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Gender disappointments mothers of girls only understand

If you ask many mums-to-be whether they wish to have a baby boy or a baby girl, they will answer nonchalantly, “I don’t mind either.” But is that really the case?

Sylvia Wakhisi

Though gospel artiste Princess Farida has two daughters she desires to have a son one day. Not that she is being pressured in any way, but having a boy child will make her joy full.

“As human beings, sometimes we are just not contented, hence you just have that feeling of wanting to have both boys and girls. Also, I never got to meet my father-in-law and I feel it would be nice if I have a son and name after him. I have not started preparing for another child yet, but when I’m ready, I will trust God for a boy,” says Farida.

She adds: “I know some women get pressurised by their husbands and relatives to sire a boy. There is some pride men have when they have a son. But I thank God for my husband, Isaac Migwallah, who doesn’t have an issue with having girls only. Our daughters, Shekainah, nine, and Hadassah, seven, are the best thing that happened to us,” she says.

Brenda Mutua, 38, is a mother of four girls aged 15, 11, eight and five years, respectively. Though she had her first child while still young, motherhood came with lots of excitement and it has been a new learning experience for each of her girls. When she had her second child, she decided to try out for a third and last child, hoping it would be a boy. But God surprised her differently.

“In fact, I didn’t want to go for an ultrasound to avoid getting disappointed. I decided to wait for my baby to arrive and indeed when the day came, it was another girl. At first I was heartbroken. I didn’t know if I would give her enough love and attention. But I decided not to question God,” says Brenda, an accountant with a local bank.

Though her husband said he was contented with their three girls, Brenda felt like he wasn’t telling the truth. “I said I would give it another try. I desperately wanted to give him a son. The pressure I put myself in drained me each and everyday. I wondered if I would live my life and be contented with never knowing the joy of having a son,” she explains.

Brenda later gave birth to another daughter. And now she has stopped questioning God and accepted the fact that children, no matter the gender, are a gift. She now adores and strives to spend quality time with her daughters.

Late last month, Ivy Mwangale welcomed a daughter, making her a mother of three girls. According to Ivy, she desired to have a son so much, not just for her husband, but to experience raising a boy too. “I wanted to extend his generation considering that girls are married off and boys remain within the family. In the African setting, many men don’t allow their daughters to become heirs and in as much as my husband wasn’t pushy about it. I was worried that he would be pressurised by his family to keep trying for a boy or even try elsewhere,” says Ivy.

Grace Awiti, 28, who works as a teacher has two daughters aged six and eight months. According to her, she is grateful to God for blessing her with daughters, but deep inside her heart she would also wish to have a boy. “Most of the time, I picture and think about the future. When my girls are married, they may not be able to keep in touch as a son would since they would belong to another home,” says Awiti.

On the other hand, there is also the aspect of security. “The son can make the mother feel safe in case the husband is not around. I would wish to try for a son though there is no pressure from my husband,” she says.

However, the pressure is not just for mothers of boys only. “I don’t think the issue is about boys. Even mums with boys only desire also to have a girl. It feels nice having the experience of having and raising both sexes,” says Jennifer Wambui.

According to experts gender disappointment is one of the many apparently ‘controversial’ parenting topics, which is often treated similarly to postnatal depression.

“Children should not be rated by their gender. No child should be stigmatised by their parents just because they are not the sex their parents wanted. That will result in rejection, which can last a lifetime,” says Margaret Nderitu, a family therapist. She adds: “We live in a world today where opportunities are shared by both sexes. Getting a boy or a girl does not really make life any better for you as a parent. What makes a difference is how you raise them.”

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