Why I’ll Always Mourn The Daughter I Never Had.


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I first had a yen for a daughter at a time when I was far too young to conceive one.  I carried baby dolls with names like Lucy and Amy with me everywhere, gently putting them to sleep in baskets and dresser drawers, tucking their blankets tightly around them.

As I grew too old for dolls, I began to write the names of the daughters I’d one day have in my diaries. Rebecca and Rachel…and as I grew into the tween years, complicated names like Amberleigh and Jilliannah.

Why I'll Always Mourn The Daughter I Never Had - @toulousentonicAs I matured and evolved, so did the names of potential daughters that I was still scribbling in journals, sometimes trying them with the last names of boys I liked.

My twenties passed with no husband and no kids.  I stopped writing the names down as they became less of a foregone conclusion and more of a wistful dream that might not come true.

But my favorites still echoed around in my head.

Finally, I got married and pregnant, much later than I would’ve ever imagined.  After the home pregnancy test flashed its pink positive sign and the disbelief wore off, my immediate thought was:  I wonder if it’s a girl. And something inside of me answered back, “It’s a boy” without hesitation.

And it was.

We named him Asher and I enthusiastically launched myself into being the boy-mom I was always meant to be. After all, hadn’t I always been a guy’s girl?  The universe had known me better than I knew myself.

Several years later, my husband and I found out we were expecting a second child and the daughter dreams rose over the horizon in an instant and carried me away like a tidal wave.

This one was a girl, I was sure.  I would finally have my Emerson or my Merritt.  Whatever her name, she would frolic in our yard and in parks and playgrounds in tutus with Converse on her feet.  She’d have a sparkly pink purse looped over her arm and inside of it would be a tiny pretend lipstick and cellphone and some loose barrettes that’d shimmied their way out of her baby fine hair.  She’d skip and twirl and then eventually melt down onto the floor of our bathroom in a puddle of skirt to watch me put my makeup on before I went out at night.

When I was 13 weeks along, we went for a sonogram with our Perinatologist (that’s a doctor who watches over high risk pregnancies…and old ones).  As she began spreading the goo on my belly, I mentioned that I’d heard she could sometimes tell this early whether it was a boy or a girl, and she confirmed, “Yes, sometimes.”

As she checked and measured the baby’s brain, heart and other organs, there was no more talk about boys versus girls and in my hope for news of a healthy baby, I forgot completely about the sex.

Suddenly, our doctor said, “Well, it’s a boy.”

I gasped and clapped my hand over my mouth then looked at my husband.  He just smiled, turned to Asher and said, “You’re gonna have a brother.”

“Did I say something wrong?” said the doctor.

“Oh My God,” I said, still in shock.  “I was hoping for a girl.”

“Well, maybe something will fall off before the next time,” she laughed.

It didn’t.

We had another handsome son and we named him Meyer.

And our family was full.

Both kids are such blessings to me — they’re the joy of my life.  I know that I’ve been given exactly the children I was meant to have and I love them with every fiber of my being.

But still.

There’s a small part of me that will always mourn the little girl I never had.  The one with long, straight hair whose dress would billow out when she spun.  Those pictures live on inside my head.

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  1. Bwahahahaha, ya went from naming English girls to biblical girls thence to chintzy fabrics. Amberleigh, pinky yellow with hints of lime green.
    What’s a guy’s girl ?. A tom-boy. Calamity Jane. Private Benjamin more than Lara Croft whom lets face it is kicking with the other foot, as in any implantation would be using a turkey baster.
    And do you really think there are women that KNOW they are better with sons than daughters and not just that saw about fathers and girls and mothers with sons being the far easier relationship since they don’t have to train the opposite where a father has to train his boys as a mother her girls.

  2. Anonymous says:

    That’s what grandbabies are for ;)-

  3. I love that you are honest enough to admit this. So often, people have a hard time swallowing the idea that we, as parents, can think our families are perfect, and wonder what might have been at the same time.

    I was sure my first was a girl (he wasn’t) and that my second was a boy (she wasn’t).

  4. I love this post, Toulouse!! I am the same way. I adore my boys, every single one, but darnit, it took me a long time to stop dreaming about little girls. It’s funny that your doctor joked that maybe “something would fall off”. Mine told me by the fifth one, “I think you know what it is, don’t you?”

