March 24, 2008

Reader Question: Finding Out the Sex of the Baby (or, It Has to Happen Sooner or Later)

Courtney writes:
I'd love to hear you talk about finding out or not finding out the sex of the baby. Here's the dilemma I'm facing:

I'm not pregnant but we are starting to try for #2. We've always wanted at least one boy (and our first was a girl). For some odd reason, I had decided that I didn't want to find out the sex with the next baby thinking that that would reduce any disappointment if it turned out to be a girl. Of course I feel like I have to say that I would love any baby, but I would be lying if I didn't admit that I would be disappointed to not have a boy next because we are only planning on having two children.

I had just about convinced my husband to not find out the sex and now he is making me second guess my decision. He really thinks we should find out for convenience sake, but I argue that it doesn't really matter because we won't be re-doing the nursery or buying new things no matter the outcome.

I am an extreme Type A kind of girl and I hate surprises in general so in a way it was kind of an exercise in discipline to see if I could really do it (you know, character building), but now I'm starting to back out thinking that it would just be so much easier to know. I'm just so afraid that if I find out ahead of time that it's a girl then I will be more disappointed than if I'm there in the hospital when the doctor announces that it's my new daughter. What are your thoughts on finding out the baby's gender when you can vs. not finding out? There may be some of your readers out there with some advantages/disadvantages to either scenario that I haven't already thought of.

At first I thought I would just reply to Courtney's email and NOT do a post on this: I've reached my LIFETIME LIMIT on hearing "It's like opening the present before Christmas!" and "There are so few surprises in life, I don't want to spoil one of them!" But then I couldn't resist: I really, really like hearing what you guys think about things. Um, as long as you don't say either of those two things, because LIFETIME LIMIT.

It's hard for me to say for sure, since I found out midway every time, but my feeling is that the surprise is the same either way: it's merely an issue of finding out sooner (less time to wait) rather than later (more time to wait). I disagree with the point of view that it's only a surprise if it comes a few months later. I was MIGHTY SURPRISED at each ultrasound, and disliked people implying that the Window of Surprise Opportunity was only open during the birth itself.

Also, for me, the boy/girl surprise is not as big a surprise as the baby itself. I like to spread the surprises out: the boy/girl surprise midway, and the Baby Itself surprise at the end. I can see, though, how it might be nice to have the two surprises happening simultaneously, so that the Baby Itself surprise can overshadow the boy/girl surprise if necessary. Or, you might instead be thinking you don't want the birth of the baby tainted by any disappointed you might feel if the baby was not the sex you were expecting or hoping for.

One of my primary reasons for finding out midway is that it takes me awhile to adjust to new things, and I wanted plenty of time to get used the situation EITHER WAY. (Another primary reason was that Paul REFUSED to wait, and said that if I didn't want to know, HE'D find out and not tell me.)

A lot of people like to know ahead of time because of gifts. In my circle, everyone gives presents AFTER the baby is born anyway, so it doesn't matter.

I think it's more exciting for OTHER people when someone waits until the birth to find out. It's hard to beat the "It's a girl/boy!" announcement.

Some people like to find out midway so that they can feel more connected to the baby, or more prepared for its arrival. I feel that way. The first half of the pregnancy, I feel weird not knowing if the baby I'm imagining is a girl or a boy. I feel happier during the second half, when I know.

Since I like baby names so much, you might think I'd want to wait until the birth so I could choose two baby names, one for a boy and one for a girl. But I find the name hunt exhausting as well as exhilarating, and I have more fun with it when I know what half of the name book to look at. Also, I hate the idea of putting so much effort into finding two perfect names, knowing I'm GUARANTEED to lose one of them. And because names are such a hobby of mine, I've even found that they can affect what I hope for: if I find a great girl name but a meh boy name, I start hoping for a girl so I can use the great name instead of the meh one.

Some people like to wait longer because they find the anticipation stimulating, and the excitement of wondering helps them to get through the pregnancy and delivery. I find anticipation wearying and stressful.

I don't think either way is "better;" I think it's only a matter of preference. The boy/girl element isn't the Christmas present, it's only the wrapping---and you can see the wrapping paper in August and still not lose the magic of Christmas.


Feener said...

i have 2 girls (and we have only 1 boy in the extended family)
i found out the sex with our first. we choose NOT to find out the sex with our second. i wanted to experience both the surprise of before and the surprise of after. i was hoping for a boy i must admit. of course now i could never imagine life with out my second little lady and i am so happy to have 2 girls.

i will be honest, i felt it was more fun to know ahead of time the sex. it felt like i had more time bonding with the baby inside me. i liked being able to plan more. that is just my experience.

babytoddleretc said...

Ultimately this is a personal decision but since she (and you) are asking for my opinion, I will give it.

In Courtney's case, as she described it, I would find out the sex of the baby. This will give her the opportunity to either mourn the fact that it isn't a boy (she will need to go through that process) or stop worrying that it isn't a boy and really enjoy that it is.

I have two anecdotes that support my reasoning.

My 1st anecdote is my own situation. My husband had become convinced we were having a boy and even convinced me we were having a boy. We weren't going to find out but we had an amnio and the secretary congratulated me on having a girl. When I told my husband, it was clear that he was really nervous about having a girl (he felt as if it was more responsibility. Plus he's a boy so he 'gets' the whole boy thing). Within a few days he got over his disappointment of not having a boy and really got into having a girl. If you saw him with his little girl, you wouldn't believe he ever had any misgivings about it (I would have hated for him to go through this process after Becca's birth).

In another example, a friend I knew choose to wait for the delivery date and the initial expression of disappointment on her husband's face is seared in her memory. Like my husband, he now totally loves his daughter and wouldn't have it any other way. However, he can't take back that initial shocked look.

