Did you compromise with your partner on finding out your baby’s sex?

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By: Abigail BatchelderCC BY 2.0
My husband and I are expecting our first child and will be able to find out the sex of the baby soon. I want it to be a surprise, but he hates surprises and is adamantly against the idea of waiting until the birth to find out if we’re having a boy or a girl.

This really upsets me — I kind of feel like he’s taking the magic of our pregnancy away from me. I think it will obviously be a lot less exciting to mull over names and guess what we think the sex might be if he already knows — it actually brings me to tears whenever I think about it.

If one of you wanted to know the sex and the other didn’t, what kind of compromise did you and your partner reach? — M

Comments on Did you compromise with your partner on finding out your baby’s sex?

  1. With our first we decided to let my husband find out and I was gonna stay in the dark. It wasn’t to big a deal to make the decision he just understood he couldn’t say anything to me about it obviously. (However in the end I decided to find out because I was getting stressed and felt like I couldn’t plan anything because I didn’t know all thr information .. yeah, I’m that girl, lol). Enjoy your compromise though! Think of Gilmore Girls with Sookie &I Jackson’s first pregnancy.. “I do not want to know the sex of my baby” .. if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it, it’ll give you a giggle about the situation.

  2. we did have to compromise. like you, i didn’t want to know before the birth (though i was sure i was carrying a son).

    my husband really wanted to know…which kind of aggravated me. couldn’t he just trust my intuition?

    our compromise was that we wouldn’t find out with this baby (our first) but we would with future children. my husband was extremely happy with this arrangement.

    our baby was born in early march and my intuition was right, we have a beautiful, healthy son. also, my husband ended up being so thrilled with the anticipation, even though he hates surprises…that he’s said we won’t find out in future either.

    i guess this won’t work if you’re only having one child, though.

    congratulations on your pregnancy!

  3. My husband wanted to know and I did not. So, I told him he could find out for the next baby. Luckily, the ultrasound tech and the dr sided with the mother, so they wouldn’t divulge either despite my husband’s pleadings. I was very happy not knowing until the birth.

    Now our 2nd is due soon. As it turns out, we’ve just had so many tests and ultrasounds with this baby, it was just too hard not to find out… So, our compromise worked out, although I would have liked to have kept this one a mystery as well…

  4. I wanted to find out the sex and he didn’t – I have a bit of a control issue, and knew that I would be miserable not knowing the whole time. I know this isn’t the most cooperative way to go about it (and wouldn’t qualify as a compromise), but I definitely pulled the, “Tough luck, I’m carrying it” card. I did offer to find out and not tell him, but he knew that it wasn’t likely to stay a secret the whole time if we tried that.

  5. Husband had assumed we would find out, and I didn’t want to. We decided to wait – it was an easy compromise because it turned out he didn’t feel particularly strong about it.

    On the one hand, I think he’s glad now that it’s still a surprise. We’ve done everything gender neutral so it didn’t affect our planning at all.

    But on the other hand, I think it would have made the pregnancy and impending baby a lot more “real” to him earlier on if we’d known it was a him or a her. I’m full term and it’s really only in the last 6 weeks or so that it’s hit him that, oh yeah, this is real, we’re having a baby.

  6. My husband wanted it to be a surprise, but he was also REALLY hoping for a girl. I wanted to know because I couldn’t bear the thought of him feeling any disappointment when the baby was born – and I’m glad we did find out, since Matteo (seen screaming in the post below) was, in fact, a boy. It gave us time to adjust to and get excited about having a boy. 🙂

    • This is exactly why I lean toward finding out – I really want a girl, and I don’t want any twinge of disappointment (or more than a twinge) after labor. My wife, though, doesn’t want to find out.

    • And don’t think this only applies to strong preferences. I kept saying “I think its a girl, but I don’t really care.” I thought I meant it. When we found out it was a boy I was SHOCKED at how disappointed I was. Imagine if I had felt that way when he was born? I’m SO glad I had a few months to get excited about my son.

