I was checking out at the convenience store I stop in for gas and snacks for the kids a few times a week. The cashier, a kind older woman smiled down at my rotund middle and asked how far along I was. “32 weeks!” I said with joyful exasperation. “What are you having?” she asked. “I’m not sure actually, we decided not to find out!” I replied. “Oh my goodness!” she exclaimed with a puzzled look, “That’s crazy! How will you know what color to paint the nursery?” I grabbed my items and smiled “We’ll find out soon enough!”
I had discovered early on in pregnancies past that we were Team Pink but, since this is (almost certainly) our last baby, we decided to opt out of knowing the gender. I never thought I would do it but, we were card carrying members of Team Green! It was a whole new experience for me. Here’s what it was like:
These days its all gender reveals and genetic testing but Team Greeners find themselves in the majority of human history. My mother had ultrasounds but, my grandmother did not. My mom knew what each of us would be before we were born but my grandmother had twins (my mother and my uncle) and had no idea until she delivered! Talk about feeling unprepared! She says she just thought she had a very active baby! That’s how much the world can be changed forever in one generation. What a cool experience to say no thank you to something so common and convenient in this modern age. For health reasons I knew I needed a c-section this time around from the beginning so opting out added a primal element back to my pregnancy that I appreciated. It made me feel connected to all of the mothers before me who experienced the same anticipation. Plus, there truly are too few happy surprises in life!
The news that we didn’t know if we were expecting a boy or a girl was usually met with two different reactions: “I can’t believe you’re not finding out! I could never wait that long!” Or “Oh, wow that is so special! How exciting!” Our friends and family buzzed with guesses and bets! The midwives at my OB were surprised that I didn’t want to know but fully respected my wishes and were careful not to spill the beans. We often reminded our ultrasound techs and other members of our care team that we wanted to be surprised and when he arrived the surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologist’s days were made because they got to announce the baby’s sex and witness the moment we found out.
It Ain’t Easy-
Once I agreed with my husband to not find out our baby’s gender, there was no turning back. Let me tell you, he handled not knowing much better than I! Honesty, I am just not that patient (God’s still working on me!). I am someone that likes to plan, set up and have things in order ahead of time. It really eases my anxiety to research and feel prepared, something that is not always as doable when the gender is a question mark.
Prepping for Baby ?-
If you follow this blog (thank you!) then you know that my younger children are just over 2 years apart, therefore I felt I had all of the baby essentials that I needed. Many toys, seats, and carriers are still in great condition and being reused. If need be, my son is just as snuggly in a pink blanket and I’ve never heard him complain! If your expecting your first though I do I highly suggest some gender neutral shopping. It’s really special to have clothing items that were worn by all of our littles at one point.
Since I have summer babies, I knew that some basic white onesies would be enough to get us through the first few weeks. We covered the nursing pillow in a white cover and packed soft gray and white pajamas for the hospital. I prepared for the gender reveal by packing a girly bow and a boyish grey striped hat; a pink blanket and a gray one.
We’re blessed with generous families so when he was born everyone was happy to come to the hospital with boy clothes. Now that he is here he has plenty. I slowly added manly decor to his side of the nursery and made sure that it felt like a room for both of my babies and not just a crib stuck in the corner like an afterthought. It took a couple of extra weeks but it wasn’t as big off a deal as I thought it would be in the long run.
Vibes & Dreams-
At my 20 week ultrasound I looked at the monitor and immediately said “Hmm, looks like a boy!” I didn’t see anything that would let me know for sure it was just his face! He just looked like a boy to me!
Though I tried not to wonder too much, my intuitive nature can’t be helped. One night I dreamt that I was climbing into a warm bath with a baby boy tucked under my arm and when I was out and about or scrolling Facebook, boys simply strummed my heart strings! Maybe it was just the desire to have a son- but it felt like something more.
Being pregnant with my son was physically different than being pregnant with my daughter as well. With her I was severely nauseous, bloated, moody, craved carbs, carried all over, and kept the weight on longer. With my son I felt less nauseous, craved and tolerated more protein and iron rich foods, was all baby, and the weight is falling off this time!
As I said, patience is not my best suit and I found myself tempted to look for clues. I try not to pay too much mind to the old wives tales but I did do the ring pendulum trick. I have heard different variations but basically you suspend your wedding ring above your bump on yarn or a strand of hair. You have someone hold it still above you and wait for it to start swinging. If it goes in a circle it’s a girl, if it goes back and fourth, it’s a boy (but I’ve heard the opposite as well so not very reliable!). Mine was strictly for fun and said boy.
Another rumored clue is that boys tend to have slightly slower heart rates within the normal range for their gestational age than girls. Again, I tried my best not to be curious but couldn’t help but notice that his heart rate was slower than what I remember my daughter being; approximately 130-150 for baby boy as opposed to the 150-160 range for little miss.
When we decided to add to our family again we did so not because we wanted a son but because we wanted another baby. We knew there was a 50/50 chance to have a boy and I honestly feel I would be just as happy today if he had been a she. Gender disappointment was a phenomenon I had no idea was such an issue among expectant mothers until I began to fear experiencing it myself. I won’t go into my personal experience too much here as I believe that this topic deserves it’s own post (check back for that soon!).
I will say that this is a common issue among women with a huge stigma attached to it. Women feel alone in this issue and suffer in silence and this needs to change! Of course mothers love their babies no matter what but, I can’t tell you how many women I saw filling mommy chat boards feeling ashamed for having a preference. Women who felt like they were ungrateful, bad mothers for wanting either a boy or a girl, a brother for their boy, a sister for their girl or any other family combination you could think of. They also expressed feeling pressured by the expectations of those around them to produce a certain type of offspring. The rude comments and reactions when they announced genders to those around them was sad but relatable.
If this sounds familiar to you just know you are not alone! Its perfectly natural to take some time to adjust when things turn out differently than you imagined them. One day you will look back and not be able to imagine your family any other way.
Me and my man have been down this pregnancy road before so having the Team Green element really kept the experience fresh for us! It was so fun to imagine the different scenarios that were possible for our family. What would be like with a girl squad (including the dog) or a little Bruins fan at home? We would walk by the baby section at the department store and ooh and aah over tiny dresses and button up shirts alike. To joke, banter, dream, and keep everyone guessing was pretty entertaining!
The Hardest Part-
To me the most difficult aspect of all was coming up with not one, but two name possibilities. As if it isn’t hard enough to pick a good one, multiply all of the possible options by two! For someone who can’t decide what to eat for dinner some nights, naming my kiddos was no easy feat. Apparently I don’t love too many names and if I did like one my husband usually didn’t. The names he liked, I mostly did not (so typical of us!) It took the whole pregnancy but we eventually landed on a handful of names we both liked. We ended up using family names (can’t go wrong there!) and are both happy.
Everyone that relayed their experience to me said the same thing: nothing in the world is like the moment! For me it took place in the O.R.
“Should we tell you what it is?”, the doctor joked from behind the blue curtain. “Yes!” My husband and I shouted in harmony. “It’s a boy!” They lifted him over the drape and it was love at first sight! I couldn’t believe it! I knew it could happen but having two girls made it hard to believe! When I was pregnant I always said I wont believe its a boy until I see it, and there it was! An amazing nurse took these pictures for us:
This is my husbands face when he found out we had a boy!
In short our Team Green experience was pretty cool. It was tough at times but so worth it. Nothing can replace that moment in the delivery room!
Have you ever had a baby without knowing the gender before their birth? Would you consider it? Why or why not? Let’s discuss in the comments!