When I was pregnant, and it was almost time for our 20 week ultrasound, I was plagued with questions about how excited was I to find out the baby gender. When I told people we wouldn’t be finding out, a lot were in disbelief. Some people even acted almost offended, like it should be a common right to know if I had a boy or girl child inside my body. Even complete strangers thought it was strange.
I got so many people who said “I could never do that! I would have to plan!” and I totally get that. I would have little pangs of regret each time I would be in a store with beautiful baby clothing and accessories and see something I wanted to buy but that was clearly meant for one gender or another. (Esme wore a lot of grey for her first few months, and that was just fine.) I am just whatever the total opposite of “type A” is, and planning ahead for things isn’t in my nature, and I’ve never thought that the baby’s gender had much to do with its care. But I know that having everything planned – name chosen, nursery decorated, helps some people feel comfortable. Babies come with a lot of unknowns, so for some people, knowing what baby is can be an absolute necessity! Totally makes sense – these are just my own personal reasons for leaving baby gender a surprise.
1. MOTIVATION IN LABOR
I learned early in my first pregnancy that labor was largely mental, and if I could keep my head in the game I was doing my part to have my desired birth outcome (another topic for another day cause I could go allllll day on that. Lol). Not knowing the baby’s gender helped me during both of my deliveries because that crazy intense curiosity was another motivator. I know that there is an element of mystery in any birth, regardless of if you know gender and even name, because you’re meeting this whole new person that it about to become the center of your world. For me, I loved that extra bit. Through some of my contractions, I would think “when I get through this I will finally know what it is.”
2. THE ACTUAL REVEAL
There is NOTHING like that moment your baby is placed on your chest for the first time. Like I said above, it doesn’t matter if you have the baby’s whole existence planned out, there will always be that moment of meeting them for the first time and knowing them fully. But that extra moment of the revelation is soooo so sweet. I have videos of myself when Esme was born, right after Dete said “a girl!”, and I’m freaking out, just totally in bliss, obviously because the oxytocin and love is REAL in that moment, but also because I’m in absolute shock. We were 99% positive that both of our daughters were boys.
The second time around, because we’d been again positive our daughter was a boy, my midwife caught Blaire, laughed a bit, and said quietly to my husband beside her, “well, you’re going to be surprised, Dete”, and he laughed too. Such a lovely moment between us all.
The other day, a close friend of mine (hi, K. love you) showed me a photo of her baby’s birth and her husband’s face when he realizes he has a son is the best.
That moment – can’t beat it.
3. YOU WILL HOPEFULLY, MAYBE RECEIVE MORE PRACTICAL BABY GIFTS
Okay, this is maybe an argument that people will find callous to even bring up, but hear me out! I have been to a few baby showers where the mother has made a registry of useful baby needs and ends up at the end of the party with a car full of PINK CLOTHING. I know how fun it is to buy baby clothing! It’s honest to goodness one of the most satisfying things on earth. BEST EVER. And maybe some women love going home with a full car of clothing, but I would bet that most moms, especially those who are having their first baby, would maybe rather have practical things. Shopping for gender neutral clothing just isn’t usually as appealing to most people, so if they’re not sure what gender your baby is, they might be more compelled to shop for your needs! In my opinion, shopping for gorgeous swaddle blankets and toys and little cool gadgets is just as fun, anyway. First world problems. But still relevant.
4. THE SOCIAL MEDIA ANNOUNCEMENT
Is this the most shallow reason of all? Yes. Was it still kind of a reason I waited? Yes.
I know, I know. I just liked the fact that people would be anticipating the announcement post – gender, name, birth story, weight, all those unknowns. It’s just fun. Judge me if you must. Seriously, people are SUPER excited to know your baby’s gender, and when I know someone is waiting until baby is born, I anticipate that post birth Instagram photo like no other.
5. SURPRISES ARE FUN
It’s just cool, that’s all. Our biggest reason, truly.
6. AVOID GENDER DISAPPOINTMENT
This is a little heavier, but this is my blog and my experience, so here it is – I know this is somehow controversial, like we should just be happy for a healthy baby (of course!), but I have no shame in admitting that I had preferences both times, and I think that’s natural and expected.
I desperately wanted Esme to be a boy. I don’t even really know why now, but just know that I REALLY WANTED A BOY. So much so that I thought I would be disappointed if the baby turned out to be a girl. Part of our reasoning to wait was because I might feel very disappointed if it turned out to be a girl, and I had half a pregnancy to dwell on it and get down. Turns out I had some prenatal depression that I think was linked to that, but that’s another topic altogether.
Anyway, even throughout my labor with Esme, I visualized a little boy. I watched a video of myself in labor last night and Dete says “you’re doing it, he’s on his way.” and continuous referred to the baby as ‘he’ throughout the whole pregnancy and labor. We even called her by several boy names through my pregnancy!
The thing is, the moment she was born, I was just SO delighted she that she was there and alive and the gratefulness and hormones were flowing just right, so when I heard that she was a girl I had this overwhelming feeling of “yes! of course you are! I know you!” and I was immediately THRILLED she was a girl.
Not knowing worked for me, and I bonded to Esme immediately, and had that euphoric moment that is supposedly the norm as you meet your baby. But I know that that IS NOT THE NORM. I think a mother will probably know, if she has a strong gender preference, if this theory could work for her. On the other side of it, the argument could be made that a parent with a strong gender preference should find out the gender, so that if it is the opposite ofwhat they’re wanting, they can have time to get used to it, maybe call the baby by its name, before the baby makes its arrival. I can definitely see how that might be a better option for some people.
Above all, it is your baby and your decision! I just hope this makes you at least consider leaving it a surprise. If not, I’ll still show up at your gender reveal party with a practical gift.
** beautiful, profesh photos by Sheena Zilinski