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
I wanted to find out the gender of my baby but my husband didn’t. I really thought it was the done thing but am glad we didn’t know. Every single person throughout my pregnancy guessed without fail that I was having a boy (apparently the “way” I was carrying and my nose didn’t grow in size..!) so it was such a beautiful surprise when my daughter made her grand entrance, alhamdulillah. Not knowing also helped avoid the temptation of buying things & cluttering up the house as gender neutral options are limited. The only difficulty of not-knowing for us was that it made picking a name really challenging as it didn’t feel “real” and although we had a boy and girl shortlist, it all went out the window & was back to the drawing board once she was born!
With our eldest we decided not to find out; we had names chosen for each gender – so as soon as he arrived my husband started to call him by his name. I had an emergency c-section so only found out when I came round.
With our second – I had so many scans due to gestational diabetes, I actually kept forgetting to ask, when I finally did – the baby was too big to find out. We had a daughter and started using the name we had from before (also had a boy’s name ready.)
Third time round I found out, but my husband said not to tell anyone in case it was wrong. We didn’t tell the children, left it a surprise for them and we had another boy – and used the name left from the second time round!
I wasn’t too fussed about clothing – gender neutral was fine for all three. I liked the element of surprise.
Interesting context to have read this in – just as my sister declared earlier this morning that she was considering “not finding out”, and asking what my thoughts were!
When I was expecting, I wanted to know – because we were imagining a girl, and I wanted to be mentally prepared if it was a boy! It was a boy. It took just a few days to realise, “all for the better, I’ll spend less (we were on a student’s budget) by not having to buy all the awesome girly stuff that I keep coming across online”. Shopping for my son was an ‘enlightening’ experience lol – it was for the first time that i realised there are more than almost-no-options for boys (especially since we wanted clothes without pictures, which already decreases your pool size).
For the next one, if I can contain my curiosity, I would probably wait. If it’s another boy, a new baby in hand will be more exciting than looking forward to delivering another boy. If it’s a girl, I will have been less indulgent during the shopping period. However, that may practically not be as feasible either. A friend who never found out for any of her 4 children (“what will make me look forward to delivering if I already know what I’m having?” – when she already had both genders in the house), then had her sisters/sister in law go shopping for the baby soon after the delivery, which may not be possible in my case so I’d probably need to know beforehand to prepare.
Sumaya, that’s a funny story. I had a colleague who was expecting and they also had it written in an envelope in case they wanted to find out as they weren’t sure during the ultrasound. Then one day her husband “accidentally” opened it thinking it was something else.. I can still remember her shrieking at the top of her lungs in her office when she found out at work that he knew and she didn’t lol
Also, another friend who didn’t find out told me something similar to what Aiysha wrote – that when she actually delivered the baby there was so much going on they forgot to check on the gender. She said it felt so anti-climactic when she heard it was a girl that she wished she had known all along.
Personally my husband and I like planning well in advance so it was an easy choice for us! Although now that I have 2 boys and pray for a girl later on in life IA, I may want to be surprised so I don’t go through a pregnancy feeling a certain way.. you’re right that it’s amazing how these things can change!
Here in India it’s not just the baby being born but the heir apparent , the sole breadearner if it’s a baby boy or a liability if it’s a baby girl. Moreover the baby draws sympathy or pride depending on the gender ..Infact the inlaws desperately need a baby boy to carry on their dynasty and women are often victim of their ire if a baby girl comes into the family .. but perceptions have changed slightly today… But I remember signing a document everytime I went for my scan, wherein I was promising that I would not check the gender of my baby. Pre natal sex determination is a crime in India .. as it has ruined the lives of women and brutally killed babies for the simple reason that they were girls .. but when I delivered ( a normal delivery) I was so so excited to see my little maryam cuddle in my arms , that I forgot her gender and only knew shez my best blessing and I realise I have a little heart beating outside me for the rest of my life .
So for my first I knew I wanted to know. Everything about the first pregnancy was exciting and finding out gender was just another thing in the list that was so cool, so POSSIBLE that why wouldn’t I? But of course hubby decided he didn’t want to know, he wanted to wait. I told him fine, he can wait if he wants to. So on the day of the scan I asked the sonographer to write the gender down on a piece of paper and put it in an envelope 💌 ! I then went for a walk by myself later and opened it. It was snowing I remember and it was so so amazing and exciting to read that little message! It’s a BOY! Later that evening hubby knew I knew … but he was determined that he would wait to find out. He lasted all of half an hour (I timed it) before he changed his mind! Lol
I really wanted to know what my second child was, but they couldn’t tell. I would probably want to know, I’m not up for surprises, but I’d want to know later in the pregnancy, not at 5 months… more like around 8. I like knowing but could pass on all the questions for a while. That was the plan.