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Finding Out the Sex

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

Did you find out the sex of your baby? We didn’t with Preston—when I was walking into our 20-week ultrasound last time, I changed my mind on the spot and decided I didn’t want to know the sex. It wasn’t hard—I liked not knowing. It made the pregnancy all the more suspenseful. And I didn’t feel it connected me with the baby any less. Most of my friends and family thought I was having a girl—but in the back of my mind, I think I always knew it was a boy. Looking back, it’s hard to remember thinking it was anything other than my little dude.

This time has been totally different though. As I’ve mentioned a thousand times, I went through IVF in September of 2011, and had four subsequent frozen embryo transfers last year. Because of an uncertain diagnosis of “unexplained infertility”—unexplained secondary infertility—we never seemed to get closer to any answers, even though I had every test imaginable done. Everything always looked “perfect”—which was frustrating to hear after a while.

Before the final embryo transfer, I did things a little differently, in the hopes I’d get a different outcome: I had a hysteroscopy—that’s when they “scrape” your uterus looking for abnormalities like polyps. While a small benign polyp was found and removed, it was nothing that would’ve prevented me from getting pregnant. (I swear, when my OB, who did the procedure, said, “Your uterus looks perfect!” I wanted to cry. Can something please be wrong so we can fix it?)

We decided to have our remaining embryos tested, before transferring another one. This is an optional step in the process that’s still gaining popularity—insurance doesn’t cover this, so the cost can be somewhat prohibitive ($5k-7k typically). The embryologist who I’d transferred my embryos to is renowned for PGD testing—pre-implantation genetic diagnosis—which screens for chromosomal abnormalities. In doing this we were able to see the chromosomal makeup of our embryos to make sure we were transferring a healthy, viable embryo—but it also means we were able to see the sex.

Does this mean I picked the sex of my baby? No.

We transferred the embryo that was the healthiest. This process was not about picking the sex—it was about giving ourselves the best chance for a successful transfer, after three unsuccessful transfers that left us scratching our heads each time. Even though our embryos always looked perfect under a microscope, when we had them thawed and then screened further we discovered a few of them would never have resulted in a pregnancy or birth.

Once I got pregnant (hallelujah!), along with the nuchal translucency screening I had a blood test for my first trimester screening—new last year, it’s called MaterniT21 Plus—which screens for chromosomal abnormalities, specifically Down Syndrome. It’s 99% accurate, and there are no risks involved, unlike getting an amniocentesis or a CVS, which many women of advanced maternal age are advised to do. Through this new blood test, we were also able to confirm the sex of the baby. (If you’re over 35 and thinking about this, ask your doctor about it—for some, it still makes sense to have an amnio or CVS. I personally felt comfortable doing the blood test, because I’d already had my embryos tested.)

So the moral of the story is, I’ve known the sex for a while now, but I haven’t felt comfortable talking about it—I wanted to wait till the 20-week ultrasound. I needed to see it to believe it, and I wanted to make sure everything looked okay.

And today I saw it: WE’RE HAVING A GIRL! How cool is that!? After everything I’ve been through, it’s surreal to be pregnant again—but to be having a girl? It really is a dream come true for me.

As excited as I am though, I'll admit it feels a little strange knowing the sex…I’m not sure I’ll ever be totally comfortable with it, but this whole pregnancy has been a different experience for me, and I’ve come to terms with it (plus, now I can design a girlie nursery, which I’m super excited about). Why did you, or didn't you, find out the sex? Did it feel strange knowing? Did you refer to your baby by its sex? I feel funny doing that, but maybe I'm just a little superstitious.