  5. I’ll be your daughter :) Would it make you feel old having a 30yr old daughter though?

  6. This was a lovely, honest post so eloquently written. I can feel the immense gratitude for what you have with the twinge of longing. It is ok to think about what will not be with fairy dust in our eyes. Dreamers do that and show me a writer who isn’t a dreamer. Amiright?

  7. Such a honest, wonderfully written post. I have two boys, as well. We tried for SO LONG to have both of them. I would hear people complain about not having a girl or not having a boy and I just stared at them with disbelief. They had children! I had none! But, now that I am on this side, I get it. I get you!

    • ashersmom says:

      We had some trouble getting pregnant too and I absolutely would’ve been fine with either a boy or a girl, I just wanted to have a baby with my husband so badly. I’m truly lucky to have these 2 boys and I’m as grateful as I can be. But I’ll still always wander wistfully through the girls department at every store…

  8. I know how you feel. When I was pregnant with my first, I didn’t care if it was a girl or boy. I was certain it was a boy, though, and I was right. With my second, I desperately wanted a girl. When the ultrasound technician told me it was a boy, I was devestated. I loved him dearly when he was born, but I still long for a girl twelve years after my second son, and last child, was born.

    • ashersmom says:

      And that’s okay. We’re allowed to mourn what we wanted so badly and didn’t get. It doesn’t take one single thing away from those fabulous boys!

  9. Aw, gees. I got a little misty reading this. When I went for my 20 wk. sonogram and found out I was having a THIRD boy, I remember being in shock. I didn’t cry until the car ride home. I called my Mom in tears and said something along the lines of “I will never get to buy cute girl stuff”. So I had my good cry about it and that was that. I have several friends who can’t conceive so of course I am thankful and my heart hurts for them. My three boys are so different. Each one. And ironically the youngest actually does love girl stuff. All of it. We thought it was a phase. Not so sure now but, whatever. I was meant to be his Mama.
    Thanks for sharing this awesome post.
    xo,
    Claire

    • ashersmom says:

      You were brave enough to try for the 3rd. Not me. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to survive a 3rd boy!!! Thank you so much for your comment and support!

  10. Love how honest you are in this post. It’s hard to come to terms with what we have vs. what we wished for. I hope this post helps you get there. xo

    • ashersmom says:

      Thanks, Jessica. I may never completely come to terms with it but after writing this, I think I’ve decided that’s okay. I just wanted to acknowledge it. Writing is like another birth for me so I feel like this will help me work through it a bit.

  11. I, too, have a little girl that lives only in my heart. She has my mama’s green eyes and my blond hair. And, to tell the truth, I’ve never acknowledged that until today. I hope one day she finally arrives, and calls me Grandma. <3

    • ashersmom says:

      That’s sweet and I know having a little granddaughter would/will be so special. But man, that’s a long wait for me!

  12. From when we first started talking about having kids, my husband and I also shared the daughter dream. Our first ultrasound tech asked us what gender we thought was in there. I easily answered girl (I come from about 5 generations of firstborn girls, so I was sure that I’d have one, too). “Nope, you’re wrong,” was our first intro into the world of baby boys. Baby #2 was shy the entire pregnancy, but I was sure it was another boy (which he was). Baby #3 another boy. At this point, we thought about one more try at a girl, but I needed some time to see how well I handled 3 kids before I even considered having 4. Two weeks ago, we welcomed our 4th boy. It was hardest for me when we found out the gender this time. However, from about 20 weeks pregnant and on, I spent a lot of time thinking more and more about it and now truly feel like our new baby truly completes our family. There’s still a faint wistfulness, but as I explained to my slightly disappointed oldest boy last week, there’s a big possibility that one of them could have daughters. I promised to spoil any granddaughters rotten, always having toys and candy for them (which got my boys all excited, of course).

    • ashersmom says:

      You have a good attitude and are obviously an amazing woman to be able to handle 4 boys! I only have 2 and I would completely lose it if there was a 3rd, much less a 4th. I bow down to you!

  13. I completly understand where you are coming from. I know with my whole being I am supposed to be a boy mom, but part of me still wishes we had a girl. I think my husband needed a daughter much more than I do. I wonder the differences in raising boys and girls, I will never know because we only have boys. Thanks for writing this! It’s good to know I’m not alone in this

    • ashersmom says:

      I agree. I’m just a boy-mom and probably was always meant to be. But it’s okay to acknowledge that long-standing dream to have a little girl…it’s not bad, it’s just a feeling. Right?

