We didn’t think we wanted to know our baby’s sex — then we did

Guest post by Danielle

Mother Sucker Onesie I was absolutely fine with keeping the sex of our baby a surprise. Really, I was. But then something happened to me around 22 weeks. I suddenly had a deep desire to know exactly what sort of babe was moving around in there. I felt detached and found it strange to say “the baby kicked me” and “do you want to feel the baby?” I needed a pronoun. More than that, I wanted a name. (We had a short list of lovely girl names to choose from, but absolutely no boy names. Which of course meant that we were definitely having a boy. In my head at least.)

One afternoon, while sifting through several storage containers of baby boy clothes, I started to fall in love with the little boy in my belly. The tiny clothes brought me back to those magical new baby moments with our sons, Wes and Chan. I draped a soft blue onesie over my belly and imagined this new growing boy. Perhaps he would be just like his oldest brother in demeanor, with Andrew’s giant green eyes and born with a head of blonde hair and big feet? Or maybe he’d be darker, more Native American, like my dad’s family?

Two hours later and I had placed all the clothes for our baby boy away in the dresser, waiting for his November arrival. I was convinced we were having a boy and proceeded to brainstorm boy names. Of course, we didn’t actually know it was a boy; I was just a crazy pregnant lady reminiscing about my previous children. But to say something specific about the baby — his feet, his hands, his head — made me settled for a little while.

[related-post align=”right”]After nearly a week of boy-fantasizing (still unable to come up with a name), I surrendered and called the lab for the sex test results from our 18 week ultrasound. Two minutes later I hung up feeling weak-willed and embarrassed after being told they didn’t obtain or save the sex in their records… since we specified that we didn’t want to know. Silly me. Of course they wouldn’t save that information; it’s not vital for the doctor to know. And therefore it shouldn’t be for us either. I was disappointed with myself for caving in and gladly re-convinced myself that nature will give us the most wonderful surprise and I was so lucky.

I was feeling content once again with my gender-neutral pregnancy, until the OB informed me of the routine second ultrasound for women over 35. And that was it: the crazy pregnant lady with no willpower was back—and wanted to know for certain… to decorate, to shop, to nest.

Wesley came to the ultrasound with me, and we both confidently announced we thought it was a boy — before watching with awe at the 3D image of this beautiful baby: big cheeks, sweet nose, tiny hands. We were in love. To quote the lab technician, “It’s not a boy!” And SHE most definitely is not.

Oh my gosh, it’s a girl. A girl!

Comments on We didn’t think we wanted to know our baby’s sex — then we did

  1. We thought we didn’t want to know, but wanted to be able to find out if we changed our minds. So we had the technician write it down in a sealed envelope for us. I’m 37 weeks today and we are still pretty sure we don’t want to know. But we still reserve the right to open that envelope!

    • I love this idea. My partner and I have really unusual work schedules so I know he won’t be able to make all the ultrasound appointments. I think if he can’t make the gender identification appointment I’ll have the technician keep it a secret and put it in an envelope and we’ll open it together.

      I didn’t think I would want to known but I have such a strong feeling one way I feel like I need to know in case my intuition is wrong.

    • I’m no where near having babies yet…but I think I like this idea. I would be OK being surprised (I think) but I don’t think my husband will. He HATES surprises (even something as small as, “Dinner is a surprise, but I promise you’ll love it.”) so he probably won’t be able to handle the wait. An envelop would allow us to postpone, but still peek when we can’t take it anymore.

  2. I admire people who can hold out, but I’m like the writer in that I need to put “something” to the baby. Pretty sure my littlest one would have remained “Little Toes” despite gender, but having a name to the baby is helpful for me. I wish I could hold out on finding out, but I just don’t have the willpower!

  3. I totally understand wanting to know, although I remained firmly in the ‘don’t want to know’ camp. The part I liked best was having people guess…some people are really sure that they are ‘never wrong’ (you’ve got a 50% chance! so, yeah…) and almost everyone was convinced I was definitely pregnant with a boy, including random strangers. Naturally, when my wife said, “it’s a girl” in the delivery room, my legit first response was, “really?”.

    I am however still really angry at the anesthesiologist (I was thisclose to have a C-section when the forceps worked at the last minute) who went into the room our families were waiting in and decided he was going to announce that it was a girl to everyone 10 minutes before we even got there. Thanks asshole, I’d only been waiting for that moment my entire fucking pregnancy.

  4. I just KNEW I was having a boy. Call it mama’s intuiton or something, but I knew it. My belief in it being a boy was as strong as my belief in gravity, so if during the ultrasound it had been a girl I would have probably fainted.

