Last week, as my husband and I sat anxiously awaiting the nurse to call my name for my 20-week ultrasound, I picked up a pregnancy magazine and zeroed in on a feature where readers shared how they revealed their pregnancy to loved ones. One of them said she put the at-home pregnancy test, which of course she had urinated on, into a Ziploc bag, wrapped it up, and had her family members open it up on Christmas morning. Seriously—this is what some people do now.
With this disturbing image in my head, we were called back into the exam room. It was time to see Baby #3 for the first time and learn its gender. Thankfully, we received the much-welcomed news that the growth and development of our baby looks on target and healthy. We also learned the gender (or, more accurately, the sex…but I digress) of our baby—who is scheduled to arrive in April.
Once the gender was revealed to us, my husband and I had to get down to the critical task of determining how to share that news with our loved ones. During my first two pregnancies, it seemed like I did what everybody else was doing: calling people on the phone and telling them: “It’s a girl!” or, “It’s a boy!” Apparently, that really will not do at all these days.
With the rise in social media and websites like Pinterest and The Bump, couples are challenged to come up with the cleverest ways to reveal their baby’s gender to family, friends, and the internet at large. I may be late to the party here, but I only recently became aware that the “gender reveal” is kind of a big deal to a lot of people. And there are a plethora of mom-centric websites to help you orchestrate the perfect reveal.
You can have a baby shower centered around the reveal. At the climax of the party, the expectant couple cuts a cake, covered in a neutrally colored icing, to reveal a cake dyed pink or blue. If the couple wants to add an extra twist to things, they tell the ultrasound tech not to tell them the baby’s gender, but instead to write it on a piece of paper which they then take to a baker. The baker then makes the secret cake so both expectant parents find out simultaneously when they cut the cake at the gender reveal baby shower. I really did not know this was a thing until a few weeks ago!
If you’re not into cake, you can stand in a field of wildflowers with a giant box of appropriately colored balloons and release them into the air as a professional photographer captures the precious moment. Or, if you are adventurous, you can stand in the same field, also with a professional photographer, as your partner splatters you and your white t-shirt with pink or blue paint to reveal to the world the sex of your unborn child.
When I first became aware of the whole gender reveal shtick, I thought it was a little cheesy that couples would go to all this trouble to tell people whether they were having a boy or girl. But what really confounded me was that couples coordinate these double blind gender reveals in cahoots with an ultrasound tech and a pastry chef. Call me a stick-in-the-mud or a sourpuss, but I’ve got two kids and a full time job, so I don’t personally have a lot of creative energy left over to devote to gender reveal schemes.
Now, there is a way you can avoid this hoopla altogether (although it won’t make for a very compelling Pinterest board or Twitter feed). You can actually not find out the gender of your child until it’s born—just like they did way back in the 1980s. My friend Marie, a mother of five children, has never found out the gender of her babies until giving birth. For the record, she has four boys with one girl born right in the middle of the line-up.
Now, I don’t really understand this mentality either, so I asked her to explain it to me. Basically, she and her husband decided that the time to be surprised with the baby’s gender is when it’s born rather than the 20-week ultrasound, because that would be “like opening your Christmas presents at Halloween. Sure it is a surprise, but it just isn’t time to know yet!” Well, this mama will happily open her Christmas presents at Halloween, thank you very much!
Back at the doctor’s office, as I lay on the table and watched the screen while the ultrasound tech searched for the perfect angle that would reveal the baby’s gender (sex…whatever!), I was pretty sure he would tell us we were having another boy. Our 4-year-old wild-child boy is in a bit of a defiant stage right now, so I must say both my husband and I let out a sigh of relief when he said, “It’s a girl. Definitely.” I’ll skip the balloons, the paint splattering, and just leave you with this image from our 2014 Christmas card:
And if anyone wants to bake me a pink cake, feel free…I guarantee you I will eat that thing up!