  14. Thank you so much for this honest post!! I was starting to feel really bad about my desire to have a girl. I have two awesome, healthy little boys, and I am currently pregnant with our 3rd child. I know that I should just be hoping for another healthy baby, but I can’t ignore the fact that all I really want is a girl this time. I want to be done after this one and I know if this one is a boy, that I’ll have to give it one more try. So, I’m glad to know that I am not alone! I find out next month what this one is!!

    • ashersmom says:

      Well, now I’m on pins and needles for you! Please let me know!

      • Will do! :) Fingers crossed!!! Haha!

      • Well, apparently I am meant to be a mom of boys. We found out this week that baby #3 is also a boy!! Yes, I’m happy and thankful that he is healthy, and I know I will love him just as much as I do my first two. But…it was definitely a hard one to swallow. I want that girl so badly, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle 4 kids, seeing as how I haven’t even tackled 3 yet. I’m starting to accept that it may never happen, but I still get sad thinking about it, which then makes me feel sad/guilty that I’m not just happy to have healthy babies. Ugh. I’m glad there are others who understand how I feel!

  15. I am in a daily battle with myself over having child #3 for this very reason. I have two incredible daughters, but my heart seems to long for a son. I am not sure if it is the curiosity or if it is the pressure to have a son that I have felt since marrying the baby in a family of four boys. From the beginning, I feel my ILs placed higher priority on males because it is what they know… However, they don’t show preference with their grandchildren – only when they are still in utero – when they are “of course, a boy!”I was shocked to hear “It’s a girl!” both times – I was so sure my family picture would have a boy and a girl, and my first thought after hearing that #2 was another darling daughter, was “Crap… I have to do all of this again.” I feel an immense amount of guilt that I did not have the same joy after #2’s birth that I had after #1’s. I know know that I absolutely love both of them so much and that I am so glad that I have two girls (especially after spending the afternoon with my nephews). I do know one thing for sure – if we do have #3, I know I will get over my initial shock and be happy with what God gave me – no matter what “it” is.

    • ashersmom says:

      Whenever I see a particularly cute little girl in the park or in a restaurant, I get a momentary twinge to get pregnant again, or adopt, or something. But it passes. 2 is just enough kids for us, plus there’s always the possibility I could have a 3rd boy, and I fear I would not survive!!!

  16. Ninja Mm says:

    Aw, man, I love ya kid.

    When we had my first, a girl, I was sure the second would be a boy. Turns out the second was seconds: twins. I thought, surely one of them would be a boy. Nope. Girls. And I love them, all three.

    My third pregnancy I was more concerned about having only one; I was pretty sure more twins would end me. When we discovered early on that it wasn’t twins, I was strangely disappointed. And later, going into the first ultrasound during which they would tell me the baby’s sex, I knew I would be happy either way. And disappointed either way, too.

    That’s the real magic of babies. They are potential incarnate, dreams made tangible, and the hearts of mothers simply never give up dreaming.

    Hugs, momma. I totally get it.

    • ashersmom says:

      That was beautiful. You just made my uterus twinge again. I should call my husband now because he’ll shut that shit down. ; )
      I love you, too!

  17. I’m seriously not missing the point of this post, I promise, but I have to tell you that you made me deliriously happy when I read that your 20s passed with no husband and no kids, because that means there’s another old mom like me out there! When I had my second child at 38, my file had AMA written across it in big, red letters – Advanced Maternal Age. Ouch. As to the actual meat of the post, thank you for sharing something so personal. I would have felt the same way if my second child had not been a girl.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s nothing! Mine said “elderly high risk pregnancy on it! I was 36 but had diabetes. Elderly sounds so much worse to me :(

    • ashersmom says:

      Oh the AMA. I remember when I saw that on my chart for the first time. I actually pointed it out to the doctor so he could “correct” it. He just laughed. Thanks for the support. It wasn’t an easy blog to post.

  18. I have two wonderful girls and I do wish that circumstances were different and that we could have had three kids – one of them being a boy (as if I could control that!!!). Honestly, I was relieved when the first was a girl – I had no idea what I’d do with a boy. When I was pg with the second, I was pretty sure it was a boy. So I was shocked that she was determined to be a girl during an ultrasound. But I was happy to have two girls, and the Hubs was surprisingly okay too (I thought he’d be upset, but he loves having two little girls).