So my advice would be, if you have any investment in it being a girl or boy, I would definitely find out. If you TRULY, TRULY don't have any preference over whether it is a girl/boy, then I would wait for the big reveal.

Mary Kate

Shelly Overlook said...

We didn't find out, but I can't even say one specific reason why. We wanted to be surprised, I didn't care about knowing for gift/nursery purposes, and in some way it was an exercise in patience for me (which is something I don't have). We were the only ones in our childbirth class of 14 couples not to know and it did make delivery even more exciting. I don't regret not knowing at all, but if we were to have another child, I would find out now that I've proven to myself I can wait if I HAD to.

heather said...

We didn't find out the sex of either of our babies before they were born. I loved not knowing. I do think it made it more fun for us, as well as everyone else. I was so miserable being pregnant that I felt like not knowing and still wondering and guessing and imagining helped get me through. Like if I knew, and I had every little pink or blue detail all ready to go and the exact name picked out, then I would just be left miserable to WAIT for him/her to get here already.

I had a friend who when she had her first boy, found out the sex and had his name picked out, had this "picture" of her perfect little boy in her head for five months, and then when he was born with a severe cleft palette she said she had a really hard time with it because he wasn't matching the 'picture' she had in her head of him. The next three babies she had she opted not to find out the sex, as she said when the sex was a mystery she was less apt to form such an ideal picture of how things would be when it was born. That she still felt bonded to the babies ahead of time, but the physical aspects of the baby were left intentionally "blank" so that she could instead fall in love all over again at first sight.

I know a lot of friends who say it just feels so impersonal and/or hard to bond not knowing. That it feels impersonal to call the baby "it" or "the baby" and not to be able to say he or she or use their name. I didn't/don't see it that way at all. I couldn't imagine knowing either one of my babies' sex would have bonded us any earlier or easier than we already were. It's still my baby, no matter who it is.

And there is nothing like getting through labor and delivery and hearing those three words... "it's a boy!" or "it's a girl!" and experiencing the high of that shock or that surprise or that relief right along with all the other emotions of meeting your baby.

But I do think you're right Swistle, that it's just different people, their different personalities and preferences that makes you "have" to know ahead of time or not want to know. I personally loved not knowing.

Tessie said...

I'm the same with pretty much ALL of the "find out sooner" reasons you listed.

I think Finding Out was important to Tessie the First Time Mom. I was really pretty ambivalent about being pregnant the first time and knowing the sex, and even calling her by her name before her birth really helped me "get used to" the idea of being a mom and to visualize my baby and myself as a mom.

I think it would be LESS important to Tessie the Repeat Offender, but still I think we would find out for all of the reasons you mentioned.

Also, I think a lot of the pressure to wait sometimes comes from a generation who didn't have the option and so, of course, thinks we shoulnd't either.

stephanie said...

My husband thinks, when this time comes for us, that he'd rather not know. I call BS on that because when we're at that point and they ask if we want to know? HOW CAN YOU SAY NO?? Oh, you know if my baby is a boy or girl? Nah, no thanks. I'm not interested.
I couldn't wait. I know I couldn't.
Of course, that's just me.

Kathi A said...

I've always been one to NEED to find out. We found out with my son, and I felt so relieved to finally know. I definitely felt like I bonded with him more after I knew he was a "he." I think it's cool when other people wait, I just know I could never do it myself. I also liked knowing ahead of time for planning purposes,just so I could know whether to focus on boy outfits or girl outfits on the clearance racks. I do know someone who was told that they were having a girl, had a girl name, nursery, clothes, etc. and they ended up coming home with a boy. I'm sure it took them a little while to get over that shock!

Erica said...

I found out Maddie's sex and I'll do the same with any and all future babies. I agree that it's a surprise no matter when you find out. And I really enjoyed getting to shop and pick out pink girly things.

I have a hard time understanding wanting to wait. Seems to inconvenient to me. I mean, sure it's prolonging the surprise, but there's so much that's going to surprise you. What your baby looks like, their disposition, etc. Seems like the sex is the least important.

LoriD said...

This is so interesting!

I didn't find out beforehand with any of my three. Why? I don't know... I just didn't. I only had 4 ultrasounds total over three pregnancies, and only once did the technician ask if I was interested in knowing the sex.

I'm a pretty laid back person, so issues about nursery details, clothes, names, etc. didn't concern me at all. I liked the excitement and specultation of not knowing. I liked hearing others opinions on what I was having based on all the old wives tales. I liked having two names picked out.

Jen said...

you know, there are so few...just kidding. :)

we totally found out because i am a control freak and must know everything there is to know. also, i was afraid because i wanted a girl so bad, that we would have a boy and then i would spend that first day or so getting used to the idea and being stuck in my head instead of enjoying the baby.

not to say that that would happen with everyone, i just know that's how i process things. i wanted to have time to get used to the idea either way...and being stuck in my head while pregnant seemed the better alternative.

plus, even though we found out, i kept thinking that the u/s could have been wrong so when she came out finally, it was still a huge relief.

jonniker said...

There is no way in hell we're not finding out. For starters, Adam is like Paul in that he will totally pay off the ultrasound tech to find out himself if I don't. Secondly, the whole surprise thing really doesn't fly with either of us. I think there are PLENTY of surprises that day, not the least of which is an entire new being shooting out of your girly bits and you know, becoming someone's PARENT for the first time (OMG).

I like to think of it as knowing what you can control -- I can't help a lot of the surprises, both good and bad, that will happen that day, but by God, I can at least know what kind of parts this kid will have.

AndreAnna said...

I HAD to know. I was damn near beside myself with anxiety and excitement each time.

And I swore if one more person said to me "life only has a few surprises" I was gonna bop em in the nose.

