BABY | On Knowing Baby’s Gender

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was anxious and excited to have the 20 week anatomy scan. While the major purpose of this scan is to determine that your growing baby has all of the proper bits and parts (fingers, toes, arms, legs, spine, yada yada), the level of amniotic fluid, the placement of placenta, etcetera, many people know this scan as the one when you learn the gender.

It’s become a huge thing to know the gender, or to keep it a surprise. There are gender reveal parties when the expectant parents invite their friends and family over to have a fun celebration where everyone can learn the gender of the baby. Bakers make elaborate cakes with colored frosting on the inside or dyed white cake, or they can fill the cake with colored candies that are revealed once cut into. Colored balloons fly out of boxes when uncovered, or colored paper falls out of piñatas. It’s all a bit overwhelming to think of hosting another party while pregnant, but even if you don’t host a party, it can be overwhelming to decide whether or not you want to find out the baby’s gender.

At first, I didn’t want to know. I thought it would be a nice surprise once the baby was born, but slowly I was worn down by my husband and parents.

I told my husband I didn’t want to find out, and he said, “That’s nice, I’m going to.” Well, what fun is it if he knows and I don’t?

I told my mom I didn’t want to find out, and she said, “But it’ll make it easier for people to buy you things.” Which yes, is true. And being a planner myself, it’s difficult to not have all of the information when you’re planning for such an important arrival.

At our 20 week scan, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I was going to find out. I was also convinced we were having a boy. My 8 cousins are boys, and I’m the only girl in my generation on either side, so it just made sense to me that I would have a boy.

When that scan popped up on the screen, before we saw anything specific and before the technician said anything, my first thought was, “Oh my goodness. It’s a girl!” I had nothing to go by other than my mother’s intuition, and funny enough, we didn’t find out during that scan. My daughter was breach and her legs were tucked up into her crotch, so we left that appointment knowing all of the essentials were in order, but not her gender.

Luckily, I suppose, my placenta was low-lying, so I was able to go back for another scan 6 weeks later. It was during this scan that she cooperated and we learned we were having a girl.

It was fun for me to know that she was a girl. My husband and I finalized the name, were able to get a lot of hand-me-downs for the correct gender (though don’t get me started on gender-specific clothing and toys), and I felt more connected to her because I was able to start dreaming up scenarios about her life in my head. Yes, those scenarios aren’t anything that are necessarily going to happen, but I’m a very visual person and my imagination follows suit, so it was helpful for me to get started mentally.

I was nervous, too, about finding out. What if the ultrasound technician was wrong? I asked my doctor and she calmed me by telling me that in 18 years the technician had never been wrong. “There’s always a first time for everything!” I thought. But nope. She was right.

I was also nervous because I was afraid to tell family and friends and have people automatically create visualizations in their own mind of our child. I’m not sure what made me so anxious during my first pregnancy, but I definitely was. I wanted to keep details close at hand, not share much, not talk about it much, and just make it through before much of any swooning by others occurred.

But now I’m pregnant again – over halfway along now. “This is a totally different pregnancy!” said my sister-in-law once I asked family for some name suggestions. (Though they were just for fun – we already have our list made up.) This time I’m more open, more willing to share, and more willing to listen.

Before our anatomy scan, I polled 27 family members and friends on their gender thoughts. We were at 16 boy and 11 girl.

We had our anatomy scan at almost 22 weeks and I was convinced we would leave that day knowing (as if two additional weeks would allow the baby to be in the right position the first time). But he was. When the scan popped up on the screen I had no inkling of gender like I did with my daughter. I came in thinking that we were having a boy, and when the tech pulled up the image of the genitals and asked me what I thought it was, I said, “Boy?” and I was right.

I’m still nervous about the tech being wrong, although at this point she’s had another 2.5 years of experience added since she did our daughter’s scan, so it’s very unlikely she’s incorrect.

One of the highlights of knowing the gender this time is now I have even more to think about and consider. A son. This will be totally new for me. Being a female, it was easy for me to have a daughter first. I understand females. That’s a given. But now a son – there are endless considerations I am thinking about. It’s making me nervous again. But I have a huge village to help me with any questions or concerns I have, and also to help me enjoy every minute with our new baby boy. I’m looking forward to his arrival in four more months!


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