    But I wanted to know, because I am a doubter of my own intuition. I like science to back up spirituality, and so I got the ultrasound for confirmation of what my gut said. And it was right, we had a boy (um, the adorable mother sucker cutie featured in that picture above!).

    As a first time mom it was helpful for me to start envisioning this person, and using his name (secretly) rather than just referring to it as The Loch Ness Monster (because that’s how it felt).

  5. I never had any thought of delaying the sex reveal until our baby’s birth, although I felt absolutely certain that was having a girl. But then there was a penis on the ultrasound– it not a girl. The temporary sadness I felt had as much to do with a crisis of faith from the failure of my “mama’s intuition” as any preference for raising one sex over the other. I felt like the connection I had with my unborn child had been a delusion, and I had to adjust my reality– not so much that I was having a boy, but that being a mother was going to be less about a magical or spiritual connection with my child and more about uncertainty and strange new worlds.
    As it was, I had plenty of time to process the feelings that now seem so frivolous and and juvenile, and become excited about the real child I was going to mother. I don’t know how I would have felt if I had fantasized about the girl for nine months instead of four and only found out about my son in the delivery room.

    • Yeah, I was SHOCKED by the disappointment I felt at hearing that I was having a boy instead of a girl as I had truly believed that my preference really was slight. It’s possible that most of it was actually all those things you described above. Regardless, I’m really glad I had time to process that totally unexpected disappointment LONG before the baby was in my arms. By the time he showed up, I was nothing but thrilled!

    • This happened to a friend. They were told they were having a girl on two occasions but when the baby arrived he was male. The shock and distress was very very hard.

      Determining gender by visual identification on an ultrasound scan (especially the standard non 3D type) is not in any way an exact science, for starters the baby has to be cooperating by being in a good position and secondly what is being looked for is not recognisable genitalia it is easily mistakable patterns of dots and stripes. Add to that the fact that boys are easier to spot you get the no identifiable penis pattern=girl effect, which is what happened to my friend.

      Excellent article about this here:

      • Oh god, this is exactly what I’m afraid of. I’m 40 weeks pregnant with my first, and we found out she’s a girl (via pinata. It was awesome). Ever since then, I’ve been using her name when I talk to her, family members have given us personalized items, etc. I’m also certain she’s going to weigh more than 9lbs, so all the clothes are 3-month size. So of course, I had an anxiety dream in which I gave birth to a 6 1/2 lb boy and couldn’t dress him.

        It’s not that I don’t want to have a son — I totally want a boy someday. And heck the nursery is gender-neutral and dino-themed, so that wouldn’t be an issue. It’s just that I’ve spent 20 weeks talking to my baby girl, all the frilly dresses are already washed, and I don’t want to be made a fool!

        • This happened to my cousin a few years ago! Frilly dresses, pink nursery and all. And nope, the baby that TWO ultrasounds confirmed was a girl came out a boy. Don’t worry, she wasn’t made a fool at all. But there was some shopping to do, which made all the grandparents happy anyway 🙂

        • You won’t be made a fool no matter what happens. I think it’s normal to have anxiety. Even after writing this post (which was our announcement to everyone that we are having a girl), I have my moments of doubt. I’ve now had several weeks of bonding with this little girl in my belly (buying girl clothes, naming her, etc) and yet it’s possible the ultrasound could’ve been wrong. It’s not the boy part the worries me, it’s that I’ve been bonding with the wrong person, so to speak. I think I need to work on having faith that it will all work out how it should, whatever the gender. Good luck for your birth!

    • This potential feeling of disappointment was a big reason why I really wanted to find out. Besides the typical need to visualize & emotionally/psychologically prepare myself for what kind of child I would have, I thought it was a girl and deep down secretly really, really wanted it to be a girl. I knew I would love my child more than anything and would truly be happy no matter what gender it turned out to be, but I didn’t want to have any shred of disappointment when my baby was born, even if it was momentary and fleeting.

      Turns out I was right anyway, and the thrill and excitement of finding out that there was, in fact, my DAUGHTER in my belly was an amazing & emotional experience. Then I had several more months of pregnancy before the other incredible experience of birthing and meeting her for the first time–the whole time looking forward to “her” arrival. And not having to say “it” any time we mentioned the baby!

  6. We were going to wait, but we found out the sex purely because I was POSITIVE that the baby was a girl and I desperately wanted to prove my husband wrong. We even bet on it.