  7. My husband was/is adamant about being surprised, and I’m a planner. I agreed to wait since it really does mean the world to him. We had our 20-week ultrasound this week and the technician kindly told us to look away while she measured the femurs. I don’t know if this would happen to your husband, but on the way home I found that I was relieved not to find out (sometimes you can’t help it). I don’t have my heart set on either sex so I’m really enjoying thinking baby is a boy one week and a girl the next. I worry that I will have a moment of sadness when the nugget pops out and she won’t be a boy or he won’t be a girl.

    To your question: while he didn’t frame it this way, I think my husband has agreed to using my grandparents’ names for the middle names as a kind of return for my compromise.

    I don’t know if this would help your cause, but I’ve been warned by new moms that when people know the sex, then they buy you gender-specific clothing and toys. When they don’t know the sex, pre-baby gifts end up being useful items like diapers and onesies. Maybe you could try that argument on your husband?

    • Yes to that reasoning-nearly all the clothing we received for our baby boy was heavily gender-themed. We’re were grateful for people wanting to help, but there are oodles of clothes that I just use around the house and can’t bear to take my kid in public in.

    • One thing to keep in mind is that you could find out the sex of the baby, but not tell anyone else outside of you and your partner. That way you get to know, but still not drown in PINK or SPORTS. Not knowing *does* make it easier to keep the secret though.

      • My friends did this. Their baby shower was a total rainbow of colours 🙂 plus we did paint-a-onesie, and there was a delightful variety of designs

    • We REALLY wanted to find out, so there really wasn’t a compromise. However, we were REALLY worried if it was a girl we’d be drowning in pink butterflies and ruffles. That’s just not us. So when we told people that we were having a girl, we also made it very clear that we didn’t want pink things. It’s been working out really well, because our friends and families have stuck to that (a few pink things creep through, which is totally fine – we were just afraid of a Pepto Bismal Pink overtaking of the nursery) because they know that our style is very much not gender conforming. Plus, green is so cute!

      Our friends who found out the sex of the baby but didn’t say anything to anyone else, found it really hard NOT to say anything, or slip up from time to time. They were constantly censoring what they said, and they said they would just not find out the sex next time because in the end, they discovered they love their kid and the sex doesn’t matter.

      Like everything else, this might not work for everyone, but it really worked for us! Especially the New England Patriots Jersey Onesies from friends of ours that had sons 🙂

  8. Two things.

    1. I feel like it’s still a surprise whether you learn about it via ultrasound or at the birth. At some point you don’t know, then you do.

    2. Sometimes the medical professionals are wrong. A friend of mine was told she was having a girl. Everyone was quite surprised when a boy was born.

    • With ultrasound technology what it is, IF the baby is in a good position for determining sex, we are able to see the scrotum and penis for boys and the labia and clitoris for girls. I can’t imagine a sonographer telling expectant parents that they are having a specific sex when he or she isn’t certain. In the years I’ve worked with “my” sonographer, she has yet to get a sex wrong, but has had a few cases of being unable to determine sex. The point being, the cases of ended up with a different sex than what the sonographer tells you are rare.

      • It might be rare, but it sure happens! My cousin was told she was having a girl. Had the pictures to share and whoops, she had a normally developed little boy. This was only a few years ago!

      • I know of two people in my town in the last three years who got a different sex than they were expecting from the sonogram. In both cases, the parents had done deluxe gendered nurseries, etc. It can happen!

      • I know two people that it happened to, recently. One found out the sex but didn’t tell anybody, so it was only her expectations. Another spent thousands on a pink nursery, had an army of aunts and grandparents knitting little pink things,

        • Urgh! I tried to comment on my phone and my fingers are too big or something.


          … had an army of grandparents knitting little pink things, had the baby’s name monogrammed on everything.. and brought home a boy.
          Both women had multiple ultrasounds and were told the wrong sex multiple times by different technicians. So yes – rare, but not so rare that it “never” happens.

