On Gender

It’s funny, but I never expected gender reveals to be such a divisive issue.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Nobody has jumped down my throat for the decision for a surprise delivery, and nobody’s ever been caustic to me.  Still, it seems that there are two very divided camps when it comes to finding out baby’s gender.  The first camp seems to come from the planning angle- wanting to make sure they have specifically gendered nurseries, clothes, etc.  The second camp seems to come from the surprise angle- they look forward to having that big incentive in the final stages of labor.  I suppose it’s hard to be unbiased unless you’ve experienced it both ways, and even then it’s still an opinion.

I thought it might be interesting to share why I made the decision to keep the baby’s gender a secret (and why Mr. Cookie was kind enough to agree) and see what my friends think on the issue- either side.  So, here are my reasons for the surprise.  Of course, this in no way is meant to say I think my way is best.  It is just best for me.

Decor Many on the opposite side of the debate wonder at how I can do such things as get a nursery ready and buy clothes.  I’ve never been entranced by highly gendered rooms, either for babies, children, or adults.  I guess it’s most important to me that a space be functional.  Form can follow that.  For example, given the choice of pink paisley, blue sailboats, or a mixture of bright, cheerful colors and animals, I would choose the bright colors any day.  I can’t wait for the nursery to be finished and to be able to post pictures!  Look at these adorable bookends I ordered:

That’s a stock photo, as we have neither the bookshelf nor the books for them yet.  But how cute are they?  I am in love.

Clothing Surprisingly, I have a modest amount of clothing already.  Hand-me-downs and a couple personal purchases have certainly helped.  I’m not too worried about the colors my child is wearing and, while I will probably buy clothes after the baby is born (or, if friends who also had delivery surprises are any indication, will receive plenty of “gendered” clothes post birth), I am okay with blues and yellows and greens.  I even saw an awesome onesie in a boutique about a year back that was pink, and on the chest is said “What?  Boys can wear pink too!”  I kind of wanted it, even though I was not pregnant and had no reason to think I would ever actually even have a boy.  I’m still a little sad that I didn’t buy it.  My husband wears pink, and he looks really good in it.  Why couldn’t a son?  Of course, there is the excitement of gendered clothes.  Don’t think that I will keep my child in gender neutrals forever!  There are too many adorable sweater vests or polka dot tights to be worn.  I just don’t feel like I need to have my child’s entire first year of clothing purchased before s/he is here. Look at this adorable outfit I got for the baby’s coming home:

Big Items Back when I first started teaching, there was another teacher who was pregnant.  She had decided not to find out what she was having, and one of her reasons for it made a ton of sense to me.  I hadn’t given it a lot of thought up until then, but that sealed the decision in my mind.  Her thinking was that if you knew what you were having, people would be really tempted to buy you gender specific things- strollers, car seats, play gyms, swings, etc that you may or may not want to use with subsequent children who happened to be a different gender (she even knew people who had registered for gender neutral stuff but had been gifted very gendered stuff instead).  There are some things on my registry that are labeled as “boy” items, but I think they just happened to be gender neutral by my estimation.  Maybe I’m destined to have tomboys?  Or girly girls who resent being surrounded by “boy” things.  Probably the latter.  And, that’s okay.  I will take that in stride.  But I doubt my newborn is going to be offended that her bib (assuming she’s a girl) has an alligator on it and comes from the “boy” bib collection.

Name  I like the idea of having to come up with two names (check back when discussions have really begun in earnest and we’ll see if that’s still how I feel).  Either way, the baby’s name will be a secret until birth!

Announcement Finally, and this is the reason that really clinched it for me.  I am in love with the image of giving birth to the baby, having him or her placed on my chest, and having my husband announce the gender.  You can bet that will be part of my birth plan (at least the announcement part- if I have a c-section I realize they won’t be putting the baby on my chest).  I love the idea that Mr. Cookie will have such an important job as soon as the baby’s born.  I am very excited to hear from my own husband that first bit of information about our child.


Now, all of this said, I was one of the more obnoxious commenters on facebook a couple days ago when one of my friends was going in for her gender scan.  I surprised myself at how impatient I was!  And, honestly, I have no idea what we’ll decide to do with the next child.  Maybe since I was so adamant this time I’ll let Mr. Cookie decide next time.  I know it’ll be fun either way.

So, I’m really interested in hearing from my readers- did you find out, didn’t you?  If you didn’t, why not?  With future children, do you plan to find out?  What is your reasoning for finding out (or not)?  Do you ever feel like people just “don’t get it” when you tell them your decision (either way)?

