Motherhood

Would You Find Out the Sex of Your Baby?

Would You Find Out the Sex of Your Baby?

When pregnant with her first child, my friend Anne found out her baby’s sex — but her husband chose NOT to. How fascinating is that? Here’s their funny story…

My husband loves surprises. But I hate them. Plus, it was my first pregnancy, and there was so much change in my body and so much uncertainty that I needed a concrete piece of information to hold onto.

Initially we were like, we can’t one know and one not! But then, we thought, I’m a really good secret keeper; what if there’s a way to make this work? We decided that the way to do it was not to tell anyone that I knew the sex — even my mom. When people asked us, we just said, no no no, and waved it off. I didn’t want any opportunities for cracking!

We both went to the doctor’s appointment, around 17 weeks. My husband left the room and waited in the reception area. The doctor told me the sex in the most monotone way possible (she’s not very excitable). Thrilled, I took a moment to compose myself before I walked out. Then I joined my husband, we scheduled the next appointment… and we never spoke of it again.

We had to discuss names for both a girl or a boy. We always had a frontrunner boy’s name (Benny), but the girl’s name was a much more in-depth discussion. We had a lot of back and forth, it was hashed out! I was still really into it.

What made it work is that we were very respectful of each other’s choice the whole time. He never pushed me to spill the beans; I never teased him. So we were able to clip along enjoying the anticipation in our own way.

There were times, when I was alone, that I’d talk out loud to the baby. It was special, the only people who knew his sex — and name — were me and him. It was our thing.

When the baby was born, the doctor held him up and said, ‘It’s a….’ And my husband was like, ‘It’s a boy!’ I was just lying there in amazement. We both got everything we wanted out of it, it was incredible.

Would You Find Out the Sex of Your Baby?

Would (or did) you find out? With our first child, we found out it was a boy, and for our second baby, we kept it a surprise. Anne is doing the same thing! She’s due with her second in May:)

P.S. 13 old wives’ tales to reveal if you’re having a boy or girl — and how do you know if you’re ready to have a baby?

(Top photo by Bri Heiligenthal/Instagram.)

  1. Lisa says...

    We didn’t find out the sex with our first baby. My husband got to be the one to say “it’s a boy!”, which was a very special and profound moment for him. I’m currently pregnant with our second child, though, and this time we decided to find out the gender. My husband reasoned that while it was exciting to find out in the delivery room, it kind of got overshadowed by everything else going on in that moment, and he had decided he really wanted the opportunity to relish and celebrate the surprise of finding out the gender without having it compete with, you know, the actual birthing process. So for our wedding anniversary, we went out for breakfast while my mother looked after our 20 month old son. We had the gender written in an envelope and gave it to the server. We ordered pancakes and asked for strawberries with the pancakes if it was a girl, and blueberries if it was a boy. The waitstaff were so excited for us, it was really sweet, and they made a big deal of covering the plates as they placed them in front of us. When they lifted the lids and we saw blueberries, both my husband and I cried for joy, repeating again and again “We’re having a boy! We’re having another boy!” Of course, we would have been just as happy with strawberries, but it was the intimate, special way we found out that made them the best pancakes we’ve ever eaten. Even if they were cold by the time we stopped crying.

    • Emily says...

      This is SO SWEET!!! What a wonderful and low-key idea! :)

  2. Gigi says...

    We just had our first baby on Christmas Eve. My whole life, I wanted to find out the sex of the baby in advance because I don’t like surprises but after marrying into a hispanic family, I realized very early on that the perpetuated social gender norms of babies are super extreme so I flipped and decided that I wouldn’t find out. My husband wanted to know but since he has a big mouth I didn’t want him to get excited and spill the beans. I had to negotiate with him to not find out the sex: we agreed that the first baby would be a surprise and the next child we would find out the sex in advance.

    I was fun not knowing the sex especially when talking with other people! It was also exciting to play around with baby names and not have a bunch of gifted clothes (I really enjoy shopping for my munchkin!) I also realized that I would love to be surprised again but I negotiated my way out of that already…

    Funny story, my husband was convinced the whole pregnancy it was a girl, I even had dreams about it being a girl except for one dream where the baby was a boy and everyone was wrong – ha! We could never agree on a girl name but we had a very short list of boy names that we agreed on. Towards the end of my pregnancy, the sex was somewhat given away because I got the god-awful PUPPPs rash which happens in 70% of boy pregnancies. When our baby boy came out, it was still an exciting surprise though!

    Looking back on my pregnancy, I had prenatal depression and I think that I didn’t connect very well with him in utero. I wonder if I had known the sex of the baby if I would have connected better before the birth. Well, I guess I’ll find out next time!

    • Callan McKee says...

      Didn’t have option with my first two. I wanted a girl with my second. Well Stephanie turned into Stefan. A wonderful son..had late pregnancy with third youngest 18 oldest 24.. so I decided to learn sex of this baby to be..IT WAS A GIRL…immediately I bonded with her..girly thoughts..ect..i defiantly feel knowing the sex let’s you really get to know the baby you are carrying

  3. Kat says...

    Such an interesting post… But even more interesting comments!

    Baby number 1 – we didn’t find out. From around 6 weeks I just ‘knew’ I was having a boy so it seemed a bit redundant to officially find out. But when he was born it was the most amazing experience and I must say having my husband announce what we had was something I will never forget

    Baby number 2 – I had a very difficult pregnancy (sickness/SPD/tiredness) so we decided early on we wanted to know to aid any bonding with the baby. In the UK if you want to know you can usually find out at the 20 week scan, and in we walked excited and ready to find out what we would be adding to our family. It turns out it was the last thing on our minds as we were whisked away to be told our baby was showing signs of abnormailties and possibly disabilities. I couldn’t have cared less about the sex in that moment! However, our very kind sonographer wrote down the sex for us in a card and gave it to us to open at another time if we wished. The next day, we had further scans and tests and thank goodness everything was absolutely fine (baby’s positioning made every reading ‘off’ the day before!). And so that day we took a walk in our local beauty spot, sat on a bench and opened the card together. The words ‘You are having a beautiful baby girl’ will be etched into my memory for all time. We both shrieked and burst into tears and it was the most special way to find out. Following all of the stress we’d endured I have thoroughly enjoyed knowing what we’re having this time. I’ve bonded with my baby girl so so much and it helped me get through the worry and trama of those 24 hours – I think it will linger until she is finally in my arms.

