Monday, September 22, 2008

To Peek or not to Peek: Finding out the sex of your baby

With our first pregnancy, my wife couldn't wait until that 20 week sonogram. It was the fabled and treasured milestone that made the whole first and 20 weeks worth it. A half-way sign post, like opening that one present on Christmas Eve. And, honestly, I was pretty excited, too.

With the second pregnancy, I wanted to wait. We had done it the first way, now, it seemed to me, was a good time to try out the second way. But at the time, my wife was battling pretty severe depression. She had post-pardum depression and then we found out we were pregnant at 6 months out from the first birth, right at the apex of the depression. And it became the one little carrot that she could look forward to. So she talked me into it and we sat once more while the doctor jiggled her stomach with a jelly coated wand to get our baby to open her legs.

And, in the end, I found that one pretty exciting, too.

Now, the third time around, we are doing things differently. Instead of a hospital birth, we are having a birthing center birth like we've always wanted. And instead of finding out the sex half way through the pregnancy, we're waiting for that big surprise at the end.

Believe it or not, we actually are waiting.

As a matter of fact, it's too late. We had our big ultra-sound, checking for fingers, toes, ventricles, and brain hemispheres. But when it came to finding out the sex, we ditched it.

For one thing, this third time around, everything is going so much faster. It seems like we've just started with this baby and we're already half-way there. The suspense, honestly, wasn't enough to warrant finding out this time around. So we'll wait until that moment when the baby comes out to see what it is. I'm about 50% sure it's a girl.

And really, that's what makes the whole finding-out-the-sex-thing so anticlimactic to me: it's only one or the other. Some people hope for a boy or a girl, and I just don't care. Some people want to know what color to decorate the nursery, and we're not into that particular aspect of nesting. Some people want to know what color clothes to buy, and we don't really have the money for the full layette thing. Plus, I don't see any reason to start pushing gender roles so damn early. Why do we have to push them into pinks and blues, baseball and dolls? Let them decide what their role is going to be.

It's going to be one or the other. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of who these kids are. The ultrasound won't tell you if they're going to be a good person, or if they're going to have colic, or if they're going to be an astronomer when they grow up. It's just going to tell you if it's a boy or girl. It didn't tell us that our first daughter was going to be such a picky eater, that she was going to be so analytical, or that she was going to have the memory of an elephant. And it didn't tell us that our second daughter was going to eat anything you put in front of her, that she was going to forsake reality for an amazing imaginative life, or that she was going to be called "Birdy" instead of "Luna" by her sister.

Putting so much emphasis on the sex before the baby is born puts expectations on the child from the beginning. We're doing enough molding. We're doing enough indoctrinating as it is. Let them be born without the expectations that society places on so many aspects of their lives due to their sex.

That's my hypocritical viewpoint. We did it twice one way, and now we're trying the other. In the end, we'll still have the same baby, the same wonderful possibilities, and I just can't bring myself to think that doing it one way or the other will change that.


octavialuna said...

i did the same thing! i found out the sex with my first two babies and didn't want to with my third. i talk about it more here:

harmzie said...

For all three of ours we didn't "peek" (for one of them at the hospital we were scheduled for the US at they said it was policy NOT to tell!)

We also did not have a preference one way or the other. It seemed kind of like setting yourself & then your child up for a lifetime of disappointment, since - arguably, I realize - you don't really have much control.

But a funny thing happened when *each* of my children were born: they turned out to be *exactly* what I wanted! Not sure how that happened ;-) I've got two girls & a boy.

Nice post. Very personal.

Annet and Kirk said...

I've been reading through some of your older posts at random, after arriving here to read your Breastfeeding Father post. love your writing and I agree with a lot of what you say, such as mindful tv watching (we record everything to watch later). So great blog!

Anyways, we decided we did not want to know the sex of our child and we found that it is so common these days to find out, that people were excited and surprised when they asked what we were having and got the response "a baby"... A lot of people thought it was a nice change to not know in advance. And the surprise was awesome. So we won't be finding out when we have #2 either. Good decision not to find out.