Struggling over whether to learn the gender of your soon-to-be-born baby? My wife and I did too, but after carefully considering all the pros and cons, we decided to find out. It wasn't a decision we came to lightly, but we haven't regretted it once to this day, for a variety of reasons.
Learning our baby's sex made practical sense and allowed us to load up on gender-specific gear. Once we knew we were having a boy, we finally felt comfortable choosing everything from the color of a car seat to the theme of the nursery. Our family, who was anxiously waiting in the wings to lavish our new addition with clothes, toys and other sundries, could now spend their money wisely. Of course, many couples opt for gender-neutral stuff, but we’re not much of a pro-beige household.
There were other considerations too. I'm not sure what it's like for other parents, but we agonized forever over choosing a name. Once we knew the gender, we were able to narrow our list by half. Without that sort of focus, I can only imagine how much longer it might have taken us.
In addition, when we got pregnant the first time, it all felt a bit surreal. Yes, we could chart the baby's growth by the size of my wife's belly and the vigorous kicks she felt, but when we knew a little boy was on the way, the whole event became much less abstract.
When we got pregnant a second time, the decision to learn the sex came fairly easily. Doing so allowed our first-born to come to terms with having a new brother. Ditto when we got pregnant a third time. Making room for a new baby is hard enough for kids. In our opinion, the least we could do was remove some of the uncertainty and hopefully make the transition easier.
The most common argument I hear from parents who decide NOT to learn their baby's gender is that there are so few real surprises left in life. But, as far as I'm concerned, there's not much difference between learning your baby's gender in the 20th week or the 40th, since it's a surprise either way. And besides, doesn't the actual birth of a child qualify as enough of a surprise? It sure did for me.
Donald S. Deane is the proud papa of three little boys who provide endless amounts of joy and sleep deprivation. He has held a variety of jobs, including college English teacher, newspaper reporter/editor, internet project manager, dishwasher and dogcatcher. Don has written for AOL TV, Moviefone, TheFW, ScreenCrush, GuySpeed, and Arcade Sushi, among others.
Parenting advice is given as a suggestion only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider.