No one wants to admit to having a gender preference for their baby, so why do people keep asking what mine is?
“So, do you want a girl or a boy?”
It’s one of the first questions you get asked when you tell someone you’re pregnant, and it’s actually kind of an odd one, because, as far as I can tell, the ONLY acceptable answer to it is the standard, “Oh, we don’t care, as long as it’s healthy!” Like, no one’s actually going to say, “Well, I really, really want a boy: I don’t even care if it’s healthy!” At this point I submit into evidence the wonderful Garfunkel and Oates, with ‘Pregnant Women Are Smug‘: go and listen, I promise you wont regret it…
It’s true, though, isn’t it? I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever met a pregnant woman (or partner) who’s admitted to having a gender preference: it’s just Not The Done Thing, really. Which got me wondering <Carrie Bradshaw mode engaged>: do people actually MEAN it when they say they have no preference, or is it just one of those things they say because they know it’s what they’re supposed to say?
There are lots of reasons why someone wouldn’t admit to having a preference, after all. For one thing, it would be pretty awful for your future child if you’d spent your entire pregnancy banging on about how much you wanted a boy, only to be presented with a girl at the end of it, wouldn’t it? For another, though, there’s a huge amount of pressure on pregnant women to be grateful at all times: in most of the ectopic pregnancy support groups I’m a member of, for instance, there are strict rules about not expressing a gender preference, because it’s understood that most of the women in those groups are just so grateful to be having a baby at all, that it would be hugely insensitive to effectively say, “Well, I’m grateful, of course, but I’d be even MORE grateful if it’s a girl!” I mean, seriously.
So, people either genuinely don’t have a preference, or, if they do, they keep it to themselves. What’s interesting about this, though (to me, anyway), is that while there are fairly obvious reasons why parents-to-be want to stay schtum on this particular subject, a lot of other people seem determined to draw them out on it, hence the constant questions about what your preference might be. In my case, I’ve noticed that a lot of people seem to just assume that I must want a girl, or already know I’m having one: when I announced the pregnancy, I got quite a few comments from people saying they couldn’t wait to see “all the little dresses” I’d be buying, and when I posted the image in this post to my Instagram stories last week, I got a lot of excited messages from people assuming it was some kind of subliminal message about me wanting/having a girl – it was actually just some new sweaters I’d bought myself, in my current favourite colours!
So, just to set the record straight: no, we don’t know what we’re having yet. We did have the opportunity to find out early, as part of the Harmony Blood Test I had at ten weeks, but we were in two minds about it, really: or I was, at least. Terry was pretty sure he wanted to find out, but while I was super-curious about it, I also felt it might be a bit too early to have that information, because while I knew that if something went wrong at that stage, I’d be devastated no matter what, I still worried that knowing the sex would make it all a bit too “real” for me, if that makes sense?
As it turned out, though, the decision was taken out of our hands: during the test itself, I was so worked up about it that I forgot to ask whether or not we’d be told the sex, and we later discovered that we’d have had to have specifically requested that information at the time, if we’d wanted to know. So we didn’t find out then, but we ARE hoping to find out at the 20 week scan in a few weeks time (This has caused some controversy, as quite a few people feel it “should” be a surprise. My take on that, though, is that it’ll be a surprise whenever we find out, and I don’t honestly feel that meeting our baby for the first time will be any less special if we already know the sex: I mean, it’s not like they’ll hand us the baby and we’ll just be all, “OLD NEWS! I wish this day could have been a bit more surprising!” is it?) – mostly because we’re just too impatient to wait another few months, if we know the information is available to us.
With that said, while we are really, really excited to find out what we’re having, we won’t be gutted if it’s not possible to tell (Our hospital are happy to tell you the sex if they can, but I know sometimes the baby can be lying the wrong way or something…), and no, we don’t have a preference (“AS LONG AS IT’S HEALTHY!”) We are, however, both still pretty sure it’ll be a boy, for no other reason than that it’s the father who determines the sex, apparently, and boys run in Terry’s family (Terry has three brothers and just one sister; we have five nephews and just one niece; Terry’s dad had four brothers and his dad had three brothers (no sisters), and so on and so forth…), so while I’ve no idea whether there’s any scientific backing for that theory, I don’t really see us bucking the trend!
(I set absolutely no store by any of the old wives tales about predicting the sex of a baby, by the way, but if I DID take them seriously, it seems I’d be having a hermaphrodite. So that’s helpful.)
While we don’t have a preference NOW, though, I can’t honestly say that’s ALWAYS been the case. If you’d asked me a few years ago, say, whether I’d prefer a boy or a girl, if I’d ever had a baby, I’d a) have laughed my ass off at the thought me ME ever having a BABY, and b) had a very definite preference. If you’d asked me two years ago, meanwhile, I’d still have had a preference… but it would’ve been a totally different preference from the one I’d had just a couple of years earlier. Both of those preferences, though, would’ve been totally based on stupid gender stereotypes, none of which I actually believe in (And while we’re hoping to find out, it’s not so we can do the whole, “Pink-for-a-girl, blue-for-a-boy,” thing – our plan is to stick to neutrals for the nursery and clothes etc, although we won’t be remotely offended if people buy us pink or blue things either…), and which make setting your heart on a particular gender seem pretty pointless, really. Ultimately, though, I think the “as long as it’s healthy” cliché is pretty true for us – although, I have to admit, I can’t wait to find out!