Regardless of whether you do it at an ultrasound, or wait until the baby is born, finding out the sex of your baby is often one of the most exciting parts of having a new baby!
Some people really want to find out as soon as they can, while others like having the element of surprise.
Obviously, either way is fine. It’s your baby, after all!
But my husband and I did things a little differently with my third child, and I wanted to share our experience in case it gives an idea about whether you should find out the gender of your baby.
To find out the sex or not?
The day after my second child’s first birthday, I found out that I was pregnant (again). My husband and I were excited.
I was due in February. After two little girls born in the summer, I was looking forward to not being in my third trimester in the middle of July.
And not only that, but this time, my early pregnancy was so much easier than the first two! It was nice to not feel like I was absolutely dying all the time.
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Of course, the fact that this pregnancy was so much different than the first two made me curious. Was it a boy, or was I just getting better at being pregnant?
We dreamed about what this baby would be like, and how it would feel to hold a tiny baby again. I told my husband, “I don’t want to find out the sex this time. I think it would be really fun to be surprised.”
He looked at me, incredulous. “But how will we plan?!”
I laughed. After all, this wasn’t our first rodeo. We knew that the baby would stay in our room for the first year, so no need for all the expense and trouble of decorating a nursery! And I figured we could do the bulk of baby clothes shopping after this one arrived.
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“What’s there to plan? We’ll get a few gender-neutral onesies and it’ll be fine,” I replied.
My husband said he really just wanted to know whether we were having a boy or girl, but I wanted to wait. We were at a stalemate.
Fast-forward a few months, and the day finally came. We went for our 20-week ultrasound. The sonographer measured our little one’s arms and legs while listening to us talk about whether to learn the sex.
After taking all her measurements, she looked at us. “Last chance.”
My husband looked at me, saw that I still wanted to wait, and looked down, resigned. He replied, “Okay, we’ll wait.”
When I saw his sad, puppy dog eyes, I gave in.
Well, I only partially gave in. I told him, “You can find out. But you have to promise not to tell me.”
He perked up immediately, and the sonographer checked to solve our mystery. The whole time, I chose to look at my husband’s face.
I heard her say, “Do you see?” and his eyes lit up with a happy, loving expression. He nodded.
The beautiful part? I still had no idea what the sex of our baby was. I was so assured that he would be delighted whether we had another little girl or our first boy that his face gave nothing away.
Afterwards, as I cleaned off the ultrasound jelly, the sonographer said, “Watch. You’ll ask and he’ll tell you before the day ends.” And while I was dying to know, I wanted to wait even more.
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Waiting to meet our baby
Over the next several months, my husband’s job was to not tell me the sex of the baby. He purposely used both “he” and “she” at different times when talking to me. That way, I couldn’t tell even if he did slip.
He couldn’t keep himself from buying tiny clothes. He kept a little box in the basement full of baby clothes that I didn’t look at (his logic was that our girls were both summer babies, so either way this child would need warmer newborn clothes than my older two had).
We weren’t worried about making an adorable nursery, because we’d already learned that all that “stuff” isn’t necessary. The baby would stay in our room. So all we had to pick was baby clothes.
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When I complained that I couldn’t pick out baby clothes too, my husband took me to look at them. I showed him the outfits that I liked for both boys and girls (usually crying throughout the process from hormone-fueled emotions).
Later, when I wasn’t there, he would go back to pick the appropriate clothes that I had liked to add to his collection. Win-win!
I have no doubt that if I had asked, my husband would have shown me all the little outfits in that box in a heartbeat. He desperately wanted to share his secret with me. But I held firm, and he respected my wishes.
Everywhere we went, people asked if we were having a boy or a girl. They were all amazed to hear that only my husband knew.
When we talked to strangers who we would never see again (like once when we were traveling out of state), it gave my husband a little outlet. I would walk away while he told them whether we were expecting a boy or a girl. Delighted to be in on the secret, they congratulated us before saying goodbye.
Labor and birth
Late January came, and it was three weeks before my due date. I started feeling milk contractions. They came only once an hour, but they were consistent. And they didn’t stop.
I went to bed and tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. Every time I settled in, a contraction would wake me up. So I gave up and got up. I did some gentle yoga, used my birthing ball, and just did whatever kept me comfortable.
By two in the morning, the contractions came every thirty minutes or so. I talked to my baby while rolling around on my birthing ball.
You know, it’s a little early for you to come out, so if you want to stay in and cook a little longer, that’s fine. But I’m really excited to meet you, so if you’re ready, that’s fine too.
Around six in the morning, I was having contractions every five minutes or so. We loaded up and went to the hospital.
Several hours later, I was progressing some, but not super quickly. I had been adamant that I wanted an unmedicated birth if possible. But just weeks before, the baby had been transverse in my womb. I wasn’t sure if that was still the case or not.
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The L&D doctor decided to take an ultrasound to check baby’s position. After all, while breech vaginal births are possible in some circumstances, babies lying sideways simply aren’t going to come out!
For the first time since labor started, I was shaken. Besides being terrified of my birth plan going awry, I was worried I’d see the sex of the baby on the sonogram. I’d made it too far to have the surprise ruined now!
Good news, the baby wasn’t quite side-lying. Instead, its head was nestled behind my left hip (kind of diagonal in my belly). My nurse suggested that I get up onto my knees.
That did the trick. I felt the baby move into position, and very quickly went into transition.
By 12:29 PM, a little over six hours after arriving at the hospital, I finally had my answer. My husband held up our new arrival.
Fierce and proud with the power that comes from birth, I could only cry, “Look at you!”
Before this new little miracle was laid on my chest, skin-to-skin, I saw that I had given birth to a…
I held my new little one, absolutely elated.
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Should you find out the sex of your baby?
That’s totally up to you! Personally, I really enjoyed waiting for birth to find out the sex of our third, but at the same time it’s exciting to find out at your ultrasound too.
And just because you find out the sex doesn’t mean you owe it to others to tell if you want to keep it to yourself! While some people love big gender reveal parties, you might enjoy having this one secret about your baby for a few months.
There’s no wrong answer. Do what makes you and your partner happy, and regardless, enjoy that baby when it comes.