Ten years ago after finding out my husband and I were having our first child together I remember him telling me that he wanted to wait and be surprised. Something like, “Say what? Oh, no, no no. I need to plan and buy baby things!” was my reaction. So we did just that, found out at 18 weeks, and I was showered with lots of pink and green flowered supplies in preparation. I have no willpower in many circumstances — this is one of them. I like to know and feel the need to know to prepare myself, not just physically with cute onesies and tiny socks, but preparing my heart for what is arriving as well.
In the subsequent pregnancies approximately every two to three years, we have had the same conversation about waiting. However, after having one girl and one boy with all the things I needed, I was finally ready to at least consider the idea of waiting. Not because I wanted to, but because I knew it meant a lot to him. Maybe it would be fun in the end — the best surprise in life — like people say? With our third we agreed to wait.
The term floating around pregnancy boards of being “team green” basically means you aren't ready to find out the baby's sex. Team pink means you are having a girl, while team blue means you are having a boy. Did it drive me crazy not knowing? Yes. But, I had all the baby gear and clothes either way, so I put my efforts into sewing gender neutral blankets and creating a beautiful neutral, but still colorful, nursery. We had a name picked for baby either way, and they both had a nickname of “Ash,” so I still had a name to associate with the baby besides, well, “baby.” It was going just fine up until the ultrasound at 22 weeks.
I wanted to do a 3D ultrasound for the fun of it for my birthday, just to get a glimpse at baby's little face since we didn't have any other ultrasounds prior. Then we saw a sweet little baby face on screen ...
And you know who cave? My husband.
My husband caved. “Well the face looks like a girl, now I need to know if I'm right!” Cue the shock on my face as I laid on the table, the ultrasound wand still pressed on my gooey belly. “Are you sure you want to know? How about I put it in an envelope and you can decide later,” the technician suggested.
We lasted only the 10-minute drive home before we ripped open the answer to what our third child would be. We filmed us opening the envelope and our reactions, then used it as our Facebook announcement. It certainly was a fun and different way to find out compared to the first two!
With our fourth, we agreed to wait again, but as time went by we decided to do the now-popular gender reveal party. Again, mixing it with my birthday since I always seem to be pregnant at the same time of the year (four out of six of my kids are/will be born in January or February!). This time the answer was inside my birthday cake. Would it be strawberry pink for a girl or blueberry for a boy? It was the most delicious strawberry cake I've ever had. But, man, just waiting for a week or two after the ultrasound for the reveal was pure torture for me.
Now here we are, pregnant with our fifth. Surely this will be our last, but at this point I've learned that life makes its own plans sometimes. Because we plan for this to be our last, we figured this is our last chance at being team green so we'd stick with our decision. We agreed to wait, again, mostly because I knew my husband really wanted to. It drove me crazy again not knowing. I bounced between being obsessed over every heart rate, every craving, every sign trying to guess, to finding peace with it and looking forward to the excitement in those first moments after birth discovering the answer. I also had gotten rid of our whole stash of baby girl clothes, plus felt extremely partial to wanting a brother for my son amongst our gaggle of girls, so I worried about how my bonding would be if I didn't find out during pregnancy to prepare both physically and mentally. Still, I found confidence with not knowing the further along my pregnancy progressed and went into our 26-week 3D ultrasound to check on little one's health and dates expecting to still be surprised.
Guess who caved again? My husband.
Because I had felt so emotionally attached to the idea of this baby being a boy, while he felt the baby was a girl, he said we needed to find out. He gently stroked the top of my head as we found out together that he was right and we would be welcoming our fourth girl. Later we filled our son's birthday piñata with the coordinating color to reveal to our kids and family the answer.
Despite my husband always being the one giving the final word to find out, I still feel some “failure” in making the plan to follow through with the surprise ... for three pregnancies! It's like the boy who cried wolf over and over again. Maybe I pushed him too hard to find out in my subtle and not-so-subtle ways, though I know there is no right or wrong way to do this finding out thing. Am I a little disappointed I made it to 26 weeks without knowing and then not following through? To be honest, yes. However, I'm also glad we did find out because it opened up a whole bag of emotions that I needed and wanted to process before birth.
But, that's a story for another day.