Week 20: Gender Surrender

Should we find out the baby’s gender? That’s the question of the moment. Babu’s sex organs would be visible on an ultrasound, which is to say that Babu could officially become little Babbo or Babette—if we are interested in such information. Here, the pros and cons of finding out:

Why we should wait:

  • We’re looking forward to the “surprise.”
  • We could be bummed out by what we find out. (We both want a boy.)…

Should we find out the baby’s gender? That’s the question of the moment. Babu’s sex organs would be visible on an ultrasound, which is to say that Babu could officially become little Babbo or Babette—if we are interested in such information. Here, the pros and cons of finding out:

Why we should wait:

  • We’re looking forward to the “surprise.”
  • We could be bummed out by what we find out. (We both want a boy.)
  • It’s the way women have done it for thousands of years.
  • What if something goes wrong? The more we personalize the fetus, the more difficult a setback would be.

Why we should find out now:

  • We have access to the information. Why not use it?
  • We’d only have to agree on only one name.
  • We could figue out how to decorate the nursery.
  • My parents could start sending sex-specific clothes my wife hates.
  • If we’re planning a circumcision, the lack of a penis would be awkward.

So far, We’ve kept the baby bling-bling unisex and neutral, and it’s all come from garage sales: a glider for $5; a baby monitor for $2; a Fisher-Price tricycle for a buck, even though we’re going to have to put it in the closet for three years. We even scored a cheapo backpack that will serve as a diaper bag.

Meanwhile, all these new parents around us are opening their wallets in a big way. Over the weekend, an old friend of mine gave birth to child whose coming-out party, complete with monogrammed cards, occurred while he was still in his mother’s womb. Today, we received an adorable digital picture entitled “Coming Home Outfit,” which pictured a shriveled little prune in a tiny argyle sweater and pressed khakis that made him look like he was courtside at Wimbledon. Can’t that stuff wait until kindergarten, at least?

Apparently it can’t. Sarah wants to know the baby’s gender as soon as possible so she can start shopping for real.

I’m not sure I agree. That we should find out the sex simply because we can isn’t a good enough reason for me. My position has no religious, ethical, or political underpinnings whatsoever, beyond my own neo-Luddite tendencies. I guess I like the idea of doing it the way our ancestors might have 1,500 years ago, minus the leeches and rusty surgical instruments, that is.

Remember Scott Peterson, the convicted double murderer in California? His mother recently begged the jury to spare the life of her son, who was accused of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci. The expected child was to have been named Connor. “They were like family,” Peterson’s mom told the jury, in tears. “Laci, Connor, and Scott. It would be a whole family wiped off the face of the Earth.” There are a lot of things about that statement that I find troubling (the least of which is that families, generally, refrain from butchering one another). But what really got to me was this Connor stuff. I realize I am wading into some murky waters here, but . . . There was no Connor yet. There was only the idea of a Connor to Come. Yet, here was this distraught woman speaking with nostalgia about a lump of cells that she had never laid eyes on, who had never breathed a breath in the world.

When our friend Jen got pregnant, she and her husband, Level-Headed Jonathan, decided to find out the gender at five months, then they kept it to themselves. That seemed like a compromise Sarah and I could both live with. Then we happened to see Jen and Level-Headed Jonathan in Grant Park the other night, and Jonathan urged us not to follow in their footsteps. “It was a real pain in the ass,” he said. “When we refused to tell people the sex, they got insulted. They thought they were entitled to the information.” 

Jen agreed: “My mom kept wanting to know whether to buy clothes for a boy or a girl. We should have just lied and said we hadn’t found out the gender. Or just not found out at all.”

After much discussion, Sarah and I decided to simply let nature run its course, and keep everyone in the dark. Including ourselves.

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comments
7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Good for you. It is such an amazing moment when that baby pops out, and you find out what it is. It adds to the overall experience. And besides, picking names is fun.

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

It's only fun if you agree with your spouse on names. Otherwise, it can be a real argument-starter. We had some serious fights over names, during many of which she called me names.

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

i'm curious why the author wanted so badly to have a boy over a girl?

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

For our first and second we did the surprise and it was a great moment. For our third we decided to find out. I was really anxious I was going to ruin it for myself, but it turned about to be another, different kind, of fantastic. I felt more connected in a way. We did not tell a soul that we knew our baby's gender, so the family still got the surprise.

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

JEFF RUBY RESPONDS:

Why did I want a boy? I can barely remember now, but it was probably for all the usual Dumb Man Reasons: I wanted someone to rough-house with, play ball with, talk sports with - all those things that I considered "male." I didn't realize at the time that I could do all that with a little girl too.

That's how green I was.

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Good honest answer. I bet you would be really sweet with a girl. And she might like throwing a ball too.

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