To Know or Not To Know: The Baby Gender Question

Not Knowing Baby's Gender

A few tries into the TTC process, my wife said something I never expected her to say. We were eating dinner in our usual places on the couch when she turned to me and said, “I don’t think we should find out. Don’t you think it would be better to let it just be a surprise?” Since we hadn’t been discussing babies and we were more than a week from our next attempt, I had no idea what she was talking about. “You mean, turn it on and just watch whatever is playing?” “No, not the television, the baby! Let’s not find out whether it’s a boy or a girl.”

This was a huge shock for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that my wife is a radiologist and I wasn’t quite sure how she could avoid noticing something when the images appeared on the big screen. Beyond even that was the fact that this statement was coming from a person who has been known to make a fairly detailed packing list for a weekend getaway…… on a Tuesday. In Parker-speak, surprise is to fun as hurricane is to favorable weather conditions. The suggestion put me in a difficult position. When someone who refers to herself as a “recovering Type A” voices a desire to take her hands off the reins a bit and open herself up to ambiguity, I’ve got to support that. I am a psychologist after all. But….. What about me? I liked the idea of keeping it all under wraps, but I never dreamed that we would actually do it. My need for control might not be quite as strong as my wife‘s, but I do like to know things. Now. Right now.

In spite of all that, we agreed that night on the couch to wait and months later when we were actually pregnant and went in for the anatomy scan, I nodded my assent when Parker told the sonographer of our wishes. She took care to tell us when she was getting close to the key areas so that we could look away and Yogi’s secret was kept until the day he arrived. After all those months of speculation it’s more than a little surprising, but when he was finally delivered, Parker had to ask me if we had a boy or a girl. She couldn’t see from her position and I was so entranced by that little face that I didn’t think to look.

Next May we’re going to do it all again. Parker is pregnant with number two and we’ve got six more months to wonder. Everybody thinks we’re crazy for doing this not once, but twice, but we couldn’t be more excited. There is an open sense of possibility about the not knowing that is really wonderful. Although we both find a lot of comfort in planning and organization, the flexibility in this decision feels right. We will never have a “surprise” pregnancy, but we can have this. One small acknowledgement of the wild and unbound world of parenting.

Whether you’re in the throes of TTC, expecting or already babied, what are your thoughts on “finding out”? Did you and your partner initially agree or was there a negotiation? Would you do it differently if you do it again?

Alison Armstrong* is a Southern, Stay-at-home-Mom getting used to life outside of academia and raising a child, Yogi*, with her wife, Parker*. You can follow her family’s adventures here and at her blog, Love Invents Us.

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