January 8, 2014

On Not Knowing the Gender

When we were pretty sure we were going to wait to find out the gender of our baby, I sought advice from a few friends who had done the same. My friend Brooke, who waited with her second, had mentioned that while she's so glad she waited, it's sometimes hard for her to picture that the daughter she has, was the same baby she was pregnant with and I feel like I can understand that a lot more now.

Despite the stress and the anxiety (and ugh - the physical discomfort), I did love my pregnancy with Mary. Only it didn't feel like it was my pregnancy with her so much as my pregnancy with a baby. And I loved that baby. I loved the kicks and the crazy movement (she was a very active one!). I loved witnessing my body provide for another child (something I will never take for granted), and I loved hearing the baby during my NSTs and seeing the baby on the ultrasound (though I didn't look at them too much out of fear I'd accidentally see boy/girl bits). My pregnancy with her was special and there will be aspects of it I'll miss (the inability to roll over at night and stabbing crouch pain not being among them).

I wanted to document my time with this baby, just as I had done with Cale and Finn. A big part of that is people always say "you don't take as many pictures with the second one" and I feel like I've already proved that stigma wrong - because Finn is my second child and I did take as many pictures during my pregnancy with him as I did with Cale. So it's only fair that I do the same for the third child.

 When I look back on my pregnancy pictures with Mary it's almost strange to think that we didn't know who she was. I waffled back and forth between thinking we were having another boy, and thinking she was a girl. I feel like I carried just the same as I had during my other pregnancies and didn't feel much different physically. I never had strong mother's intuition, and often would tell people when they asked what my guess was, that I thought 55% girl, 45% boy. I had five vivid dreams of delivering a baby. Four of those times the baby was a girl. The Chinese Gender chart said I was having a girl, but almost all of my ultrasound techs and nurses would refer to the baby as a "he" during my appointments (none of them knew). The woman who gave me a pedicure shortly before delivery was sure I was having a boy, but clearly my two year old knew best.

The morning of my induction I could not sleep. I took a shower at 4am and I talked to my baby for the last time in utero. I rubbed my belly and I said, "I think you're a girl. I could be wrong, but I don't care as long you come our healthy and screaming. Hang in there baby, a little bit longer."

And later that night when she came out - healthy and screaming - we were overcome with what was hands down one of, if not the, best surprises I've ever had. I'm so glad we waited, and am so glad we have this little girl.



  1. im so glad you have your lil girl too! y'all are amazing and loved! xoxo

  2. I don't know what it is about waiting to find out that is so incredibly special. On the one hand, I love feeling like I already "know" babies like Claire and Piper, but not finding out ahead of time was a magical experience for me and one I hope to recreate again. It helped me feel like I was in the "moment" of pregnancy instead of constantly imagining what it would be like to have the baby here--which I did, of course, but couldn't really imagine since I didn't know a gender or a name. It's truly a giddy kind of excitement and like nothing I've ever felt before.

    1. It wasn't until you both went through this unaware of the genders, and both being type A-ers that I really finally "got" it. And what you wrote, Brooke, about being "in the moment" is something I hadn't really thought of. I spend some much time trying to imagine what Piper will look like (I know what she will wear) and all that… Part of it is maybe a diversionary tactic to keep myself from focusing TOO much on the current (bc this shit is terrifying).

      All this is to say it's crazy to imagine anyone BUT Mary or Caroline in those bellies at that moment. So crazy.


  3. I love this. I feel like you fulfilled my dream and got to live vicariously through you. With Ava I did not know the gender and only found out when I woke from the coma and met her... four days after her birth. With Lillian we had to find out. I needed to be able to bond with this person separately. I was so afraid I would not be able to love the baby. bond with him or her independently of Ava that I needed time. Plus we had so many ultrasounds not finding out would be impossible. So we found out and it gave us that extra time. I have a fantasy of being able to do what you did, though I know it will never be.

  4. Gah, even though I think it's cool, I could never do it, even with y'all saying it's as special as it is. I'm a planner and love going over the top gender wise on the room and clothes etc but that's really not the reason--I just have so much hang up with both genders for their own reasons that I need time to process. Also I cannot stand waiting and was thrilled to be able to find out with both boys at less than 15 weeks. Also the stress of not knowing and wondering is stress that I don't need during a pregnacy already riddled w stress!

  5. Love love love all these pictures :) That's an interesting take on 'knowing' vs. not knowing who the baby is in utero. I honestly don't know if we would decide to find out for another baby.When I think about my pregnancies (they all blur together anyway) I have a hard time remembering any more with the first two how I didn't know it was them...and how I was convinced they would be the opposite gender until they arrived. But then I think about Ethan--how I HAD to know, I HAD to be able to call him by name and bond more with him for my own sake...but when I look at him now and even when I first held him, it was more like "huh...so YOU'RE Ethan." Almost like I had this detachment from who he was in the womb and who he was suddenly in person in my arms. I still had to get to know him. And now they are all their own little unique people with their own personalities :)

    I'm so glad you got to have such a beautiful, present-in-the-moment pregnancy with sweet Mary...complete with the incredible ending that you dreamed of.