Peeing your pants is a surprise too and if given the choice, I'd sure like to know it was coming so I could prepare for it.

Thia said...

With the first, we waited. I wanted my husband to be the one to tell me the gender of our first child. We peeked with our second b/c I wanted to know if I needed to buy blue to replace the pink we had collected (and we needed to). This time around, I guess it wouldn't matter much since we have both, but finding out has provided some encouragement to us in the middle and it's fun to talk about names and call our unborn by her (it's a girl!) name.
It's one of those things in life where each couple has to decide what is right for them and with hold judging others.

desperate housewife said...

I really liked Mary Kate's reasoning: if you are truly invested in having one sex over the other and KNOW that one or both of you will feel somewhat disappointed if you don't get your wish, I would try to find out NOW so you can get over that before the birth rather than after. Because thrill of birth or no, you may still feel a twinge of letdown, and I (personally) think it would be better to get that letdown out of your system so the birthday is untainted.
With Addy the technicians were unable to tell her sex even though I wanted to know. I remember purposely not looking at Jim's face when the doctor announced she was a girl at her birth, because I had been wishing for a girl and he for a boy, and if there was any disappointment on his face, I sure as heck didn't want to see or remember it.
With Eli we were able to find out at sixteen weeks, so I spent much more of the pregnancy feeling bonded to him- for me, it definitely felt more real and personal when I knew the sex as opposed to not knowing. And I didn't feel any less thrill or excitement at the birth because I already knew it would be a boy. If anything, I felt that it helped, because while I was pushing (without drugs) and desperately wanting him OUT NOW, I remember talking to him before each contraction, saying, "Come on, baby boy, we can do this!" When they finally handed him up to me, I had that "I know you!" feeling that I hadn't really experienced with Addy. Of course that could just be the difference between a first and second baby, too.
Whoa, sorry for the THESIS here.

Jill said...

I don't want to find out. My husband's response to "but there are so few good surprises" is: surprise! we're having a baby, how much more surprise do you need?
Obviously, I have no personal experience with this, and I could find myself knocked up and absolutely *dying* to know, but to me there's just something...quaint and old-fashioned about not knowing. At this point neither one of us has a boy/girl preference since we just want a baby oh my god can we please just have a baby?
I can kind of understand wanting to know for a later baby--especially if you know it will be the last baby, and if you only own all girly things or something.
I do love hearing other peoples' reasoning behind finding out or not finding out, b/c most people generally have strong feelings on the topic one way or the other. And then of course for every "we had to know" story someone has a cousin who was told the wrong sex and it ended up being a *real* surprise after all.

In all honesty, with my luck I'll tell everyone I don't want to know and then some oblivious ultrasound tech will let it slip anyway.

Jess said...

I haven't been pregnant, but I think that I would like to find out ahead of time. I intend to, once I'm pregnant, unless something changes.

The one reason why I can think that Courtney might not want to find out is that if she's so hoping for a boy and it isn't a boy, that might, MIGHT be easier to deal with when there is an actual baby in the picture, you know, because the baby is there and it's harder to wish it were any other baby once it's really there and not inside you anymore.

Elizabeth said...

We definitely found out the sex ahead of time. As you say, I figure it's going to be a surprise regardless of when I find out, and labor and delivery is full of plenty of surprises anyhow, so I might as well get some info at the halfway point of the pregnancy to tide me over.

We only have one baby, and I think knowing we were having a girl and seeing her on the ultrasound made the whole thing much more concrete for my husband. Maybe just seeing her would have, but knowing she was a girl so we could settle on a name really made her seem like a real person to him.

A sweet story about some friends of ours: They didn't find out the sex of the baby in advance, and their midwife doesn't make the big announcement when the baby is born, but lets the couple check for themselves. Our friends were just so thrilled with the birth of their baby that they were cooing over him and snuggling with him and she had even started to nurse him before the midwife finally stepped in and suggested they see if they'd had a boy or a girl.

Ellen said...

We didn't find out because we didn't want to (especially my husband thought it would be fun not to know). Other people find out because they do want to. We found it fun not to know and had many delightful conversations speculating. Others find it fun to know and have many conversations about their little boy or girl. So while I don't think we'll find out for any subsequent children, I really don't understand folks who make it a matter of MORAL VIRTUE whether to do it one way or another. It's personal preference and, either way, the baby experience is special and fun and always some sort of surprise!

Anecdotally, my mother had five of us and never found out. But with her third, she had to have a very late ultrasound and the tech was showing them different parts, not meaning to show sex... but then the baby shifted and it was glaringly obvious that this one was a girl! My mother wasn't bothered and my sister's accidental display of nudity has made for a fun family story!

Vicky said...

We found out with both kids. I liked knowing for the convenience and also because it helped me bond with the baby in a different way.

With my second pregnancy, my husband convinced himself and me that we were having a second girl. I'm glad we found out ahead of time so the little disappointment I felt had long faded by the time my son was born.

Jana said...

We've done it both ways. We didn't find out with #1 and haven't found out with #3 (due in 8 weeks), but both of those pregnancies were/are completely textbook and fairly easy. We did find out with #2 just because I had a complicated conception/pregnancy (fertility issues, miscarriage scare, etc.) and I just felt like I needed to know. Irrational, I know, but it's impossible to explain the reasonings of a pregnant brain.

It was nice to know with #2 for planning purposes and especially in the naming process. It is SO difficult coming up with lists of names for both genders! Our biggest reason for not finding out this (last) time around is to drive my mother-in-law crazy. Again with the irrational thinking, I suppose.

Alice said...

never been pregnant, but i'm the type of person who would have to go with knowing, for Mary Kate's reason. it would be awful (for me) to have any aspect of the birth be a "disappointment," even if both me and the father got over it quickly.