      • The thing is, during much of fetal development, the genitalia is ambiguous. By 22-24 weeks it usually isn’t anymore, but things that turn into girl parts can look a lot like boy parts early on, and vice versa. So yeah, ultrasound technology is pretty amazing now, but a clear view doesn’t do you any good if what you’re seeing is a penisy-looking clitoris.

      • I had an arm at my side during the test, so a finger looked like a non-existent penis. Admittedly, 1980’s sonograms are probably not as good as those of the 2010’s, but mistakes can definitely happen!

  9. I really didn’t want to know mostly because I was feeling a lot of pressure from outside sources to have a boy. My thinking was that I would feel disappointed ahead of time if the baby was a girl, but I wouldn’t care either way when the baby was in my arms. My husband was very vocal from the beginning about wanting to find out- he hates suspense. In the end, my own curiosity won out, so the tech was able to clearly point out that we are in fact having a boy. After the whole thing, I felt ridiculous for thinking I would be any less excited since I felt so much more bonded to the baby after seeing every square inch on the screen and wanting nothing more than good health for the little person I saw there.

  10. We totally compromised. I used the same strategy we used with our wedding: the person to whom the issue is more important wins. I wanted to know, but it wasn’t a really big deal to me. To him, it was really important to keep the element of surprise. And when they pulled the baby out of me and announced, “It’s a boy”, I was kind of glad I hadn’t known. If this issue is bringing you to tears, in my opinion he should be the one to back down.

    • My husband and I had the very same scenario. I always treasure the moment Baby was placed in our arms wrapped in s white blanket. We unwrapped and saw she was a girl. Like opening a million Christmas gifts!

  11. We had some major discussions about finding out the sex! My husband desperately wanted to find out, and I didn’t really want to. I had a strong hunch, and that was enough for me.

    Three things that helped me change my stance:
    1. It’s a surprise whenever you find out, whether at your 20 week ultrasound, at birth, or some time in between.
    2. It mattered so much more to him TO find out than it did for me NOT to find out.
    3. I get to carry this child, feel her growing and moving, etc. My husband is “outside” of so much of this experience, and if finding out the sex was going to help him to connect to the pregnancy and our baby, then it was the right thing for us to do.

    In the end, I am happy we found out at the ultrasound, so I feel at peace with what we decided. It was a special moment for us, and made the idea of having a baby more real for both of us.

  12. I really didn’t want to know but my partner really wanted to know. At the 20 week ultrasound appointment the tech wrote the baby’s sex on a piece of paper and put it in an envelope. I swore my partner to secrecy and he kept the baby’s sex secret for the next 20 weeks. We both got what we wanted – he got to know and I got to be surprised when our baby (girl) was born!

    • How did you manage to keep the secret? My partner and I have decided that I will find out (because I have a strong preference) and will keep it secret from him. But I’m worried I will unwittingly give it away one way or another. Even the fact that I have a preference…will he see on my face the happiness or disappointment? In terms of names and clothing, we’re both going for unisex anyway. but did the secret cause any strain on you or your relationship?

  13. I understand wanting it to be a surprise, but I am, well, surprised at the strong emotions you feel when even thinking about finding out in advance. I think it’s more important to think about why it’s so important to you. Are you worried that you’re going to be disappointed if it’s one gender rather than the other? Are you worried that you’re going to start making things too “girly” or “boyish” if you know? Do you think that knowing in advance is less “natural?” What buttons is this pushing for you?

    In my opinion, parts of pregnancy are magical, and parts less so (heartburn, anyone?) I think it’s dangerous to let any one thing become super important symbolically. This is true not only for pregnancy, but all of those things that will happen with your child (first haircut, first steps, first smile, etc). If any of those things don’t go the way you want, it’s not a symbol for your ability to be an ideal parent. Shit happens.

    So try to have a rational conversation with your husband about this. You already know that he hates surprises – what are his fears about waiting? How can you compromise and both get your needs met?

    Good luck.

