Today it does seem like most women I know are finding out the gender of their unborn babies. I don’t know the exact statistics on this and I am sure it varies across regions and age groups and social demographics. Though not everyone I know finds out, most people I know do. At least for their first pregnancy. Of course, my sister is also pregnant with her first child and chose not to find out the gender.
My husband would have preferred to leave it as a surprise however this was one situation where he gave me veto over the decision. He felt that since my body was going through it all and I had to do the hard work of labour he could concede on this one and I would make the choice for both of us. (My track record of keeping secrets from him is quite poor so we realized it would not be feasible for only me to know).
Before getting pregnant, I always assumed I would want to know and at first I was sure I wanted to know. Then I thought, maybe not as I got a few weeks into the pregnancy. It was still too early to know anyway so I had plenty of time to decide.
Then the horribleness that is my pregnancy started. I won’t go into detail here, because I have previously discussed it in detail on this blog (here, here and here). You know a pregnancy is bad when people closest to you start asking, “Are you excited?” and you have to muster up the courage to say “Yeah” because anything else makes you look like a monster. Truth was, at times the pregnancy was so horrendous that I found it very hard to be excited. Every day was a struggle just to put in an appropriate number of hours at work so that I could go home and nap.
Every meal was a gamble as to whether it would stay down. I still dread mornings because I know I will throw up before I get to work.
I confess, I felt no connection to the baby at all right into the 2nd trimester.
Some women seem to be instantly connected to the life growing inside of them, that wasn’t the case for me. I was happy to have supportive people in my life who told me it was normal. “Wait until you feel it moving then you’ll feel more connected.”
My husband and I even gave baby nicknames each week based on what food Baby Centre was telling us the fetus resembled.
Husband “How’s avocado today?”
Me “Avocado is being really mean to Mommy and not letting me keep food down….”
It was cute but I was still so miserable that I didn’t feel strongly connected to baby.
So when I was getting my last ultrasound done I decided that if they could tell I would want to know the gender. As it turns out, the baby wasn’t shy and even without the help of the technician I was reasonably sure what I was having. The technician confirmed it as well.
I can honestly tell you that being able to put a gender pronoun to my child instantly lifted my spirits. My family told me I seemed so much happier and excited about the pregnancy. I know gender isn’t the most important thing and I see myself as progressive when it comes to gender norms, but for me it wasn’t about whether the nursery is going to be pink or blue (we are going with grey), it was finally something I could know about this person growing inside of me. Right now we don’t know the name, we don’t know what colour the eyes will be or the hair (though we can make some educated guesses based on our family), we don’t know what the baby will be like and who they will grow into. But right now, knowing the sex of the baby allows me to know something new about it and it has helped me feel connected.
So imagine how hurtful it was when upon revealing to a coworker that I found out the sex of the baby I got lectured on how wrong it is and that I wouldn’t really truly enjoy child-birth because I won’t have that surprise in the delivery room. I don’t know what the motivation of this person was to say these things to me. Especially since it wasn’t as if I could now ‘unlearn’ that information. But this person took the first real sustained joy I’d experienced during this pregnancy and undermined it.
I know from reading other blogs and parenting sites that parents judge other parents and at times it can be quite harsh. I guess I didn’t expect my parenting decisions to be attacked so quickly. Luckily, I am a pretty opinionated and strong woman and was able to look at her and say, “Well, for me it was right to know.” Then I walked away.