    Now I know that I’ll never have that boy. And it makes my heart ache a little. But I have two lovely, healthy girls. And I adore them. Anyway, there’s always grandchildren, right? ;-)

  19. I love the honesty of this. When we got our two girls, we knew we were done. Funny thing is when I got my first ultrasound with my first child, the sonographer told me it was a boy. I replied, “You are wrong.”

    Ellen

    • ashersmom says:

      Isn’t it funny how you just know sometimes? I knew the first was a boy but maybe I just let my wishes get in the way the 2nd time. I’d even bought dresses. It broke my heart to give those away as gifts to other people.

  20. i totally understand, and also? my daughter won’t wear a dress. or a barrette, or well, any of the “girly” things.

    • ashersmom says:

      No doubt that woulda been the way it would’ve gone down around here too. I’d be chasing her around all the time trying to pry her into tutus. Thanks for this.

  21. A: Your boys names are awesome. I have dreamed of having a boy named Asher since the coolest (in a so non-cool, outsider way) kid in my high school’s name was Asher Emerson.

    B: You can borrow mine if you want. Only when it is time to comb her hair after the bath though. EPIC CRYING COMMENCES!

    • ashersmom says:

      Ummm. I really look forward to combing out her hair while she wails, especially because I will still be recovering from my kindergartner wailing because I washed his hair. Could I maybe borrow her at a different time?

  22. I’m not sure how I ended up on your page today. Never been here before. Don’t know you from Adam OR Eve. ;) A winding road of pinterest brought me here. Because I am a believer, I don’t think things like that ‘just happen’. Anyway, I think it’s normal for us to desire at least one of each sex. But I, like you, didn’t get the earlist start. Then, I have two beautiful, healthy boys..and 3 babies that went straight to heaven. When you begin “losing” babies you realize even more that each of their lives are such a gift. I have a desire for a girl too, but I don’t know if that’s in God’s plan for us or not. Oh well, there’s always adoption. ;)

    Thanks for the good read. It provoked thought and refocused my perspective…again. I always appreciate authenticity!

  23. I feel the exact same way. I have three boys and with my first I didn’t have a preference and with my second I just KNEW the tiny being growing inside me would be a girl. Nope. Then the third came along and even though I was kinda, sorta, secretly hoping it was a girl, I should have known better – a boy again. I love my boys with all of my heart and wouldn’t trade them for anything in the whole world, but to have a little girl would be lovely. I’m still young and have many baby making years ahead of me, but I’m not sure at this point how many kids I want to have and I have a feeling that no matter how many I do have…they will all be boys. : ) — Think Lois from Malcolm in the Middle. Yeah, I see my life heading in that direction.

  24. I can’t express how much these feelings echo my own. I have two boys, and could not possibly love them any more, but I am longing for that little girl. I want to shop in the little girls section, paint her nails, braid her hair, take her shopping for a prom dress, help her plan her wedding…maybe it’s just all superficial, but it’s not the same relationship that you have with sons. I’m pregnant with my third now, and we are still early, so we don’t know yet, but honestly, this is my argument for finding out before delivery. At our 20 week ultrasound they will tell me, and I would be lying if I said that I would not need some time to deal with the disappointment if its another boy. By the time the baby comes, I will be excited for another boy if thats the case. That’s why I have to find out. I could not bear to find out its a boy in the delivery room and have that moment tainted with my disappointment. I’m sure that sounds awful to people out there who are having trouble getting pregnant, or don’t have kids at all… Believe me, I’ve had 2 miscarriages, I get it. A healthy baby of either gender is a blessing, but it’s not fair to say we aren’t allowed to grieve what will never be. Thanks for the post. It’s nice to know that other moms feel the same way.

  25. I knew without a doubt mine were boys, and I was so relieved. I was afraid of parenting girls, I think I thought of my own angst and mother/daughter stuff and didn’t know how I could do it all again on the other side.

    At least we never have to deal with first periods!! ;)

  26. I had a daughter. Like you I named her years before she was born. Dreamed about her, wrote a poem describing her. Then when she grew up she left. (Hopefully she will come back some day.) After her I had two boys–also like you–both I wished were girls. Both boys are still with me and amazing sons: strong, handsome, generous, brave. Having a girl is not always what it’s cracked up to be.