  14. We compromised. For our daughter we found out the sex. And I immediately regretted it after the baby shower and saw that we were drowning in pink and purple.
    This time around (I’m 30 weeks pregnant) I put my foot down and said since we found out last time, I WILL NOT find out this time.
    To me I really want that moment of “IT’S A ___!” after all that hard work of labor and delivery.
    He hates not knowing because he hates surprises, but since I’m the patient it’s essentially my decision and I don’t feel too bad about not finding out since we found out with our last one.
    So – whatever you decide to do, just know that the other one can have his or her way on the next child (should you decide to have another).

    • We’re a fews years out from having kids but I remember deciding there would be no finding out the sex when I went to my sister-in-laws baby shower (where on the invitation she even wrote “gender neutral only”) and saw how much girly, pink and princess stuff she was drowning in. People can’t seem to help themselves so we’ll have to help them.

      • We have not found out the sex ahead of time with either of our children and there are many reasons why, but one of them is definitely this one: not wanting to be drowned in heavily gendered clothing at a shower!

        • this is the one thing i didn’t consider when it came time for the ultrasound. and we definitely paid the price. i started taking stuff back just because it was pink.

          • That’s what my sister-in-law ended up doing, and I’ve heard of others doing it as well. They’re still buying you something, right? You’re just exchanging it.

      • Although not knowing the sex helps get more gender-neutral items, I’ve heard a lot of mamma’s say that many relatives/friends will just wait until AFTER the baby is born to buy pink or blue, or they’ll buy you both (this is happening to us a bit) or they’ll just buy you whatever you want. On the plus side, another commenter said they got more practical items at their shower because of this..

        • I know my family will likely show up after Smalls does with their arms loaded with pink or blue – but luckily I’ve gotten rid of my qualms about taking a gift back to the store just because Auntie Whoever got it for Baby.
          In the mean time, I plan to revel in our gender-neutral Star Wars tinged baby set-up.

        • This happened to us. We waited to find out, and once everyone heard the magic words “it’s a girl”…KABOOM! A pink floral explosion in my living room. Luckily we had already built up quite the neutral wardrobe, but the girlie gifts were a tad overwhelming. On the upside, because my in-laws were off shopping for everything pretty and pink, it meant that my husband and I had some more quiet time for ourselves and our new baby.

  15. I wanted to know and my husband did not. We discussed a great deal, already had picked out a unisex name which we would use when referring to the baby. In the end, the tipping point was the fact that I work with ultrasounds and would have known regardless as long as I could see the screen and my husband didn’t want me to know without him knowing.

    In the end, he said he didn’t feel it took away from the experience – he felt he was able to be more prepared for her arrival and he felt closer to the life growing inside of me by being able to personify it further.

  16. We talked about it a lot, and went to the anatomy ultrasound still unsure if we were going to find out or not. I didn’t really want to find out, and he kind of did – but we weren’t sure. Then through a combination of the ultrasound tech being forgetful and the kid deciding to show off, we found out anyway. So much for planning!

    Our main compromise has been mostly not telling people. As much as family have been pressuring us to let them know, IT DOESN’T AFFECT THEM. The kid probably won’t have a gender identity for at least another year or two, and it can’t conceivably matter what color the clothes are.

    Anyway it turns out most of my aversion to finding out came from irritation at being CONSTANTLY asked my baby’s sex, so this has been a good compromise for us.

    • I like your compromise.

      We did not find out, but even if we had, I think we would have kept it secret for the reasons you lay out.

      Also, it drives me bonkers how frequently one is asked “do you know what it is?” I know it is just an autopilot question, but it still drives me bonkers.

      • we didn’t find out…see my comment above.

        but we also had this question asked 257983 times.

        the most hilarious exchange was with my cousin:
        ‘do you know what it is?’
        ‘ummm, it’s a baby. thankfully, a human baby.’
        ‘well, when are you due?’
        ‘what day?’
        ‘well, it’s been changed a few times, so it’s safe to say early march.’
        ‘you don’t know when this baby is coming, you don’t know what you’re having…WHAT DO YOU KNOW?!
        i just started laughing hysterically. and being 30 weeks pregnant, that was messy. haha.

        • My sister was having twins and told our other sister that she would confess the second she knew. So to tell her we bought 2 white flowers because, “The babies are white… we think.”

