Even before my husband and I knew we were expecting our first child, we’d agreed that we didn’t want to know the sex of our baby in advance. And we stuck with the “surprise” baby plan with our second child. This seems to put us in the minority of parents today.
Listen. While I do think some gender reveal parties have gotten out of control, I don’t think finding out your child’s gender before their birth is wrong. It just wasn’t for us.
Here’s what I learned from not finding out before their births if our babies would be boys or girls:
1. It’s Somewhat Hard To Do
Until not that long ago, it was hard to tell an unborn child’s sex in advance. Today, ultrasounds are so detailed you can even see a baby’s hair. That makes it harder to avoid catching that telltale glimpse of genitalia.
So we went into each ultrasound appointment with the disclaimer to the technician that we didn’t want to know the baby’s sex. They’d tell us when to look away, and we crossed our fingers that the techs wouldn’t slip up and refer to our baby as “he” or “she.” One ultrasound tech did, however, offer her opinion that waiting until birth was “too long to wait.”
Speaking of which, yes, the topic of “finding out” is one of the first “parenting decisions” friends, family and even strangers will feel the need to sound in on. Not to mention that we faced hurdles with our own resolve. My husband stood strong with both kids, but it was harder for me to not find out our second child’s gender.
2. It Puts You In A Smaller “Surprise Baby” Group
I’d often get “Oh, that’s great!” comments from women of my mother’s generation and older, followed by their own stories of how they didn’t or couldn’t find out their kids’ sexes in advance, and how much they loved that.
When we encountered contemporaries who’d also had Baby Surprises, it was like we’d all been reading the same cult classic others had overlooked. A small thing, but kind of fun.
3. It’s Nine Months Of The Unknown
I have to admit: It was kind of fun thwarting people’s expectations. “What are you having?” “We don’t know.” “Oh!”
We got an extra nine months of not hearing gendered predictions for our unborn children. Friends, family and acquaintances enjoyed weighing in on what they thought we were having. But we didn’t have any conversations along the lines of: “Oh, a boy? He will X.” Or, “A girl? Well, expect that she’ll Y.”
Bonus: People gifted us non-clothing items (yes!) or neutral-colored outfits, which both our son and our daughter have worn.
4. It Bucks The Trend
I’m the kind of stubborn person who sees a trend and runs the other way. So as gender reveal parties got bigger and bigger (colored smoke, people?!), I doubled down in my determination to keep my kids a surprise. As much as I love cake, I didn’t need a video of my husband and I cutting into buttercream to reveal a pink or blue interior. Our big reveal was going to be on delivery day.
5. It Was Freeing Not To Be Able To Plan
I know some people feel they connect better with their unborn babies by knowing if they will be a boy or a girl. They can decide on a name, prepare a nursery with a specific sex in mind or calibrate their expectations for their future child knowing if they’re having a John or a Josie.
And believe me, I’m a planner. I start looking at Christmas card designs in September.
This was just one momentous part of my life for which I was willing to hold off on the payoff. Speaking of which…
6. It Proved I Could Delay Gratification
I’m not a very patient person. Just ask my husband. So waiting nine months to find out if we were expecting a son or a daughter exercised my patience muscle to the extreme. I reveled in teeny tiny gender-neutral clothing and stared long and hard at the ultrasound photos of my baby’s face wondering about who he or she would be. I embraced the mystery and wrapped myself up in the nameless.
7. It Helped Me Get Through The Labor
Both my husband and I felt it made the pregnancies and births of both our kids that much more special because they were Baby Surprises. Not knowing definitely spurred me on during each labor as I distracted myself with imagining the sight of my baby’s face for the first time.
Our second child took longer than our first to reach active labor. So I paced my delivery room talking to the unknown baby, saying how excited we were to meet him or her. And oh, could he or she hurry up please? I wanted to see that sweet face!
In the end, she came out so quickly that some of the nurses, who rushed in to help, didn’t know we didn’t know the baby’s gender. As they started to lay my daughter on me, my husband and I eagerly asked if it was a boy or a girl.
“Oh, you didn’t know?”
No, we didn’t. And it was totally worth it.
There will never be quite that same burst of adrenaline-spiked joy I experienced in the moments my kids emerged into this world and someone told me “It’s a boy” and “It’s a girl.” I truly met my children in those moments, and I’m so glad I held out nine long months for them.