Thursday, May 12, 2005

Boy or Girl?

by Anne Zelenka
I try to understand when pregnant women and their husbands don't want to learn the sex of the baby. But I just don't. I don't get it. It's so much more practical to know. It's just as much a surprise when you find it out at the eighteen-week sonogram as at the forty-week birth. You have an answer when people ask, "boy or girl?" And you can settle on a name. Still, I try to understand and be empathetic to this choice.

But this I really don't understand.


Blogger Marjorie said...

As you know, I'm a finder-outer and I completely agree that it doesn't matter when the surprise comes -- before or after the baby is born.

Intriguing article -- I always thought that was part of not knowing, being fine with neutral nursery colors. I picked some neutral pastels even knowing I was having a girl because I didn't know what my second child would be.

To each his own.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Mary Garth said...

Fred and I were non-finder-outers. Fred probably could have gone either way on this one (I think he may even have had a slight preference for finding out), but I was adamant that I didn't want to know.

Part of it was that at the time of the early ultrasounds, I just wasn't ready. At that point, the pregnancy felt as if it was more about a condition _I_ had than about a baby I was going to have. Perhaps some time later, between second and third trimesters, as I made the mental shift from mostly feeling ill to focusing more on the wiggly growing little person, I would have been ready.

On the other hand, not knowing was consistent with my view that parents and others are over-invested in reinforcing stereotypical gender roles. Not knowing meant that not only did we not do a "blue room" or a "pink room", but other family and friends were unable to force their gender stuff on us--at least not quite as immediately as if they'd known ahead of time.

Now that we've ended up with two boys, the thing I find most notable is how wonderfully different two children of the _same_ sex can be. I wonder how much of the difference that parents often ascribe to sex differences between their kids (when they have children of different sexes) has much more to do with the variation that occurs between individuals regardless of sex.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

I'm a not-finder-outer.

Because there is just nothing better in the entire world than having your husband turn to you with tears in his eyes and give you the most glorious, heartfelt look of love you've ever seen and tell you, "It's a girl."

That was my first child.

I'd planned on a similar earth-shattering lovefest moment with the birth of our second child. My entire birth plan consisted of "let my husband tell me the gender."

But as I pushed that 8 pound baby out of my body, I peaked and the first words my son heard were me saying, "Holy Shit! It's a boy!"

He hasn't let me live that down yet. (My husband, that is. Luckily, my son doesn't seem to remember it.)

6:51 PM  
Blogger Anne Zelenka said...

Mary and Kristen -

You both make good points and I can understand a little better the motivation behind not finding out. It's of practical importance right now because my cousin and his wife are expecting a baby and they decided not to find out the sex. Now I can be more understanding.

I think I'm probably too impatient a person to ever be a non-finder-outer. But it's all academic at this point because I'm not planning to have any more.

Oh, and Mary, I completely agree that people with one boy and one girl often attribute inter-individual differences to sex differences. My first child, a boy, was much more verbal and gentle than my second, a girl, who is much more active and physical. It drives me crazy when people say "boys and girls really are different" and they point to their two children as evidence.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Cynical Mom said...

I was a non-finder-outer with #1 and will be with #2 as well (16w in). I have one sister who didn't find out with her two, and one sister who did. The one who did thinks the other two of us are both crazy :-)

For me, I totally get why people want to find out. A part of me wants to too, but I also am the kind of person that's big into delayed gratification... like saving up my calories all day, planning for a good dessert that night. But also, having done it once, I just really enjoyed that my husband was the first person who knew what gender our baby was, and he was the one who told me, and I got to not only hear it was a boy but also hold him at the same time for the first time... that was a neat experience. Of course, it would be neat regardless of knowing in advance, but for me it was the icing on the cake =)

9:02 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

We didn't find out with my first pregnancy. We liked the surprise, but it was also because we didn't want to be drowned in little pink dresses if we told people we were having a girl.

With the second, we found out, in part because it seemed easier to explain to Daniel if we could be concrete that he was going to have a baby brother.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Sara said...

I was not a finder-outer either time (one boy, one girl).

I don't hold it against those who do -and especially the second time around I totally understood the appeal of the planning aspects of knowing ahead of time.

I had two reasons, especially with our first.

My less-discussed reason is that I was afraid that I had a preference for one gender over the other. I'd seen way too many women on my PG boards *crying* about their 18-week ultrasounds and what they found out there. Crying because they had a healthy baby but it was the wrong gender.

I never wanted to harbor that kind of negative memory of finding out whether my child was a boy or a girl. And I figured that finding out in the delivery room, when I'd made it through labor and was just darned happy to be holding the actual baby in my arms, would make it that much less likely that my first thought on hearing "It's a Boy/Girl!" would be regret for what the baby *wasn't.*

My other reason is something some folks here have touched on. People start gender stereotyping as soon as they know. An boy who is active in utero is "A little fighter!" or "With kicks like that he's going to be a football star!" An active little girl gets much less positive messages. "She's gonna give you a run for your money!" "You'll have to keep an eye on that one!"

I didn't want a pink frilly nursery or a blue sporty one. I didn't want all my newborn onesies to be pink or blue (given that I was hoping to have more than one kid). And I didn't want the stereotyping of my child to start before s/he was born!

I'm sure that finding out at any point is a wonderful thing - but I have to say that the moment, each time, when the midwife put the baby on my chest and announced the gender had a level of *magic* - hormone-fueled though it may have been - that still gives me tinglies. Each time there was something funny or personal or sweet about the way it happened: "It's a *boy* baby!" ... and "You've got a little Charlotte, guys!" That moment in each of my deliveries is probably the most cherished. If we were having more, I'd still not find out.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Marjorie said...

I'm really enjoying reading the comments, thanks for sharing them.

Sara, I was especially interested by your comment, because I really wanted a girl. I wanted to find out while pregnant because if it was a boy, I wanted to nip my preference in the bud and start thinking about how wonderful it would be to have a boy. I was worried that my hope for a girl would keep building and I'd be disappointed in the delivery room, then feel tremendously guilty, etc, etc. I actually had a dream that I'd had a boy and felt that way. Finding out was my way of resolving the issue.

But I'm also one of those people who likes to know things in advance anyway -- like movie reviews that 'spoil' the ending. It doesn't spoil it for me because there is the whole movie to watch.

4:41 PM  

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