Life is not a Hallmark card, and the news that a little one is on the way doesn't just spark one emotion in mothers-to-be. Yes, there's bliss and joyful anticipation in the mix for many — but there can also be disappointment. "Gender disappointment," for example, is an actual thing. It's a condition that Khloe Kardashian can relate to. And so can The Real Housewives of New Jersey's Jackie Goldschneider.
In an essay for Good Housekeeping, the Jersey writer came clean about her own experience with wishing for a girl, only to learn she was having twin boys. Recalling the moment before she learned the genders of her babies, Jackie wrote: " I just wanted to be excited, like normal mothers, about whatever we were about to hear, and to start eagerly picking names and decorating cribs. But as hard as I tried to bury it, I was desperate for a daughter. When the phone rang, I already knew before they told me. I was having two boys."
Though Jackie ultimately fell hopelessly in love with her boys the moment she met them, she continued: "The fact is, throughout most of my pregnancy, I couldn’t stop thinking about having a daughter. The thought of living without her was terrifying. The shame I felt for that was unrelenting."
Speaking to licensed clinical social worker Michelle Freeberg, Jackie learned that she certainly wasn't alone in her feelings. "We all fantasize about what our families will look like and when the reality doesn’t match up, it can be unnerving," Freeberg said.
"There’s a great amount of shame associated with these feelings. Society tells us we should be happy just to be having a child, especially a healthy one, so when parents express feelings of disappointment regarding gender they’re often met with little empathy, and in many cases, judgment that they’re being selfish. These societal reactions force women to repress feelings of disappointment and in many cases cause women to have a huge amount of guilt and anxiety for even having them."
Jackie did indeed feel ashamed to share her feelings. So without a sounding board, she went online. "I discovered covert message boards dedicated to women desperate for a daughter," Jackie shared. "I was relieved and disgusted at the same time. The underground nature of these groups made me feel like I was harboring a dirty, terrible secret."
Now a mother to three boys — and a girl! — Jackie concluded: "This isn’t a story about how I finally felt complete. I was complete moments after my first sons were born. I still wanted a daughter, but I didn’t need that to feel whole as a mother." Instead, she wrote, "I just wish I knew it was normal to feel the way I felt. I wish someone would’ve told me they felt it, too, and that everything would be ok."
Credit: Jackie Goldschneider/Instagram
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