This was Find Out if it’s a Boy or Girl Week. A friend once said knowing your unborn baby’s sex is still a wonderful gift, but it’s an unwrapped one. I mused over this while waiting for our sonogram and asked Husband N again if he was happy with our plan. He was. And so, we will be waiting another 20 or so weeks to discover what sex our baby is – when he or she is born.
Of course part of me wanted desperately to know but as we did with our first baby Eliza, we’re in for the long haul on this particular bit of news getting.
Maybe it’s a British thing. Compared to the UK, US parents-to-be seem more likely to find out their unborn babies’ sex. Back in Scotland I was one of nine friends expecting first babies and only one knew what she was having. Amongst pregnant friends here in the US, it’s the opposite - I’m the only one choosing to wait. When I made the appointment a month ago, the receptionist told me that sonogram would be when we find out the sex of our baby, as if it was a given I’d want to.
I used to think finding out your baby’s sex was a personality thing. Psychologists might define me the ‘delaying gratification’ type, i.e., I’ll eat a dinky, chocolate truffle in as many bites as possible to savour it thus making me the type prepared to wait it out for the good stuff. But my theory’s a bit rubbish as I can’t explain why Husband N gobbles his truffles in just one bite.
I hear what the finding-out camp are saying. A close friend in Scotland explained that knowing she was expecting a boy gave her a chance to put a name to their bump and so begin the bonding process from just 20 or so weeks in utero.
But what about the element of surprise part I asked. It’ll always be a surprise I was told, whether you find out at 18 weeks or 42. Another good point...
Then there’s the practical side of it too. Getting a nursery organised, buying suitably coloured clothes or hauling first baby’s outgrown garments from the attic and washing or E-bay-ing them accordingly, letting family know so they can be poised and ready with gender-appropriate gifts. It makes sense.
So why the wait? Why spend my pregnancy listening intently to old women in the street who bump-inspect before insisting I’m having a boy/girl because of my belly shape. Little do they know that two burritos for lunch are probably as responsible for my tummy’s landscape as my carrying a him or her.
Truth is, the last time around it did matter to me. Falling pregnant the first time, I wanted a girl so, so much. I didn’t tell a soul, not even Husband N. The bigger I grew, the more people said I was carrying a girl. I loved hearing it – but these people weren’t professional doctor types - they were cosmetic girls at perfume counters, middle-aged women standing beside me at the supermarket check-out, friends with kids – the ‘true’ professionals. Their results were as good as the real thing. Secretly I began spending more time on my girls’ names list than my boys.
But here’s the funny bit. On my knees, butt-naked, straddling a mat and holding my blinking, purpley-pink seconds-old newborn after an eye-wateringly long labour, I forgot to check what sex our baby was. As Husband N and I gazed mesmerised at our 8lb 4oz treasure, the umbilical cord still hanging from its belly between its legs, it was the midwife who had to prompt us for a gender check. We were simply too awe-struck and relieved our baby was here safely to care what bits it had.
Thanks to my team of lay experts, I of course knew it was a girl. But at the end of the day, the surprise was still there – completely, utterly and wonderfully so. In glittery paper with ribbons!
Husband N and I are practical people. We buy kitchen roll in bulk, stick supermarket shopping lists on our refrigerator and always carry a supply of wet wipes or hand sanitizer in our highly practical car. You’d think the practical side of gendering our unborn baby would appeal to us.
But no, for babies our hearts definitely rule over heads and it’s nothing whatsoever to do with chocolate truffles. Phoning up family to tell them we’d had not just a healthy baby, but a girl, emailing friends with the news...It’s been one of life’s most formidable treats – almost as good as finding out ourselves (when we remembered to look!)
So that’s why we’re waiting. Because, though it’s great getting gifts, I always prefer mine wrapped. And this time, I’ll be equally happy if it’s tied with blue or pink ribbons...