Babe’s anatomy

On deciding when to find out your bundle's sex.
By Jodi Kendall

My husband always said that when it came time for babies, he’d want to save the big son vs. daughter surprise for delivery day. A planner by nature and a romantic at heart, I could’ve swayed either way. But by the time I got pregnant, we both agreed that we’d wait until delivery to see whether our baby-to-be was a boy or girl.

Choosing when to learn the exciting news of your baby’s sex is a personal decision. So how do you know what’s the right choice for you?

ultrasound1To know or not to know
Some moms- and dads-to-be know as soon as they see that pink plus sign whether they’ll find out the baby’s sex in advance. “My husband always said that the last great surprise in life was to wait to find out the sex of your baby. We agreed on this years before we got serious about starting a family,” says Jordan Sandlin, mom of one in Atlanta.

It’s normal for expectant parents to be on the fence and for couples to disagree on whether to find out sooner or later. And if you decide to save the surprise and change your mind further along in your pregnancy, that’s perfectly all right too. Meghan Barbieri, expectant mom of one in Westfield, New Jersey, shares, “At first, my husband was hesitant to find out the sex and wanted it to be a surprise when he or she was born. But over time, he changed his mind, and we were both thrilled we decided to find out. For us, it has made the experience more ‘real.’”

Wait and wonder
During my pregnancy, my husband and I spent countless hours daydreaming about our unborn baby’s sex, sounding out names to hear what might fit best and envisioning the
two possible futures for our family—one with a daughter, another with a son. Which life awaited us in just nine months’ time?

For secret-saving parents, the anticipation of a big reveal on delivery day is part of the pregnancy experience. Jamie Chaft, mom of a daughter in New York City, says, “I had so much fun with the entire process, convinced I was having a boy.” She and her husband were tempted to find out the little one’s sex from time to time, but they never considered peeking at the ultrasound or asking the doctor. “I had a great friend going through this with me and our banter about the sexes of our respective babies helped quell the curiosity,” she says.

Other reasons parents-to-be hold off on learning baby’s sex? So they can forgo ultrasound technology, keep relatives and friends in suspense, use the incentive as a natural labor pain management strategy, or simply have their baby in their arms before knowing if it’s a boy or girl.

Peek and plan
Knowing your little one’s sex while pregnant not only satisfies curiosity, it can make a to-do list a whole lot easier as well. From decorating the nursery to picking out a perfect name to registering for gender-appropriate baby gear, peeking at the ultrasound and getting things ready for the baby’s arrival can potentially alleviate stress. “We both tend to be planners and are terrible with surprises,” says Mellissa Davis, mom of two in Tucson, Arizona. “It was a natural decision for us to decide to find out.”

And for many pregnant women, finding out their unborn baby’s sex is not just about organizing the home, it’s also about preparing the heart. “To me, the sex didn’t matter, but knowing gave me a better connection to my babies,” explains Davis. “I felt like I had something that cemented them in reality. Pregnancy can feel a bit surreal, at times, as in Is there really a person in there?! With both babies I didn’t feel strong movements until around the time of the scans, so knowing the sex gave me another connection.”

Families who already have children may find that a little advance notice on baby’s anatomy can encourage an early attachment between brothers and sisters. Leigh Young of Charlotte, North Carolina, found out the sex of her daughter and son while pregnant and intends to do to same with her third child. “We’re able to bond with the baby before he or she is born. You can call it by name, talk about him or her, or even talk to him or her,” she says.

The big reveal
Parents who opt to learn baby’s sex early may begin the fun with a gender prediction test as early as 10 weeks or decide instead to wait until the telling 20-week ultrasound at the doctor’s office. Others may savor the moment by finding out through a more private or public gender announcement. Says Barbieri, “I had the doctor write down the sex of our baby in a card that she sealed in an envelope. We waited a few days until we had time to go out to a nice dinner together at one of our favorite restaurants. The suspense was killing us (especially me!). Then at dinner we opened up the card and found out we were having a girl! We were very surprised, since we were both sure it was a boy.”

Whether a mama-to-be has an intuitive feeling about the unborn baby’s sex or not, finding out the truth—at the doctor’s office, during a reveal party, or on the baby’s birthday—is the surprise of a lifetime. For nine months, I was convinced a little girl was in my belly, and I couldn’t have been more shocked when my husband announced, “It’s a boy!” as he handed me our beautiful son.

The bottom line? There’s no right or wrong choice, and whether you prefer to spill the beans now or bank the bombshell for delivery day, finding out your baby’s sex is a thrilling, special moment that your family will cherish forever.

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