    • We did this too. We told close friends and family who we trusted not to make a big deal about it, and kept it vague for everyone else. My favorite answer to “Do you know what it is?” which I’m pretty sure someone suggested here: a velociraptor. (Which, oddly enough, turned out to be a little closer to the truth than I would have imagined–our baby loves to wave her arms up and down while growling in a hilariously on-point velociraptor impression.)

    • We also found out the baby’s sex at the anatomy ultrasound and subsequently kept the baby’s sex a secret from everybody else. My husband wanted to find out, I was more inclined to let it be a surprise at birth, but I ultimately decided to go with this compromise since it felt strange to me that the ultrasound technician (a nice stranger, but a stranger nonetheless) would potentially know the sex of my baby inside my body and I would not know this large piece of information about my child! That tipped me to finding out. It has been easy for us to keep the secret, but irritating to some friends and family members. I just let that irritation roll right off me, and am so happy that we have received lots of nice neutral gifts and practical items rather than boatloads of frilly pink things or tiny baseball uniforms. Everything will be reusable for any future baby, regardless of sex, and our yellow nursery is so happy and sunshiney 🙂 Our baby is due in less than a week, so we will see if the ultrasound got it right or not, and finally share the news with the world. We have girl and boy names picked out just in case 😉

  17. My partner was on the fence, and I wanted to know. We decided he would decide, when the ultrasound technician asked us if we wanted to know. He wanted to know, at that time, and that was that (I kinda knew that would happen :D).
    Anecdotally, most people I know who have multiple kids, didn’t care about this issue nearly so much for subsequent kids, as they did for the first kid. Not to say that it’s not an important issue, but it’s worth considering that it may not be as important as we think it is at first.

  18. I found it just as important to know with my second as with my first, maybe more with the second maybe? I had a boy first and while I was going to be happy either way I wanted a chance to deal with any feelings I had, if it turned out to be another boy well in advance of the baby being born. It is another boy and I am thrilled, though I had a split second of ambiguous feelings. I didn’t want that moment to happen at the birth of my perfect little baby. Also I remembered that for me finding out the sex of the baby made the idea so much more real. I went from a baby? to a baby!!

  19. For me, I’d want to know what motivates each partner. I don’t particularly want to know the sex, because I figure kids get gendered the second they’re out of the uterus. I’d like my child to spend as much time as possible in there with no gender expectations. I have a huge bugbear around the gender pressures we put on our kids, which is why I’d rather people not know. My partner really wants to know. It’s important to him. Our compromise is that we will find out (I don’t think I’d like the feeling of inequality if he knows and I don’t), but we won’t tell anyone else. That way, we avoid everyone else’s gender pressures, but still satisfy my partner’s need to know.

    • I struggle with this, and I am in a way, relieved to be having another boy since I feel like in my family the gender specific pressure on a boy is less, since my boys are the only ones in my family. but the girls are coated in pink and brought to dance class and practically assigned a toy lipstick at birth. My husband has some issues, like me painting their toe nails makes him uncomfortable, but to me it just fascinates him so much to have painted nails. Isn’t it odd to live in a society with such a phobia about anything sex related (ie sex ed classes) but in which we, from birth announce what our babies genitals look like by dressing them in pink or blue?

      • My son still occasionally likes to have polish on his toes (he’s 3 1/2) – right now they are a light shade of pink! When he was 2, he used to be obsessed with having his fingernails painted, too, whether the colour was pink, green, blue, it didn’t matter. I indulged because I didn’t see the harm – it can be washed off so it’s not a big deal. We got some NASTY looks and rude comments from strangers for it though, I was kind of shocked! And a lot of people said to me, ‘Oh, you obviously wish you’d had a girl, not a boy.’ Which is totally not true – I LOVE my boy, and never did it as a way to make him into a girl! It’s ridiculous how far people go with the whole gender stereotypes thing…Sorry, I know that’s a bit off topic, but your comment made me think of that!