    It’s so interesting to read the different opinions. With my son I absolutely said “oh but there are so little surprises in life”, “I don’t understand what difference it makes”… But now I have had the two very different experiences I can honestly say both are equally as wonderful, special, unique and emotional. Finding out or not does not take away from the beautiful & joyous experience of having a baby and I’m so very grateful to have experienced both ways.

    T.minus 3 weeks until this little girl arrives and I can’t wait to see her alongside her very excited 2 year old big brother!

    Kat x

  4. This is exactly my story. I found out via genetic testing at 10 weeks, but my husband did not want to know. I made it 30 weeks without slipping up to him or anyone else! (Ok, I told my therapist! I had to tell someone!)

  5. Caitlin says...

    I’ve always like the idea of not knowing and thought I’d be able to go that route. Now that my husband and I have decided we’re ready to have a baby, I am so (irrationally) convinced that we’ll have a girl (I’m not even pregnant yet!) that I think I’ll have to know so I’m not emotionally invested… (Confession, I’m also buying baby clothes compulsively already… The struggle is real!)

  6. Lauren says...

    My husband and I decided not to find out the sex of our baby and I am so glad that we let it be a surprise. We both agreed that we wanted that moment in the delivery room – that “It’s a boy” “It’s a girl” moment. Being my first pregnancy, I really want to focus on my body, staying healthy, the growing baby and that connection. Not knowing the sex really helped me connect with my body in way that I was never able to. Even now, 6 months later, I feel connected to my body in a totally different and much healthier way.

    The funniest part is my husband was convinced we were having a girl, and when the baby was finally born (I was 10 days late), and they said “It’s a boy!”, through my tears, I laughed harder then I’ve ever laughed, grabbed my husband, and said: “A BOY! You said it was a girl!”. We both laughed, cried and held our son. It will forever be one of the best moments of my life.

  7. Linds says...

    Such a personal choice. We did not find out the sex for either of our boys, but I had a deep sense both times that I was carrying a boy. When our first son, Cooper, was delivered, the doctor said “It’s a boy!!” and I said “I know!” I also learned quickly that the connection with your children is so much greater than their sex: Cooper and I are so fundamentally similar that sometimes looking at him feels like I am looking back at myself. We share a bond that is far greater than our sex.

  8. I just delivered two weeks ago and we chose not to find out. It was interesting that the first thing everyone always asked me was “what are you having?” People were really surprised to find out we weren’t finding out the sex. Also, both our parents were certain it was a boy, but my husband and I both thought it was a girl. Turns out parents know best… :-) We have a happy healthy teeny new baby boy!

    • Congratulations, Nicki! I was amazed at the same thing – everyone always wanted to know the sex first and were so surprised that we chose not to find out. I hope you and your teeny new baby boy are feeling well and taking excellent naps!

  9. Kaysie says...

    My husband and I chose to be surprised. When my midwife showed up for the delivery, she asked me if I had any specials requests (ie – a music playlist, an exercise ball, etc). I told her that only that was really important to me was that my husband, Brian, tell me the baby’s gender when he/she finally arrived.

    Well, when the baby was finally out — after an unintentional natural labor (I was one of those unfortunate souls who ran out of time for an epidural), my midwife was so excited she said, “Look at that penis!! Brian – tell her what you have here.”

    My husband looked at me with the biggest, stupidest grin and said, “It’s a perfect little boy.”

    I literally laughed and was like, “Yea, I kind of gathered that.”

    It’s my absolute favorite part of my birth story. We still tease my midwife about her flub.

  10. Amal says...

    Pregnant with #3 and we are not finding out the gender. The only thing I find difficult ( a part from buying gender neutral clothes) is explaining to my 4 year old that she might not get a baby sister. Also, I find it quite entertaining to see how annoyed people are about not knowing my babies gender.

    • Yes! It was like people thought we were depriving them of a huge secret!

  11. Oh this is such a lovely story!! I think that I would personally want to know the sex of the baby as I would be far too curious, that being said I’m only 21 and nowhere near having kids or marriage so who knows what my decision may be by the time it comes around!

    http://www.diaryofanexpatgirl.com

  12. I have three kids; we found out with one but not the other two.
    I much preferred the experience of not knowing, We’ve never felt it was important to have clothes, toys, and accessories that evoke the baby’s gender (whatever this one turns out to be, she or he will be wearing and playing with hand-me-downs from big brothers). We kept lists of names we loved, but we didn’t pick out anything before the babies came. I feel strongly about waiting to meet the baby before giving him or her a name. I think it’s so strange to name a baby before it’s born!
    (I wrote a post about this very question over here: http://mydearsabrina.com/family/motherhood/find-babys-gender/)

  13. Kristen says...

    We didn’t find out with our first two. We weren’t going to find out with our third, but I was so hormonal, the technician referred to the baby as “he” even after we said to not tell us the sex (protocol btw if you aren’t finding out the sex) and I got so many boy comments that I had to know (we had 2 boys at the time). The technician told us she wouldn’t write down the sex since we said we wanted a surprise, so I had to call several times until our technician was in (a couple weeks after the ultra sound). I will never forget the shock when the receptionist finally said the tech was in and went to ask and then without hesitation told me. I took our boys to the nearest baby boutique bought a little baby cap and rushed to the city to meet my hubby for lunch. He knew something was up, but when he opened the baby gift and found a pink hat we both burst into tears! It was the best surprise ever!

  14. Tasha says...

    After recently reading about how flimsy and oppressive gender is, these comments are so strange. (One good thing to come from 2016.)

    And how can you find out the sex of your baby?

    Does the doctor tell you the chromosomes in your unborn child’s gametes? XX and XY are not the only possibilities and I’m happy to see Americans finally understanding that genitals do not equal gender.

    • kaitlyn says...

      YES. ALL OF THIS. thank you for saying what I was thinking and breaking it down so succinctly.

    • Rachel says...

