The one and only thing that gets under my skin, whenever I get a query or an e-mail, is when women ask me how to go about conceiving a specific gender. 9 out of 10 times, these are not even women with fertility issues. I once got a message from a woman that went something like “Please save my marriage! I have 4 girls, and I need a boy! If I don’t give my husband a son, he will leave me!!!”. I literally had to take a deep breath before replying that message, and had to type really s-l-o-w-l-y, in order to check my words…and myself in general. She had four children, but yet felt like she had everything to cry about. I thought of the many women who would happily trade places with her, and how ironic life was.
When I was younger, I was one of those people who prayed to God for sons only. I didn’t want any daughters at all! And my reasons had nothing to do with the typical Nigerian, or indeed African, requirement of keeping alive the family name. I didn’t want a daughter largely because of how much of a terror I was to my Mom…especially when I was a teenager. Gosh, did I give that woman grief or what! I was your typical sharp mouthed, oversabi teenager, who thought she knew it all! It didn’t help that I was (still am) a bona fide Daddy’s girl. I terrorized the poor woman, and my prayer was never to encounter the same thing with some I-too-know daughter.
When I was TTC, of course the sex of the baby was immaterial to me, but I found myself being certain I was having a boy, the minute I found out I was pregnant. When I found out I was carrying twins, I was even more convinced they were boys. After all, God and I had agreed this thing tey tey! It didn’t help that the Chinese Calendar for that year “predicted” I was having boys, thus adding to my cocksure belief that I was #TeamBlue all the way. You can imagine my shock at my 20-week scan, when it was revealed I was having not 1, but 2 girls! I was dazed. All through the drive home, I sat in shocked silence! What happened to our agreement now, Baba God?! When I got home, I tearfully lamented to my husband about how disappointed I was. He let me finish talking, and then just stared back at me in disbelief. And that was when I heard myself…really heard myself. That was when I heard all the rubbish I was spewing. My husband knew he didn’t have to tell me the words, and that I had come to the realization on my own. There I was lamenting about having girls, when for 30 cycles, in that same bedroom, I had cried and begged for just 1 child. And here I was, expecting 2, but still lamenting. That night, I tearfully begged my God for forgiveness, and praised Him for how far He had brought me. As my pregnancy progressed, I was fully on #TeamPink, and when I lay my eyes on the beautiful gifts from God, I knew I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with having a preference, and if you decide to time sex to optimize your chances of getting your preferred gender, that’s all fine and good. Before I got married, I had a friend who already had a daughter, but wanted to try for a son. We would laugh over how meticulously her husband timed their lovemaking, and strictly made sure they abstained on the days when they were more likely to conceive a girl. Luckily, they got their wish, and had a son shortly after. So yes, you’re free to do this, but it shouldn’t be a do-or-die matter. As long as you have been able to conceive, you should feel blessed and receptive of whatever gender it turns out to be. Rather than sulk and lament over having yet another boy, or girl, take a minute to think about the women who have never had a positive pregnancy test result.
Nowadays, with IVF, gender selection has been made even easier. Embryos can be pre-screened and pre-selected for whatever gender you so desire. I have made no secret of the fact that I totally disapprove of any form of embryo selection practice, for whatever reason. A few people have recommended I undergo embryo selection to give my girls a brother, and I have told them all, in very clear terms, that it is absolutely out of the question! A few articles ago, someone made a comment about how horrible IVF is, especially because embryos are destroyed. But this isn’t always the case, and embryos do not have to be destroyed. The embryos from my own cycle are still being preserved, and I will maintain my stance to never support any form of embryo destruction.
And sometimes, God does have the last laugh! I heard the story of a couple that already had 2 daughters. But, of course, they wanted a boy. So, this otherwise fertile couple, decided to opt for IVF, with the primary intention of gender selecting. And they did just that…3 male embryos were transferred…all 3 of them implanted…and they got triplets! I’m not sure having 5 children was exactly what they had in mind when they decided to expand their family. Thankfully, after the initial shock, they have adjusted to their new life and have traded their old luxury cars for some more functional mini vans!
Maybe I’m a bit biased on the subject, as I am a former TTC woman. I know what it is like to ache and weep for a baby, so that might be why the gender preference rubs me the wrong way. Whatever the case, my advice to women trying to conceive their first child is to remain focused on the task at hand, which is conceiving, regardless of gender. Being able to conceive, and deliver, a healthy baby should the cardinal focus. And for women who already have kids, and are desperately trying for the other gender, yes you can try, but you must absolutely not allow it consume you, or your marriage. If you’re unfortunate to have a husband, or family, that has put unnecessary pressure on you, it might be a good time to educate them about who exactly is responsible for determining the gender of the baby in the first place!
As for me, my daughters are my world, and I am content beyond measure. There is no day that goes by that I don’t thank God for them. Almost on the daily, I am besieged with questions about when I will give them a brother…and I always smile. Not only do I not have any immediate plans for that, if I am blessed enough to give them a sibling, gender regardless, I would be grateful…and if not, they are more than enough for me!
Stay grateful, folks!
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