If women can be traumatized by not having their perfect birth experience, how much more traumatized could they be by not having the perfect parenting experience. Consider the following.
Grieving My Son
When I was pregnant, I had my perfect parenting experience all laid out. I wanted the experience of parenting a daughter. My mom and my sister had daughters and I knew that my body was meant to produce daughters.
Then, to my shock and dismay, I had a son.
My recovery from the shock brought its own set of complications. In the hospital I had no desire to nurse. I wasn’t consciously trying to starve him (my milk hadn’t even come in yet) but I didn’t feel any desire to nurse. It was difficult because I could never really find a comfortable way of feeding him unless I was at home with my stack of pillows. Not being able to feed him comfortably in public made me feel like such an outcast. When Boy was about 2 weeks old we were at my sister-in-laws for a family gathering I was having so much trouble feeding him under a blanket that I gave up and went to her bedroom to feed. I felt like I was banished to the naughty corner when what I needed most was other human interaction. I cried that night (I’m crying while typing this too). I stopped nursing when Boy was about 3 weeks old and switched to formula. I had to. I resented him more and more with each feeding and I knew that would not help me heal emotionally. In most regards I am glad that I switched but I still feel a bit of mommy guilt for not trying to stick with nursing longer.
Another complication was bonding with Boy. There are days where I don’t feel any connection with him. They happen less frequently than they used to but they still happen. The biggest thing I am trying to come to terms with is having a child of the wrong sex. I know he is my son. I know that he loves me. I know that the days will get better. I know that I need to find ways to move past this.
I was REALLY looking forward to parenting a daughter. I was looking forward to the frilly dresses, the rhumba tights, the tiny patent leather Mary-janes. I was looking forward to the thrill of achieving my desire, her first ballet lessons, her first prom, crying tears of joy and feeling the thrill of planning her wedding. I didn’t get any of this.
I was robbed.
I was robbed of shopping for girl clothes.
I was robbed of dressing her the way my mother dressed me.
I was robbed of seeing the look on my husbands face when he took her trick or treating as a princess.
I was robbed of my perfect family.
I was robbed of the experience of bonding with a daughter.
I was robbed of the experience of nursing a daughter.
I was robbed of my hopes and dreams.
Most of people that I talk to about this say “at least you have a healthy boy”. Yes, I am grateful to have a healthy son but I feel that my grieving is valid and it almost seems that by saying that to me it makes my feelings invalid.
I was robbed of my perfect parenting experience and I am traumatized as a result.*
How sympathetic would we be to a woman who thought she was entitled to a parenting experience of her dreams? How sympathetic would we be to someone who staked her happiness on having a specific type of child rather than preparing to parent whichever gender child she had? How sympathetic would we be to a mother whose relationship with her child depending on the ability of the child to fulfill the mother’s needs and desires?
I suspect not very. Then why should we be sympathetic to someone who is “traumatized” by not having the birth experience of her dreams?
Modified from an actual post that appeared on the Web. Modified by substituting “Boy” for “C-section.”