Here we are 19 weeks pregnant and it is almost time to find out the gender of our little bundle of joy! We were surprised with our first daughter, and we found out ahead of time with our second daughter. I have to say personally having done it both ways I definitely want to find out.
Charlotte our first daughter (aka Charlie) we wanted to be surprised and practically it seemed like the right choice. We knew we wanted more children and we didn’t want to tempt ourselves or others to buy ALL pink if we were having a girl thus rendering the stroller, etc useless if down the road we have a boy. We stuck with a neutral turtle nursery theme, browns, greens, and multicolor etc. However, ending up with an unplanned c-section I felt a bit overwhelmed with the new baby, the first-time nursing woes, and the irrational hormones of it all. It surprised me how much it bothered me having people ask me or assume she was a boy. Looking back I don’t think I bonded as deeply as quickly to her as I did with Siena my second. Perhaps part of it was just harder because there was really no way to know what to expect with the first child until you experience it.
Siena our second daughter, we found out that she’d be a she. I felt like we got a headstart on getting to know her. We named her ahead of time and because we thought Charlie might have trouble with her name we started calling her Siena amongst ourselves and kept her name as our little family secret. Charlie then only two never spoiled it! We’d sing Siena-Siena-Bo-Biena (banana-fana, etc) so often that even now two years later, we still call Siena, Siena Bo Biena more often than Siena Joy (her actual full name). We would pray for Siena specifically, not just in general, and it really just felt like it made her more knowable (less abstract) to us before birth.
From a pro-life perspective, I feel like finding out more about who she was helped us to feel like she was a bigger part of the family before she was born. I loved Charlie before I knew her, but it was abstract. My love for Siena was more specific. And for me (and it could be by my own limitations) I just couldn’t connect to that degree not knowing the most basic feature of her identity-her gender.
I’ve heard a lot of people who don’t find out say that it is one of the last or only true surprises in life. I honestly feel like I anticipated Siena’s arrival more, because I wanted to meet her. I wanted to see how her beauty would be manifested. How would her little personality shine through? And although her gender was not a surprise at the time of her birth; childbirth holds plenty of drama and suspense for me!
I recently saw via LifeNews a story about Baby Shane. Baby Shane was diagnosed with anencephaly after an ultrasound and the prognosis was that he would not live very long after birth. His parents decided to make the most of his life and created a bucket list for him while in the womb. They took him to baseball games, the zoo, and on trips to visit family. What an awesome way to celebrate the life God gave Shane, even though as expected when he was born last week he did not live long. (search Baby Shane at LifeNews.com to find several stories detailing their journey).
The idea of getting to know your baby before birth and treating him or her as part of the family ahead of time can also be done without finding out the gender, it is maybe just less intuitive. We read a great book the girls loved called, “Before You Were Here, Mi Amor” by Samantha Vamos. It is a beautiful story of a family expecting the arrival of a baby and how everyone in the family helped prepare in different ways. From singing to the baby in the womb to helping prepare the nursery this book highlights how we show our love for the newest members of our family before we get to meet them face to face. We also enjoyed expanding our Spanish vocabulary! After reading this book, Charlie (4 yo) wanted to make a list of baby names for our baby. My favorite name she came up with was Love Heart.
Now I hope that it is obvious that I am in no way saying people who don’t peek at the gender are in any way less pro-life. Of course there are lots of great reasons for and against finding out, and I am not trying to discount those reasons or even get into all of them. Personally, reflecting back on both experiences, I found it easier to see the unborn as a real person knowing the gender and thus picking a name. I’m sure there are things to be said about naming, too. Some families will use a nickname, like “peanut” or “pumpkin” and I’m sure that helps feeling connected, too. Just as naming anything tends to lead to attachment. With the morning sickness I had I probably would have opted for “parasite” but that doesn’t have that pro-life ring like “peanut” or “pumpkin” : )
So, the answer you’ve all been waiting for . . . It’s a . . . BOY! And I just felt the baby kick as I wrap this up, so I guess he agrees with me : ) Mother’s intuition wins again!