15 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Kim said,

    Yup…you sure were anxious! 🙂 We chose to find out gender partially to get ourselves mentally ready for what was coming. My gut said “girl” from day one, and had it been a boy, I would have been very surprised…and I admit it would take getting used to. That, and we were having a heck of a time picking a “boy” name, and decided we wouldn’t worry about a boy name unless we needed one. Well, looks like we don’t need one! I’m so excited to have a baby girl, but the first item of clothing I picked out after our ultrasound? A yellow bunting with giraffes and elephants on it. It’s my favorite. A friend told me I should have kept gender a secret so that people would get us gender neutral stuff rather than oodles of pink clothes. Oh well. If baby turns out to be a boy, I’m sure he’ll look good in pink. (because they never guarantee that the gender at an ultrasound!)

    • 2

      Mrs. Cookie said,

      I just looked at your registry and I LOVE the thirsties diaper cover with the trees. I am going with Mr. Cookie to an intro to cloth workshop next weekend so he can decide if he’s comfortable with cloth. I will understand if he’s not, but I just adore some of the covers they have for pre-folds. 🙂 I guess the worry that we’d get a lot of really gendered clothing and such was a big part of my decision to wait. People seem to love pink for little girls! It’s fine, it’s just not my favorite color. Although, there was one diaper cover made by the same company with orange and pink flowers on it that was way cute too.

      • 3

        Jenn S said,

        if you end up wanting any cloth diaper advice when it comes to pre-folds at least, we can probably help (though i’m sure E & S would be able to, as well).

        also, we have more snappis than we know what to do with, so you can have a few if you’d like.

  2. 4

    Little Sister said,

    Wow, those bookends are freakin’ adorable.

    As one of Stowaway’s aunties, I couldn’t be happier that you chose (at least for your first pregnancy) to have the sex revealed at birth. It adds another level of excitement to something already so exciting. The whole thing, from my end, has been a series of awesome surprises already. “Want to come over and have birthday cake? Muahaha…”

    And reading about the announcement part… well, I think that will be an amazing experience for both you and Rich, and a wonderful way to further include him in the pregnancy and birth.

    Sure, I get a little too excited sometimes and will be caught saying to friends things like, my niece or nephew is already a niece or nephew! X many months! But it’s mostly excitement, and not really wanting to know. I wonder how often you wonder. 🙂

    I’ve never thought, seriously anyway, about what I’d do in this situation. I feel like my main issue is/would be with friends and family focusing so much on gendered items (and attempting to give my baby, regardless of sex, a gender they think matches), but the rest makes total sense, too.

    Oh, and I wanted to let you know, I think the whole “being an aunt” thing finally hit me yesterday. So it only took about 6 weeks for the whole “OMGIMGOINGTOBEANAUNTIE” into “I’m.. going to be an aunt soon.” Not bad!

    • 5

      Mrs. Cookie said,

      Oh, I wonder all the time! But we switch between pronouns and mostly just say “Stowaway.” Sometimes I think it confuses people when we use a specific pronoun, but I usually remember to explain what I’m doing. I’m so glad you’re so excited to be an auntie!!

  3. 6

    Erika said,

    We found out, as you know, and didn’t tell anyone, which was our compromise between S wanting to know and me NOT wanting to know. My reasons were mostly theoretical–I really liked the surprise element for me and for the public announcement. (What can I say–I’m a drama queen!) S may have more to say on the matter, but she wanted to know because it made Bobo seem more real, like an actual person rather than a strange wiggly lump. Planning wasn’t a big factor, really. We would have gone gender neutral on our purchases/registry anyway; the only really pressing question related to planning was circumcision. But in terms of finding out, it meant more to S to know than it did to me that we didn’t know, and ultimately, she who gestates gets the final word. We only got a little flak and I kind of enjoyed tormenting our friends.

    • 7

      Erika said,

      Oh and I also wanted to talk names for both sexes…so I made sure we did that before we found out. It was a really interesting exercise.

      Plus it was nice to have that little secret, just the two of us, for those five months. I think keeping it a secret drive S a little nuts, but I liked that there was something about the pregnancy that she was sharing with me and me alone (midwives, etc. notwithstanding).

    • 8

      Erika said,

      Okay, actually, I lied. Planning for purchases was a factor…if (IF, I say, IF!) we have another one, I really hate the idea of having to buy all new stuff. I’m maybe not as gender-blind as I’d LIKE to be (we did after all pick a gendered name, and yes, you are absolutely right about adorable tights and sweaters and what have you) but I like that much of M’s gear and clothing IS neutral.

