People only really want to know two things from a pregnant stranger: “How far along are you?” and “Is it a boy or a girl?” By the end of my pregnancy, I was having this conversation pretty often—maybe three times a day—especially in the supermarket or while riding the Metro.
When I told people that I was going to be surprised on the sex of the baby, so many people actually commended me. Their responses boiled down to this:
“Oh, wonderful! That’s how it is supposed to be!”
Um, what? How it's supposed to be?
The reason I decided to be surprised was pretty simple: it sounded like fun. After experiencing a pregnancy where I knew I was having a girl after the 20-week ultrasound, I wanted to see what it felt like to not know for 9 months. (Super exciting on delivery day, but it made naming much more difficult because we had to come up with both a girl and a boy name.)
Did these strangers (and a family member or two) think my pregnancy was less natural or something because I knew the sex? I wasn’t, like, trying to stand in line with my technologically-disadvantaged foremothers by not finding out. Do you know what else they didn’t have, besides reliable ultrasounds to determine the sex of their babies? Epidurals. Safe c-sections. Husbands who took the next day off of work, let alone a month of paternity leave.
Did they think my pregnancy was less special? Just because I didn’t dwell in suspense for 40 weeks doesn’t mean that I was deprived of all drama and mystery. Believe me, especially with the first, I was plenty mystified about what was about to happen to my life once that baby was born.
It boils down to feeling retroactively judged for finding out the sex of my first baby. Just like so many parenting decisions—breast-feeding or not, discipline, co-sleeping, buying your kid an iPad—we’re all just doing what we think is best for our children and our families.
And don’t get me started on strangers who studied the shape of my stomach to guess if I was having a boy or a girl. That’s a whole other post.