    Our maturity level is THROUGH THE ROOF, y’all…

    • I’d also like to say that I think knowing the sex of my baby helped prepare me for being more gender neutral in general. Knowing I was having a boy didn’t make me prepare for raising a boy, I prepared for raising a boy in a society that often is determined to make him a Boy. Which, granted, I could do without knowing the sex, but I probably wouldn’t have. Knowing which side of the line my kid’s sex fell on made my daydreaming about parenting be just a teeny more concrete; instead of just thinking, “KILL ALL THE GENDER NORMS!” I thought, “Well, Dad’s going to be a problem, so I probably should practice that argument about letting my son play with dolls, if he wants to, now before I have to have it in three years…”

      I know, it sounds stupid to say that knowing I was having a boy has kept me from parenting him like a Boy, but I really feel like it did. Articles on Offbeat Families (especially this one, which is one of my favorites – http://offbeatfamilies.com/2012/02/parenting-without-gender-expectations-means-accepting-all-outcomes) got me thinking about gender more than I might have on my own, and knowing the sex made me think more specifically about how my husband and I would deal with gender and to talk about it with each other.
      Which turns out to be, “Let’s wing it,” but ya know…at least we talked!

  7. We ended up deciding to find out at the 18 week ultrasound, and it felt really good to me. I remember walking out of the office and looking around at all the women walking around the world and thinking, Wow. I am going to have a baby who is going to grow up to be a woman. All of those women were once babies, and they have parents who feel about them the way I feel about my baby. Wow. Parenting felt concrete to me in a way it hadn’t before.

    But I guess I kind of played it both ways by only telling close family and friends until after the birth. It worked out pretty well for me.

  8. I was adamant I didn’t want to know the sex – my baby will spend its whole life being gendered. I wanted to give little foetus nine small months without anyone projecting their own ideas of gender onto it. I also didn’t want the tsunami of pink clothes that accompanies a girl, and all that jazz.

    My partner really wanted to find out. He didn’t think it’d be a nice surprise at the birth. Becoming a parent would be The Big Thing at the birth. The sex of the baby would be a side-show. So we compromised. We would find out, but keep it to ourselves.

    And then we found out we were having a girl. And we were so excited, and we knew our parents would be over the moon – first grandchild on both sides – we couldn’t keep it to ourselves.

    Good intentions, and all that.

    • Yes – the tsunami of pink or blue clothes is exactly why I don’t want to know.
      My husband loves Superman, and my bestie loves buying girly things, so i would be inundated on either side!
      Being that my sister has 4 girls, and my cousins all have boys – I am carrying lucky number 13… I want it to be a surprise! More fun this way anyway, when everyone usually finds out now a days. 🙂

      • You know, most people are pretty good about it if you tell them you don’t WANT pink, “girly” stuff. Especially if you do a gift registry, you have a lot of say in how Baby’s environment is gendered. We’re having a girl (according to the ultrasound, anyway.), but made it pretty clear to family and friends that we are not interested in pink/ princess stuff. Her room is Dinosaur themed, I’m known for being adamantly feminist, and I used to teach girls how to do carpentry — people knew where we stood on gender stereotypes! So while there were some definitely “feminine” gifts, they weren’t dripping with pink/glitter/princess/sexualizing weirdness.

        Granted, babyhood is probably the earliest phase for avoiding gendering stereotypes… but it was really important to me that my family knows where I stand NOW before Baby is old enough for a trip to Toys-R-Us with Grandma, you know?

        • I had a friend who I knew was adamantly against all things overly-girly in clothing. I consider myself to be quite crafty, so I loved the challenge of finding things that would “fit” her daughter and her mom’s taste. Punk rock, little bit emo, gothic, but kid-friendly and fun all at once. If I know a parent doesn’t like something, I love the fun of searching for things that are outside of the box.

        • Depends on the family. My Sister-in-law was very clear and every single thing my niece got from birth on has been pink, pink and pink. When the twins were born the same thing happened. Pink or blue. Only pink or blue.

          I’ve already decided that if we take the leap I reserve the right to return/exchange/donate/throw out as I like, period. His side isn’t going to respect a word I say.

      • I think one way you can tell people ahead of time but NOT be bombarded with a blue or pink shower is to announced it AT the shower, after they’ve already brought gender neutral gifts.

    • While I feel you on not wanting an overwhelming wave of pink sparkly stuff, I also think it’s important, as a feminist, to not demonize traditionally feminine stuff while glorifying traditionally masculine stuff. Are cars and dinosaurs really cooler than sparkles and tutus?

  9. My momma begged God for a second girl. She didn’t even want to know because she was so sure that he wouldn’t betray her by giving her a boy. So I was born with all the bits she asked for, but I climbed on stuff and peed on people anyway (which is what she was afraid of), even if it was in a pink frilly dress. Twenty years later, I came out as a trans* dude. Sometimes, even a visual of the bits lies.