Saly said...

I am in your camp. The first time around, so many people told me “there are so few surprises in life, why not wait??” Here is my standard response:

It as just as much of a surprise in the doctor’s office at 20-weeks as it is in the delivery room.

Truth be told, I am a control freak. I need to know what is going on, and be as prepared as humanly possible for any situation—otherwise, I have a tendency to fly off the handle. The sex to me has been important for bonding with the baby pre-birth as well. I love being able to say “she is kicking me in the bladder”, instead of “it” all the time.

I also tend to form an opinion about the baby’s personality etc before it comes out; and sex definitely comes in to play. I was certain this baby was a girl before my ultrasound, and had already become attached to having another baby girl. It would have been a big adjustment to find out it was a boy, even then, with 20 weeks to go. Could you imagine waiting until 40+ weeks, dead sure you were having one thing, just based on feelings, and finding out it was another? I feel like there would need to be a re-bonding experience in addition to all the new baby/new mommy bonding that is already going on.

I guess what I’m getting at is that knowing what the baby is before hand makes her less of a stranger when she makes her appearance.

Of course, to each is own……I’m interested in reading all of the other perspectives out there.

Sundry said...

I love how you explained your point of view here, because you so perfectly captured my own. You're damn right it's a surprise either way, why have I never used that as a counter-explanation to people who asked why I would want to SPOIL the surprise? DAMMIT.

Farrell said...

I think it IS a matter of personal preference, but more exciting to others, as you said, because you really can't beat that "it's a boy/girl" announcement. I *do* like it when people keep some element of surprise, say if they already know the sex, but don't reveal the name until the birth.
I personally wanted it to be a surprise, despite my normal type A hating unknowns personality. I was surprised because I "had a feeling" it was a boy, and out came soph!

Ms. Flusterate said...

I have 3 daughters and did not find out each time ONLY because I did not have any ultrasounds done. I can't remember why exactly but it was something to do with military hospitals and no real reason to have them at the time. So, surprise! each time. Thankfully, I never cared if I had a boy or girl. Had I been given the option to find out, I don't know if I would have chosen to find out--maybe?

Clarabella said...

I, personally, don't think I could stand to wait. Suspense and anticipation, like you Swistle, make me uncomfortable. I found out I was having a boy at 15 weeks. And even if we hadn't wanted to know, the boy was showing it off. I knew what I was looking at on the screen before the technician even asked us if we wanted to know. I was giggling and nudging my boyfriend in the gut while he stared confused at the ultrasound.
Anyway, my pregnancy was unplanned, and we were initially pregnant with twins (one of which we lost at 12 weeks), so for us, the fewer surprises the pregnancy held, the better.
And my boyfriend's motto was "having a baby is quite a surprise; I don't think knowing the sex is going to change that."
It gave me 25 full weeks to call him by his name and think about having a little boy, and I wouldn't change it for a minute. When he showed up, I was still excited to meet him and see him and learn who he was, but I felt close to the little stranger already, knowing it was a he for six months already.

sam said...

I found out with my first and also with this pregnancy. I love knowing what the sex is. Labour and Delivery and having another child is so full of surprises as it is, I don't feel that I've ruined anything by finding out early.

If anything I have the chance to be better prepared and it's nice to have a little surprise / reveal in the middle of the pregnancy too. I found that it kinda breaks up the pregnancy a bit - the first half is spent guessing what it could be, then the second half is waiting for baby to get here!!

I started babbling and have no idea if any of that made sense, but I'mtoo lazy to go back and edit. LOL

Anonymous said...

We didn't find out, mostly because I really really really wanted a girl, and so did my husband. Everyone said I was having a boy (from the way I was carrying etc) but I didn't want to know until I had the baby in my arms when there could be no disappointment. It turned out to be a girl (hurray!) and the funny thing is sometimes I miss my baby boy, because I was so prepared for him. I think the picking of two names leads you to think, later, "where's Johnny?" (or whatever name you picked). For the next one, I think we'll find out just because now we have all girl stuff.
Great topic, by the way.

Michelle said...

I am in a similar situation to Courtney - girl first, probably only two kids, not pregnant yet, want to be soon, would really like a boy... I was toying with the idea of not finding out too. But for me, it came down to what I want that moment at birth to be like? I did NOT bond with my daughter immediately like so many women do, I needed a little time to warm up to her. But her birth was wonderful and not marred by any disappointment over gender. That is why I will probably find out next time too - I don't want that moment of my child's birth to be tinged with anything sad or disappointed.

bananafana said...

We're just a few weeks (hopefully) from baby #2 and we didn't find out with either. Our biggest reason is that hubby wants the waiting room "it's a boy/girl!" announcement moment. And we really and truly absolutely don't have a preference. I think it's fun not knowing because I'm really really looking forward to finding out and am enjoying the suspense and dreaming about both (esp. since this will be our last child). I will say that if you're really invested one way or the other I think you should find out. Also I will agree with the name issue - not only are we undecided on a girl name, I now have the most perfect boy's name and it's driving my crazy that I might not get to use it.

Sarah said...

I feel like that is something that i might write, but switch up the genders. We have a boy, I really want a girl, and I don't know if I want to find out next week the gender of baby #2 because I don't want to be disappointed!

Sarah said...

Ok, but I really wanted to say 'there are so few surprises these days' - but I can't? I said it enough while I was pregnant - I guess I wasn't so original!
So I have one baby boy, and obviously we did not find out the sex ahead of time. I am also of the planning variety, so for me to wait was a big deal. I'm glad I didn't find out though. It was fun (I don't know why, that makes no sense!). I convinced myself that we were having a boy, so I have no idea what I would've felt if they'd told me otherwise.
For our next one (if), I don't know what I'd do - hard to say.
Good luck, I've been of no help at all!

