The help desk: Learning to accept what you're expecting

 

Dear Louisa

Q. My pregnancy was not planned – I'd only known my boyfriend for seven months when we found out. But we love each other and were moving in together anyway so decided to go ahead, even though it's a bit of a shock and is all happening rather earlier than I would have wanted (we're both 26). Now I've discovered at my 20-week scan that this baby will be a boy and I find that I feel really disappointed. I always wanted to be a mother of girls. I adore my two little nieces and I grew up with three sisters. I'd never admit it to anyone, but I've always felt a bit sorry for parents of boys – their children just seem more difficult and unruly. I know I should be grateful for a healthy child, but I'm just scared I won't be able to love my baby enough. How can I prepare myself?

A. Reproduction really is the weirdest thing. For months ahead you know that you are due to meet someone you will one day love passionately and unconditionally. And yet that's the only concrete piece of information you have about that person. Imagine if dating services worked like this.

The one nugget of information we can get is the baby's sex, so that's what we focus our expectations on, and what everyone around us talks about – in the process casually spewing out stereotypes that would normally make you send for the PC police: boys are noisier/lazier/more difficult, girls more loyal/sensitive/cute.

But, of course, the other thing about having a baby is that it's a terrifyingly huge step and, for you, grappling with the surprise factor as well, the leap feels even bigger. I wonder if the issue about pink versus blue is really a manifestation of your ambivalence about summoning up feelings for this baby who's made your life swerve down an unexpected path.

There can't be an expectant parent in the world who hasn't looked at someone else's baby and wondered whether they will find it in themselves to devote their lives to one of these mewling and puking little humans. But nature sees to it that not only do you dote upon your baby, you truly believe you have somehow landed one who's cleverer, better looking and more interesting than any other. So not only will you love your son, but his maleness will be part of what you love about him.

It's true that boys are not nearly as satisfying as a consumer experience – all that World of Warcraft and workman-like underwear. But I've known many mothers who wanted daughters and to whom nature gave sons, and I know none for whom this meant loving their boys any less.

The daughter in your head, the thoughtful, easy child you've always wanted, is not real. And nor is the rambunctious, exam-flunking boy. But the real thing will sweep you off your feet.

Your problem shared

Have a dilemma? Email your predicament, no matter how big or small, to Louisa at thehelpdesk@independent.co.uk

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

    £40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor