What Are You Having? Revealing Baby’s Gender (or Not!)
Today’s post is courtesy of Brian Donnelly, a Bright Horizons employee and first-time expectant dad.
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
“Uh, I don’t know yet. We’re not finding out.”
“Are you serious?!”
“Yeah, we just want to be surprised.”
“I can’t believe you don’t want to know! It’s such an important thing to know. You need to know! How are you going to buy <blah, blah, blah>?!”
This is a paraphrased excerpt from real conversations that both my wife and I have had with people maybe a hundred times by this point in our first experience as expectant parents. Who are these inquisitive folks? Co-workers, friends, family members, acquaintances, the post man, the older woman who walks her dachshund on our street and strangers – yes, apparently even strangers need to know if we are having a boy or a girl. It’s really important to them! They need to know! Why won’t we tell them?!
I’m guessing this is our first taste of people wanting to flex their parenting muscles in our direction and it really has taken us by surprise. We were naive to think people wouldn’t want to lend unwarranted advice, despite the fact that every day this same thing happens all around us. Think about it, we’ve all encountered the person who asks “Are you really going to eat that?” just as you’re about to dig into your lunch or the person that says “Aren’t you too warm?” when you’re the adult who made a deliberate decision to wear long sleeves on a spring day. It’s around us all the time, but Melanie and I were just oblivious to this parenting version of the phenomenon.
As much as we can be annoyed by it, we realize, in the majority of cases, that the person giving the advice is trying to be genuinely helpful…even if their version of “helpful” is somewhat domineering. Either way, it seems like it’s probably coming from a good place. And for us, we’ve realized that being more honest and forthcoming about “why” we aren’t finding out the baby’s gender ahead of time can help that person see our point of view too.
We don’t want to find out our baby’s gender now because we had a lot of scares while trying to get pregnant and early on during the pregnancy. We didn’t want to know our child’s gender too early because we were worried about getting too attached and not having it work out. But for us, it was easier to just say “We just want to be surprised”, rather than explain this more complicated, personal answer. I myself am still a super opinionated person about both pointless and important things. But experiences like this, as a dad-to-be, have helped me to see that sometimes giving a simple answer isn’t the best method. Especially when the issue itself is not so simple.
The truth is, in some ways, we do want to be surprised. Surprised by the gender and “surprised” by the arrival of a healthy, happy baby that we can hold in our arms. Whether that healthy baby is a boy or a girl doesn’t matter to us. We just want him or her to be here.
Have you had a similar experience? As expectant parents, how have you handled all the well-intended questions and advice that comes your way?
I’m Brian – a soon-to-be dad. I’m excited to share my journey into fatherhood as I am half excited and half terrified by the whole scenario. Along with my wife and our Boston Terrier, I think I’m ready for our life to turn into a complete circus…but in the best way possible.