Jenni said...

I love waiting. I found out with my first, but have waited with the last three.

I can totally see the benefit of both ways, but waiting is for me.

Marie said...

I had originally wanted to wait until the birth to find out the gender, but as my pregnancy went along, I really wanted to know "who" was in there. We did find out and both my husband and I were glad that we did; we felt like we were better able to bond with her.

I also wanted to find out because I think I secretly wanted a girl and, like others here have said, I didn't want to have any disappointment on the actual birthday. I will find out with the second one too, if we get that far.

JMC said...

I didn't find out with any of mine (four girls), even though the PRESSURE from other people to find out the next time increased exponentially with each birth. But the sex held no importance whatsoever to my husband or myself, so it didn't matter.

K in the Mirror said...

Such a hard choice!
I can't stand not knowing. But in my opinion, a surprise is better if you really do want one or the other. I have a friend who wanted a girl BAD and was depressed the whole last half of her pregnancy after she found out she was having a boy. I don't think you can look at a sweet new baby you just birthed and say "meh, I wanted the other kind." At least I couldn't.

With me, I was pretty sure my second child was a boy- i just had a feeling. I had an early sonogram at 13 weeks and they said they couldn't be positive but they thought it was a girl. Which was what I really wanted, so I was really happy, but also strange because I really thought it was a boy. At my next sonogram they found out that it actually was a boy, and then I was totally confused.
When he was born, the doctor didn't say "it's a boy" since we knew that's what we were having, so they whisked him off and I'm yelling, "is it really a boy? what did we have?"

I'm not sure whether these anecdotes will sway you for or against finding out, but there you have it.

d e v a n said...

We've found out each time, but this time I was particularly interested (3rd pg) because we have 2 boys and deep down inside I was SURE this was a girl. SURE!
And I know myself well enough to know that I could not go 9 months thinking girl thoughts and not be disappointed if the baby came out with some extra equipment.
Indeed, I have to admit I cried (only a little!) after the u/s when they told us it was a boy. But NOW I'm so happy and so good with it and SO GLAD that I KNOW!
I simply have no patience and can't imagine saying I don't want to know at the u/s, so we find out.

Anonymous said...

I might be the ONLY one of all your commenters who thinks the two LIFETIME LIMIT reasons are convincing, but I gotta say that I do. They're true! And while I get the counter-points you make and I don't begrudge ANYone their option to find out sooner for whatever reasons they want to - in fact I don't think I'd ever try to convince someone to do differently - I think that christmas wrapping paper and baby gender are different things. Y'know? Like while looking at the wrapping paper does not spoil the surprise AT ALL about what's inside, knowing the gender does give away a big part of the pregnancy. NOT that that's a bad thing! At all! For YOU!

BRash said...

I have a 17 month old son and we didn't find out the gender. I really wanted to find out but my husband didn't want to know, and I talk in my sleep. So, no finding out for either of us.
I also really wanted a boy and always always have only wanted a boy, in part because I was very tomboyish growing up and didn't think I could do girl things and girl clothes.
Because I couldn't find out beforehand I was really nervous about being disappointed during the birth and even tried to change my husband's mind. But I kind of got behind the whole not-finding out bandwagon and I think it makes the whole process that much more fun and exciting. It's nine months of wait and wonder! I felt like I really got to mull over who I thought might be in there and he got to have a full range of options for who he wanted to be. If I had known the gender I may have made more unrealistic expectations or desires about what I'd wanted, instead of just being open to whatever was coming my way.
But of course, I wasn't disappointed and the "It's a boy" announcement was one of the coolest moments of my life. And now that I have the boy I've always wanted, I feel like now the girl option looks better and I love looking at the little baby girl dresses that once used to scare me so much.
And next time, I DON'T want to find out the gender and because i'll be open to either opportunity, instead of fervently wishing for one gender, I think it's really going to be a great experience and a great surprise.

Angie said...

I did not find out either time, so I don't have any experience with finding out. However, when other people find out, I'm excited right when they tell me, and then it's kind of a let down of "oh, now we know." No more surprises. I know that you still don't know what the baby looks like or the baby's personality, but that develops over time. I really liked the surprise.

I was afraid both times that someone would mess up and tell me. (We now live in Germany, where they do an ultrasound at every appointment.) I think I would have been very disappointed if I'd found out (not by what we were having, but that I no longer had a surprise coming.) This time I had a scheduled c-section, so the birthdate wasn't even a surprise. Of course, I had the perfect girl name picked out that we didn't get to use, and we hadn't yet agreed on a boy's name.

HOWEVER, if I had thought that I would at all be disappointed with the gender of my child, I would have found out. I would hate to think that I could be holding my brand new baby and be upset that I had a boy/girl. So, my advice to her would be to find out.

Swistle said...

I was out shopping this morning so I came home to dozens of comments and I'm reading them now all at once. OMG, you guys are so SMART and INTERESTING, and I'm SO GLAD I asked you! I LOVE reading all your thoughts, and all the things I hadn't thought of, and all your experiences! KISSES!!!

Maggie said...

Since I was a labor nurse for several years, I have seen it done both ways, and it's always fun and exciting.

My only qualifier is this - if you don't find out, then you REALLY need to be okay having either a girl or a boy. I will never forget being in a delivery of a 4th child, where there were three girls and they were really wanting a boy (but hadn't found out). They had the WHOLE FAMILY in the delivery room (and don't even get me started on that) and were recording the delivery. Out pops baby #4, and when I said "congrats, it's a girl, she looks great!" the whole family said nothing, and then two people said "bummer - we really wanted a boy".

I can't imagine how that girl will feel if she ever found out how much more happy they would have been if she were a boy.

I think either way is good - but if you don't find out, then I really think that you need to be okay with either one.

