When you tell people you’re pregnant, the next question is, “Is it a boy or a girl?”
We’re not finding out the sex of our baby until the birth, and I swear — our decisions elicits really strong reactions. ”Really?!” they’ll say in surprise. ”How can you wait? I could never wait!” Or “I bet you break down and find out.” Or “How will you decorate?” The question that rarely gets asked, however, is why. Why are we waiting? Why don’t we want to know?
My husband and I have always wanted to wait to find out the sex of our children. Sure, there are decent reasons to find out in advance – it certainly makes shopping, decorating, and name-choosing easier. But the technology advancements that allow us to find out the gender in advance are so new — people have been fine not knowing for thousands upon thousands of years — that it’s clearly not necessary to know. I can buy sex-neutral clothes and decorate in neutral colors. The bottom line… I think finding out, for me, would take some of the fun out of labor. Could there be a bigger surprise than discovering the sex when the doctor puts the baby on your chest?
And there’s another reason that we just don’t want to know the sex of the baby — and I’m warning you, it’s a bit ‘out there.’ I summed it up in my Week 12 update on my personal blog:
Plus, to a much lesser degree, we’re really interested in raising our kids without specific ‘Girl Box’ or ‘Boy Box’ attitudes (a term I’m borrowing from Girls on the Run!). The ‘Girl Box’ is all the expectations that little girls absorb from society and believe they should act like to be a ‘good girl’ – quiet, pretty, good at writing but not at sciences, appealing to boys, not too loud. The ‘Boy Box’ is tough, not emotional, not good at art, not interested in playing dress-up, etc. We begin to project these expectations on children from a very, very young, and I buy into the theory that it begins in utero. “My baby boy kicks like a football player!” v. “My little girl is twirling around my belly like a ballerina.” I once even read a study (which, unfortunately, I cannot find right now to link to, so you’re going to have to take my word for it) that moms describe their babies’ movements in feminine v. masculine tones if they know the gender, while moms who don’t are much more neutral. I’m certainly not suggesting that people who treat their babies in gender specific ways are doing any emotional harm! It’s just a goal of ours to show our kids that girls can be tough, like pink, hate dresses, and play with dolls, and boys can be sensitive, watch football, enjoy dress-up, and play with trucks, and maybe… just maybe… that mindset starts REALLY early! Even if we’re totally wrong, and it has no impact at all, I think it’s a fun theory to consider!
Several readers pointed me towards the amazing short story, X: A Fabulous Child’s Story by Lois Gould, which you can read in its entirety here. It’s a great read and really drives home the fact that our society tries to smash us into female and male boxes, even when we’re just little babies. Whether or not you’ve decided to find out the sex of your baby, I promise that X will make you think about how you think about and talk about him/her!
Are you going to find out whether you baby is a girl or a boy in advance? Why or why not?