I was delighted when my son was born but it is my one big regret that I did not have a daughter too. But 10 IVF treatment cycles did not produce one. So I do to a degree understand the stories of the two women below. "Daughter deprivation" is a real thing.
But I note that both women are emphatic about gender roles. They seem to want to prove something. It appears that they have feminist ideas that they want to apply to their daughters. They don't want normal "girly" girls. They want to show that girls don't have to be girly. That makes me a bit concerned if they do end up with girly girls.
I know one tomboyish mother who ended up unexpectedly with a "Princess" daughter but in that case it ended well. The mother was above all kind so the princess got her frills and things
Ethically, gender selection seems to me to pose the same dilemmas as abortion but since the selection occurs before there is any consciousness, I would be inclined to look the other way -- JR
We have come to the house of a woman we won't name, in a state we won't name, to talk to her about her desperate wish to have a daughter. We have agreed to call this woman "Kate", and such is her fear of social backlash that when we interview her, we film her in silhouette.
Several other women had agreed to be interviewed by Lateline, then changed their minds over concerns they would be targeted on social media for their views.
Kate suffers from what is known as gender disappointment.
How seriously you take that concept probably goes a long way to determining how you feel about whether Australia should legalise gender selection - the use of IVF to get the baby of your desired sex.
Gender disappointment is not a medically recognised condition. Critics call it a social construct, but venture into some closed online chat forums and you will find hundreds of Australian women who are sharing their disappointment over the sex of their children.
Kate, 29, already has two boys and is five months pregnant with her third boy - a revelation that left her "gutted". "I went to the bedroom and cried for a really long time," she says. "Then my husband came in and he cried as well. "You feel horrible, because you want to be excited that it's a boy, but part of you was really disappointed."
Kate is desperate for a daughter but she insists she doesn't want a "a ballerina, Barbie girl". "I'm not wanting someone that I can dress in pink and tie her hair up. I'm not wanting any of that," she says.
"It's just that I always imagined her and she's always existed. I feel the family isn't complete without her."
Kate and others who feel gender disappointment describe it as a guilt-ridden, debilitating depression.
"Unless someone has that desire themselves and feels how it can be all-consuming, they can't understand what it's like," she says. "It'd be so easy if I could just switch it off and just be happy."
Gender selection is not allowed in Australia, but an ethics committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council has been reviewing the guidelines for assisted reproductive technology and may make a recommendation for change.
"To you she doesn't exist yet, but to us we can't imagine a life without her," Kate wrote in her submission to the committee.
"It's really a personal decision and it's not going to hurt people the way that people seem to think it is.
"It's not going to affect the gender ratio, and it's not going to place these unrealistic ideas on the children that are being born."
Sarah has two boys, aged nine and seven, and four-year-old twin girls.
"I will talk to people and they go, 'Oh you're so lucky you got the two boys and then you got the two girls', and I will go, 'No, luck had nothing to do with that. I had to do some extreme measures to get my girls'," she says.
After having two boys, Sarah went to California, where gender selection is allowed, to go through an IVF cycle and be implanted only with the female embryos it produced.
Sarah had gone through the same range of emotions Kate is now experiencing. "It's gut-wrenching. I would be in tears," she says.
"It never crossed my mind that I wouldn't have a daughter, and I wanted that because I was so close to my mum that I wanted to be the mum that was that close to my daughter," she says.
She rejects suggestions sex selection is akin to creating a designer baby. "I didn't choose any eye colour, I didn't choose a hair colour, I just chose a girl over a boy," she says.
She is adamant that her daughters will not be expected to conform to gender stereotypes.
"I'm not going to force anything on my children," she says. "They can be gay, they can be bi, they can do whatever they want with their lives.
"I'm a live-and-let-live kind of person. "I don't judge other people, and I just hope they don't judge me in the same way."
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