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by Abigail Van Buren

Expectant Mom's Disappointment More Common Than She Thinks

DEAR ABBY: When I read the letter from "Undeserving Title of Mommy" (March 4), the pregnant woman who was saddened by the fact that she's expecting a baby boy instead of the girl she had hoped for, my heart went out to her. I was reminded of something I had read about, a condition called gender depression or gender disappointment.

In the cursory search I did, it was almost always described as what this mother seems to be feeling -- disappointment, sadness, guilt, etc. Unfortunately, this condition isn't widely discussed, in much the same way that postpartum depression isn't talked about. However, from what I've discovered, the writer is far from the only woman to experience this.

Many women describe their feelings about gender disappointment on parenting websites. This may be a good start, opening a discussion for this woman on what she is feeling. She should also consider talking to her doctor to find out what resources may be available to her as she works through this.

I hope she finds the help she needs. I wish her well. -- CONCERNED IN NEW MEXICO

DEAR CONCERNED: Thank you for the suggestion. Many women sympathized with "Undeserving." Read on for more responses:

DEAR ABBY: I have a son, and when I was carrying him, I felt the same way. I didn't think I could love him like I could love a daughter. I didn't tell anyone about my feelings and I, too, felt like a monster.

But this all changed once I held my son for the first time. I can't imagine now living without my little guy, and I wouldn't change him for the world.

"Undeserving" is not alone. Many women feel this way about having a son. Like Abby said, don't rush into signing any papers, because you may find that when you hold him for the first time, you will fall in love and you would deeply regret having done so. -- UNDERSTANDING MOM

DEAR ABBY: "Undeserving Mommy," you are so lucky to be the mother of a prince. Every princess dreams of marrying a prince. You need to reread the fairy tales and get some counseling. -- GRANDMOTHER OF PRINCESSES AND PRINCE CHARMING

DEAR ABBY: You should have also advised that woman that before she has four children -- princes or princesses -- she should get an education, a job and a husband so society won't have to support her little "kingdom." Too many children have no father figure to help raise them. I spent my working life striving to educate my children, and achieving that goal is much more difficult when there aren't two loving parents to share the job. -- FRED IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR ABBY: Even if that child was another girl, there is no guarantee that she would be a girly-girl; she could easily be a tomboy, gay or prefer sports to tea parties. There is also no guarantee that the little girl "Undeserving" already has will be a girly-girl.

Abby, you were right to advise counseling. This unwed mother shows disturbing signs of living in a fantasy world. And it may well be that the precious baby boy she is expecting would be better off being raised by the father and his family. -- JANE IN ST. JOHNS, MICH.

Read more in: Mental Health | Family & Parenting

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