18 August 2015

Everyone wants to know, boy or girl?

A picture of baby clothes
When you share the news that you are pregnant, there is one question which passes everyone's lips. It's as if their lives depend on knowing - what are you having, a boy or a girl?

Personally, I find it a little bit baffling. Actually I find a lot of the questions I've had so far throughout this pregnancy baffling. It's as if as soon as people know you're pregnant, questions you'd never usually ask someone are laid bare and totally acceptable to ask a pregnant woman. I've been asked questions about my body and how it's changing, whether the typical things have happened to me yet; swollen feet, bigger (and sore) boobs, longer nails and glossier hair. I've even had people try and discuss the movements and schedule of my toilet breaks! Who knew going to the toilet could be so fascinating, but when you're pregnant, nothing is off-limits. From the moment we made it public knowledge that we were expecting a baby, there is one question we have been asked repeatedly - and I'm talking on a daily basis. Are we having a boy or a girl?

The funny thing about this question is that in the UK unless you pay an extortionate amount for a private early gender scan, you can't actually find out the gender of your baby until your 20 week scan, but we've been asked from as early as 11 weeks. Some hospitals don't even give you the option to find out, which I think is a decision made by hospital trusts based on area in the UK which you live, because of the high rate of abortions if the gender scan shows the baby is not what the parents want it to be.

Our 20 week scan is next week - I am exactly 19 weeks today. I'm incredibly excited and unbelievably nervous to go to our scan, because it is such an important scan and so many important life-changing checks are done. But what adds to those rising nerves is the big question mark hanging over us by everyone asking if we're going to find out what gender our baby is. Well I'm afraid you're in for a long wait, because we don't want to know!

There are a couple of reasons we want the gender to be a surprise. Admittedly when I was younger and I first started getting broody in my late teens/early twenties, I always said "If I get pregnant I'll find out what I'm having to prepare". Who knew my opinion could change so much in just a few years? (A few? Pull the other one, Sophia, you're nearing 30!)

001. The gender of our baby will make no difference whatsoever on how much we can prepare for a little human being coming into our lives. I once thought that finding out the gender would be a life-saver, the one thing in a confusing and magical time which would make everything simpler. Because if you know if you're having a boy or a girl, you can get all the things you need and it'll be just right for your baby, won't it? Nah.

Finding out the gender of our baby would make it easier for everyone else, not us. Neither of us are fussed by pink or blue. I'm lucky enough to be in a relationship with someone who, although at times can wind me up something rotten, actually thinks a lot like me. I don't care what gender our baby is, because I'm not interested in gender specific clothes and products. In fact, I'm the opposite - I don't want to buy anything gender specific for my baby. Was that a gasp I heard? The amount of people who have given me a look that's the perfect mixture of shock, surprise and overall confusion when I've tried to explain that I disagree with gender stereotypes and think gender specific clothes and toys at a young age can (but not always) contribute to issues later in life, is highly amusing. I'm a Psych grad, what do you expect?

I grew up massively influenced by a parent who wished and willed me to be a Princess, who wanted me to wear pretty pink dresses and longer for me to be a well-behaved perfect little girl, when all I wanted was to wear jeans and skater shoes, t-shirts and listen to metal music. Still to this day I feel like I was a disappointment, because I wasn't the little girl I was expected to be, and that is not something I want to put onto my children.

Does that mean I won't let them have pink clothes if they are a girl and blue clothes if they are a boy? Of course not! And I fully expect people to buy gender specific clothes once our baby is born, but that doesn't bother me; I just don't want an entire wardrobe of pink or blue. If when shopping for new clothes when our baby is at an age where they can help pick and chose what they wear and we have a girl who wants a tutu or a boy who wants nothing but t-shirts with cars on it, I won't stop them - but I also wouldn't stop a boy picking up a princess dress or a girl who wants a toy builder's belt. If we have a girl and all she wants to do is play football and build cars, she can play football and build cars. If we have a boy who wants to play with dolls and have a doll-house, he can play with dolls and have a doll-house. I want our baby to be happy, with a healthy mind that is their own, and that is way more important to me than knowing the gender so we can 'prepare'.

I know lots of people will disagree, and I completely support people of the opposite opinion, because - and this is the important thing - your decisions about your own children, family and life are your decisions to make, and ours are ours.

002. We want the gender of our baby to be a surprise, and I want my partner to be the one to tell me what we have created when our baby arrives. It sounds so simple yet confuses so many people. The amount of people who have told us we are crazy to keep the gender a surprise, who have warned us that we'll wish we found out so we can bond with our baby, is astounding.

We don't need to know whether Gizmo is a boy or a girl to bond with them. I am already so incredibly in love with this tiny human that is only just nearing half-way to being fully made. We fell in love with this baby as soon as we found out we were expecting, even more so when we bought their first teddy at 8 weeks because we were too scared to buy clothes yet in case the worst happened. We talk about our baby every single day and marvel at all the changes they are going through inside of my body which has completely and utterly wowed me. Every movement I feel makes my heart swell and I can't wait for my partner to feel these increasingly more powerful kicks too. Knowing whether we have a boy or a girl wouldn't change any of that, it wouldn't make us love them any more or any less.

We live in a world where everything about our lives is obvious, in the public eye, open for everyone to see. We live in a world where technology has over-taken us, where our lives are spent glued to social media and we know every last detail of the lives of celebrities who don't even know we exist. We are creating artificial intelligence that could one day do everything for us and people are never giving up on finally creating the ultimate hover-board. Nothing is a surprise, nothing shocks us, nothing makes us marvel. Everything is easy.

When nothing else in our lives is a surprise, we want this one thing, this one magical, wonderful, incredible and awe-inspiring thing to be a secret, to be a surprise that we only find out when our baby is born. I don't want a computer to tell me whether our baby is a boy or a girl, I don't even want the midwife or doctor who delivers our baby to tell us - I want my partner to be the first one to tell me, "We have a girl" or "We have a boy". Because that is something we'll never get again with this baby, it's the one thing about our pregnancy, our baby, that we can keep a surprise, the thing which we are both counting down the days and weeks to.

We will love this baby, boy or girl, with every ounce of our being, and that is what matters.

Last week: Fact or fiction? Avoiding products in pregnancy.
Next week: Halfway there | 20 weeks pregnant.

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