I completely understand why all of my friends chose to find out their baby’s gender via sonogram, before birth.
The middle-aged sonographer thought I was joking when I told her that I didn’t want to know. “Really? You’re the first person in months to not want to know,” she said. But it wasn’t that I didn’t want to know. I wondered every day. Rather, I was choosing not to know.
As she administered what would be (for that pregnancy) my final pre-natal sonogram, this quizzical woman repeated what the sonographers before her had said. “I’m glad you’re waiting. That’s what we all did when I was young, before you could find out. There is no surprise more worth the wait.”
To each her own, I say again. A dear friend was so playfully annoyed that I was waiting to learn the news that she asked if she could come along and have the doctor write it on a slip of paper, so she could start shopping for clothes. I laughed and refused. When this same friend became pregnant a year later, she found out as soon as she could. And I celebrated the revelation of her child’s gender with her, halfway through her pregnancy. By the time the baby came, she knew the name and had the nursery ready to go.
I delight in planning, in being super-prepared. So why then would I choose not to know my baby’s gender as quickly as possible?
I can think of plenty of good reasons to find out the gender right away; and friends and strangers alike always press, “What are you having?” But I think there just might be others out there who would enjoy hearing the story of an expectant mother who waited to find out and would do it again.
Reason #1: The loss of control
You know the very thing I said I revel in? I willingly gave it up. I drove myself crazy... a good crazy. I knew that being a mom would mean a constant loss of control. Why not practice? After spending nine months totally in the dark about an incredible secret I could have found out, it was like I had endured Control Loss Boot Camp. Not finding out my baby’s gender was a way to train myself as a new mom to not freak out on those days it felt like everything was outside my control.
Reason #2: Loving acceptance
Have you ever noticed that everyone has an opinion on which gender would be better for you to have?
“Oooh it’s probably a girl because you’re so girly. I just think you’d take to a girl easier.” Uh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know the amount of leather or lace I wore affected gender outcome. “I hope you have a boy. Your husband must want a son more than anything.” Did I hear you correctly? “Hope it’s not a girl. They can be so difficult. A girl will give you a hard time, especially when she begins menstruating.” Did you really just say that? The child hasn’t taken his or her first breath yet.
When you’re pregnant, everyone assumes you have a preference. The fact is, I didn’t care what I had. I just prayed my baby would be healthy.
But what if you do have a preference, and then find out you are having the opposite? That happened to one of my friends. She spent months worrying that she would not bond with her daughter because she so desperately wanted a son. When she met the baby, she fell in love. Why not avoid the worrying altogether?
Your baby is not primarily a gender. First and foremost, your baby is a person... with a unique and beautiful soul. Want to prove that to the world? Wait to find out. Then, people will be meeting Baby James with the sparkling eyes and incredible laugh or Baby Alice with the tuft of curls and voracious appetite, and not simply “the boy” or “the girl.”
Reason #3: To avoid disappointment and keep unfair pressures off an unborn baby
Some cultures still instill the superiority of having sons—there might be someone in your family, whether or not they admit it to you, who will be disappointed in which gender your unborn baby is. Sure, they may eventually get over it. But why not spare your child being anything but happily anticipated?
Not finding out the gender is a statement, an act of defiance against the temptation (whether yours or someone else’s) to “root” for one gender, or have preconceived notions about the child’s personality. It can also be a way to protect an unborn baby from people’s opinions before they are even out of the womb. There will be plenty of time for facing those later.
Reason #4: Green or yellow is cooler than pink or blue
In the words of Gwen Stefani, “Take this pink ribbon off my eye!”Ever get a little sick of bubblegum pink and periwinkle blue? There’s a whole color palette to choose from.
My nursery was seafoam green, decorated with Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck. The clothes my baby to wore home from the hospital? A beautiful soft cream onesie with a bunny rabbit stitched on the front. All of the sweet yellow, green, and white outfits looked adorable – and it was fun to go shopping for the more gender-specific clothes after a few weeks of recovery.
Reason #5: You make some people nuts... and it’s fun right?
When you might otherwise hear a lecture on what it’s like to raise a boy or a girl, complete with “advice,” you’ll instead hear, “You seriously don’t know? It makes me crazy and it’s not even my baby.” “It’s in God’s hands,” you answer, “Not mine.” And you reach for more Mexican food. The guacamole tastes even better than usual.
Reason #6: What if the sonographer was wrong?
Think that can’t happen? I know someone last year who thought she was having a girl... guess something special was hiding off camera, because lo and behold, she delivered a baby boy and brought him home to his pink Disney Princess bedroom.
Sure, it’s rare. But can you imagine if they made a mistake? You might feel you were mourning a lost baby you never really had.
Reason #7: Connection to our foremothers and our faith
For almost every generation before ours, women discovered their baby’s gender after delivery. These births had an air of mystery and magic. Loved ones paced outside, awaiting the exciting news, instead of reading about it on Facebook in advance. Although almost everything about labor and delivery has improved since those previous generations, I like this connection to the sacred mystery of births that came before. Whatever our religion, not finding out the gender is an act of faith, supreme trust that all will be well and that ultimately you will have what you are meant to have.
Reason #8: Anticipation like Christmas Morning
Remember the feeling of being a kid who couldn’t wait to open your present and find out what you got? The anticipation is like that... about 100 times cooler. My aunt told me, “It helps you push, because you’re so excited to find out.” And she was right. When I found out the gender? I cried tears of pure joy... and amazement. Turns out, it really is the best surprise of your life.
Reason #9: A baby is never the way you would expect anyway
Knowing the gender might make you think you know better what to expect with the new baby. Wrong!
Any mom knows that she never could have imagined the perfect and crazy uniqueness that is her baby. Waiting to find out allows you to fall in love with a new baby, rather than the preview report of a gender, which often carries with it stereotypes that your child might transcend. For example, you might have a rambunctious baby girl who is always getting scrapes, and a cautious baby boy who would rather sit on the sidelines with a board book. We’re having people, not pink and blue drones.
Reason #10: It bucks the trend
The big trend these days is finding out. It’s so easy—there’s sonograms, blood tests and even over-the-counter kits.
If you decide to find out, I totally get it— I almost caved several times, and that would have brought its own excitement, and maybe a gender reveal party. Or, there might be a particular reason why finding out makes the most sense for you. But if you decide to hang in there, I’m right there with you. And we’re not alone. If you want to find us, we’re the ones with the two names picked out, the frustrated friends waiting in suspended curiosity, and the euphoric tears of surprise in the hospital.
Oh, and what did I end up having? Exactly what our family needed... the most beautiful baby my husband and I could have imagined, inside and out.