      Am I done commenting now? Maybe…only time will tell! Apparently I have lots of opinions on this issue. Probably because gender roles are so important to the proper functioning of our household. 😉

  4. 9

    Andrea said,

    I agree with all of the above – it wasn’t really about shopping, it was because we enjoyed imagining the baby, and talking about and to her/him, by name, with a more specific picture in mind. It helped me bond, maybe, and gave me someone more concrete to think about during those last tough sleepless weeks, without having to use weird pronouns and stuff. Although I’ve never heard anyone say it was specifically helpful during labor – I didn’t really think about that. Anyway, your reasons are just as important to you. We look forward to the news no matter when it comes.

    • 10

      Sarah said,

      Yep, exactly what Andrea said 🙂 And I have to say, at pushing time, getting it over with and getting to meet M was allllll the motivation I needed!

  5. 11

    Mrs. Cookie said,

    Erika, Kim, and Andrea,

    Thank you for your insights! It’s funny, because thinking about it more, it seems that maybe I was hasty to tag planning as a main reason for knowing. I suppose most of the comments I’ve gotten about clothing, decor, etc, have come from co-workers, strangers (yes, strangers! Everyone wants to know if I know), and students. That doesn’t mean that is most people’s driving force. As always, thank you for your thoughts. I never thought about how it might make me feel more connected. I guess I feel pretty connected. Maybe we’ll find out with the next one and I can do a comparison. 🙂

  6. 12

    Jenn S said,

    one of our main reasons for finding out was that, honestly, i am really bad at surprises/waiting (ie – i often make Jon open his presents weeks early because i JUST CAN’T WAIT ANY LONGER), and find that i just wanted to know, already. i don’t think i could have made myself wait that long to find out (i would have gone crazy).

    plus, i was absolutely sure that it was a boy, and i really wanted to find out if i was right.

    also, we were having a lot of trouble discussing names (Jon thought it was HI-LARIOUS to come up with mostly joke names all the time — i did not find it quite so funny after we were almost at 20 weeks). we figured it would be a lot easier (and less insanity-making) if we narrowed it down to one gender’s worth of names.

    i actually got really irritated with one person in my friends group (not anyone that i believe would ever read this) who insisted that we were being stupid/silly for finding out instead of being surprised, because they said it was JUST SO MUCH FUN and SO MUCH BETTER to be surprised at the gender at birth. which irked me a lot because, hell, IT WAS ALSO A JOYFUL SURPRISE TO FIND OUT AT OUR 1/2 WAY ULTRASOUND, thankyouverymuch. so i guess people will nag you about it either way!

    also, it may just be because we ended up having a boy, but even though people knew his gender, 99% of what we recieved for gifts is very gender-neutral stuff (including the t-shirt that says “lock up your daughters”…which i kind of can’t wait to put on a girl baby if we ever have one). i think a large portion of that is because people tend to buy off-registry a lot, and pretty much all of what we registered for was totally gender-neutral. it may also partly be because we have awesome friends who understand that gender-neutral stuff is generally cuter and less cringe-inducing anyway.

    as for having the extra incentive when you get to the pushing stage…i suspect meeting your child for the first time will probably be all the incentive you need…though wanting to find out the sex too will just be the icing on the cake!

  7. 13

    Erika said,

    Okay, one more comment (I KNOW): It just occurred to me that knowing the sex of the baby (my own or someone else’s) would make me MORE inclined to buy gender neutral stuff, or non gender-normative stuff to combat what I would assume would be coming from others. Especially on the toy front. Because I am ornery like that.

  8. 14

    Andrea said,

    Erika’s last point is very true. I will add that I put our white-and-tan “They’re Raising Me Gay” shirt on both Becca and Ben. I’m sad it no longer fits his fat belly.

  9. 15

    Elizabeth said,

    We found out, but finding out wasn’t a big deal to me. It’s funny–while I totally respect the rightness of you doing whatever feels most right and special for you, the making a big deal out of it feels very awkward to me. On the other hand, I never seriously entertained the idea of having a boy, so my experience may have been very different that way.

    On the buying-stuff front, I think it really depends on one’s friends & family. I was much more likely to get neutral, funky stuff than pink frills, even though everyone knew we were having a girl. In general we’ve always accepted pink as one of many colors, but mostly been able to avoid it as a theme. Now that A. is four and more interested in gender issues, I’m having to hold the line there a little harder and we’ve been having discussions about “pink is for girls” lately. So it doesn’t stop at the shower!

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