To Know or Not to Know… Finding out Baby’s Gender

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I like surprises... parties, presents and finding out the gender of my unborn babies.

In both of my pregnancies, I didn’t discover what I was having until the final push, and I heard the words, “It’s a boy!” Yet sometimes I feel like I’m an anomaly. Thanks to modern technology and testing, doctors are able to determine gender earlier than ever, and more and more women are opting to receive the answer to the big question of whether they are carrying a boy or a girl. In fact, many can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to know.

For me, it was never an option. I knew I wasn’t going to paint the room pink or blue or do anything different in preparation for one sex or the other, so why find out? Besides, I needed the wonder and revelation to get me through the pains of labor. And it worked. Both times my husband and I were shocked – and thrilled –to welcome our boys (since both times we thought they were going to be girls). It was well worth the wait.

There are pros and cons to finding out early, parents say. “We wanted to know so that we could plan names and be mentally prepared,” says Karla Lemmon of Minneapolis, MN. But she and her husband Tim Lueder kept the news that they were having a boy a secret.

“People tend to go overboard with the pink and blue and gender stereotypes, and we didn’t want that for our baby,” she says. The downside to not telling the world in advance: “We got an awful lot of ‘I don’t know what to buy because I don’t know what it is’ comments.” On the plus side, they got a lot of gender neutral presents. Yet as soon as their son was born, the blue “boy” stuff began to pour in.

Some parents still prefer to do it the old-fashioned way. When the ultrasound technician asked Christopher Sharp and his wife, of Scottsdale, AZ, whether they wanted to know if their baby was a boy or girl, they decided to wait. In the meantime, they debated names for either sex. “We had a difference of opinion on both,” he says. “She had the two names she liked, and I had the two I liked. We decided to flip a coin while we were on our way into the delivery room. She won.” They did it the same way five years later. “Guess what?” asks Sharp. “I lost that coin toss, too.”

He was happy to be patient. “There aren't many real surprises in life once you reach a certain age. The best one is watching your child be born and learning if it's a boy or a girl the first time you meet.”

When Monica Friel of Park Ridge, IL, had an amnio with her third child, she specifically told the doctor she didn’t want to know. But at the next appointment, “the nurse came in and announced, “So you’re having another boy.”

“I already had two boys and was quietly sad that I would never have a little girl,” Friel recalls. "I heard that the nurse got in trouble, but I never saw her again." To make the best of her knowledge she painted the nursery blue, bought boy clothes and picked the baby's name.

Imagine her amazement six months later when she delivered a baby girl. "The shock was beyond belief," she says. "When I called my mother at 2 A.M. after I delivered, she thought something went wrong because I was SO hysterical, I couldn’t even catch my breath. When my mom told the boys in the morning and said you have a sister, they argued with her saying it was not a girl, they knew it was a boy and she must have been mistaken."

But her daughter was really there. "What a blessing it has been. I regularly look into her eyes and say, 'How did I get you?' As it turns out, it was even more fun to have the super incredible surprise that we had!"

Catherine Mattice of San Diego, CA, was glad she found out during her pregnancy that she was having a girl, since she really wanted a boy. “I was honestly disappointed for a few weeks and it made me feel bad that I was feeling that way,” she says. She and her husband discussed it and soon she got over her misgivings and was ready to receive her little bundle of joy.

“I fell in love with her instantly and I can’t imagine having a boy,” she says. In retrospect, "I was glad I’d had all that time to get over it before she was born so I could focus on loving her. For that reason I recommend everyone to find out the sex.”

With her first pregnancy, Anita Rajendra of Atlanta, GA, was “adamant” about not finding out whether she was carrying a boy or a girl, but she devised a unique way of solving the pink/blue decorating dilemma.

“I wasn't loving most of the gender neutral nursery bedding I was finding,” she says. “So, I worked with a local baby store to pick out a boy version and girl version. I asked my ultrasound tech to write down the gender in an envelope (and seal it) and I delivered that to the baby store. So, the baby store knew the gender before we did! They ordered the appropriate bedding and other accessories and once the baby was here it was delivered to our home. I felt like I got the best of both worlds.”

By Bethany Kandel