Realizing you’re going to have a baby is an incredible, unforgettable, complex moment. Every time I’ve been pregnant I’ve experienced joy, terror, and everything in between. Another big revelatory moment? Finding out the sex of your baby. Even though gender is a social construct, and the gender assigned at birth is not always an absolute, there's something about finding out the sex of your growing fetus that makes parenthood feel all the more real. So I asked dads to share their reactions to finding out they were having sons and, well, reality hit them like a bag ol' bag of feelings.
I asked my husband how he felt when he found out we’d be having our son, knowing his answer could be a tad complicated. We had previously lost a baby girl, and I know, for me, the emotions around finding out the gender of our second baby were complicated. Part of me felt a tinge of disappointment and sadness (which I later came to realize was unnecessary). I was afraid I would never experience all the "raising a girl" things I had planned on enjoying with a daughter, like doing something special for her first period, or helping her through her own pregnancy once she became an adult. My husband didn’t think much of it one way or the other, though.
“I think I was more preoccupied with him being alive and staying that way, to be perfectly honest. Is that bad? I don’t think it was a normal situation,” my partner told me. I can certainly understand his response, and definitely don't think it's "bad" at all. Every parent, and every pregnancy, is different, though. So with that in mind, here's how a few other dads felt after hearing they were having sons:
“I was mostly excited and, of course, a little nervous. I was about to face something, to become something, that I didn’t have any experience in but was extremely important for me to be good at. May sound silly, but what came in handy was my Army training. You learn that second-guessing yourself is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You do your best to prepare, you give it your all, and you make sure to apply the lessons of your mistakes. Those are inevitable, so learn to forgive yourself and have a little faith.”
“I was extremely excited! As soon as I found out I started thinking about all the ‘guy’ things we get to do together. I get to teach him to play catch, ride a bike, shave. Take him to sporting events. Things like that."
“[My wife] and I first found out she was pregnant the very first few months that we were living in Killeen, Texas. Since she was pregnant with our first kid, initially I didn't really know what to think, especially since we were both 20. It was kind of a mixture of emotions: a little bit fearful, some excitement, and a lot of nervousness, only because it was a first for us.
I remember the first time we went to go see the OB-GYN to find out the gender of the baby, on base at Fort Hood. I just got off of duty and I went home early to pick [my wife] up so that we could make it to our appointment. They gave us our own private room with one of those maternity examination beds. The gentleman that came into the examination was a Captain in the Army, still in uniform, and he had a lower enlistee helping him out. Anyway, after the examination, the doctors told us the gender of the baby, and [my wife] and I were pretty excited. I remember calling my father immediately and tell him the gender, and my mom, and they told congratulations.”
"I found out when he was born and it was pretty dope. Having a daughter is awesome, but I sometimes felt left out with her and her mom. I was stoked that I had a little man to fish with and play sports with. And, it turned, my daughter likes those things more than him."
"Happy and scared. Happy because I wanted one of each and we already had a girl. And slightly unique circumstance for our family, I wanted a child that would carry on my [well-known author] father's name after marriage (and he might decide to change his name anyway). I wanted there to be a grandchild out there that kept the last name [that wasn't my brother's kids].
Scared because... all we can do is do our best and hope for the best. I'm happy to raise a boy that will not receive examples of toxic masculinity at home, but he's still going to receive examples of toxic masculinity. And how that will play out is anyone's guess."
“[I was] super indifferent. Just wanted a healthy baby each pregnancy. [I] was actually angered by how many people heard our third was going to be a boy and would always say things like, ‘Finally, your boy!’ and ‘You must be so happy!’ I would always respond, ‘So what it’s a boy? What does it matter?’”
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