    • ashersmom says:

      That is the thing, isn’t it? Just because they’re the sex you wanted doesn’t mean they’ll be the person you want. I hope she comes back.

  27. Thank you for validating me. I desperately needed to read this. It took my husband and I awhile to have kids. Three miscarriages first, then our light was born. A beautiful boy. Another miscarriage and then another boy. I was a little surprised #2 was a boy but I was so grateful and in love I didn’t care. I am now pregnant with #3 and have spent every day of it fantasizing about how we would announce out little girl, what new toys she would like. How my husband would look holding and gently rocking our baby girl. He is just so much different with little girls and I wanted to make sure he could have that. Since I am over 35 I had the blood test for genetics and gender ( all i really cared about was the gender part). So when the tech called at 12 weeks to tell me the baby was healthy, I was thrilled. And then she said “Your having a boy!” and I said “Oh great” and I hung up and sobbed for the next 3 hours. It was the strangest experience. To feel the overwhelming relief of a healthy baby and this explosion of love for our new child. And at the same time watch my dreams of wedding dress shopping and painting nails and all the ways girls are different from boys…just burn. Then of course…the guilt, not just normal guilt but the MOM guilt, especilly a mom of 4 babies that are in heven and I wanted each one. The guilt of being upset about this dream. The grief of never putting a fuzzy pink wrapped baby into my husbands arms ( which he btw, says he could care less). I don’t think he will want any more kids. #3 was a stretch for him. I don’t know how this story plays out. But I do KNOW, I am IN LOVE with this unique little boy, I KNOW I ADORE boys. I get them. I get their feelings and toys and roughness and I allow and appreciate it. But I can’t explain fully how much better I feel to know that other mom’s feel,maybe even years later that they miss their little girl that never came. Thank you for being honest with me. I am so afraid to be vulnerable like this with some my friends because I feel like I might sound ungrateful or that they would judge me.
    I am blessed beyond all I deserve. I know that. Thank God for my three boys.

    • Cyndi, I really appreciate you telling me your story. I got a lot of flack from people when I told them how I felt after I found out my 2nd child was also a boy. But I knew there had to be other people out there who felt the same way. I was NEVER sorry I was having another boy…I was just sad that my dream of having a daughter was never going to come true. There’s a difference, and we are allowed to feel this way. I adore both of my boys and no one (of any sex) could ever replace them. And I know you feel the same way. XOXO

  28. I stumbled upon your post at the perfect time. I learned yesterday that baby #2 is another boy and am admittedly devasted as I watch the dream I have of a girl vanish. I know I’ll love this son just as fiercely as my first but I’m just sad – really, really sad. My husband can’t relate and I don’t dare share with others how i’m feeling. For me it’s not the dresses, hair, girl clothes, etc. I honestly think i will enjoy raising boys more. But the idea of not having an adult relationship with a daughter is killing me. I’ve had 3 miscarriages in the past year and pleaded with God for a healthy baby knowing i’d be thrilled with either. But, as this pregnancy progressed I was CONVINCED it was a girl. I kept my hunch to myself but just knew. That got my hopes up – way up. I went from not caring about the gender (or so i told myself) to feeling so blessed that i’d have that pink bundle. Tears are streaming as i write this so again, the timing is perfect. Thanks for being so authentic. I needed my grief (and guilt) validated today! Cheers to life full of mud, tumbling, energy and laughter!

    • My 2nd boy was a miracle since I am, ahem, an older mom. I’m so blessed to have both of them and I know you feel the same way. But you’re allowed to mourn that dream a little bit. We’re human. Just because society doesn’t make it okay for us to say how we really feel sometimes doesn’t mean it’s not okay. I’m glad this helped you to feel a little better. It did me too.

      • I’m older too – AMA for this one at 36. I would’ve sworn i was done at 2 kids but my reaction to yesterdays news may have me revisiting that decision. I’ll see how i survive the first year as a mom of 2 boys before deciding if i could make it as a mom of 3! In the interim, I’ll start my journal of how to be a kick ass MIL!

        • Yes, give it some time. 2 boys is all I can handle so I’m done (not to mention that AMA thing). Plus there’s always a chance the next one could be a boy too and well, OH BOY!!!

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