    • I will want to know, buy keep it between my fiance and I. My fiancés aunt is nosy and an ultrasound tech, so we’ll have to pick and choose which pictures to show!

    • I will want to know, buy keep it between my fiance and I. My fiancés aunt is nosy and an ultrasound tech, so we’ll have to pick and choose which pictures to show!

  20. I absolutely loved the surprise element of finding out we had a son at the time of his birth. My husband would have found out earlier, but since I really didn’t want to know, we both knew it wouldn’t work if he knew. He would end up accidentally saying ‘he’ or ‘she’ and ruin it for me. So we agreed neither of us would find out before the birth, and that worked for us. I would explain to your husband how much it means to you, and how much it’s affecting you the idea of him knowing ahead of time. Hopefully he will respect your wishes to wait! I’m a person who generally hates surprises also, but it’s not like a regular everyday surprise finding out the sex of your child, it really is a magical thing to wait for!

    Now 3 1/2 years later we’re pregnant with twins…and WILL be finding out the sexes! If it was a singleton I’d still want to wait for the surprise, but with 2 on the way at once, I want to be as prepared as possible! But I’m so glad we waited with our son, and I’m pretty sure a part of me will wish I still didn’t know once I find out what I’m having this time around.

  21. we always wanted to know and found out at our 20 week appointment. honestly it really helped cement the ‘holy shit we’re really having a baby’ feeling. it also really helped me bond with him in utero. i think it was one of the best decisions we could have made. just a thought.

  22. For the second baby, we decided to find out as we had for my first pregnancy. However, due to work obligations, my husband could not attend that anatomy scan. The tech wrote the sex and put it in an envelope. She also found an enlarged kidney issue. The minute I jumped on Dr. Google, I discovered that when this condition is found, there is about a 90% chance you are having a boy.. So, yeah, I “knew” the answer right then. Boy parts were confirmed upon opening the envelope. Thankfully, the condition cleared itself up in a few months and after birth no treatment was needed.
    I understand feeling strongly one way or the other. Almost all of my friends have gone team green and we have discussed the pros and cons often. Just remember, sometimes the babies play a big role in this too!
    Good luck and happy and healthy anatomy scan to you!

  23. I wanted to find out, my hubby didn’t. I’ve had a hard time bonding with my baby because I’ve had multiple miscarriages, and finding out the sex really helped to “cement” things for me. However, we did decide to find out, but aren’t telling ANYONE. Everything thinks we don’t know. We are both really against gender-specific things, and wanted to avoid the “all pink/all blue” issue. No one really hassles us, because they all think we don’t know.

  24. For the original writer, M, here is one other way to think about it:

    You wrote that you are worried that finding out the sex will take away the magic of the pregnancy. It could be that your partner wants to feel more connected and involved, seeing as he’s not physically experiencing the pregnancy – lots of people often cite finding out the sex as the point at which the baby became less abstract and more of a real little person they were going to meet. It’s already happening to your body, and you and the baby are physically connected – it could be that your partner wants to feel a bit more connected to the baby, too.

    However, I totally understand why you wouldn’t want to find out and why it could be so upsetting, and it’s a perfectly valid way to feel. It might be worth talking through the reasons why you both feel the way you do, and then you can ameliorate those feelings in other ways.

  25. I feel like rushing to the defence of your husband! It’s clear that you feel he doesn’t understand your point of view and how much this means to you. I hope that he does.

    But just conversely, I want to explain his point of view to you, and hope that you can sort of get where he’s coming from. For him, finding out the sex is *part* of the magic of your pregnancy. He doesn’t get to carry the baby, but sort of planning and imagining the little guy or girl in there is part of how he’s expressing his wish to be involved. So he might feel like you’re shutting him out, and letting everything be secreted away from him in your tummy nothing to see here move along.

    His way of thinking is valid too! Some people like surprise birthday parties, and some people like to plan them in advance so they can anticipate them with joy. Neither one of these ways is less “magical”.

    So yes, I’d encourage you to compromise! Don’t find out the sex, so that you can keep your magic. But for goodness’ sake let him find out, and let him have his magic too.

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