When I was pregnant for the first time, it was assumed by all our friends and family that we would find out whether we were having a boy or girl. It was what everyone else did and, after all, why wouldn’t we want to know? Then all the gifts can be planned and you can choose a name they would say with much excitement.
However, as the day of the all-important anomaly scan approached, I felt increasingly uneasy with finding out anything more than whether the baby inside me was healthy and growing as it should despite my extreme hypermesis and work stress.
We began to let people know that we were thinking of leaving it a surprise till the baby arrives whenever they asked if we were looking forward to finding out the gender. Reactions varied from somewhat understanding to completely perplexed: What? Why? Just find out now – It’s so much easier when you know!
But what exactly would be easier? Buying gender neutral clothes didn’t seem like such a big deal for the first few weeks and our space was too small for a dedicated nursery so I didn’t need to consider paint colours or bedding and my husband was happy to leave it or find out, depending upon what I wanted.
What I couldn’t really explain to all those lovely questioners was that I didn’t feel I could take on the emotional investment of knowing if this baby was going to be a girl or a boy. Right then, it was a baby and only that. I could project only as far as it’s babyhood would let me. But I knew the moment I found out the gender it would cease to be “baby” but become a definitive daughter or son, with an entire life stretched out in my imagination.
If, God forbid, something were to happen with the pregnancy or birth, I would have lost not only a precious and beloved baby but I would also have lost all those expected years with my well-visualised daughter or son – all the particular moments I would have dreamed of while it kicked away in my belly or pressed against my ribs. Baby was enough for me. Perhaps, I thought, some things remain hidden for a reason.
When, eventually, that baby was born, we were so overwhelmed we forgot completely to check if it was a boy or girl! All the midwives assumed we knew from before but it took us a good ten minutes to realise we had no idea. It was a girl and the moment of that knowledge was magical.
With my second, a boy, it was the same. We waited and met him as our son at his birth, in an entire experience which was utterly transformative.
But… isn’t it amazing how things change? How we alter and adjust? I now find myself halfway through a very treasured third pregnancy and questioning whether is would be easier to find out what this baby is? I look at the bags of tiny clothes I’ve stored away and realise I could jettison half of them if only I knew whether this baby was a boy or girl. I still feel the pull to wait but there are more functional considerations now. Maybe my imagination has become less vivid or I’ve suddenly become more practical or I’ve simply become less patient – whatever it is, the reasons to find out seem somewhat more attractive than they ever have before. I have no idea what we will decide.
So tell me, what did you do? Did you find out whether you were expecting a boy or girl? Did you love knowing before the birth or did you find out and then regret it, wishing you had waited? Was your scan correct or did you have a surprise opposite gender reveal at the birth? Was it as straightforward as not being able to wait or perhaps you really had your heart set on either a son or daughter and needed time to adjust to the fact that the baby might not be the gender you wanted. Are you pregnant right now and considering the same question? There are so many ways this could go, please share everything.
Image Credit: Jennifer Pack