  10. I wanted to find out, too! It’s still a surprise–just on a different day than the birth.

    My dad said, “Oh, you don’t want to find out, because finding out on the day of birth is so exciting!” Yeah, because otherwise, giving birth is a SNOOZE-FEST. *Yawn* we already know the sex, people, nothing to see here!

  11. We did not find out the sex with either of our children until delivery, though I had a (correct) strong feeling both times. I loved not knowing. BUT, I will say that we used “it” as our adjective when talking about the second baby to be with our firstborn, leading to hysterical moments after she was born when he would say “give it to grandma” or other similar phrases when he wanted my attention. It sounded like he didn’t like the baby so much that he called her an “it” (and of course he had to warm up), but it was really just that he was used to the “it” pronoun!

    • We’ve had to deal with the opposite: in Dutch we refer to most neuter things (and unspecified animals, and no doubt other categories) using ‘he’; yes, if your toaster is on fire for instance, HE is on fire 😀
      So idiomatically, whenever our -unbeknownst to us- daughter moved in utero, I would say that he was kicking or he had hiccups. And let me tell you: even though you KNOW you don’t know, inadvertently you start to expect it’s a boy! Imagine our surprise when the midwife said “there she is!”
      And in the first week after her birth her dad still referred to her as a him a few times – oh well, the sleep-deprived brain of a new parent…

  12. I can’t wait to find out – but it’s because I’m a knitter, and I need to know whether I can make frilly little dresses and which side the sweater buttons should go on! We’ll probably keep it a secret, though, because I don’t want the inundation of pink or blue sweaters. (Frilly dresses in green! And purple! And BLUE, why should boys have all the fun?)

  13. With our first child, we were both very happy not knowing the gender in advance. Either way, we were having a baby, and we were thrilled. And we didn’t want to force a gender identity on a baby, and the best way to keep our families and friends from inundating us with either pink or blue gifts was to be able to tell them honestly that we didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl.

    The second time around, we decided to find out for the sake of our now three year old daughter. She likes simple, direct answers, and it seemed easier to be able to tell her, “You’re getting a baby brother, and his name is Iain.” What surprised me was how much it also helped me to know the baby’s name. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had no trouble connecting to the person growing inside of me, even though I didn’t know their name or anything about them. But with a toddler running around, I had a hard time spending any thought or energy on the child that was still inside of me. But once I knew his name, suddenly he wasn’t a potential anymore, he was a person, and I couldn’t put off thinking about him any longer. I picture his face as he’s kicking inside of me, and wonder if he’ll have dark hair like his father. He’ll be arriving sometime in the next few weeks, and I can’t wait to finally meet him.

  14. My main irritation with not having found out when we had the chance at 20 weeks is that when I say “they” or “them” (inadequate, non-grammatically-correct excuses for gender-neutral-but-not-‘it/its’-pronouns) in reference to the wiggling human living in my abdomen, people think I am referring to multiple fetuses. We only have a couple of weeks left to deal with this silly issue, but come on, English language, evolve already!

  15. We found out with our first which surprised me as I always thought I’d be a person to wait, but actually I wanted to know and we were not surprised to be told it was a girl.
    Second time round we decided not to find out but our baby was sick, so we found out the sex so we could name him before he passed away.
    For our third we stuck with our decision not to find out but I’ve decided for those few seconds of finding out at the birth and then everything else happening I’d prefer to have that information along the pregnancy journey

  16. We planned to find out all along, but I didn’t want to tell anyone the name till closer to the time so from the moment we found out we were pregnant bubs was Gertrude (Didn’t want to call bubs it) until she was born and we announce Genevieve (Evie).

  17. I knew from the moment I found out I was pregnant with my son, that he was a boy. We went round and round as to whether we would ask for confirmation at the ultrasound, in the end we decided we would prefer to be surprised.

    But I insisted the baby was a boy. When I was about 25 weeks pregnant, my mom asked what his name would be and I told her it would be Nebuchadnezzar. She was slightly concerned by this. My father-in-law asked what we would name the baby and I told him ‘Skye Blue’ and he was perplexed.

    Then he was born, I was right, it was great. We named him Isaac. Thankfully, all the grandparents seem to like his name.

