The Gender Reveal

One of the marvels that has come about from medical advancement is the ability of parents to discover the gender of their unborn child. Indeed, shortly after the inevitable question of “When are you due?” comes “Do you know what you’re having?” I laugh when they ask the question with that phrasing. Do I know what I’m having? Hopefully it’s a happy, healthy human being, but who knows-maybe I’m actually carrying a litter of puppies (I have always wanted a Golden Retriever) or maybe it’s the incarnate of Cthulhu. But I’m sure it’s a human unless my parents or my husband have something to confess.

But, I digress. When asked “What are you having?” Rather than one of my humorously flippant responses I respond politely, the way my mother taught me “We’re waiting to find out.” Almost everyone under the age of 40 seems disappointed by this response, while older generations find it endearing to hear. There are several reasons on both sides of the gender reveal argument. I’ve been told, it really doesn’t matter much if you wait or not. I beg to differ on this one, as I feel it’s the difference between a surprise party and knowing about the party beforehand. Some people like the surprise. I am actually not one of those people, in general. So why have we decided to wait to learn the gender of our child? I’ll get to those in a second, but first, there are some strong  reasons to determine gender in advance.

Some people already have children and knowing the gender beforehand is important for planning-do they need to buy all new clothes because all of their little ones are mono-gender? Some may be feeling the pressure of society or family to know the gender even before birth. This can be powerful pressure. As anyone who has decided to go with “Team Green” and attempt to have a gender neutral pregnancy it’s a tough road ahead. Almost all baby related products seem to be gender-specific these days, right down to diaper bags and strollers. Trying to find neutral items is the ultimate scavenger hunt these days.

Early gender reveals can assist women with gender disappointment. Some women (and men I’ll wager) are set on having a child of a specific gender. They are so focused and taken with having a child of a specific gender that they experience disappointment upon learning that their little one is, in fact, the opposite gender than they hoped. This is perfectly normal, and people experiencing gender disappointment shouldn’t be chastised for their feelings. I don’t know how many posts on baby boards I’ve seen where someone reaches out for comfort in their gender disappointment to be attacked that they should just be happy that their baby is healthy. I’m sure they are happy that they are carrying a healthy child, but they can still be disappointed that they aren’t carrying a happy female (or male) child.

Another aspect of learning gender beforehand is the societal pressure to give into instant gratification. I’m not making any judgements, it’s the society we live in. In today’s world we no longer have to wait the way we used to. We get mail instantly, we can get money instantly, we can even get food nearly instantly. It only makes sense that since we can determine our babies’ genders as early as 12 weeks pregnant that many people choose to do so.

My husband and I have chosen not to find out. Why? For one, despite the arguments back and forth, we’re rather liking the name game (I’ll be posting about this more in a later post.) It’s fund to go through books and websites searching for name combinations. While some people find a name and get set on it, I personally believe that children (and pets) often choose their names. I don’t want to go into the delivery room settled on a name to meet that little soul and just know the name I’ve picked is wrong for that soul.

Additionally, I personally feel that not knowing will be a huge motivator during labor and delivery. What’s better incentive to push in those final hours when I’m tired and worn out from the birthing marathon (I, myself, am a natural sprinter, like Gimli) than to discover the gender of the soul I’ve been building (in addition to just meeting him/her.)

In-utero gender reveals can be incorrect. I’ve heard stories from moms who were told without a doubt that they were having, say a girl. Overjoyed, they created their pink nursery and bought little pink layettes, little pink swaddling clothes, little pink headbands and little pink socks, only to have their baby come out with a little pink penis. Of course, these stories are not as common, and some in-utero gender reveals are blatantly obvious as to gender, those proud exhibitionists shaking their thing for all to see. Fortunately, our babe has been fairly prudish in that respect. Although the ultrasound tech says she knows, I’m glad we haven’t gotten a glimpse.

The one thing I have been thinking about in all the “not knowing” is what if our baby is a boy…and a girl. I’m talking about intersexed children. Although rare, the statistics I’ve read about prevalence of intersexed children is far more common than I’d expected. One statistic places the occurrence at 1 in 1500 births. With this statistic, I have a greater chance of having an intersexed child than having a child with Down Syndrome, or other genetic disorders. Despite being fairly mellow about most of my pregnancy, this feature got to me a little bit. Because we aren’t doing an early gender reveal, this possibility seemed greater to me. I decided to ask my husband what we would do if this were the case. His first response was how rare it would be. I countered with my statistics. OK, buddy, now what? And then he said “Well, we’ll choose a gender neutral name and let the child grow up and choose what gender they feel most comfortable being.” I sighed a huge sigh of relief, as this was my exact thought as well. I was glad we were on the same page about something we’d never discussed or fathomed. And then he said “And, of course, we’ll encourage the kid to enter the porn industry so that they can make loads of money and support us in our old age.”

I blinked, I did not expect that joke coming from him. I smiled and replied “well, of course, because porn is far cheaper for us than say medical or law school.” 😉


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