Brooke said...

We didn't find out the sex of my first child because the ultrasound tech refused to tell us. It did not impact our nursery plans or registry choices, so it wasn't a big deal. We picked two names, everyone hated our boy name, and then "It's a girl!" It was fun to hear that in the delivery room. It was fun to be surprised.

That said, we opted to find out this time. I'm glad we did because it took me some time to get used to "looks like you're having a boy", and then the subsequent amnio, which became, "You're having a boy." Boys frighten me, with their aggressive behavior and hygiene choices, so it's taken me that long (I'm due in 2 weeks) to fall in love with the idea of a son. I'm glad we found out, because I may have been disappointed at the birth. Or not. But now I won't be for sure.

carrie said...

amen! well said, swistle!
we found out with both girls and were surprised and loved knowing it ahead of time.

wrapping paper in august...PERFECT analogy.

Jeninacide said...

I totally agree with you. Finding out early does not decrease the surprise at all. It's just an EARLIER surprise. I would NEVER be able to wait. I went to the 3-D ultrasound place the MINUTE I hit 16 weeks and found out I was having a BOY.

Shelly said...

The first time, we were really laid back and decided that if the baby cooperated, we would find out the gender. It made a nice excitement boost at the five month mark. Just when the "We're having a baby!" excitment was waning a little, we had the "It's a girl!" excitement to bolster us along until delivery. The second time around, we were all hoping for a boy, and by the ultrasound, I was completely convinced that they baby was a boy. So it was a good thing that we had the ultrasound to confirm that I was right!

Beth A. said...

K wouldn't let us see her crotch on the ultrasound (both legs, the umbilical cord and an elbow all in the way - apparently she values her privacy), so we were unwilling members of the Find Out in the Delivery Room club. And honestly? It may be because I didn't have anything invested in the idea of it being a surprise, but finding out at delivery just wasn't All That for me. It didn't add anything to the excitement or emotion of the day, since there was already plenty of excitement and emotion. After all, it's a BABY - how much more exciting can it get?

I wanted to know the sex for pretty much every reason you listed. It's a surprise no matter when you find out and I hate surprises and anticipation anyway. I'm a planner and I like to be able to have as many variables pinned down as soon as possible so I can plan better. It would have saved us the agony of having to come up with names for both sexes. And I did have a gender preference, so I'm awfully glad K turned out to be a girl because I would really hate to feel any disappointment, no matter how small, when my baby's being born.

Kelsey said...

With our first we did not find out, though I really felt I knew she was a girl. And I was right. We were also "trying" for a girl that time around.

With Michael, we did find out. I think my husband and I both sort of wanted another girl, but not enough to attempt to "time" things to that advantage. I wanted to find out because I was afraid I'd be disappointed about a boy and need time to get used to it if that was what we were having. As soon as I actually found out, I was thrilled. And I would say it was just as exciting as finding out when Harper was born that she was a girl.

I also did partly want to know ahead of time, in case my relatives (mostly mother-in-law) were itching to shop (and they were!).

I always totally respect whatever people decide about that decision.

Omaha Mama said...

I was in exactly the same boat as you, Swistle, my Hubs would have found out with or without me. I knew I couldn't handle him knowing something that I wouldn't (even though he totally could have kept a secret) so found out with him. Both times it was fun and exciting and something we did together, at the ultrasound table. I think either way works, as long as neither parent is bummed by the choice.

melissa said...

So glad you posted this topic...very timely for me tonight!

With our first, my husband HAD to know and I really felt that it was boy. At our first u/s the tech said she couldn't say with 100% certainty so we didn't find out. Our dr had pity on my husband really HAVING to know so sent us for another u/s. They showed us all of the important parts and it was a boy!

I am now pregnant with our second baby. I felt from the beginning that it was a girl. We had our u/s scheduled for Dec 21st so we asked the tech to write down the gender if she could and put it in an envelope so we could open it at home on Christmas morning. It was a nice surprise to wait for...the paper said "It's a girl!"

Since then, we've seen two doctors in the practice who have told me that based on the "slower" heart rate, they would say it is a boy (mind you we didn't ASK either dr)...and my grandmother is convinced it is a boy based on the way I am carrying.

So to sum it all up, although it was a nice surprise on Christmas, I think I would have liked to see the lady parts myself during the u/s because now I'm wondering is it REALLY a girl which is worse than just not having a feeling either way...

There are no guarantees, I guess!

Angie said...

How could you? It's like opening the present before Christmas... Just kidding. I just wanted to see what would happen once you exceeded the lifetime limit. What happened?

I think it is cool when others don't find out the sex. I, personally, like to know. It is a personal preference and I would never judge one person for choosing one way or another. I think finding out helps you bond ESPECIALLY in Courtney's case. I think she needs that time to adjust or get excited. My boys are both adopted and we were told that our second was probably a girl. Hearing that third hand, we should have known better, but we took it to the bank, sort of. We had a boy name JUST IN CASE. We have had a long string of boys in our extended family and I was MORE than excited about a girl finally. Not that we did much for preparation - no decorating or shopping since there is a chance of fall through with any adoption. Well, Chloe was in fact, Grant. I would be lying if I claimed I wasn't disappointed and had a harder time bonding with Grant at first. It was hard. I almost resented him. He is 5 and I can't imagine it any other way now, but it would have been nice to have time to adjust to either outcome.

Opus #6 said...

Great topic. I found that as I got older and the gender balance of my family got more and more "off" (started with a girl and boy, now I have a girl and 5 boys), it worked better for me to find out midway about the babies' genders. I was totally on board by the end of the pregnancy and ready to meet my little men.

Stephanie G said...

I have no children yet, but great topic for discussion!

