. A 2007 Gallup poll found two-thirds of adults between 18 and 34 said they would want to know the sex of their baby. Older Americans preferred to wait until the baby was born.
More expectant parents are finding out whether they’ll be having a son or a daughter. With the personal and collective anticipation building up to a gender reveal, and it’s no wonder “gender disappointment” has become an issue among pregnant women. In a post for The New York Times’Motherlode blog, Emily B. King recounts her own struggle with the news that she would be having a boy:
I was extremely lucky, let me say that first. I understand how lucky I was. My baby was anatomically perfect, everything was working the way it should. The only problem was that he had an unexpected organ: a penis.
Did you know that “gender disappointment” is a thing? You probably wouldn’t, unless you spent hours on Google searching for “I’m depressed that I’m pregnant with a boy.” When the ultrasound technician found that white blob between the legs of my alien-looking unborn on the computer screen, I cried. I remember exactly what she said, and it has stuck with me: “It’s okay to be disappointed.”
Before we learned about our third son, I knew my tendency toward disappointment and had been praying for a boy, for news I could rejoice with genuine gladness. After a few minutes of searching, the ultrasound tech announced to us that our dreams for a girl would have to wait. As we watched his little profile on the screen, God answered my prayer, and any fears of guilt or disappointment were abated.
As I’ve written before, Americans overall want sons. That’s thanks to a strong preference by men, since women are almost completely divided: about a third wishing for a boy, a third wishing for a girl, and a third saying they have no preference.
It makes sense from a pro-woman standpoint that spirited women would want to go on to be mothers to empowered and supported girls. As King wrote, “There is a lot of emphasis in society on raising strong, confident, and independent girls. I think that’s part of why I secretly pined for one.”
One of the reasons I hope to have a daughter one day is because I believe in the biblical admonition for older women to train younger women in the things of the Lord (Titus 2:3-5). I can think of no sweeter discipleship relationship than the one that can occur between a mother and daughter. So her sentiment is not lost on me.
In her book, The End of Men: And the Rise of Women, Hanna Rosin chronicled the lives of successful women and the men left behind, showing that in some places in today’s society, men no longer have the advantage. Men are outnumbered on college campuses and on graduation day. Boys often do worse in school. In 2010, women became the majority of the workforce, an unprecedented achievement. A survey of entertainment, culture, and education reveals that women are having more influence than ever. Even at the recent Golden Globes, much was made about the abundance of strong female characters and the feminist influence brought to the event.
I can see how a mother would want to raise a daughter, rather than a son, in a world like this. It’s an exciting time to be a woman. Women have more opportunities than ever before. As a Christian woman, though, my desire to raise a strong and godly daughter someday is not to the exclusion of my desire to raise strong and godly sons.
I want to raise sons who work hard despite cultural expectations. I want to raise sons who love God’s word and love Christ. I want to raise sons who respect and serve women and refuse to view them as objects for their own pleasure and use. And I want to raise sons who have the courage and conviction to lead despite what the world may throw at them.
After all of the anxiety and all of the grieving over having a son, rather than a daughter, King comes to a conclusion every mother can get behind. In today’s society, “Isn’t it just as noble an endeavor to raise a strong, gentle, and compassionate boy?,” she asked. “We need great men to stand alongside these amazing women, to work with them and love them. I’m proud to be doing part of that work.”
I’m glad I’m having another son, too. If I were having a daughter, I would be happy to have her. I want to raise strong sons and daughters not because I think one is better than the other, but because I believe both genders image the God who created us all. Strong sons need strong women to love, provide for, and lead with all their might. Strong daughters need strong men to respect, partner with, and submit to. And I’m thankful to do my small part.