Thoughtful Thursday: Sex Preferences

January 15, 2009

Hooray! It’s Thursday! Last week’s Thoughtful Thursday was so fabulous. There were more than a score of diverse, carefully considered comments, and that was amazing. But, the stats say that there were many more people who read the post yet didn’t comment. C’mon, delurk! (There will be an official call to observe Delurking Week this weekend, but feel free to delurk more than once.)

Let’s keep the thinky fun going with a topic that was first brought to mind in my IRL support group last month, and then raised by one of the comments in last week’s TT.

One of the IRL support group members (the same person who said both “I would never do IVF. It’s not natural.” and “At least I’m not 40!”) declared her hope that injectables will bring her twins. Girl-girl twins, specifically. Because then she’d “be done” with infertility treatments forever and also because she doesn’t really want to have a son.

The other members and I quickly rushed to explain all of the risks associated with multiples, and that twins aren’t simply a convenient two-for-one. We all left the boy-hating alone. In my mind, my immediate reaction was:

Honey, you obviously haven’t been infertile long enough if you’re trying to dictate what kinds of babies you get. Beggars can’t be choosers, sweetheart.

And yes, I do call people “honey” and “sweetheart” condescendingly in my head. Not out loud, usually.

Krysta mentioned a similar person and her own reaction, almost identical to my line of thinking, in her answer to last week’s Thoughtful Thursday question, “Does it change your impression of someone to find out they’re infertile?”

Great topic! Yes, it does change my impression of people when I learn that they are one of “us”. I feel for them and I have a bond with them, so it draws me to be friends with them more than I would if I didn’t know that about them. Except for this one person I know. They tried for about a year to get pregnant and did some treatments, not sure what, but ended up getting pregnant naturally with a baby girl. So now that child is around 2 years old and they learn that they are pregnant again. When she found out that she was having a boy, she was depressed and didn’t want to leave her house for days. She wanted a girl so bad, that she was actually depressed when hearing it was a boy! She obviously isn’t one of “us” after all……

Krysta and I share the sentiment that a “real” infertile would be happy to have any baby, period. A real infertile wouldn’t dare to try to tell the stork which babies to bring.

But there are “real” infertiles with sex preferences. How else could so many REs offer “sex selection for family balancing?” Sex-based selection on the basis of disease (such as an X-linked disease that only manifests in boys) aside, some people just want a certain combination, and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis makes that possible. If you’re doing IVF, especially if you’re doing PGD anyway, sex selection is barely an extra step. Personally that’s not something that either DH or I would do — the word “cherry-picking” has been used in our house — but ultimately we wouldn’t sex-select because we each would be happy with a boy or a girl.

DH, in fact, so ardently does not have a sex preference that he will not even entertain the question. He will admit to sex preferences for specific breeds of dogs, but not for human children. An equal opportunity daddy.

Personally, I have not had any sex preferences for as long as I’ve been TTC. As a kid, though, I only wanted to have daughters. I remember the moment when that changed: at 16 years old, I was sitting in the car, waiting for my mom to come out of a store, and I saw a mother and her 4-year-old boy in a crosswalk. As they crossed, she joyfully twirled him around in circles. It was an epiphany for me that having a son could be a wonderful experience. I guess I didn’t think much of the little boys I knew up to that point, or at least I didn’t think much of their relationships with their parents.

I have had perfect boy and girl names picked out for a long time (the girl’s name for 14 years, the boy’s for 10 years). Because I love the names, I’ve hoped that I would be able to use them both by having one of each sex. But over the years, as it has taken soooo long to have even one child, ending up with one child of each sex has become less and less important. As long as I get to use either of the names and finally have a child, any child, I am satisfied. Because I am an only child, I would strongly prefer that my child have a brother or sister eventually, but at this point, having taken 7 years to get to zero, let’s work our way up to one and see what happens.

This week’s Thoughtful Thursday query:
Did you start out with a set idea of how many boys and girls you wanted to have? How has infertility changed your sex preference?

30 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Sex Preferences”

  1. luna Says:

    I have always laughed (derisively, perhaps) at the notion that we might prefer one gender over another. I want a freaking child, preferably a healthy one, and I don’t care what is between it’s legs.

    it actually bugs me to no end when people state a preference, as if having a living breathing child is not enough. I admit, I used to want one of each. now I’d be happy to just have one that breathes. and if I were lucky enough to ever have two, well I’d have won the jackpot regardless of gender.

  2. WiseGuy Says:

    Did you start out with a set idea of how many boys and girls you wanted to have? How has infertility changed your sex preference?

