Friday, 10 February 2012


A co-worker of mine was recently thrilled to find out that he and his fiancée are expecting is a boy. We chatted the night before about the excitement and anticipation of the moment his child would have an identity. Not to take from his enthusiasm, I asked if he was given a hard time by those who believe finding out the gender of ones baby is ‘cheating’. He agreed that there appears to be a clear line dividing the two schools of thought; those who wouldn’t find out in a million years, and those who insist on knowing. I suppose there is a third category made up of people who just go with the flow and seem to be accepting of both options. This is my favourite group, and also significantly less substantial than the other two.
I subscribe to the second category of parents. Not only do I like to be prepared, but I couldn’t fathom resisting the temptation of not finding out who is in there for the entirety of those long 40 weeks. Not only that, I truly enjoyed the countdown to the date of the ultrasound and I found it just as exciting as the anticipation of our due date. I remember my little pep-talks in the car on the way to the appointment; begging the baby to cooperate and to please, please not keep us in the dark for another four months. I remember lying on that uncomfortable table, trying to crane my neck around and make sense of the images on the screen I could barely see. All the time wondering two things as I was being poked and prodded with the ultrasound ‘thingy’; if we would leave knowing my baby’s name (because, prepared as always, both kids were named long before their birth), and whether or not my bladder would literally explode. Seriously, after not being allowed to pee for hours (while pregnant), we’re then expected to pee “for 10 seconds” because said bladder is now TOO full? Seriously?? Once again, I digress. Completely off topic, my bad.

 Back to the social divide.  I found that during both pregnancies that when discussing my reasons for finding out with those who would never do such a thing, I was often made to feel like I wasn’t playing by the rules. I remember when I was pregnant with Isla people would ask me if I knew the baby’s gender and then sigh with disappointment and say something like “oh, you found out?” when I told them we were having a girl. I eventually became a little defensive about it; as if I had to explain myself each time. So I would present my list of reasons, which ultimately ended up sounding like an over-rehearsed monologue. Basically I would explain that I wanted to have an appropriately themed nursery (of course I’m not saying that the alternative is inappropriate – I just really hoped to create a girlie room for a baby girl). I would then go on to say that I wanted to start calling the baby by name, which supposedly gives the bonding process a jump-start. I also wanted to have more colour options in her wardrobe (as I happen to not be a fan of green OR yellow). Then last but not least, and probably the strongest reason of all, Mike and I simply could not wait. Of course, with that said, it’s important to get a sense of what kind of people we are. When Mike proposed he warned me the glue might not be completely set on the ring and to make sure I kept a close eye on the diamond. He and I, clearly cut from the same cloth, are just incapable of being patient when it comes to surprises. So naturally, waiting just wasn’t an option for us. I applaud those who are able to endure the mystery; the magnitude of will power is impressive to say the least.  So, regarding the disappointment I was faced with each time I told someone that there was no need for guessing because we already knew the sex, there it was – my list of reasons for finding out. I felt as if I was starting to sound like a tape-recorder.

I’m going to go out on a limb here when I say that it seems people who choose to embrace the mystery don’t have to undergo the same criticism. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone having to defend their reasons for waiting. Why can’t we all just agree to disagree? I mean, I don’t feel the need to impose my belief system on those who choose to wait for the big “surprise”. My need for quotations on the word surprise is because I disagree with the implication that those who choose to find out miss out on the ‘big moment’ in the delivery room.  Personally, each time I found out the gender of the baby I was carrying, I was very surprised. It was as if I got to experience two surprises; the day I found out the identity of my little peanut, and the day I got to meet them. I’ve always said the moment that little baby (or in my case big baby) comes screaming into the world is so powerful and overwhelming that their gender is virtually irrelevant. In spite of knowing not only the sex, but also the names of my babies before actually meeting them, I was still quite surprised the moments they were born. You essentially walk in without a baby and suddenly there is one in your arms, looking up at you as if to say “so you’re my Mom”. Surprise!

I remember accidentally (on purpose) eavesdropping on a conversation at a maternity store. The mom-to-be was explaining to the cashier how since there are so few true surprises left in life; she didn’t want to ruin this one by finding out if she was having a boy or girl. As the cashier was agreeing with this philosophy, I just couldn’t help myself and had to interject (for some reason I found this conversation especially irritating– thanks again, hormones). I basically said that I was surprised too – just at what I thought was a more appropriate time. Maybe it was an inappropriate thing for me to do, but I’m sick of everyone acting like it’s some kind of faux pas to not have to refer to your baby as “it” for 10 months. That sounded more like a dig towards the opposing group than I had intended. Honestly, whatever a person decides is their choice and I think we should all be more supportive and less opinionative. Much like baby names, we have no right to be critical when it comes to what parents have decided for their children. These are very personal decisions and they should be respected.

Since the baby-naming subject has come up, I can’t conclude without mentioning this one thing:  if someone shares a name with you, awful as you may find it, it’s probably just best to keep that to yourself. Obviously a lot of consideration went into this decision. It’s simply bad form to ruin it with a story about how you once new an A-hole by that name and now, by association, you don’t like it. As I’m sure your Nan would probably say “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. And think about it this way; if we all liked the same names, we would all have the same names.

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