Many women choose to find out their child’s sex before the delivery room. There’s so much eagerness in preparing the nursery, buying the crib and even planning a gender reveal. For those hoping for one sex but getting another, the feeling of disappointment is a real thing. So what happens when you are expecting a girl, but you are in fact having a boy?

What is gender disappointment exactly?

In the weeks leading up to her gender reveal, creative entrepreneur and writer Kelsey Marie was sure that she was having a girl. She had all of the old wives tale’s symptoms of being pregnant with a girl such as morning sickness, constant heartburn and the baby’s fetal heart rate being above 140 beats per minute. 

She describes gender disappointment as “expecting and knowing in your heart that you’re having one gender, but when you find out you’re having the opposite gender, you feel a bit of sadness.”

“During the gender reveal, I could have sworn I saw pink, and then it set in that the inside of the cake was actually blue,” she explained. “I suddenly became emotional because all of my hopes for a girl were shattered, and although I tried to keep it together, it was written all over my face.”

Dr. Joy A. Cooper is the co-founder and CEO of Culture Care, a telemedicine startup for Black women that connects women to physicians. She explains that gender disappointment happens when someone’s childhood dreams or adult hopes don’t match with the baby’s sex. Although today, expecting parents can learn of their baby’s sex fairly early thanks to advancements such as blood tests and ultrasounds, Cooper explains that gender disappointment still happens.

It’s More Than Just Disappointment

After experiencing feelings of disappointment, residual feelings might also well up. Those may include shame and guilt.

Marie felt a mixture of sadness and guilt.

“I was having a healthy baby. Why did I feel disappointed when I should feel extremely blessed?” the. mom-to-be said she thought to herself.

The guilt she felt about being disappointed helped to change her perspective. 

Nothing Lasts Forever

The mixture of feelings that come along with disappointment might come and go. Dr. Cooper, who is known as the Olivia Pope of ObGyns, explains that these feelings are transient for some. For others the feelings might last longer for women who obsess and might be thinking about future pregnancies to achieve the desired sex.

For Marie, the feelings of gender disappointment didn’t last long. 

“After the gender reveal, I probably sat in my sadness for about an hour and then got over it,” she said. “I felt good and excited about having a boy after hearing so many women in my life who are boy moms rave about their sons and how much love they get from their little boys.” 

Navigate Complicated Feelings

Maries shares that having a support system is key to overcoming the letdown. 

“My husband was also instrumental in helping me navigate feelings of gender disappointment,” she said. 

Dr. Cooper agrees that support systems are essential to both pregnancy and postpartum. 

“Those who are really in your corner know how to lift your spirits when you are low, take you shopping for cute clothes for the baby, help plan a baby shower and build excitement for the baby’s arrival,” she explained.  

Another tool to help cope might be hearing the stories of women in your life who are boy moms or girl moms. Also, lean on friends and family for words of encouragement.

Prepare for Joy

Dr. Cooper encourages expecting moms to prepare for the joy of the baby’s kicks in your belly and to prepare for the joy of your baby’s coos and smile. 

“Even with the disappointment, still prepare for the joy that is on the way,” she says. 

Marie explains that it is OK to feel disappointment and encourages expecting moms to sit on those feelings as long as they need to. 

“Know that this baby chose you,” she advised. “You are being given a gift from God that is right for you at this moment, and if your baby is healthy, then that is all that matters.”