      This article is about the sex of a baby, which is different from the conversation about gender identity. Male/female sex is basic biology and science.

    • Breck says...

      Genetic testing where they *do* tell you your baby’s sex chromosomes is actually pretty common these days. It’s called cell free fetal DNA testing.

  15. Becky says...

    I just had my first baby two weeks ago. I didn’t find out and I loved the surprise. We made a gender neutral botanical nursery and got gender neutral clothing and gifts. There aren’t that many fun surprises anymore and it was exciting to guess if it was a boy or girl. ( Ended up being a lovely little boy, Paul)

  16. M says...

    We have 3 boys and found out ahead each time. People gave yellow clothing back then if they didn’t know, and it’s my least favorite color. :)

  17. I think I would like to find out at least for our first child because there would be loads of surprises to come when the baby arrives.. and i think I could deal without this one lol.

  18. Jessica says...

    How timely! My 17 week appointment is coming up soon, and we have decided that we do NOT want to know the gender. Really, I’m fine either way but my fellow doesn’t want to know so that made the decision for me an easy one to make. There are times I wish I knew, simply for those “mommy and me” bonding moments, but when I think of how amazing that delivery-room surprise will be, it makes it all worth the wait!

  19. Kathleen says...

    Both times we opted for not finding out. When we told people that, the immediate follow up was, “Do you want a boy or a girl?” I’d wave it off, but I really disliked that question. I didn’t want to set up weird gender expectations for myself, my child, or anyone else before the baby was even born, because even without knowing the sex, those expectations were at work. During the first pregnancy, even if I didn’t admit it out loud, I hoped for a boy. I have two brothers, several male cousins, was a babysitter for three boys, and was the only girl in woodshop all throughout high school. I thought I had at least a basic understanding of how boys operate. With a girl I’d be flying blind, and if I learned the sex ahead of time, I’d spend my pregnancy anxious and disappointed. The weird thing was, though, when we talked about names, we could only come up with girl names. So when my husband handed me baby number one and said “We have a daughter,” all I felt was joy and relief.

    Baby number two: same feelings​ that learning the sex ahead of would make me upset and disappointed if it wasn’t what I had hoped for. Only this time, since we already had a girl, and that seemed to be going well, I hoped for another girl. My son was born in December.

  20. Molly says...

    I am currently pregnant with our first (due in two weeks!), and my husband and I have chosen not to find out the sex. It was weird, but I never thought about how strongly I didn’t want to find out until I actually became pregnant. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted it to be a surprise. Luckily, my husband was on board too. For me, there really is something so magical about not knowing. I fantasize about the exact moment our baby is born and my husband looks at me and says, “Babe, we have a little ____!” (That’s how I’m imagining it’ll go anyway!).

    Most people thinks we’re a little nuts for not finding out, but the few people that went the same route as us say it’s the coolest surprise ever. I really think to each their own though. It’s 100% personal preference and either way, you get to meet your beautiful baby (or babies) at the end :)

    • Molly says...

      I’m a ‘Molly’ too, and this is exactly how I felt with my two children! I had my husband tell me once I delivered the baby – and anytime I think of it, I get weepy. It was the sweetest surprise ever – and I wouldn’t ever do it differently!

  21. Kristin says...

    I didn’t find out with my daughter- and I’m so glad I didn’t. I love surprises, and it was such a great one (I really felt like I was having a boy). It also cut way down on the amount of gendered gifts people got us, which was an added bonus.

  22. Ramona says...

    We found out with our first. I felt that it was nice to have that one bit of confirmed information while dealing with all of the surprises and uncertainty of becoming a parent. One thing I do wish, though, is that we wouldn’t have told anyone else the gender, because people gave us SO MUCH pink stuff. Very lovely of people to think of us at all and I know I shouldn’t complain, but I do wish we’d had a bit more variety. If we have a second, I think I’d want to be surprised this time since (hopefully) pregnancy and the new baby stage wouldn’t be so chock-full of (often gory and painful) surprises the second time around.

  23. Both my husband and I love the surprise! I thought both times I was having a girl – the first time because I didn’t know what to do if I had a boy (didn’t they pee on you all the time?!) and the second time because my pregnancy felt so different from the first – and both times we had a boy! I’m expecting my third in May and this time around I don’t feel much different from either of my previous pregnancies so am leaning towards it being a boy. But, that probably means it’s a girl – so I’m left just as unsure yet excited for the birth and to find out who is in there!

  24. Kelsey says...

    We chose to be surprised for the birth of both of my children, a daughter and a son.

    One of the nicest things about being surprised from a practical standpoint is that it makes for much better, neutral and frankly more useful shower gifts (and trust me, you still get a deluge of pink things after baby girl is born!)

    I would anecdotally attest to the old wive’s tale about the heartbeat–my daughter’s prenatal heartbeat was faster than my son’s, but it could have just been a coincidence. I also had dreams during my pregnancies with both kids that accurately predicted their sex!

  25. Rachel says...

    I have always found it facinating why parents do or don’t find out. I am not a parent nor am I even close, but my parents have always said waiting to find out until their babies were born (there’s 3 of us) was the greatest surprise in life. So much is planned and perfectly calculated, and this is one of life’s biggest and greatest surpises!

  26. Lois says...

    We didn’t find out the sex of either of our two children and ended up with one of each. We knew we would both be thrilled either way, and I have to say, that moment at birth when you find out is so exhilarating. I can’t imagine finding out at a routine ultrasound appointment would be as exciting. This is one of life’s greatest surprises!
    p.s. – I always knew I wanted a girl, but when they passed me my boy my heart split wide open…What an awesome experience. Wouldn’t change a thing.

  27. Annabelle says...

    Thank you for writing “sex” in this post instead of “gender”. While it might seem like a small distinction, language holds a lot of power. As a Biology teacher currently in our genetics unit, my freshmen have struggled with this but we’re working on it! The words we use convey many things, whether we realize it or not. Thank you.

  28. Katrina says...

    This makes me think of the Gilmore Girls episode where Suki finds out the sex of her baby but her husband doesn’t, so she stockpiles all the baby supplies she bought that give away the sex in the shed and won’t let her husband go in there.

