I love all of my #Friday5Day but I found this one, on gender disappointment and prenatal depression, to be beautifully raw. This is thanks to the very brave Ashleigh who blogs over at 3 Girls Mummy
Ashleigh is 23 and calls Yorkshire her home. She’s been been with her partner, Ross for nearly 7 years, engaged for 5.
They have 3 daughters aged 3, 16 month and 4 month old, which they refer to as T (3y), L (16m) and R (4m).
Following a surprise twin pregnancy at little over three months post partum Ashleigh then suffered the devastating loss of one of the twins during the early stages. Already mum to two girls this loss, combined with discovering that her new baby was also a girl, sent Ashleigh into a battle with prenatal depression linked to her gender disappointment.
It’s not often that mums open up about such sensitive issues so I feel really honoured to be hosting this guest post.
Gender disappointment is rarely discussed so thank you for sharing your story. Can you summarise what happened in your case?
I wasn’t in a very good place at the beginning of my third pregnancy as it started out a twin pregnancy.
However at 12 weeks, I lost one of the twins. This put a dampener on everything I felt towards the pregnancy.
At 20 weeks, we opted to find out the gender of this baby, in hope that after two girls, we would be blessed with a son and it would bring some more excitement back to my pregnancy.
At the 20 week scan, R wouldn’t open her legs however the ultrasound technician took a guess and said she was 80% positive that we were having another girl. Although I held up hope throughout the second half of the pregnancy that the baby would be a boy, I had to admit to myself that it was more than likely going to be a girl… and it was.
How did everyone react to your prenatal depression?
I opened up to my partner and my mother.
Both could tell that I was really suffering in this pregnancy with everything that had happened, along side suffering with severe SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction).
My partner tried to distance himself from me during the pregnancy (because I only ever seemed negative about it) whereas my mother tried to sympathise.
Honestly, neither particularly helped with how I was feeling however I can understand now why both did what they did.
I don’t think my prenatal depression was helped with her being a surprise baby as I actually had the copper coil fitted at the time of conception. I was also only 3 months postpartum from my previous child. I didn’t feel as though I could open up to any friends or other family about how I was feeling as I felt I would be judged. I had a healthy baby growing inside of me and should have been grateful for that. Now, I feel really guilty about how I acted through my pregnancy as I said many times that I didn’t want to be pregnant or I didn’t want it. I never referred to her as “her” or “she”.
How did you manage your prenatal depression and what helped you come out of the other side?
Honestly, I didn’t manage my prenatal depression.
Until I had given birth, I resented being pregnant.
I resented having only one baby growing inside of me rather than two.
I resented that this one baby was a girl and the other that I had lost could have been my only chance at a boy.
I resented my partner because he said that, because of how I was in this pregnancy, this was going to be our last child.
He didn’t want to see me like this again if we found out we were having a fourth girl. As strange as it sounds, what is helping me, is breastfeeding. I have always wanted to breastfeed until aged 1, however, with my previous two daughters, I managed 12 weeks and 2 weeks. I am 4 and a half months into breastfeeding R and still going strong.I would say I am not completely in the clear however I know I am smitten with my third daughter and wouldn’t change her.
I do have days where I sit and cry, knowing I will never have a son but they are becoming less and less and I am so grateful for my daughters and look forward (and sometimes cringe) to the future and what having 3 girls close in age will be like.
Why do you think gender disappointment is a rarely discussed? Do you think others keep it bottled up?
I think gender disappointment is rarely discussed because people judge.
There are lots of people who simply can’t have children for whatever reason, whether it be infertility, genetic disorders or same sex relationships, that would love to have a child. Because of this, people feel as though the person suffering with gender disappointment is being ungrateful or selfish.
Understandably, this can cause the person suffering to not open up to anyone about how they truly feel which could potentially affect the bond they have with their baby and cause other issues such as postnatal depression. Gender disappointment is rarely discussed by mothers but even less so by fathers which is a shame that people are too scared to open up in fear they will be judged.
If you could speak directly to a mum who is facing gender disappointment, what would you say?
Do not ignore it. It isn’t as uncommon as you believe…
If you feel that you need help, please see a doctor! It’s not something they haven’t heard before.
Finally, try not to let it take over you. Try to enjoy your pregnancy, it is a magical thing. Regardless of gender, you are amazing! You are growing a little human inside of you that will completely depend on you for everything. You are their world and they love you unconditionally.