There was a time, not too long ago, when every pregnant woman had to wait until the birth of her child to find out its gender. Modern technology has allowed us to plan more accordingly, if desired, and find out what we are having well before the arrival. Currently, more than half of expectant parents find out the gender beforehand. This allows for planning of clothes, nursery décor, name and so much more. I’m a hardcore planner and list-maker, so maybe that’s why waiting to find out ended up bothering me so much. If you’re more laidback and like surprises, then a surprise gender birth may be more for you.
When we got pregnant with our first child, we couldn’t wait to find out the gender.
Early discovery blood tests weren’t available yet, so we found out the typical way at our 20-week ultrasound where the tech showed us the “hamburger” on the black and white screen. There was no gender reveal party or big celebration. We just reveled in the knowledge, made a statement shirt with iron-ons to wear in front of our parents as our announcement, and we began the purchasing and registering for all things pink. It was an exciting time and we got to picture our future with a daughter and choose a definitive name with no questions.
I think we assumed this was how any future pregnancies would be handled, even after getting pregnant the second time. However, about a month before we could find out baby #2’s gender, I had a change of heart and suggested to my husband that we wait. We planned on this being our final child, so I felt if we were ever going to let it be a surprise, this was our only chance. I had a few friends who had waited and they loved the surprise! So, we continued the journey of our second pregnancy in great anticipation (at the displeasure of my mom who REALLY wanted to know). Anything we bought new was gender neutral. I had bins of pink clothes (from sister) and a bin with some boy clothes, so once baby came, I could quickly organize the closet with the correct bin. (I told you, I’m a hardcore planner).
The day finally arrived.
The contractions started. The race to the hospital ensued. The epidural was placed. And after only six pushes, baby was born. At the risk of sounding apathetic, let’s just say I was underwhelmed when baby came out and the doctor turned her underside towards me. Maybe it was because I felt a boy was inside me the whole time. Maybe it was because we got what we already had at home. Maybe it was because this labor happened so much faster than the first and she was just there so quickly. Maybe it was because even though we had both a boy and girl name picked out, I couldn’t get on board with either one because I couldn’t picture a specific baby to match either name. I really struggled with the name we picked out for almost a year. And even if we had had a boy, I think I would have struggled with that name as well.
There was something about the uncertainty of it all that left me unsettled when the time came for that surprise. You know how sometimes the anticipation of a vacation is better than the vacation? It was kind of like that for me. The anticipation of the surprise gender was more exciting than the gender surprise.
Everyone I know who waited until the birth to find out loved doing so and many kept it a tradition with subsequent kids. I realize my opinion goes against what most surprised parents feel about this. I have the unpopular opinion. Needless to say, when we got pregnant with our third and final child, and the early gender blood tests were available at seven weeks, we jumped on the opportunity and found out as quickly as possible! This allowed a concrete image in my head of what would come out and I could attach a name.
Letting my daughter be a surprise did not change my excitement for birthing a healthy child or for sharing our big news. Our first daughter thought she would be a girl, so she got to rejoice in being “right.” We already had everything needed for a girl, so no more shopping was necessary. And she was my easiest birth out of the three, so she gets bonus points for that. Even though in retrospect I would have preferred knowing she was a girl all along — so I could let a name sink in and know what to expect — I still love that all three of our children have completely different birth stories. She is a huge part of our lives and I can’t imagine her being anything other than what she is.