  29. My daughter and son-in-law did not want to find out for their first until she was born, but this time around they are going to learn the sex because they are having triplets! My daughter said she cannot take any more surprises!

  30. Hmm never thought of that but is it really necessary? I guess suspence is great but knowing what to buy in preparation for the baby’s arrival is also great. Hmm pondering on it. Nice one.

  31. Katie says...

    We found out with our first. I’m 22 weeks now with our second and we also found out. We weren’t going to, as I was convinced it was another girl and wanted a surprise. During the ultrasound, we made a split second decision to find out. And I’m really glad we did because it’s a boy. It actually took me a couple weeks to get used to the idea of it since I was so sure and wanted another girl. If I wouldn’t have known and had a boy at birth, I think I probably would have had even more gender disappointment than I initially did. I’ve had several weeks now since we’ve found out, and I’ve gotten really excited about it! My 8yo daughter and I are very close and I’ve realized that a boy will be the same, but in probably a slightly different way and we can’t wait for the adventure of a boy.

  32. I’ll definitely want to know. My husband may prefer not to know, but I’m sure when I find out, I’ll just spill the beans.

    My husband and I have been TTC for 8 months now. We are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for a miracle!

    Love,

    Onyinyechi

  33. megan says...

    This is such funny timing. I’m pregnant with twins and we have just decided that my husband will find out and I will not. Ha! Curious to see how long we can make this last. I was so adamant about finding out the gender of my daughter a couple of years ago, but this time, the whole idea of twins just feels so magical and wild that I decided to keep it going and not find out the babies’ genders until birth. And just in case I can’t hold on any longer I really love the idea of hearing the news from my husband instead of a doctor. We can talk about it over dinner and dream about the babies… <3

  34. Neither one of us wanted to know with the first. My husband didn’t even go to the ultrasound which was good because the baby flipped and I found out. I kept it a secret the whole pregnancy and on the way to the hospital he was throwing out girls’ names because he was sure it was a girl. He’s a boy! The second neither one of us found out and it was the BEST surprise. We were certain it was a boy and so tickled when she was a girl. The third I accidentally found out… the ultrasound tech printed off one extra pic that showed the sex. Again I kept it from my husband but towards the end…when I went in one week to have the baby flipped, then again a week later to be induced and then THE FOLLOWING week to be induced AGAIN…enough people slipped with “she” that my husband pretty much had it figured out. Not knowing at all was really the most wonderful surprise….definitely made that delivery my favorite.

  35. Jordy says...

    For a long time I always thought I would figure out the sex, why not right? But the more I became a feminist, the more I realized that I didn’t need to project societal gender roles on my unborn baby, and I didn’t want other people to do so either. I’m 7 months pregnant and so far it’s been the best decision! When strangers prod me about the sex, “its a surprise” usually keeps them quiet. When we had our baby shower, it was a wonderful celebration full of gender neutral gifts, which I prefer anyways. Frankly, it drives my mother-in-law crazy that she can’t buy tons of blue or pink gifts or insist on family baby names, and that is fine with me. I’m enjoying this wonderful phase, where the baby is its own person, pure and untouched, before the inevitable gender nonsense gets piled on.

    • Luisa says...

      TOTALLY agree about not projecting gendered norms- we’re having our second and didn’t find out the sex either time. I think not knowing has helped us let our little girl develop in her own way, even if most of the time people think she’s a boy because of her short hair (she was bald for a long time) and because she happens to wear a lot of blue and gray. I never realized how much we expect boys and girls to behave in a certain way, when they are just little individuals right now. People say, “but how do you know what to buy?” when really, does it matter? They will learn about gender soon enough!

      Side benefit, not knowing means you get a lot of neutral clothes/toys (and thus don’t have to buy more for a second kid, no matter what it is!)

    • Yes! Being pregnant is such a crazy weird thing that I needed as much info as possible to wrap my head around it and that meant finding out the sex. But I really wish I had the fortitude to keep it a surprise for all of these reasons! That being said, I have bought a few newborn hats with flowers on them and some pretty fabulous neon leggings for my son, due in 2 weeks. Screw gender norms :P

  36. We decided to find out what we were having. My reasoning was that I didn’t find out I was pregnant until I was 30weeks. I felt I had missed out on so much already that I wanted something to hold on to and thought it would help me bond with less time. But to be completely honest, I would have loved our little girl regardless, and next time, I probably wouldn’t be able to say no when asked at the appointment!

    • You didn’t find out until 30 weeks??? That has to be an amazing story! I’d love to hear, if it isn’t too personal!

  37. I always thought I would have to know & didn’t understand people who could hold out. Funny enough, as I let go of control over my body/weight/waist size, I let go of control of a lot of others things, too. I don’t have kids yet, and I’m not pregnant, but now I think it would be so fun to let nature take it’s course and not know : )

    http://hyggewellness.com/blog

  38. Nadine says...

    For us it was the same as I wanted to know and my husband wanted the surprise. But I wasn’t so sure I’d manage to keep the secret so we decided neither of us ought to know. And I ended up being surprised, as I am a real control freak, by the fact that I was ok with it being a mystery! I must admit it was great to find out on the day! I remember frantically asking “what is it ? “, seconds before I could hold him for the first time… And it reminds me of your birth story posts : I could have a million babies just to be able to have that moment when you have your baby on you bosom for the first time.

  39. Kate says...

    We have a 15 month old girl and found out the sex at 22 weeks. I wanted to wait but my husband wanted to adjust to the idea of having a girl or boy. We’d like to have two more children. With the next we will find out the sex again, but with the third child we will wait if, and only if the second is a baby boy.

  40. I love this way! I don’t think I’d be able to keep a secret, but it sounds so fun for them each to have their way. I found out for both of my children because I had a lot going on with my life during both pregnancies and just couldn’t deal with anymore unknown. They were both girls and I was equally excited when they arrived. I think if we have another one, we might have it be a surprise.

  41. Liz says...

    We were surprised for both of our pregnancies – first a girl, then a boy. Best moments of our lives!!

  42. Lisa says...

    One of my best friends wanted to be surprised, when she had her second baby. They had picked a name for a boy and a name for a girl. And she was really happy when she had her healthy little boy, but over time she realized she was still waiting for her little girl. The girl she had also envisioned. She was really sad about something that never was and never will be.
    That’s why i opted to find out right away.

