When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I couldn’t agree on whether or not to find out the sex of our baby. He wanted to keep it a surprise, but I felt like I wouldn't be able to resist finding out. Ultimately, my very smart husband left it up to me, citing the fact that I was carrying the baby, and my word ruled.
As predicted, even though I thought it would be cool to be surprised, once the sonographer had our baby’s squirming little body on the screen, I simply couldn't hold back. I needed to know. When I found out I was having a little boy, I giggled like a schoolgirl. A little boy… I just couldn’t believe it.
Without giving it much thought, we immediately told all our family and friends. The responses were positive for the most part. I remember being slightly ticked off by comments I would get as the months went on, mostly from strangers, who had the audacity to say things like “Oh, you’re having a boy! Watch out. You’ll have your hands full.” But I kind of thought this sort of thing was par for the course.
When I was pregnant the second time, my husband wanted to keep it a surprise, but yet again, I couldn’t resist. I will admit that since this was our second and last child, I was kind of hoping for a girl, just so I would experience both. But when I found out I was having another boy, I was equally delighted. My son wanted a brother, and I adored being a boy mom so I was happy to add one more to the clan
But this time I hesitated sharing the news. I knew that others would have comments about me having another boy, and what that meant for me as a mom, and for our family as a whole.
Turns out I was right: everyone had an opinion. Most weren’t rude exactly, but they got under my skin nonetheless, and I completely regretted sharing the news. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to find out the sex of my baby, but not reveal it, but when I realized that would've been a totally viable option, I immediately wished I had chosen it.
I was surprised how differently people would treat me once they found out I was having a boy.
Besides my own particular issue with being a boy mom, and having to deal with everyone’s ever so “helpful” advice and opinions about that, there a few more compelling reasons why keeping the gender of your baby a secret is a great option for anyone:
1. You don’t have to deal with highly gendered clothing at your baby shower.
I don’t mind blue or pink (though some variety there is nice), but baby clothing that is highly gendered just rubs me the wrong way. Sorry, not all boys will want to play baseball, and not all girls like princesses. I totally appreciated all the gifts I was given during my baby showers, but I really wish I hadn’t told everyone my baby’s sex beforehand—I think I would have gotten clothes I felt happier about dressing my baby in.
2. You may not like the idea of your kid’s gender being determined by others before birth.
Not everyone realizes this, but the sex your baby was born into (i.e., penis or vagina) is different than their gender. Most children will grow up very much aligned with the gender associated with their sex, but some will not. Plus, there’s a ton in the gray area: I would venture to say that many boys and girls have boyish and girlish characteristics, even if their gender traits are predominantly aligned with their sex. All of this is to say that revealing your baby’s sex before birth just invites people to stereotype your child’s gender even before its born, and some of us would rather wait to meet our child before deciding that.
3. Once people know, they treat you and your pregnancy differently.
I was surprised how differently people would treat me once they found out I was having a boy. They’d comment on how I was carrying, of course (“You’ve got a basketball in there!”). Someone once even commented on my weight gain, saying, “Oh, boys make you more hungry.” (Um, gee, thanks.) I wished more than once that I’d held my own tongue in the first place and not revealed the sex.
4. Learning the sex of your baby can feel like a private matter, best kept between yourself and your spouse.
My husband and I enjoyed talking about our feelings about having boys, and what it meant to us personally, and to our family. But having to share our thoughts and feelings with anyone else felt... well, wrong, especially when we first found out. It was something for us to process and observe in private, without a very opinionated audience.
If I were to have another child, I would definitely find out the gender of my baby again, but I wouldn’t tell a soul. Of course, I’m sure I’d have to deal with everyone else’s frustration about not getting to know. And everyone knows that with things like this, there are certain members of one’s family who just do not let up.
But if there's anything I’ve learned after two pregnancies, two births, two kids, and 10 years of raising them, it’s that decisions you make about your parenting are really up to you, and you alone. Period.
Ultimately it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks at all.