I have actually talked a lot about this very subject with friends, and I am 100% sure I want to know the gender of my babies.

My argument is like yours, Swistle... it's a surprise ANY DAY you find out. And for me, I like being prepared and I would like to be ready for a particular gender.

I also think that it gives you time to get over your disappointment if it isn't the gender you want. I think that if you're feeling very, very hopeful for a particular gender then you MUST find out beforehand.

Postpartum depression is a real thing. When my mom had my youngest brother (when I was 13), the woman in the bed next to her wouldn't touch her baby and her husband kept begging her to feed the baby, hold the baby, etc... the Nurses had to come get the baby and rock him at night... She had wanted a girl SO BADLY that she slipped right into a depression the moment she found out the baby was a boy. Tragic.

I feel like if you find out during the pregnancy, that initial disappointment can pass over time and you can instead be excited and prepared for the gender you're having (always remember - if you have the same-sex baby a second time, your son/daughter will have a life-long best friend! If you have a different sex the second time, now you've got one of each! Both ways are fantastic situations!).

That's my take on it. I'm finding out as soon as they can tell me. And I'd rather find out with the amnio than through them guessing at an Ultrasound picture, but I'm guessing they don't always let you find out that way unless you have special tests done - do they? Maybe some experienced mothers can answer that one for me. (My mom found out my brother was a boy because of an amnio - but she was 38 when she was pregnant with him, so they were testing for down's syndrome and such and asked if she'd like to know the gender).

mn said...

courtney, that is a tough one. i hate to say it but i don't know what to tell you. i didn't find out for either one of mine and i was v. happy with that decision. both times, it was a surprise and also exactly what I wanted. I am v. grateful to God for that.
honestly, go with the flow. something will speak to you and you and your husband will make the right decision for you.
nobody on this site or anywhere else can help you or make that decision.
it's what you FEEL inside and your husband feels. and that is the beauty of creating a family and pregnancy. it is a unique journey for everyone.
Have a great time, knowing or not knowing.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

The very first time, I was dead certain that I was having a girl. Not wanting to wait until birth, we found out as soon as we could. And hey! I was right! So we were excited.

The next time, the surprise of finding out we were having twins completely blew our minds. I needed to know as much information as possible, so finding out their sex as a side effect of the TWO amnios was a sure thing. The fact that there was both a boy and a girl was a nice surprise.

Surprises are where you find them. Twenty weeks or 40 weeks, it's all good.

That being said, what Mary Kate said was spot on. If you are invested in a particular sex, you owe it to yourself and your child to find out and then GET OVER any issues you have with the "wrong" child before they're born. Maggie's story was heartbreaking.

moo said...

You know, Swistle, ITA with you. Finding out the sex, no matter when you do, is a surprise. Birthing the child is also a surprise. You don't need the "it's a boy!" to make it more special.

I'm also a control freak, however, so you should always take whatever I say with a grain of salt.

SieraKiera said...

I am currently in the not finding out boat myself. And I don't like to be surprised; however in my case it just was meant to be surprise. I have had 3 ultrasounds where I could've found had we chosen to and the temptation was there but I am glad I stuck with my guns on this one. I was a support person of a friend and we found out later on in her pregnancy and personally I felt very happy to find out but disappointment afterwards at not being surprised and having the doctor announce "It's a ..." My fiancé would have preferred to find out but I was adamant that we didn't. If we ever have another baby we will find out the next time. But it is really to each, his own.

Melanie said...

I am pregnant with my second child and decided not to find out mostly to get the experience both ways. Which is rather odd, since I am a planner by nature. Since I haven't had the baby, I don't know how that will affect my bonding and what not.
I have found that it is driving my Mother crazy that I did not find out, and for me that is a bonus, because as much as I love her, she drives me crazy. She honestly thinks 2 months later I can call the u/s tech and find out the sex for her, but I guess our issues are a topic for another blog!

Bea said...

I went into both my pregnancies really wanting a girl, and really determined to find out either way. When I found out Bub was a boy, there was some sense of disappointment - but more than that there was the pure joy of getting to know my baby a bit better. On the other hand, the day he was born was emotionally and hormonally overwhelming - I can't IMAGINE coping with the gender surprise in the midst of everything else.

I don't think that finding out ahead of time is merely an earlier surprise; it's actually a BIGGER surprise. I've heard several anecdotes (here and elsewhere) of people who totally forget to find out the sex in that initial moment of bonding with the newborn. Waiting until "Christmas" just means that what would have been huge news becomes lost in the larger tidal wave of surprises that come along with a newborn.

When I was pregnant with the Pie, both hubby and I were stunned at the ultrasound to learn she was girl - it was an incredibly happy moment. Even so, I never wholly believed it, and the moment Pie was born I checked out her girly bits myself, just to make sure. It was like opening a Christmas present TWICE.

Loth said...

Hmmm. Can I recommend that you do not move to Scotland? I have two boys and in the ultrasound room at the hospital was a large sign advising all pregnant ladies that the staff would not, under any circumstances, tell you the sex of your baby, so please don't ask. So I got a surprise both times whether I wanted it or not! (Well, with number one I had pre-eclampsia and was scanned almost daily in the weeks leading up to his birth. they were measuring the growth of his thigh bone so I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting, but still the staff were not allowed to say!)

laughing mommy said...

Hearing the ultrasound tech say "It's a girl" (both times) are two of the happiest memories of my life. I remember every single detail, and how tears sprang to my eyes both times. For me the dark, quiet, calm ultrasound room was the perfect place to find out.

Afterward I went to all my friends and family and made the announcement which was SO FUN! I walked in to work (Yes, I used to work back then) and threw my hands up in the air and yelled "ITS A GIRL" and everybody cheered. It was more fun than the actual birth announcement.

