So let me start off by saying that this article is going to be completely biased toward my point of view on keeping your baby’s gender a surprise. However, my intent is not necessarily to persuade you that this is the right decision for you, but rather, I’d like to offer some insights on how keeping the gender a surprise until birth can actually be a very practical option. For those of you out there who are intrigued by the thought of waiting but just don’t think you could possibly do it or if you find yourself riding the fence on your decision to find out, then I hope you will read on with an open mind. Not only will you see that it’s not as difficult as everyone thinks it is, but I believe it can make for a truly meaningful experience.
As I write this post, I am currently less than two weeks away from the due date of my second child. My husband and I did not find out the gender of this baby, nor did we find out with our first child. With the due date just days away, our anticipation and excitement grows every day as we look forward to not only the birth of our child, but also finding out if we will have a little boy or a little girl joining our family.
For anyone who knows me well, you know that I am very much a planner by nature. I love to be organized, make lists, and plan details out in advance, but I also love surprises. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to wait to find out the gender, if and when I got pregnant someday. It was something very important to me, and my husband was happy to wait since he was fairly neutral on the subject. The funny thing is that the suspense of not knowing with our first was such a wonderful experience for him that he was adamant about waiting the second time around, whereas I was open to either option. But rather than ramble on about our personal experience, here are some very practical (and some not-so-practical) reasons to wait until birth to find out the gender of your baby:
- You will force yourself to pick out gender neutral baby gear that can be reused for potential future children you may have. If you have a lot of self-control, then this might not be an issue for you, but not knowing the gender removes the temptation to pick out baby gear that is specifically boy or girl themed. For things like car seats, strollers, nursery bedding and décor, high chairs, infant swings, and exersaucers – basically the more expensive, large items you’ll want for baby – it really makes a lot more sense to buy gender neutral designs, so that these items can be reused for future children. These types of items are not cheap, so you don’t want to have to buy them again, should you have a child of the opposite gender the next time around.
- Similar to #1, people will buy you what you actually need rather than rushing to the clothing racks to buy all of those adorable little boy or little girl outfits. I don’t know about you, but it has been my experience at baby showers that the most popular thing to buy, by far, is baby clothes. And I totally get that. I love buying baby clothes myself. And for most people, that is probably the most fun thing to buy for someone who’s having a baby. However, there are so many other practical items that you will need for a baby, especially if it’s your first. And while you do need some newborn clothes to get you started, you don’t need a gender-specific wardrobe for the entire first year of their life. After your baby is born, you have their entire life to buy gender-specific clothes! So…by keeping it a surprise, people are much more likely to buy you the practical items on your registry like crib sheets, nursing covers, pacifiers, diapers, wipes, diaper bag, nursing pillow, burp cloths, bath towels, hygienic items, etc.
- You completely remove any chance of the ultrasound tech making a mistake and informing you of the wrong gender. I have personally known two women (both who have had babies within the last ten years) who were informed of the wrong gender of their baby during their ultrasound. Not only does this wreak havoc on your emotions in the delivery room when you find out your baby is the opposite of what you’ve been anticipating for the last several months, but this can be disastrous from a practical standpoint too. A friend of mine who thought she was having a girl told me she cried when her son was born because the first thing she thought of was that he was going to have to ride home in a pink car seat! Most of the baby gear she had received at her showers was girl-themed, and she had already washed everything in preparation for baby, so it was past the point of being able to exchange it for boy stuff. If you ask around enough, I bet you will meet someone who has had this happen to them. It’s not as uncommon as you might think.
- You won’t feel disappointed if you find out you’re having a baby of the opposite gender of what you desired. I don’t mean to step on any toes here, but I have heard many people make comments about how they were disappointed at the ultrasound when they found out they were having a girl instead of a boy, or vice versa. I don’t think there’s any way to feel disappointed about the gender when the doctor places your newborn child in your arms for the first time or when you have just witnessed the miracle of your child being born. This is perhaps one of the best reasons to wait – when you do finally hear those sweet words of either, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!”, you don’t have to wait 20 more weeks to actually meet him or her like you do if you find out when the baby is in utero. You only have a few seconds or minutes (usually) before the baby is placed in your arms.
- It’s entertaining (to me anyway) to listen to people make their predictions of what they think you’re having, and why they are so convinced they are right. Aside from being asked, “When is your due date?” the next most common question people will ask you throughout your pregnancy is, “Do you know what you’re having?” Once the person gets over the shock of finding out that you decided to let the gender be a surprise, they will many times make their prediction of what you’re having. I personally find this very amusing because I have heard every reason under the sun as to why it’s “definitely a boy” or “definitely a girl.” Let’s be honest though, every person starts out with at least a 50 percent chance of being right, and no two pregnancies are alike!
- Your husband gets to be the very first person to find out the gender instead of an ultrasound tech who likely doesn’t even know you or your family personally. This reason alone would probably be enough for my husband to want to wait because this part of the experience was so significant to him. I can still remember when our son was born my husband raising his arms above his head, slightly jumping up and down and shouting, “It’s a boy! It’s a boy!” We were truly surprised it was a boy, and it was so incredibly special to hear those words come from my husband’s mouth. And when he recounts this story to people, I think his other favorite part is when he ran to the waiting room and simply yelled the name to our family, “Joshua Alexander!” and then ran back to the hospital room. (He did go back later to report all the other “stats” and how everyone was doing.)
- You will experience an indescribable fulfillment when you get to finally announce the gender of that little person who has been hiding in your belly for nine months. Keeping everyone in suspense (including yourself) until the very end makes the birth announcement so much more exciting because you’re not just announcing the baby’s stats and reporting on the health of baby and mom, but you get to actually introduce a new little person to the world – not what you’re going to have, but what you actually have in your arms!
- Perhaps God intended for it to be this way in His original design for bringing forth new life. And no, I don’t want to get into a theological debate here. I don’t have any compelling convictions on the subject; I am simply offering food for thought. I’m certainly not against the capabilities we have with medical technologies such as ultrasounds; however, it has only been in very recent years that people have even been able to find this out in advance. Conception, pregnancy, and birth are absolutely amazing and mind-boggling to me, and I think it seems plausible that God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that it would be a life-changing experience for anyone who witnessed it. He never provided a natural way for people to find out in advance if they were to have a boy or a girl. There’s no window to the stomach or any kind of fool-proof external test to figure this out ahead of time. People had no choice but to simply wait until the actual birth…and in my opinion, it is totally worth the wait.