  43. Vicky says...

    When I was pregnant, I was so worried that something might go wrong. I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy and there was no reason to worry, but I felt that if I grew too happy or too attached it would all go wrong somehow. We decided we didn’t want to find out the sex – my husband because he wanted it to be a surprise, and myself just because I didn’t want to picture a little boy or a little girl if something happened. It all went well – and it was a perfectly healthy little girl. Phew!

  44. CBS says...

    I’m 23 weeks and we don’t know. Baby was modest throughout the 20 week scan. My mom is predicting girl (high heart rate, weight gain is all baby – the normal old wives tales) but I really don’t even have a hunch. I feel like it’ll be a lovely surprise and helps avoid some of those pretty, pretty princess gifts if it is a girl.

  45. Kati says...

    What a lovely story! In my last pregnancy I didn’t want to find out the sex but my husband did, and for a moment I contemplated doing the same as Anne did (just the other way round) but then I realized that it would’ve driven me crazy not to know – and to know that he knows ;-).

    I have only one friend who chose not to find out the sex beforehand and she and her husband also didn’t reveal the sex when the baby was born. Their little one has a gender neutral name and to this day I don’t know the sex.

    • Alice says...

      Wow- that’s an amazing thing to do! My friends are expecting a baby- they know the sex, but no one else will until baby is born. They told me last night that they intend to give the baby an unusual/ gender neutral name so people will have to ask if baby is male/ female…! (They’re intending to do this more as a joke, though, unlike your friends who seem to be doing this for broader reasons!)

  46. Sara says...

    Hubby didn’t want to know, so after we had our 20 week check up and went back to work, I secretly called the Dr’s office and found out. I didn’t tell him I knew. We picked names. I played dumb. I purchased clothes in blue and hid them. Then, in the middle of my emergency c-sec, the OB was making polite conversation while waiting for the local anaesthetic to kick him. He asked if we knew the sex. Hubby said “no”, I said “yes”! Everyone was stunned. But I kept my mouth shut until they pulled the baby up and hung him in the air for Hubby to find out for himself!

  47. Kerry says...

    In India, where I live, it’s illegal to find out the sex of the fetus. So no one ever knows until birth. Well, there are apparently unscrupulous health care providers with ultrasound machines who will leak the information, potentially to enable sex-selective abortion, but among everyone I know it was a surprise at birth. If I have a child here, I guess I won’t know the sex whether I would like to or not!

    • Michelle says...

      That is so fascinating! I had no idea.

  48. Archana says...

    I’m from India and here it’s illegal for doctors to tell us the sex of the baby before the birth. They could get into serious trouble for doing that. I traveled overseas during my pregnancy and was tempted to find out the sex but my husband was determined to keep it a surprise. I so badly wanted a girl but everyone, including the nurse who prepped me for my C- section was convinced it’s a boy. I remember when the doctor finally pulled the baby out, I was so prepared to meet my son and then I saw my beautiful baby girl and my heart almost burst with joy. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing :)

  49. Christina says...

    What a delightful, funny, and unique story! I’ve never heard of a couple who kept the gender a secret and known. I admire how they respected each others’ wishes and made it work in a straightforward way.

  50. SheetalR says...

    In India, pre natal gender detection is a punishable law (in order to curb female infanticide). My husband and I just found out we are having our second and the next 7 months are going to be excruciatingly long, especially for the restless person that I am.

  51. Jessica says...

    We’ve let all three of our children be surprises and each time it has been such a fun and special moment. In fact, this last one, I caught myself as he was being born and as I brought him to my chest shouted “it’s a boy”. The midwife was confused how I knew and I said I saw the telltale junk hanging as I was bringing him up. It also keeps you from people pressuring you to reveal baby names in advance, so you don’t get people’s inevitable feedback!

  52. Kamisha says...

    We didn’t want to find out the sex but I did have a dream when I was pregnant of a curly haired boy calling me. It wasn’t until he was at least one that I made the connection. I had seen him before. He looked just like he did in my dream.

  53. Jules says...

    It’s a surprise no matter when you find out! We found out with all three of our boys. I think I could’ve been down for not finding out with boy #3 but I really don’t think I’d have the patience & I like to plan!

    For #3 the place we went for the ultrasound doesn’t let others in the room with you…weird. Anyway, I wanted to wait to find out until my husband could come in at the end but i spotted that it was a boy. I had seen that image twice before & knew what I was looking at. I love my three boys so much!!

  54. Jean says...

    We’ve done it both ways: waited to find out with our first, and then found out with our second. I loved both ways, and agree that it’s (almost) as much of a surprise finding out at the 20-week mark as it is in the delivery room. We also built it up a bit by having the technician write the sex in an envelope, and then opening it together at a lunch that day. :)

  55. Toni says...

    We did not find out the gender of either of our children, and finding out at the birth continues to be two of the most exciting days of my life. The oldest is now 21. No girl could ever kick as much as my first, she was a girl. The second was a total mellow fellow. Finally had to induce. Still a homebody who says he is never moving out. Not finding out the gender made me look forward to the delivery – who was this little person who I’ve waited 9 months to meet?

  56. Lisa says...

    I didn’t find out with either of my children, and everyone was shocked that I wanted the surprise – I am a quintessential Type A planner.

    But hearing “it’s a …” (i have a girl and a boy) were probably the two best, most exhilarating moments of my entire life. I’ll carry that with me until the day I die.

  57. Emma says...

    I had to know both times, baby boy due in June. It made the whole “wiggling, black box of nausea” feel more real for me.

  58. Rya says...

    I’m probably one of your oldest readers, because when my babies were born, the sex wasn’t known until the Big Day! I just knew my first was going to be a girl, and didn’t even bother picking out a boy’s name. Her name is Leah. With my second, I wasn’t so sure, so we picked NIcole and Nicholas, just to play it safe. And Nicole it was. All 10.5 lbs of her. 2 beautiful, healthy babies. That’s all that mattered.

