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Pros and Cons of Learning the Sex of Your Baby


But I never tired of what happened next. More often than not, people would give me an appraising squint. A once-over. A confident smile. Then out would tumble the predictions: "It's a girl. I can tell from how high you're carrying." Or "It's a boy. You don't look pregnant from behind."

Now and then, their methods were more involved. My friend Eric solemnly tied his gold ring to a chain and held it over my open palm, a tradition of his Chinese-American family. The chain swung straight, then in a circle, then straight twice more. It was settled, Eric said. I would have a boy, and later -- if I got pregnant three more times -- I would have a girl and two more boys.

My mother performed a similar ritual handed down by her English-Swedish mother. She tied my wedding ring to a piece of thread, then dangled it over my swollen belly; we held our breath. It swung straight. "Ha!" she crowed. "You're gonna have a little boy. A hairy little boy. I know it. The ring trick is always right!"

I took this with a grain of salt. Ditto for every other homespun gender-revealing test. "So why do you go along with them?" Bill asked. "Because it's fun," I said. Fun to pretend, fun to confer, and, above all, fun to have those intense little moments with everyone from relatives to supermarket clerks.