    Well, once upon a time, I was not aware that I am sub-fertile. At that point of time, I visualized having a boy and a girl. To tell you the truth, I would not have minded having more than two children, if there were no financial constraints involved (I am from that generation where a lot of my cousins have stopped growing their family after having one kid).

    But four years on, I have changed. It does not matter to me what the gender of my baby is, as long as it is healthy and living and does come to enter my life at all. If I really do have any choices, I would still like to have two children. But I still have a gender preference. I hope that I am blessed with atleast one daughter.

    Sad part is I already have names picked out for my children. And it is such a painful reminder.

  3. WiseGuy Says:

    I had transferred three embies in November. Had all three gotten implanted, I would have let them come to fruition.

    In the hospital where I was taking treatment, there are couples who come for reduction, though the clinic does not disclose the basis for sucking out one embryo over another. In India, sex selection is prohibited by law (and it is still very very rampant here). I think, gender may be one of the undeclared criteria of choice, since boys are a highly prized entity in progeny arena (I know, that is a terrible thing and I absolutely detest it, but it does exist).

  4. Nix Says:

    Before infertility (BI so to say) I wanted only boys, I grew up in a house with only sisters and I was always envious of friends that had brothers.

    During IF I just wanted a baby, gender irrelevent.

    If I were lucky enough to get pregnant again (I have twin daughters) I would still say gender is irrelevent, healthy living baby is all that counts.

  5. 'Murgdan' Says:

    Ironically–I read the title of your post and imagined you were having a ‘thoughtful’ moment about intercourse preferences…to which I was going to answer ‘now that it isn’t about procreation I’m starting to prefer it again’…

    …then I realized it was really a post about gender–which is much less exciting than intercourse. 😉

    I started out with no preference…and I still have no preference. I would much prefer and either/or scenario for sure (as in, either a boy or a girl). I would still like 2 babies, and ‘a two for the price of one’ IVF would of course be ideal.

    Eh. We’ll see what happens.

  6. samcy Says:

    Like Murgdan I’m afraid my mind was also in the gutter 😉

    When we first started ttc I had it all planned out – we were going to have one boy and one girl, and honestly even know 5 years later going through IVF I still hanker for the pigeon pair.

    HOWEVER as you say I know that beggars can’t be choosers and I honestly believe that you are given the children you are meant to have and I will take anything that comes out – as long as it’s healthy and makes me a mommy – I don’t really care!!


  7. April Says:

    In the olden days I would think of what I wanted, but it would change all of the time: one child, one daughter, a son and a daughter, two sons… I just knew that I wanted kids. I guess it wasn’t “wanting” so much as trying to imagine what life would be like with those offspring.

    Now, like many of the women above, I would just be happy with a child. A healthy child.

  8. kaaron Says:

    Before IF, I always thought I’d have a girl, since that is what I grew up around and was comfortable with. I thought I might feel more confident as a mom that way. Now it truly doesn’t matter. When I prayed for this child, I prayed for good health, not the gender.

  9. loribeth Says:

    I will admit, I had a preference for girls. Just because, as Kaaron says above, I grew up with a sister & boys were always sort of foreign creatures to me. Of course, I would happily have taken either!

  10. Beth Says:

    Hi! I am de-lurking… love the Thoughtful Thursday discussions and felt like participating, as well as coming out of hiding.

    I grew up wanting to have 2-3 children. At least one would be a girl, as I’ve always had a soft spot for the name Emma and it wouldn’t really fit on a boy (haha). Then I married a man whose last name, combined with “Emma,” would result in endless harassment and name-calling. I’m still kind of partial to having a daughter, but not to the point of being disappointed if we create a son. We just want a healthy child. Ideally, we’d like to have at least two (but not twins… too risky)- my husband and I are both over 40 and I wouldn’t want my child to have to deal with our aging, and eventual passing, alone. Now that the likelihood of having 3 kids has become a pipe-dream, I think it would be great to have two of the same gender… or one of each. Or just one of either.

    I hope the stork is listening.

  11. Heather Says:

    Great question! When we had our first 8 years ago (also a product of IF treatments, ovulation induction and IUI), I was still a “young infertile” and really wanted our first to be a girl. DH knew it. I think he agreed. We got what we wanted and it was all we wanted and more. As we were trying for another child over all these years, we’ve always said it would be great to have a boy, but we loved having our daughter so much another girl would be great, so we really didn’t care. Our doctor doesn’t do sex selection unless it’s warranted for genetic reasons and even if it was, I think we wanted to leave it up to God to decide what we should have.