  59. That is such a cute story and I absolutely love the respect between this couple! <3

  60. Erin says...

    I’m 29 weeks pregnant and we are going to be surprised! We were trying for two years and had to do IVF to get pregnant. When it came to deciding to find out the sex, we felt like everything was so clinical and so many people were involved and knew the details of the IVF process so we were excited for the opportunity to have something out of our control and a surprise! And of course we are going to be so happy as long as its a healthy little baby!

    • Olivia says...

      CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU!

    • anne says...

      YES! Congratulations! I’m also going through IVF right now and I think I’d like some element of surprise as well. (Currently waiting for PGS results so fingers crossed!) My name is Anne too- I almost burst out in tears just reading the title. (Keep it together! Keep it together!)

  61. Anna, you really are an amazing secret keeper!! There is absolutely no way I would be able to do what you did. We found out the sex of our baby as soon as we possibly could! I was desperate to be able to plan for her arrival and imagine her. I think we’ll find out the sex of our next baby too. Fortunately for me, my husband is relaxed on the question… and happy to go with the flow!

    http://www.thislifeisbelle.com

    • Ha! I would also definitely not be able to keep the secret, however hard I tried. I would never tell on purpose, but it would just come up. I knew where my husband was going on his surprise stag do and in a heated moment blurted out ‘but that’s when you’re going to be in Brighton!!’. The look on his – and then my – face was awful!

  62. kb says...

    With our first we wanted a surprise. Although EVERY single person at work, starbucks, the subway, really anywhere would tell me it was going to be a boy (they were right).

    With our second my husband and I found out but pretended like we didn’t know. It was our little secret. Another boy!

    I’m pregnant with my third and for the first time was offered one of those early blood tests around 10 weeks where they can tell you the sex. Curiosity got the best of me this time, plus I wanted to try finding out and sharing the news. It’s a girl! It’s pretty fun being excited about knowing what we’re having, talking about it with family and friends, and hearing our boys talk about their baby sister.

    • Hannah says...

      Everyone said my baby was a boy too! Except one older gentleman at a grocery store who said it was a girl-and it was!

  63. I loved this story!
    I couldnt wait to find out the sex of my baby. Surprises are nice but I think I would have gone crazy without knowing the sex :) x

  64. Lindsay says...

    Crazy. My partner and I went to our 12 week ultrasound today. I want to know the sex and my partner has historically been less sure. Recently he has realized that he wants to know as much as possible. The moment we saw the image on the monitor we knew a) gut feeling is it’s a boy and b) we want to know for sure!

    Once we got home from the clinic and our love-filled lunch I put my feet up and looked up ‘Cup of Jo’, my go-to de-stresser. To see this post shocked me! What impeccable timing.

    • Mae says...

      So Lindsay….you’ll have to come back and let us know if your gut feeling was right :) That is so neat that you both got the same feeling !

  65. Nicki says...

    I did the same as the writer when I was pregnant with our first. I found out, and hubby wanted the surprise, but it definitely didn’t go as smoothly for us! My mom and sister HAD to know, so at first it was just the three of us. Then one of my husbands 4 siblings wanted to know, then another, then one made a mistake and told my mother in law, then his whole family knew. Then his brother, who plays hockey with my husbands friends, told some of them.. and on and on. It was a miracle that he actually never found out until the birth. But I kind of felt bad that everyone else knew but him. He still got to enjoy the surprise though! And I got to plan for my baby boy! (Hiding baby clothes in suitcases!). For our second, we both found out the sex and were happy nother to have any drama!

  66. Marie says...

    Hello from Ireland! We had two wonderful surprises, a girl and a boy. For anyone trying to decide what to do, I felt that these lines from an article by Jonathan Safran Foer put it beautifully:

    ‘My wife and I debated learning the sex of our first child before birth. I raised the issue with my uncle, a gynaecologist who had delivered more than 5,000 babies. He was prone neither to giving advice nor anything whiffing of spirituality, but he urged me, strongly, not to find out. He said, “If a doctor looks at a screen and tells you, you will have information. If you find out in the moment of birth, you will have a miracle.”’

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/dec/03/jonathan-safran-foer-technology-diminishing-us

    • kay says...

      Wow. I love this!!

    • Allison says...

      Yes! I always found it curious when people would tell me, “well, it’s a surprise whenever you find out”. True but no one is going to be able to convince me that finding out the sex of the baby through ultrasound can hold a candle to finding out at birth. We were surprised with both of ours (a boy! and a girl!) and are definitely hoping to do the same the third :)

    • Carly says...

      I know this doctor, and I can just hear those words! Nice story!

    • Sara says...

      What a great quote! We found out for our first and we’re surprised with our second. I like to tell everyone “if you find out at the ultrasound then you find out the gender. If you wait to be surprised, then you not only find out the gender, you suddenly have a son or daughter. It’s magic.”

    • Valerie says...

      I am 31 weeks pregnant with my second (a surprise!) Our first was a surprise too (a boy!). I just got teary-eyed reading this. Sometimes it feels more difficult to connect when you can’t imagine the person that is growing inside you, but either way it is indeed a miracle.

    • Ivy says...

      I adore that. What wise advice!

  67. Nicole says...

    My husband really, really wanted our first to be a girl–the idea of having a son made him anxious. So, I was grateful that we found out in advance, because he had sorted all of that out before our sweet boy came! Also, we randomly had our ultrasound with a student/instructor pair, so got to see the ventricles in the brain and all sorts of detailed things…it was amazing to think of all the tiny perfection inside my body!

  68. With our first pregnancy, we opted not to find out. My husband wanted a girl (on his father’s side of the family a female hadn’t been born in 90 years!), and I wanted a boy. I won that one. :) Baby number two came along just 19 months later and we decided to find out what we were having that time. It was another boy. Thirteen years later (!!!) we were blessed with a VERY surprise pregnancy and chose to find out what we were having. What could be more surprising than discovering you’re pregnant when you have two teenagers?! Not surprisingly, it was another boy. Today our three sons are 16, 15, and 2. Also, eventually a girl was born on that side of the family – not to us, of course – and it only took 102 years!

