Love and Marriage · pregnancy and parenthood

Why finding out my baby’s gender is both meaningful and meaningless

There is something ironic in finding out the sex of our baby. On the one hand, it feels like a huge, emotional milestone in this 9-month journey. But in reality it holds such little importance in my quest to motherhood. 

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My decision to know our baby’s sex before birth has nothing to do with needing to know whether I should prepare for a pink or blue nursery. Rather, the idea of getting to know my baby better while it’s growing inside of me makes me feel like I can better connect to my little one. Of course, the outcome has no effect on the unconditional love I will have (and already have) for our child.

The temptation to find out this news early is arguably greater than ever thanks to available technology, social media’s influence on how much we share, and the newest party to the scene: “gender reveal parties.” Here’s a brutally honest blog that calls out what’s wrong with these shindigs: “I Can’t Stand Baby Gender Reveal Parties.”

In short, some critics point out that yet another party requesting friends’ time and money, in this case over the sex of your little one, is just too much. I think these skeptics are entitled in feeling this way, but I do feel it is a stretch to accuse couples as being “self-centered” for wanting to share and celebrate this pregnancy milestone. It’s a bold accusation to make, and a little ironic in the sense that the decision to become a parent is actually one of the most selfless journeys we as adults can take.

Going through this journey firsthand, I can attest to the fact that there is certainly no shortage of emotion and desire to celebrate your discovery of gaining a daughter or son. But I also see the downfall in how we as a society may be giving a little too much attention to the sex of a baby.

What bothers me about it is the stereotyping of gender roles that often come with throwing big gender reveals. In a time when we’re making strides in equality – recognizing that girls can play with trucks and grow up to be talented engineers and mathematicians, and that boys can play with dolls and grow up to be caring teachers or nurses – it seems contradictory that we’d create such hoopla over baby’s sex in rigid notions of blue for boy, pink for girl.

My mixed emotions over this have taught me something simple: My baby’s sex means something to me, just not everything. It is not the kind of news that changes how I feel about becoming a mother, nor does it suddenly drive me to segregated toy aisles and stereotypical color schemes. I’m just as nervous, thrilled and eager to meet our little one as I was before the doctor told me we are having a baby boy.

So yes. It is meaningless in the sense that it does not alter our journey to parenthood. But this doesn’t take away from how meaningful it is at the same time, bringing us one step closer to meeting our child. Words can’t express the emotion that comes from this news. My husband and I finally put a name to my growing baby bump and retired “Baby W” for Ivan James, as we began fantasizing about what our future will be like as our home turns into a boy house.

In the end, how a couple chooses to celebrate or share news of their baby’s sex is entirely up to them. Let us all keep top of mind that no matter how exciting (or uneventful) this news may be, it is not half as important as news of a healthy, happy baby and loved and supported family. And that is something we can all rally around, whether at a gender reveal party, a traditional baby shower or over social media. IMG_0912

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