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Finding Out Your Baby’s Sex Vs. Waiting: 10 Moms Weigh In

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Courtney Klein Photographed by Maria Del Rio

Perhaps one of the best surprises in life is finding out if your baby is a boy or a girl. Sure, we know gender isn’t everything, and as Jodie Patterson so eloquently explained, this part of one’s identity is sometimes more of a spectrum vs. black and white. Still, the excitement over raising a girl or a boy is huge for so many people. While our parents might not have had the opportunity to know the sex of their child before delivery day, thanks to modern technology, today’s mothers are able to find out the gender via ultrasound around the 18-20 week mark or as early as 7 weeks via some blood tests. So, now that we’ve got choices, it brings up the question: Find out the sex now or wait until you give birth? We had 10 mothers on both sides of the fence explain why they made the choice they did.

Schuyler, 31, 2 sons:
“Why not wait? The mystery and then utter surprise is something you can’t replicate at that level any other time in life, particularly in this age of information overload, and it’s so much fun. I loved the 9-plus months of guessing, second-guessing, weighing mother’s intuition and old wive’s tales, and endless conversation starters with total strangers. Six weeks after delivering my second boy, I’m still happily reeling at being 110% sure of my second’s gender…and being 110% wrong.”

Temi, 33, 1 son:
“As someone who has a tendency to meticulously plan everything, I felt it was a good idea to embrace the nature of the truest and happiest surprise that exists. I think it actually helped slow my roll, as you can’t really go too far down the rabbit hole of baby stuff when you don’t know if you’re having a boy or girl. We also really, really enjoyed playing the guessing game for the entire duration of my pregnancy. Without knowing our baby’s gender, there was no way we could possibly start creating a framework for the baby’s personality and style. We just about figured out names we liked, but we barely had any ‘stuff,’ which was really liberating. We decided once we met our little one, we would see what we felt suited him or her. My thought process never really went past is it a boy or a girl, so funnily enough I didn’t think too much about who the baby would look like, what the baby would be like, and entirely focused on the fact that we were having a baby and that fact alone was joyful enough! I had quite a few complications towards the end of labor and once our little one arrived, the only thing on my mind was, ‘Is it a boy or a girl?!’ That was such a powerful moment of discovery and anticipation that it really helped me push through the pain. Meeting your baby is a huge surprise in itself, but the 50/50 of discovering if you’re having a boy or a girl was such a fantastic little cherry on top.”

Erica, 36, 1 daughter, 1 baby on the way:
“We waited both times because there are too few guaranteed incredible surprises in life. That, and I like the idea of carrying on old-fashioned traditions in this technology age. The moment my husband caught our daughter and announced her sex was like winning the lottery, twice.”

Erin, 36, 1 daughter:
“We chose to wait for a few reasons. One is that I’m a a major day dreamer, and I just know I would have envisioned my child’s whole life ten times over before he or she was even born, so I wanted to eliminate as much expectation as possible and start—from day one—on embracing and learning about the real human being that was actually here. We also wanted to avoid the inevitable gender-specific gifts in hopes of avoiding the train vs. princess tropes. But despite an infant wardrobe of gray and yellow, at 2-years-old our girl is as skirt- and pink-obsessed as they come, so fail on that one!”

Courtney, 33, 1 daughter, 1 baby on the way:
“With our first kid, I don’t even know why we waited. A little bit superstition, a little bit curiosity if we could really get through 9 months without finding out. But then when I had my daughter it added a level of emotion to the experience that I can’t even describe. All I know is that I want to experience that again.”

Finding Out:
Rachel, 39, 1 son, 1 daughter:
“With both my babies, we found out the gender as soon as we could! For me, life offers so few surprises and I was so excited about this one and I felt I could be surprised earlier on or in the delivery room, either way it was an amazing surprise. With my first one, we were so anxious and excited about everything that the gender felt so huge for us. I really wanted a girl, and when they told me it was a boy, it took me a second to adjust. Within weeks I was thrilled to know I was having a little boy, but for me I’m sort of glad that I had the time to adjust. Now having a boy is the greatest, of course! With my second, I was so excited to find out and did it as fast as I could (10 weeks). For me the dreaming and planning part is so amazing when you know the gender and can start to imagine your little person inside you more clearly.”

Lauren, 38, 1 son, and 1 daughter on the way:
“I’m not fond of surprises, of any type, really, so I couldn’t wait to find out! My husband and I were both so excited and wanted to know the gender to prepare ourselves for the new being to come. Pregnancy is such a journey of anticipation and moving toward the unknown. Knowing the gender in advance helps on a practical level (brainstorming names, decorating the nursery, buying clothes), but also alleviates some emotional anxiety about how life is about to change.”

Amy, 36, 1 son, 1 daughter:
“I found out for both children. The first time I was just very curious and thought it would help me get to know the baby, think about names, etc. My husband was very keen to know (and secretly routing for a boy), and I was happy either way. I’d had a miscarriage a few months before, so I felt it just helped me see him as a real person. We found out via ultrasound. The second time I was older (36), so I had the early blood test for genetic testing and you can find out the gender through that. It’s so bizarre finding out in a phone call, rather than the ultrasound. I got a call at work that it was a girl and cried! It was just so odd finding out over the phone! At our next ultrasound I got them to check again! Ha! I liked knowing the second time, too. I could think of names and think of the dynamics. In the U.K., where I’m from, most people don’t find out. I don’t know if I’d have done the same there, but I’m so curious I think I’d have wanted to know! It helped me talk about him/her rather than ‘the baby.'”

Anna, 33, 2 sons:
“When I was pregnant with my first son, I was working in product development for RH Baby and Child. I was working on nurseries every day and couldn’t stand not knowing the gender. With my second, it was really a practicality thing—I wanted to know whether I should keep all my boy stuff or not. Also I would buy cute girly things before I found out, and needed to know whether to stop that or not. Finding out was a way to avoid accumulating stuff I would never need and doing double the work on finding a name!”

Finding Out, Then Waiting:
Allison, 31, 3 girls:
“We actually found out the sex when I was pregnant with my first daughter, because the pregnancy itself was a surprise and I felt like I needed to know to prepare. I was a lot more nervous the first time around. The second time we thought that we would wait because we just wanted to mix up our experience. I really love keeping it a surprise (which I did for third, too) because it was so special for my husband to be the one to find out first and announce it to me when the baby was born. I get to really experience bonding with the baby during the pregnancy. Announcing the sex and holding the baby first was a special moment for him. It helps him really feel like he’s a huge part of the experience. I thought I needed to know the first time around because I wanted to have the right clothes, etc. Then after having my first, I realized we didn’t need half of the stuff we had and I really preferred gender-neutral everything. The sex of our kids wasn’t ever a big thing for me. I never had a huge desire for one gender over the other, but I do love my little girl gang.”

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