  18. I’m almost 39 weeks and we didn’t want to find out. We’ve only really had one day, for about 15 minutes, that my husband thought maybe we should have found out but the moment passed. Not knowing has been fine for us, but it has added stress in unforeseen ways. My In-laws are practically livid we don’t know the sex! They actually ask us every time they see us. His mother brought over a list of old wives’ tales to try to figure out what the sex of the baby was because she wants to know and she’s still bothered by it with only one week to go. Another stress, which I didn’t imagine, is that I have no clue- not even a feeling- about it. It is exactly a 50-50 for us. One boy name/one girl name picked out with no possibility of agreeing on anything else. But I don’t feel like I have a clue what it is, and that bothers me only because I read so much about other women “just knowing” and how bonded they are with their fetuses. It makes me feel like a horrible mother already!

    Serious upsides no one ever talks about regarding no finding out the sex (at least with your first): you spend way less on clothes! Gender neutral isn’t always that easy and there are only so many onesies you can buy so you don’t go crazy buying everything you see. It has been a real money saver for us.

    • Yeah, the “just knowing” thing is bullshit so don’t worry about it.

      But a “serious upside” of not finding out the sex is spending way less on clothes? Are you sure? That can’t be a universal rule. Perhaps *you* imagined you would spend more on clothes, personally, if you knew the sex. But the blame of extra buying should be laid squarely on the shoulders of consumerism, not ultrasounds.

      For instance, I knew the sex of my kid. I just don’t have a lot of money, so bought some serviceable stuff and left it at that. I could have bought serviceable stuff in any colour.

      It’s like when people say, “When you cloth diaper, you fall in love with all those cute diaper patterns and you just can’t stop buying!” Well, it’s not necessarily true. Kids crap in diapers. I chose a brand, bought what I needed in plain colours and haven’t ever bought more. I don’t feel the need to decorate my kid’s ass with cloth, just capture his pee.

      • I should say it was a serious upside for me and my mother in law! I’m not a huge spender, but every time I went into stores just to look around, I couldn’t find much that was gender neutral so I would just pass up on buying something. I might have been way more inclined to spend a little something every time I went into a store if I could be assured (or at least a little sure) that I knew the sex. I think it just saved us time and space to not know. I’m sure that’s not the same for everyone.

        I agree about the cloth diapering. We’re going to try, but once I saw the price of the “cute” diapers, I was like- no thanks. I’ll stick with just the plain ones, thanks!

  19. During our first pregnancy my husband was desperate to find out. Since it didn’t really matter to me one way or the other we found out at our 20 week ultrasound (boy/ girl fraternal twins.

    When we got pregnant again last fall my husband decided that it wasn’t really important to know the gender after all so we decided to wait. Unfortunitly my will power isn’t particularly strong. Most people have 1 maybe 2 opportunities to find out the gender. We had 14 opportunities. Due to the high risk nature of our last pregnancy I went in for biweekly ultrasounds that turned in to weekly ultrasounds after the first month. We made it to the second ultrasound before we were begging to know the gender. At each ultrasound we were keeping our fingers and toes crossed for nothing to be wrong with the pregnancy that having one normal thing (like the gender reveal) kept us grounded. Each week Ivy, the ultra-sound tech, would be joke ‘yup still a beautiful little boy’ and ‘yup, no twin hiding anywhere’ before she went on to the more serious nature of the procedure.

  20. With all three of mine I just knew. It was a gut feeling. My oldest would not uncross her legs for anything so we never got it confirmed that she was a girl until she was born. I kept driving everyone (especially my grandmother who was convinced she was a boy) insane telling them that it is a GIRL I know it! With my second I lost him before we got to find out, but in my heart I knew he was male. And my baby… I knew he was male from day 1. His pregnancy was so much harder on me than his sister (full blood, my second pregnancy was a different father) ever was. Everything from the morning sickness to the way he sat. Call it mother’s intuition, but I’ve been fairly good at predicting the sex of babies born to my friends and family as well… only been wrong once… and I have a beautiful 3 week old to die for female cousin from an uncle I was convinced would only throw boys. ^_^

  21. I prefer not knowing ! I’m 27 weeks and this bump`s still yellow. I found out with my first and was disapointed for months (more than I expeced) until I met our son. This time I don`t want that disapointment; I know when I meet him/her I’ll be soooo much in love I won`t care any more.

    In french he is the neural pronoun so I just call the baby he. Plus I am guessing it`s a boy. I would prefer a girl but this way I keep an element of surprise.

  22. I met an old school obstetrician once, who had this trick for back in the day where they couldn’t really tell the gender before the birth, so the obstetrician would take a guess based on examination. When he was asked about it, he would examine the woman’s abdomen and then confidently tell them it was a boy, and write “girl” in the notes. Then when the baby was born, if it was a boy they would think he’d got it right, and if it was a girl they would say “but you said it was a boy” and he would show them the notes and say “no, no, look, I wrote girl”. 100% success rate.

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