When I found out I was pregnant, one of the first things I researched was how quickly I could find out whether I was going to have a boy or a girl. I did every half-baked, old wives' test in the world to see what I was going to have. In the excitement of finding out my son's gender, I never stopped to think whether or not I actually should.
From people's reactions to my own personal hangups that I wasn't initially aware of, finding out my baby's gender wasn't everything it was cracked up to be. Here's why.
- People will think they know more than the doctors. At the time of my pregnancy, I was working as a high school English teacher. Consequently, I interacted with hundreds of people on a daily basis, and teenagers are not particularly known for keeping their opinions to themselves. I was frequently told that it looked like I was going to have a girl, and that the doctor must be wrong. While this certainly was a possibility and has happened to people, the assumption was that I was carrying differently than their preconceived opinions dictated.
- Biases will come out. Heartbreakingly, I was explicitly told by many people that I was lucky to be having a boy, and that my husband deserved a son. It was amazing to me how ingrained people's biases had become about gender relationships. I had 13-year-old girls tell me that girls are too much trouble. While I don't doubt that they saw it differently, considering they were in the throes of drama and puberty themselves, I wish I had just kept my son's gender to myself to avoid comments like those.
- Gendered gifts can be problematic. One reason I was happy to have a son was because it meant I wouldn't have to deal with all the "Princess" and "Daddy's Little Girl" paraphernalia. However, boys are not free from this kind of branding. We were given onesies and clothes that boasted he was "A Rugged Champ" and that all the baby ladies had better watch out. While I appreciated every thoughtful gift, these kind of clothing phrases bother me, and it would have been better if people hadn't known he was a boy. I would have received more gender-neutral clothing and fewer items with superlative and offensive phrases.
- I took away the one true surprise in life. When the technician told us our baby's gender, it was impressively anticlimactic. She pointed out his pixelated penis, and that was that. Even though I wouldn't have done a gender reveal, I love how celebratory they are. In a matter of seconds, the biggest mystery in life was dwindled down to pointing out some private parts. There are so few things in life that get to genuinely surprise you; it seems like it's worth a few months of being in the dark to experience that kind of overwhelming joy at the birth of your child.