Why We're Waiting To Find Out Gender

I'm finding that people will judge your parenting choices before the parenting even begins.

I'm already receiving a surprising amount of negativity from other people regarding my choices with this child, and I haven't even given birth yet. Most are moms themselves and likely think they're being helpful. Women who have been pregnant and given birth in their own ways love to share their own stories, and I do truly enjoy hearing them. I just don't appreciate their assumption that because it was like this for me, it should be like this for Jennifer.

After doing pretty extensive research on OBGYN's in my area and finding that the most popular doctor in town (nicknamed "The Cutter") schedules basically everyone for C-sections between 34-36 weeks, I chose to drive out of town for a physician with excellent reviews and the lowest C-section rates in Alabama. I heard: You crazy! Why in the world would you do something like that?!? You'll be changing doctors before that baby gets here. That won't work. When it's time, that baby won't wait to get to that doctor. 

When questioned and pressured to divulge my birth plans, I shared my intention for a natural birth: Ohhhh, LAWD! You're gonna die! You gon' die and go on to Heaven! You gon' be screamin' for that epidural!  Promise me you'll go ahead and sign the epidural paperwork now, for your own sake. You do know it's pushing a watermelon through a lemon, right? There's nothin' natural about that! Why would you choose that? I would never want to feel my baby being born, NEVER. 

When pressed for information regarding my feeding plans, I voiced my intention to breastfeed: Just go ahead and buy the formula now. I couldn't do it. I tried, but it didn't work for me. You won't be able to do it for more than a week or two.

When people asked if they should buy Pampers or Huggies and I announced our choice to cloth diaper: You're crazy! Nobody does that anymore! Washing and reusing poopy diapers? That's nasty. You're gonna poke that baby with those diaper pins, then you'll getcha some Pampers. Okay, sure, but you're still gonna need regular diapers, what kind do you want? 

I even get criticism because I'm still vomiting at work at 21 weeks! You shouldn't still be throwing up. You should be over that by now. As if I can help it!

But. I believe the most controversial of all our choices has been our decision to wait until birth to find out if this baby is a boy or a girl.

You're insane!  

Noooo! How can you do this?!? *I* HAVE to know!!!! Just tell *ME*! 

How will you plan anything? How will you pick a name? How will you decorate the nursery? How will you buy clothes?!?!?

You are just TOO old-fashioned! 

Meanwhile, me and my newfound pregnant sassiness:

I'm not sure why this one blows people's minds like it does. It's not like finding out at birth is some antiquated idea, lost to faded centuries. My own parents didn't know what I was going to be, less than thirty years ago. 

Since the response to this has been so unexpectedly...disappointing, I wanted to make a list of reasons why this is important to us, both to help people understand and to reaffirm my own decisions for myself.

So. Here we go.

1. The ultrasound isn't necessarily 100% accurate, and I can't stop thinking about that.

I've heard of parents, even through people I know, being told the wrong gender at the ultrasound. A certain person shared with me the story of her best friend, who was told at an ultrasound she was having a girl. They picked out a name, had tons of things monogrammed, painted the nursery pink, bought a slew of pink, frilly outfits. Months later, when baby came out...it was a boy. They had to rethink everything. Rebuy everything. A family member actually had to leave the hospital and rush to a store to buy something blue for the wee babe to wear (because heaven forbid a boy wear pink!). They were stuck with a ton of personalized pink clothes they couldn't use.

I know that this is a rarity. But. I can't get it out of my head, and as a naturally anxious person, I feel that no matter what the ultrasound technician tells me, I'll have doubts constantly until I can examine that baby in person for myself. 

2. I don't want a bunch of tacky, stereotypical, gender-specific clothing. 

This one's selfish and superficial, I suppose, but uh, what some people call "cute", especially in the South, is somewhat tragic. There's this huge trend in Alabama (maybe nationally, I don't know; for sure in Alabama though) for little girls to wear these matching sets of over-the-top, head-to-toe, layers of ruffles in bright, patchwork colors. People here looove them, but they look like tiny clown costumes to me (And I hate clowns. Maybe that's my problem.). They're the tackiest things ever.

Also, all the Daddy's Little Slugger and Daddy's Little Princess junk, all the sports-centered things for boys and little-diva-ish garbage for girls only perpetuates gender stereotypes and glorifies practically idolatrous ways of life I'm just not into. I've never been a sparkly/glittery/pink kinda girl, and while I do love soft, lacy, feminine styles, I also collected insects as a little girl, liked to make loaves of bread from mud, and wanted to be a paleontologist when I grew up. Let's think outside the box. 

Anyway, when I think of the money people would be spending on these things, things I wouldn't be able to return and things that would never get worn...it makes my stomach hurt. If people want to be generous enough to buy baby clothes for me, they could just as easily spend the same amount of their hard-earned money on a sensible, gender-neutral piece of clothing. Or a gift card to Etsy or Target or Amazon so I can pick out things I like after baby gets here. 

See? Aren't these choices so much better???

3. We can reuse everything we do receive for any future babies we have.

This is a huge plus considering my minimalist, anti-consumerism leanings, as well as the fact that we are broke and trying to live that Dave Ramsey life. We may want to have more children, and if we do, we can pass our firstborn's clothing, blankets, and etc. onto the next babies, whether they're boys or girls. 

And if this baby is our only one, it'll be easier to sell these items or pass them along to anyone in need, regardless of what gender they're buying/planning for. 

4. We don't have room for a nursery anyway, so we don't need much stuff and decorating doesn't really matter. 

(not our bedroom, sadly)
Our house is 1100 sq. feet and under renovation. There's no place for a nursery. Our only option is cleaning out the corner of our bedroom and setting up a small baby area there. So obviously, our "nursery essentials" will be quite minimal, and we'll need neutral colors to match our simple cream and grey bedroom color scheme. 