Afterward, I was free to choose girl names to my hearts content. And I'm one of those people who actually does decorate the nursery for each new child... so it was great to know what colors/themes to go with.

Someone told me "there will be plenty of surprises in the delivery room". That was very, very true for me.

Anonymous said...

I have 2 children. We didn't find out the sex with my 1st (a girl), but we did with the 2nd (a boy). Honestly, I loved both experiences and I think there were positives and negatives with both. With my first, I knew I would be getting more big ticket items at showers and since we wanted more than one child, they would need to be gender neutral anyway - so the gift aspect didn't matter. I loved that I was about to 'dream' about both - what I do with a girl and a boy. I concentrated on the baby itself, not so much the gender. It did make planning the nursery and name selection more difficult though. As for the actual day, it was neat finding out the moment the baby was born and even neater to see (from the video) our family and friends reaction in the waiting room when my husband told them. Although, finding out wasn't nearly as monumental as I thought it would be - I actually realized after about 30 seconds that I didn't know what it was (because he didn't say it right away and because of how he held the baby up). All that being said, I did feel I bonded a little more ahead of time with my son. I guess because I knew he would be boy, I knew his name, I had clothes, nursery etc all done ahead of time. Either way is wonderful!

may said...

I loved, loved, LOVED not knowing! I loved having everyone guess the gender, I loved wondering and wondering, I even loved picking out two names, even though that kind of sucked because I apparently hate every name. And I LOVED that, when my hellish moments were (mostly) over and I knew the baby was out, my mind was totally wrapped around, "WHAT IS IT??" - and not focusing on (...well, not as much) the horrific pains still going on Down Under. I looked at the new little baby, watched the doctor flip it over and say, "You have a boy!" and then looking over to see my husband burst into sobs of joy. Oh man, I wouldn't trade that for anything. Yes, the day was full of surprises, but I loved having this one to look forward to through all the misery and hell.

I can somewhat understand wanting to find out ahead of time, especially since I had 5 - that's right, count 'em - FIVE ultrasounds, and each time I had to say, "No, I don't want to know!" I was pretty tempted to just say, "What the heck! Tell me!" It took great strength of will to turn around whenever they'd check out the gender bits. (Ha ha ha! That sounds like a cereal!) (Oh gosh, too much caffeine!)

AHEM. Like I was saying, I was thrilled to wait, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. Then again, I knew I'd be happy with either sex, my husband didn't want to find out, either, and I totally do not plan.

Good luck with the decision (...and birth, of course)! You'll be thrilled either way.

Fern said...

I feel exactly like you do. You said it all perfectly. I resent when people imply that I am spoiling something by finding out the gender. Also, and I know this is crappy of me to say, I think it is ridiculous when people wait. It seems insane to me not to know as much as possible. But I know my choice to find out seems equally insane to people who think of it as one of life's few surprises at the birth, etc.

Courtney said...

Thanks for posting this Swistle. I've read and re-read the comments probably five times now and it's really helped a lot. As I had imagined, people mentioned things I would have never thought of on my own and I'm glad. I think that we've decided to go ahead and find out the sex of the baby when we can, but keep it a surprise from everyone else. Thanks again for your help! It was really great to get so much input!

ikate said...

I'm a little late to the party here but will chime in. With #1 we did not find out. It was quite fun to see the deflated looks on peoples faces when my answer to "what are you having?" was "A baby!"
I might have caved towards the end if the nurses at my midwife's office didn't say at every visit "it's so exciting that you aren't finding out the gender - no one does that anymore!" The rebel in me liked that I was going aganist the grain. Very selfish reasoning - I know.

I also had convinced myself I was having a boy, but I really wanted a girl. So I had come to terms with the idea of having a boy but still had that little twinge. So when they said "it's a girl" it was very, very exciting.

I think when #2 comes along we will find out, but I don't know if we will share. Who knows - I'll cross that bridge when it comes.

Michelle said...

By pure coincidence, we found out the sex for all of our boys, and didn't for our girls.

I found waiting to be much more fun. Really, it's just a personal preference. I do think that other people need to be more supportive about parents' decision to find out or not, especially ultrasound technicians. It was extremely disappointing when the tech ruined the surprise with our sweet baby boy due in July.

I did go through disappointment when I found out that my now 4yo son wasn't a girl, but I honestly think that either way is fine with that. Either you have time to get used to it, or you're so happy and full of love-inducing hormones at the birth that you don't care.

Anonymous said...

I haven't had kids and I'm far from having them, but I would have to know the sex. Right now, if I were to have a baby, I'd want to know ASAP so that I can plan, worry, decorate, inform various persons, etc.

At the moment, I'd want a baby boy if I were to suddenly become pregnant, and I sure as heck know that I'd need the adjustment time if I found out I was pregnant with a baby girl.

ericadouglas said...

We did IVF, so the pregnancy itself was not exactly a surprise. We chose not to find out the sex of the baby partly because we did want some sort of surprise and also because my favorite holiday is Christmas EVE - I just really like the anticipation!

My OB was amazing and when I asked her not to say the sex out loud, instead she covered the baby's bottom with her hand, so I was the first one to see that we had a girl. I said, "Oh, it's Jane!" and the room found out that it was a girl.

We would definitely do this again. For us, it was just so lovely to have the happy anticipation after the stress of infertility and IVF.

However, it absolutely drove my mother-in-law INSANE that we didn't find out ahead of time. In front of me, she told my husband that he had the legal right to know about his baby and I couldn't keep that information from him. She offered to call my doctor and find out for my husband. He was like, "No, we decided together not to find out, it's only a few months, and besides, even the doctor doesn't know." This won't change our decision at all, but it was funny that this made her so spastic. She gave us packages of blue onesies and then surprise! It's a girl.