  69. Ingrid says...

    What a fun topic!! We didn’t find out the gender of either of our babies. I love surprises!! I went 6 weeks early with my first. I remember the nurse asking me what I thought we were having as I was being wheeled into the OR for an emergency c-section. My response: I really really really think it’s a girl, but I really really really want it to be a boy! (I had an older brother who was always protective, I wanted that for my family too.. ). And surprise! It was a wee little boy – just over 4 pounds.
    For my second, I gently introduced the idea of mommy having a baby by saying I had a raspberry (about the time the fetus was raspberry-sized), in my belly. Our son was 5 and after a few weeks, I asked him what would happen if the raspberry grew bigger? He said ‘maybe it will grow into a baby!!’ For the rest of my pregnancy my belly was always called Raspberry. By the whole family. It was absolutely precious! Even now, our 3 month old little girl is nicknamed Raspberry by the family. Our son loves his baby sister, he’s already the big protective brother.
    It’s the best surprise ever. Regardless of knowing the gender or not, holding your baby in your arms especially the first time is the most magical moment. Just beautiful, emotional, and the biggest surge of love for your partner!!
    Thank you Joanna for your awesome blog!!

  70. Abby says...

    Hi! Not trying to be a jerk (and I haven’t yet had any children of my own) but isn’t it a bit cis-normative / gender determinist to find out the sex of your baby with the mindset that what you’re really finding out is the baby’s future gender? Sex ≠ gender. We should be raising all children the same — regardless of their sexual organs (and besides — sex organs don’t exist on a binary either, they exist on a sliding scale and there’s a huge range of what genitalia can look like — this is where intersex conditions come in as well). If the only reason you would find out the sex of your baby is so you can preemptively gender them (with colors, clothing, expectations of behavior, names, etc), that seems kind of messed up… just one perspective!

    • Kirsten says...

      I totally get where you’re coming from Abby and in a sense I agree. Hyper gendering was a big reason why my husband and I were initially not planning on knowing ahead of time. I don’t know if we will or not, but lately I’m getting more attached to the idea of knowing as a way to connect with a fetus that right now feels totally abstract to me. I wanted this baby for sure, but I just don’t have that sense of connection and bonding yet that so many other pregnant women seem to have.

      I still don’t think we’d tell anyone else ahead of time, and when I say connect I’m not talking about gendered names or clothes or even imaginations about what they will like or not like, much less who they might eventually want to have sex with or how they want to express themselves. But the fact is that we still live in a world where sex/gender are very aligned and there will be experiences that one sex has that the other might not by virtue of the structure of society. And even thinking about those possibilities and how I might navigate them feels like it gives me a sense of connection that I don’t have right now.

      Just another perspective, but I think that wanting to know doesn’t always have to go hand in hand with wanting to impose gendered expectations early on and it isn’t totally fair to make the assumption that that is the only reason why people want to know. Growing a baby and thinking about your lives together is a crazy thing that makes you feel all sorts of weird stuff you might not have expected to!

    • Carrie says...

      Finding out the gender doesn’t mean you’re going to be changing courses in terms of your parenting plan. People are allowed to form dreams and plans and thoughts about the baby growing inside their womb. Gender is a big part of the picture, and there is no denying that. And side note- if a parent has issues with people preemptively “gendering” (new word?) their kids with clothes and such, it’s well within their means to stop that if they so choose. Social media is a good platform for parents to speak out to loved ones, making their preferences known.

    • Catie says...

      I think that sure, some parents want to find out the sex to buy everything pink for their little princess (ugh), but for a lot of them, it’s just curiosity. I think that it is more important to be an open and inclusive parent who loves their child unconditionally and who respects their child’s choice of identity. I don’t necessarily think that finding out the sex before birth would change that.

      I also think that in the case of something like an intersex condition, knowing about it in advance means that you can educate yourself as much as possible. When you are overwhelmed and undereducated while recovering in a hospital bed, you don’t make the best decisions, and unfortunately, we live in a country where medical personnel try to sway you to fit their own beliefs.

    • L says...

      I don’t have kids either but when I do I plan to find out the sex as soon as I can. The reason is because I don’t think it determines their gender, so why would I avoid finding out this information about my baby’s body? I want to see their arms and legs and their genitalia because they’re going to be my kid. I can’t avoid people trying to gender my future kids when they’re born by pushing that date back by a couple months so why have less informtation available to me? I think by putting it off until the birth it is making their sex a bigger deal than just getting that information at the doctor when I get all the other information that’s available about them.

    • Mallory says...

      I was so against finding out the sex of our first for this very reason. When she was born a girl, I was still adamantly against obviously gendered clothes and toys. Of course as soon as she could express an opinion, it was all pink, dolls, ballerinas, sparkles! Which, side note, made me come to terms with the fact that you can still be a badass feminist while presenting as very traditionally feminine . I feel good knowing she came to these opinions without much influence from me. Boy, girl or somewhere in between doesn’t matter to me; my biggest hope is for her is that she is fully herself, whoever that turns out to be.

    • I appreciate this perspective. My husband and I chose not to find out the sexes of our babies and people’s reactions to that decision were very strange to me. We got a lot of, “Oh, I couldn’t handle the not knowing! I have to prepare myself. I need to make plans.” To me, you’re planning for a baby and that’s what you’re going to get. You won’t know who that person really is until you meet them.

    • Breck says...

      Also, people have all kinds of dreams, plans, and expectations for their children that have nothing to do with their gender or sex, but often times need to be let go of. In fact, that’s a lot of what life is (best laid plans, and all that). So, I kindly suggest a bit more open-mindedness in terms of people’s desires to find out the sex of their child.

  71. Charlotte K says...

    I never had children (too old now, almost 60!) and I know I absolutely would not have wanted to know. But I think it’s a totally personal choice, and if you want to know, you should find out. AND if you don’t want to tell anyone else, you do not have to. It’s YOUR baby!! But I really wish my nieces who’ve given birth had not told me, and with one exception they all did. I am a nut about surprises…a NUT…I love anticipation. Of course I was delighted by all the babies born so far, but I wish I hadn’t known ahead of time. So if a relative tells you “don’t tell,” try not to!