    Now that we’re pregnant with twins, we’ve admitted a boy/girl pair would be so great!!!! But we are very long time infertiles and so we know we’ll be happy with whatever we’re given. Hopefully we’ll find out the end of February, so we can finalize the nursery and baby names. We did a 5-day embryo transfer and I’ve read that statistically they result in more boys than girls, so that does help the odds in our favor of having a boy, as my DH, his brothers and father seem to have more girls than boys. But I have prepared DH with the stats that it could be two boys. And I have been alerting everyone that if we have two girls, whoever asks if we’re going to try again for a boy, I will physically hurt them, as it takes so much for me to get pregnant that we aren’t doing this again. Anyone who thinks it’s that easy should experience some pain at my hands, LOL!

  12. kat Says:

    Growing up I had always assumed that I would have 2 children, my preference at the time was a boy first and a girl second, a “king’s blessing” as the saying goes. I heard it many times growing up because that is how my family is composed. My DH has always wanted 3 children and right after we married I joked with him that I would agree to get pregnant twice, if the first were twins, then I would do it again…how naive we were. So here we sit, faced with a real potential of twins through IVF. We have a daughter, so from a strictly financial standing point (because of the 28 bins of girly clothes that I have in our attic) another girl would be nice. I know that my DH would love a boy….and I must say for the most unusual reasons, I would like a boy as well. (My best friend died 12 days after my daughter was born, at the time it was too painful to name our daughter after her…the idea of calling her name would not bring me joy but sadness…it has been 4 years now and if we have a boy this time around, his name will be my friend’s last name, and I can’t think of a better way to honor her life).

    Now all that said, those are wishes and dreams….what do we REALLY want….a baby…healthy and vital….that is all.

  13. I grew up in a family with two girls and have always wanted to have two girls, and I told my husband that if we had 2 boys, then we would have to adopt a girl. However, going through IVF totally changed that. I would’ve been happy with either — though it looks like our first child is going to be a girl. If the second is a boy, that’s great. More and more I’m recognizing that just being able to have healthy kids is a blessing.

    As far as the woman that got depressed when her second kid turned out to be a boy, I can’t help but wonder if there is something more going on there that we don’t know about. That seems like such an extreme reaction, especially from someone who’s been through any fertility treatments, that my first thought, is that she must have something major in her past that would make her feel this way.

  14. Cat Says:

    I’ve only ever had a preference about how many kids we’d have, but like you said, IF is changing that. Originally we said “2 and if a 3rd comes along, that’s OK.” Then for a while I wanted four because my best friend comes from a family with four kids and she has the best stories about the stuff they’d do when they were little. Now I’ll be ecstatic if we can just have one, though I still hope for siblings.

    We don’t have a gender preference. I know DH would love to have a little boy to teach baseball and football to. Because DH and his dad have such a great relationship, I’d love DH to be able to have that with his own son. I grew up with two sisters and I would love to have a daughter to raise as a strong, independent woman.

  15. Cara Says:

    Loss created a preference. Emma died and I convinced myself with the next one that it was a had to be a boy…I read the book on how to try and conceive a boy…

    Bear is a girl. When I held her, it didn’t matter. I was just scared that my selfish grief would try to compare a dead baby to a live one.

    With my third – it didn’t matter. Another girl. We are all girl.

  16. It’s funny you should ask because for DH and I, the debate still exists about whether or not we’d have two or three children. We both come from three children families (2 boys, 1 middle girl). He only wants two. I think we’ll just see if we can actually have ONE child and see where we go from there. I used to think that I wanted a girl first, but then after my second loss, we found out it was a boy and everything has changed. Now I don’t care either way. I just want a healthy child that I can carry to term and hold in my arms.

  17. Krysta Says:

    You already know that I would feel blessed to have either, but for some reason I’ve always seen myself with girls. Every dream I’ve ever had about holding my baby or playing in the backyard with my child, they have always been girls. But those are dreams and I can’t control them so I would definitely NOT be upset if I had a boy, but if I had a girl, then I would wonder if there really is something to the dreams that we have. I truly believe that you are meant to have whatever gender you are blessed with and you should look at it as just that, a blessing. I love these TT’s!

    I hope you are doing ok. I’ve been thinking about you.

  18. I grew up in a family of 3 girls. I liked 3 and I liked the same-sexness of us, so I wanted either 3 boys or 3 girls.

    I got one of each and couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out.

    Great discussion!

  19. Lisa Says:

    Prior to this “journey”, I thought I wanted a girl – I had two sisters and I always thought I would be a better mom to a girl – I love men, don’t get me wrong.

    Then I got pregnant. That was the most amazing feeling ever and I was in love with that baby and I could have cared less if it was a boy, girl or shim. I lost that pregnancy and one after that – but it really brought it home that it does not matter, not one little bit.

  20. Jane G Says:

    I used to always see myself more with boys. I was auntie to four nephews before my first niece was born, and I have five brothers, so I think that’s why. Now I don’t really have a preference one way or the other. I just want a living breathing baby.

