Video: When only a baby girl will do

  1. Closed captioning of: When only a baby girl will do

    >>> staph infections.

    >>> our topics today in make rounds is are boys the news girls? from bur bank, dr. jeffrey steinberg, director of the fertility institute peps doctors, thanks both for joining me. gender disappointment, i had never heard that before and the idea that we're not satisfied with just having babies with all the right holes in all the right places and all the right connections being made. but jeffrey , you said this is sort of like the santa claus of sex selection . what do you mean by that?

    >> well, i don't think i garnished the term. essentially we allow couples to come in and choose a gender of their offspring. 95% of the time they're doing this to balance their family. they have boys at home and want a girl and they have girls at home and they want a boy. and we offer it with 100% certainty.

    >> how do you offer it with 100% certainty other than selective abortion ?

    >> this is in vitro fertilization procedures. we take the embryos created with inveto federal liezation. rather than give them back to mom blindly, knowing nothing about them, we're able to study the embyos with the ability to study the embryos. our gender options approach 99.91%.

    >> what do you hear from parents? certainly if you look at other countries where boys have been sort of the valued gender, and you may say culturally because boys could earn the money and in this country we're looking for girls to take care of their elderly parents. 50% of parents are considering purchasing kits to choose boys over girls. are you hearing the same kinds of things from your patients?

    >> in general, people without any children are not as concerned. the people with a one-sex child usually want the opposite one in their other child.

    >> so you're talking about balancing family, you want boys and girls . it's not that you necessarily want girls over boys.

    >> i think if the couple could only choose one child, usually the male would be a little bit more likely to choose a male baby to raise and a female a female. so that's part of what you're seeing here.

    >> jeffrey , assuming that i don't need i.v., do you still do i.v.f. anyone just so i can select the sex of my baby?

    >> well, you have to remember, this is patient generated. we're not saying to patients, let us do this. patients are coming to us and saying, can you assist us with this? of course, we can assist them and we're happy to do it.

    >> what's interesting about all of this is it is the science leaping way before the discussions which is all the mosh important reasons why we have these discussions, anyway. dr. jeffrey steinberg, dr. will yamts yam hertz, thank you to both of you.

updated 12/1/2009 2:24:08 PM ET 2009-12-01T19:24:08

Katherine Asbery was so depressed that her third child was a boy, she wouldn't even say the sex. She called him "not a girl," and spent hours crying.

She and her husband had even tried different techniques that promised to yield a girl. "That dream of what you wanted is gone, and you have to learn to live with that," she said.

Good mothers are supposed to say they are happy with a boy or a girl, as long as the baby is healthy. But gender disappointment is a very real and heartbreaking issue that affects many pregnant women.

Christine Lich of Lindenhurst, Ill., always assumed she would have a girl. Instead, she got three boys. She wanted to appear to be the perfect mother, so she never let anyone except her husband know her disappointment.

"And they tell you it's a boy, it's like, ahhhh. For that short moment, you're kind of bummed in the back of your mind. There's not going to be any pink dresses. There's not going to be any scrapbooking. That's not going to happen," she said.

Lich gets tired of people making comments such as: "Are you going to try for the girl?" or "You need to have the girl."

Even now, four years after her third child, she can't bring herself to buy clothes for a little girl's birthday because she just can't look at the outfits.

Joyce Venis, a psychiatric nurse in Princeton, N.J., who works with women suffering from gender disappointment, said it is not really discussed because other people would perceive the disappointment as being ungrateful. Venis said the problem mainly involves women who wanted a daughter.

Just because a woman has a gender preference does not mean she is a bad mother or that she doesn't want the child, Venis said.

"They have the right to want the certain sex," she said.

Venis suggests women find out during the pregnancy what sex the baby is so they can deal with any disappointment before the birth. She said women should find someone to talk with, and if the woman is depressed, she should talk to a therapist.

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Asbery, the mom who tried with her husband to ensure that she'd have a girl, has a masters degree in clinical psychology, and decided to write a book called "Altered Dreams: Living with Gender Disappointment" after sharing her story on mommy message boards.

She turned to her faith and drew strength from talking to others who felt the same way. She said it's important for people to understand that mothers suffering from gender disappointment want their children and are not bad moms. It's just the plan they had for their family has changed.

Her third son is 3 years old now, and Asbery admits she still has some pangs of sadness. She sometimes looks at her son and wonders, just for a moment, what he would look like as a girl. She and her husband are not going to have more children. Their family is complete, she said, and she doesn't feel like someone is missing anymore.

What she most wants mothers to know is this:

"It's normal. And they shouldn't feel like a freak," she said. "It is a normal process of when a dream has changed. You just have to relearn a different dream."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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