No pink/blue walls, no themed crib bedding, no fancy furniture or decorations. 

We don't have to know baby's gender to set any of this up. 

5. It has the potential to be more fun for everyone.

Embracing the unknown is half the fun of any good mystery. Keeping everyone in rising suspense for nine months gives everyone plenty of time to speculate about gender and make their own guesses as the pregnancy progresses and my body changes. 

We can have fun with old wives' tales and ring tests and the like. At showers, we could have guests record their guesses and look back in the future to see who got it right. (Some people even hold bets for this to make it really interesting...) Pinterest is loaded with neat, creative ideas for gender-neutral showers. 

These are just little things we wouldn't get the opportunity to experience if we already knew the gender. 

6. We'll be less likely to experience gender disappointment.

When you find out what you're having halfway (or earlier!) into your pregnancy, you have several months to ruminate on the gender. Your baby is still a distant thing, still not quite real, and maybe you didn't get the announcement you hoped for at the ultrasound. It can lead to unfounded disappointment. 

Matt and I both have just kind of expected this baby to be a girl. We've always talked about having a girl, and I've had several dreams throughout my life of adult me with girl children. We don't have a preference, really, but if I find out now that I'm having a boy, I could spend the next four months dwelling on the fact that it's not a girl. I know my brain- how I manage to overthink everything- and I could definitely work myself up into a really stupid letdown. 

At birth, however, I'll be so ready to get this baby out, so ready to finally meet him or her, and so nervous about the multitude of things that could go wrong for me or baby or both, I probably won't experience disappointment about its gender as long as the he/she safely makes it into my arms at last, healthy. You know? I just can't imagine feeling anything other than pure excitement, joy, and gratitude in that moment. 

(And truthfully, I'd been walking around Target looking at baby girl clothes longingly, thinking how bummed I would be if it turns out to be a boy. But after we settled on the decision to wait to find out gender, my feelings shifted. When I saw my baby at the 20-week anatomy scan, looking so much more like a baby than a dark blob like it did last time, I realized suddenly that I no longer cared if it was a boy or a girl. I really didn't. It was the first time I'd felt that way. I expected to lay there nearing a nervous breakdown, ready to spit out, "I changed my mind! I HAVE TO KNOW! Is it a boy or a girl?!?" at the ultrasound tech. But I was so happy and thankful to see things developing normally that I no longer cared one way or the other.)

7. It should provide even more excitement and motivation during labor.

Obviously, like anyone, I'll be so ready to meet this child, to finally know him or her that I'll be excited and motivated to give birth. But the added aspect of solving the gender mystery at last? I think I'd feel an extra thrill knowing that was coming at the end of my hard work.

8. I want to experience that classic, dramatic, It's a girl/boy moment at birth.

Okay, I've spent a lot of years watching TV shows and movies. I've watched many of my favorite characters give birth on screen, and in each of those magical, highly dramatized moments, guess what happens? There's sweat, there's blood, a little cottage cheese, and a plethora of intense emotions. Baby finally comes out, then the person delivering baby holds it up and proudly tells the parent(s), Congratulations, it's a girl/boy! 

It's a bit anticlimactic when an ultrasound tech tells you months in advance, I think. 

And you know, it's gotta be more fun for the doctor and nurses, too. I would think most doctors would love the chance to make that big announcement after delivering their patient's baby. My doctor sure did seem excited about it when we shared our decision to wait with him. 

9. I've always wanted to experience a birth-day surprise at least once, and this might be my only chance. 

Some people have advised me to find out gender now with this one and let the next baby be a surprise. I was truly considering that for the longest time. See, I knew I wanted to experience this surprise, but I also knew that patience has never been my strongest virtue. I'm terrible at waiting. I hate it. I like to be in control, to plan ahead, for things to go my way.

I thought perhaps these people were right. I could find out at the ultrasound this time, and maybe, in a couple of years, when Baby #2 comes, I'll be more patient, and I can be surprised then.

But that's taking a lot for granted. That's assuming there will be more babies. That may not happen. So. Why not go for it now?

10. There aren't many true, fun surprises in life. Why spoil this one?

Think about all the happy surprises you've had throughout your life. Not many come to mind probably, because most surprises in life are unpleasant. Surprise, you have a flat tire. Surprise, you're being laid off. Surprise, you have cancer. The happy, big life events involve the choices we consciously make. Who we'll marry. Where we'll live. But you can't choose your baby's gender. It's one of the few genuine surprises we can experience.  

With this in mind, I've come to feel that finding out your baby's gender early on at an ultrasound is almost exactly like peeking in on your Christmas presents before Christmas morning. Yes, you know what you're getting now. You've ended your suspense. But you still can't open it. And maybe you'll be upset that you "cheated" yourself. 

I can't imagine regretting the wait when baby arrives. But I do suspect that I might regret it if I give in to pressure from family, friends, and co-workers now and find out the baby's gender, just so everyone will know what color stuff to buy

I've waited this long. Why not wait a little longer and experience one of life's most thrilling surprises?


I've never been good at standing my ground and doing what I really want to do, what I feel I should do. I tend to be too influenced and swayed by the people I care about. That got me into a career I despise. It led to a lot of regrets about how my wedding went. 

I refuse to let popular opinion talk my husband and me out of things like cloth diapering, natural birth, and waiting to find out our baby's gender. 

You do what's right for you. I'll do what's right for me.


Lacey said...

This is awesome! My parents did all of these... natural birth, gender surprise, cloth diapering, and breastfeeding. They also had 3/6 of their babies at home with no doctor. Kind of bad ass, kind of terrifying, lol. But they did their own thing and had no regrets. I'm proud of you for standing your ground! I think you'll be so happy you did!

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