Before ever getting pregnant, my husband informed me that he would prefer we not find out our baby’s sex until delivery. My reaction, “Immediately no.” I am, after all, the most Virgo-iest Virgo to ever Virgo. Meaning, to put it lightly, I like control and order. Not knowing our baby’s sex for the 10 months I was expected to plan and prepare for their arrival felt like a wild proposition. How would I maintain my death grip on everything happening if I didn’t know all the facts?
I, however, obliged after realizing a few things. First, my husband is very low maintenance. He often goes along with my many requests, demands and planned photoshoots. Maybe not with a smile but most certainly without a fight. Second, he rarely draws a hard and fast line about things so I knew that if he was doing so, it was for good reason. And finally, I knew that if I found out and he didn’t, I would surely slip up over the course of the pregnancy and reference the baby with gendered terms thus ruining the surprise for him. In the end, I determined my love for control was not as great as my love for him and his heart’s desires and so I conceded.
As for my husband’s reasons, I asked him to share just why he wanted to wait. Before making the decision, I didn’t realize how uncommon it actually is. In all of our birthing and parenting classes, we were the only set of parents that chose not to know. Of all of our friend’s, only one other set of parents also chose this path.
“The idea of this being a surprise in delivery feels traditional and novel at the same time. I can’t imagine the adrenaline and excitement that comes along with it,” my husband told me when explaining why he opted to forego an in utero sex reveal.
He also mentioned that it allowed him to fully imagine having either sex and all the possibilities that come with both.
“Ultimately I feel happy and blessed to have either so finding out never enticed me,” he said.
I must admit his sentiment is deeply heartwarming. Still, in practice, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for me. Releasing this specific aspect of pregnancy has taught me a great deal about my own ideas around control, gender beliefs and the importance I place on fighting the unknown.
The Things I’ve Liked
Let’s start with the good. Not knowing the sex of your baby before it is born truly is one of life’s greatest mysteries. With that, comes a type of thrill I can’t remember ever experiencing before. My husband was right when he described it as an adrenaline rush. I find myself, at times, daydreaming about the big reveal in the delivery room. Just imagining it gets my heart pumping.
The public response has also been an unexpected plus. When people see you pregnant the two most common questions they ask are, “when are you due?” and “boy or girl?” The joy it’s brought others when I tell them I don’t know the answer to the latter has been extremely fun in the most unexpected way. Also, the guessing game that people go through is endlessly entertaining. From the cashier in the Publix checkout line to one of my closest friend’s uncles, everyone has a strong opinion on “how I’m carrying.” A few months ago, Uncle Jerome confidently pointed at my protruding belly and said, “girl.” He explained that he has a long history of accurately guessing baby’s sex and in all his years, has never been wrong. However, at our baby shower, the almost universal consensus was boy. Experiencing others’ investment in my journey is a part of this process I’ll actually miss. It brings a sort of closeness with strangers and loved one’s alike about a topic that really never gets old.
What I’ve Struggled With
Some of the obvious challenges for me, as a person who loves control, have been dealing with the unknown. All clothes are brown, yellow or green. My nursery is sage. I can’t get anything monogrammed yet. The travesty! I realize that the conversations around color are based on a lot of gendered ideals that are becoming more and more antiquated. However, I can’t fight the desire to keep things neutral until I know. And honestly, it’s just not that fun shopping for tan everything.
But the bigger drawback I’ve found is based on connection. While I can’t be sure, I feel like knowing the sex of your child helps you start imagining who they are while still in the womb. It grounds things in a way. You can pick a name and start referring to them by it. You can dream in a way that I feel I just can’t quite allow myself to. I worry that my connection with the baby isn’t quite where it would be if I knew their sex. Is this sensible? Probably not. But part of me definitely feels the unknown makes the baby feel a bit anonymous. I can’t help but wonder if the connection would feel deeper if I knew.
I’ve already told my husband, next time, I’m finding out the sex, no questions asked. And he has already agreed to that. I, without a doubt, do not regret waiting “to know” for this child though. The thrill of the unknown and the release of control has been both good for me and truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just one I hope to never repeat.