Long ago I made the decision that we wouldn’t find out the gender of our baby. And we’re sticking to that decision, thanks to my husband, who’s making sure that even when I waver, he reminds me that I made a decision and I am NOT backing out now.
My own personal opinion on this is that welcoming a new human to the world should be a big, enormous, huge event. And as much about it as possible should be exciting and surprising.
(Sidenote written long after this blog was posted originally: I revisited this topic in a blog titled “A Case for Suspense.”)
Why I don’t want to know your baby’s name—until after it’s born
I don’t want to judge anyone else’s decision — it’s got to be what’s right for them. But personally, I am always irritated when someone shares not only the gender they’re having, but also the full name. Then the birth, which should be a very exciting moment (“She had her baby? Oh that’s wonderful! What’d she have? What’d they name it? Oh that’s so cute!”), becomes extremely routine (“Oh, she had Carter? Good to know.”). No questions remain. And this event is about as exciting and surprising as paying your income taxes.
Admittedly, it’s still a surprise for parents to finally MEET their baby. But I do think that having a baby is an exciting experience for everyone around you, so why not make it as exciting as it can possibly be?
This feels like the right decision for us for other reasons, too. Not a single thing about conceiving this baby was natural. We traded candlelight for laboratory fluorescents and red wine for intravenous propyphol when we made our little Peanut. So why not let one part of this pregnancy be a little old fashioned, a little 1960s-style? Besides, our mothers and grandmothers never knew baby’s gender, and they did just fine.
“I just HAVE to plan.”
But when a friend asked me if I was planning to “find out,” and I answered that we were leaving the gender a mystery, her eyes grew big. She shook her head in disbelief. “Wow. That’s going to be hard. Personally, I couldn’t do it. I just had to plan.”
That puzzled the hell out of me.
Does not knowing the gender imply that I’m not planning for my baby? And exactly what plans am I not making because I don’t know if Baby will be sportin’ a vulva or a peener?
The upsides and downsides of “not knowing”
Yes, it complicates the registry process a bit. I’m not buying a shitload of clothes for my critter (then again, I don’t even know my baby’s style preferences yet). And it makes present-buying a little harder for my friends and family.
But all in all, it hasn’t made things so difficult. I painted the nursery a neutral blue/green color (okay, I confess, that’s the color our guest room has always been; I’m just so anti-nursery-decorating that I was determined to leave it as is).
I registered for all yellow and green baby items (another confession: I registered for a purple stroller/carseat, because dammit, I love purple, and if someone wants to judge my kid’s gender by the stroller motif, they just plain suck). And I’ll have to buy two “coming home from the hospital” outfits, but who cares? I’ll keep the unused outfit, or give it to a friend if we don’t have any more babies.
Can you handle the suspense? Yes. You can.
Yes, it’s hard not knowing, but I get through it by envisioning the baby’s birth. When my hips are being wrenched apart by a human head and my perineum is being torn to kingdom come, I’ll be able to get through it by knowing that there’s a sweet payoff at the end. Not just meeting my offspring, but knowing — finally — if he’s a little version of my husband or she’s a little Me. That will be a seriously amazing moment.
On the flipside of this, my hairstylist told me yesterday that when she found out the gender of her first baby, she felt judged, too. As if she were violating some unspoken code of Motherhood by not being surprised. So perhaps the message here is that we’re all being too goddamn judgey.