  21. Kischa Says:

    I’m guilty – I wanted a boy or even 2 boys when I first started TTC 3 years ago. Now, I just want a baby! A healthy little happy precious baby!

  22. a Says:

    I think everyone has a mental preference, but most people are so happy to get the baby they’ve long desired that it doesn’t matter what flavor it is.

    I wanted a boy, because I didn’t want a daughter to suffer for my lack of interest in fashion, hair, makeup, etc. But then I thought, a boy would suffer for my lack of interest in sports and other boy stuff. I got a beautiful girl, whose fashion sense can be guided by her stylish aunts. Now, I’m just hoping for another baby.

  23. Michelle Says:

    Before all this IF stuff, I wanted 2 boys and 2 girls going boy girl boy girl. My thinking on that would be that the girls would always have an older brother to look out for them.

    Those thoughts are long gone. I would be extatic with a healthy baby no matter what the gender.

  24. Star Says:

    Great discussion — this is a question that’s been much on my mind lately, so it’s interesting to hear what others think. I don’t consider myself a “real” IFer anymore, despite PCOS, but even when I was living through my year of TTC the first time not knowing how long or how much treatment it would take, I always had a gender preference. Even though I morally disagree with the fact that I have it, I am strongly biased toward girls, because I am one, and because I prefer feminine gender characteristics to masculine gender characteristics — which is not to say that everyone turns out to have all one and none of the other based on their biological sex, of course there is a lot of variation. My husband has a number of feminine characteristics (sensitive and kind, nurturing, neat and clean, uninterested in sports and guns, etc.), so he will be an excellent role model. But I worry about my son, who of course I love to pieces and wouldn’t trade for anything, being coopted by the negative aspects of masculine culture and becoming someone I don’t enjoy being around. I also worry that he will be distant from me when he is an adult — I’ve always hoped for close relationships with my adult children. It’s entirely possible that gender is a symbolic thing, and that the things I worry about really don’t have much to do with biological sex, though experience tells me otherwise. Anyway, I do appreciate the irony of understanding and experiencing IF and retaining a preference for anything other than a healthy baby, and I’m struggling with that and working on it. In the end, of course, I will be delighted to have a second son, if that is what we get.

  25. Shinejil Says:

    I think when I was a child, I thought I’d be a better mom to a little girl (because *I* was a little girl–get the logic?:) ). When I finally reached an age when theoretically at least I could have kids, I stopped caring. I was always a tom boy and have always had male friends, but I would also be honored to raise a girl.

    IF has made me even more blase about gender. Like many o the folks above, I’m just looking out for a living baby, preferably healthy and close to full term.

  26. Thanks for lovely uber-hug. Love your site, and love the pink bits too ; ) I’m so sorry to read about your crap cycle…. sucks big time. About to have a big packet of chips and maybe a glass of red on the couch!

  27. nh Says:

    I never cared what I’d have. We planned on having two – if we got one of each great, if we didn’t still fine! Now – to have a single living, breathing baby of our own – that would do for me.

  28. Nity Says:

    I think this is awesome:

    Honey, you obviously haven’t been infertile long enough if you’re trying to dictate what kinds of babies you get. Beggars can’t be choosers, sweetheart.

    I was bummed because both my embryos didn’t survived, but then when I saw that one heartbeat, it was awesome. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. If this will work. If we have to have IVF for #2. If we’ll be in a state that covers IVF or not. So we’re just focusing on one at a time. And we’ll take whatever sex we get. No beggars can’t be choosers at all. We’re just happy to get one.

  29. Leslie Laine Says:

    Had some time this morning to explore the Thoughtful Thursday archives (which I absolutely love, by the way).

    As for me, I’ve never had sex preferences and never will. A healthy little baby is all I’m asking for. Period.

    I share your sentiment that a real infertile doesn’t care. I have a friend who went through IVF twice and was successful (with one lonely embryo) and had a little boy. She told me that when the doctor told her she was having a boy, she felt crushed and that her heart dropped with disappointment.

    In correlation with the theory, this is also a friend who has been one of the least supportive people in my life through IF – she never got it then, and she certainly doesn’t get it now.

    A baby is a baby is a baby. When you’re going through IF hell and you really “get it”, all you care about is being a Mom. Period.

  30. This is an old post but I’m with the real infertiles. We both wanted girls but would be happy with anything. Now, we’ve had our girl (even though she died) and I’ll settle for anything as a sibling.

    Anything as long as its alive, stays alive and is my baby for the rest of its life. I ain’t picky. ‘Two arms, two legs and a heartbeat’ is the phrase I believe.

    the end.

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