On a “Good Morning America” segment last week, their weather person, Ginger Zee, revealed to her coworkers (and viewers), via big boxes of blue balloons, that she was having a boy come December. To get in the spirit, before Ginger announced her news, three other couples found out what genders their babies would be.
Gender reveal parties are all the latest rage. Couples about halfway through their pregnancy, either knowing the gender themselves beforehand or by allowing their doctor to tell a friend or relative, invite friends and family over to find out their child’s gender. Some couples fill boxes full of balloons, as Ginger Zee did; others might invite their guests to swipe at a piñata until it rains down pink or blue paper shreds. I’m sure there are dozens of other creative ways to share the baby’s gender.
It made me wonder: Does anyone find out the gender of the baby in the delivery room anymore?
I asked an OB/GYN about this recently. She said 90% of couples are finding out the gender at the earliest possible moment—and depending on prenatal testing this can be as early as in the first trimester, though most couples will find out at their mid-pregnancy ultrasound, around 18-20 weeks along in their pregnancy.
I had my babies in 1994 and 1998, so quite a long time ago. Back then, though, yes, you could find out the gender during the 20-week ultrasound. The first time around, my husband wanted to keep it a surprise, but I wanted to find out. The doctor indicated that she knew the sex of the baby, but we decided to hold off. I figured we should both be on the same page for something like that. But at my 24-week checkup, when my husband wasn’t with me, I asked my doctor, “Do you really know the sex of the baby?”
“I remember I could tell,” she said. “But I don’t write it down. We could run into the ultrasound room right now and find out.” I was tempted, oh so tempted. But I resisted. Sixteen weeks later, at 2 in the morning on a cold, rainy spring day, I felt the baby slip out of my body. “What is it?” I asked the doctor.
“It’s a baby,” she said, as though I was crazy.
“No, the sex!” I said, my curiosity getting the best of me.
“Oh,” she said, turning the baby over. “It’s a girl.”
That was one of the greatest moments of my life.
Three years later, pregnant with my second baby, the doctor was doing an ultrasound. I was 14 weeks pregnant. This pregnancy had so far been a little dicier—I’d suffered a late first trimester miscarriage only months before, and a big blood clot had loomed next to this baby for all of my first trimester, threatening it. I’d needed more ultrasounds.
“I can’t tell the gender yet,” the doctor said as she looked at the screen. I was relieved. I didn’t want to know. But she had forgotten to ask me if I did.
At the mid-pregnancy scan, we again told our doctor that we didn’t want to find out the sex. This time, my husband and I had reversed positions. He wanted to know as soon as he could. I wanted to wait. Again, we agreed that we needed to be on the same page, so we wouldn’t find out. At that ultrasound though, as the machine measured the baby’s heart rate, I said, “Oh, it’s got to be a girl.” (An old wives’ tale says that a faster heartbeat indicates it’s a girl, a slower heart beat, a boy.) The doctor, who already knew the gender, made a face.
That was just a guess, for sure, and still, we had no idea if it would be a boy or a girl. But when they told me, at birth, that it was a girl, I remember getting the biggest grin on my face. I’d wanted another girl. It had been worth the wait.
I don’t think it can be the same if you find out months before the birth. Sure, you’re excited, but is it the same? Do you get the same rush, the same excitement? Do your relatives get as excited? Is it as thrilling? I think it can’t be. There’s something magical until waiting for the baby to be born to find out, though it’s definitely not a practical way of going about it at all. If you’re like me, and you choose this way, your nursery will be mint green or buttercup yellow. The first few outfits the baby wears will be gender neutral. You’ll need to look into mohels when you’re not sure you’ll need one. You’ll have to choose two names so that you’re prepared for either gender.
But the thrill—the thrill is worth the wait. At least I think so. Forget about practicality. Go with the best, happiest surprise ever. Wait for the moment, I don’t think you’ll be sorry you did.