  72. Caroline says...

    I always loved the idea of being surprised. I’m currently 33 weeks pregnant with my rainbow baby boy. His big sister was stillborn a little over a year ago. With Maeve, we didn’t know her sex until she came out, and despite the difficulty of her birth it was a beautiful surprise. With this little guy, I wanted to know everything and anything along the way. We did lots of tests we never did before and knew he was a boy at around 12 weeks. For me, this time around knowing the sex helped me bond with our pregnancy and out hope for a positive outcome over the fear and anxiety that are part of the journey after loss. Calling him by his name and picking out outfits helps me focus on bringing home a healthy baby boy- and helps me to not just hold my breath for the next 6 weeks!

    • Colleen says...

      Oh, good luck to your lovely family that includes an angel.

    • Amy says...

      This is the first time I’ve ever commented on Cup of Jo, but I wanted to wish you well! I’m also 33 weeks pregnant (this is our first baby) and, knowing how slightly worried I feel all the time for my baby I can only imagine what you are going through. I hope everything goes well for you and your growing family and I wish you every happiness. x

    • Olivia says...

      Sending you lots of love.

    • Caroline says...

      Thank you for the support :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so much love, caroline. your daughter sounds like a beautiful soul, and the name maeve is so lovely. xoxo

    • Alex says...

      Caroline, I had a very similar experience – our first child was a little boy who died of oxygen deprivation at birth after a textbook pregnancy. We didn’t find out the sex with him, but we did with his little rainbow brother 17 months later, for the exact same reasons you describe. I regretted not knowing my first son’s sex before he was born, as my pregnancy was the only time I had with him. I needed all the information available to manage the stress of my next pregnancy. Wishing you so much good luck with the rest of your pregnancy – I hope your little son brings you joy and healing as you carry his sister in your heart.

    • Sarah K says...

      Caroline, much love and best wishes to you and your rainbow baby. I think Alex’s comment is just beautifully put–that you love your new son as you carry his sister in your heart. I lost a son at 26 weeks and our rainbow daughter came to us a year later through adoption–it was such a profound healing to me to hold her and feel her breathe. I love her fiercely and I still love our lost son every day. Wishing you strength and peace!

  73. Brittany says...

    I’m pregnant with my first child – a boy! – right now and my husband and I both absolutely wanted to find out the sex. For me, it mostly has to do with impatience ;). I’m so happy with our decision because it has made the pregnancy, and what’s to come, feel much more real. I love being able to say “our son,” “he” and “him,” instead of “it.”

  74. Morgan says...

    Our first was a total surprise – we had a home birth and upon birth, with baby on my chest, I said “well what is it?” It was the greatest surprise of my life. With our second, we planned for another home birth and another surprise. As with our first, we planned on waiting until 20 weeks for an ultrasound and leading up to that point I kept having very clear dreams about two little girls. I shrugged it off – maybe it was my older daughter and a younger sister. I was huge and sick and joked to my husband that maybe we should find out the sex, in the case that it was twins. It was so joking, though, neither of us could even fathom that being real. On our scan day, I laid down and the tech asked if we wanted to know what we were having and I waved her off, “no”, but my husband piped up and said, “no, say the other thing.” Totally dismissively I added, “well, not unless it’s twins”. Wand on belly, two freaking heads right in the shot! We sealed the results in an envelope without reading. Finding out there were two babies was enough to ingest at once. We left in separate cars, my husband headed to a job interview, me headed home with my daughter to stare at that envelope. When he got home we opened the envelope and found out it’s two girls! My twins are now almost two and looking back it was definitely them in my dreams before finding out our big news.

    • rach says...

      What a sweet & fun story!

    • Sharon says...

      Ahhh!! This gives me goosebumps… how amazing our bodies and minds work.

    • kay says...

      Oooh this is so wonderful

  75. Claire says...

    I just had my first baby–he’s one month old; it goes so fast! We didn’t find out ahead of time. I was in labor for 49 hours and when he finally arrived, it was amazing to have my husband announce that we had a little boy. I was convinced I was having a girl. If we have another, I’d definitely keep it a surprise. I really loved that moment. I know I would have been thrilled even if I knew ahead of time, but the reveal instant made those 2 days of pain and effort just fade into nothingness.

  76. Sasha says...

    Our first was a surprise, I was convinced a boy. She’s a girl ;)
    Second I wanted to know, my husband wanted to be surprised. I came up with the same solution as Anne, but he wouldn’t go along. He thought it would be too stressful for me to keep the secret, so we both found out, a girl. It was fun letting her big sister know she would have a baby sister. If I was having another (I’m not!), I wouldn’t want to know. Life has so few wonderful surprises.

    • rach says...

      Yes!

  77. Hilary says...

    We did find out with our first but didn’t tell anyone. I was surprised by how many people were upset that we knew but didn’t tell. Granted not grandparents or people close to us but co-workers and casual acquaintances. I wanted to yell ‘it is none of your business!’ I had a theory we were testing and I think we proved it correct so I was happy with our decision.

    • Lena says...

      Curious about your theory…. I’ve had a few of my own. :)

    • Hilary says...

      I watched friends who shared what they were having receive pink or blue everything and more clothes than gear at baby showers. It was perhaps a bit selfish but my theory was that if people don’t know what you are having then they give more gender neutral items and less clothing. My thought was that anything we got for the first I wanted to be able to use for more kids, girl or boy.

  78. Sunny says...

    I never wanted to find out the sex of my baby until I gave birth. My husband was on board with whatever I wanted to do.

    To me it is the last big and wonderful surprise. I also thought not knowing would help me push harder ; )

    I had a stillbirth months prior and I would have been happy with any healthy baby for sure. Its not like you can change what the sex is once you find out anyway. Had no preconceived notions of what life would be like with my baby and I’m thrilled to be a mom to a wonderful little boy-can’t imagine anything better.

    Also, wanted to say that decorating the nursery and getting clothes for the shower were all icing on the cake for me and I would have dressed my baby in anything. His room was cream, orange and grey and he wore a lot of those colors plus greens and yellows and stripes as a baby.

    • Sasha says...

      This is really beautiful Sunny.

  79. julie says...

    Hi from Montreal, We kept the surprise for both pregnancies. The second time was harder, not knowing if I was going to have two boys or both boy/girl. For the ultrasound, no comments about the sex is written in your file, so even if the doctor or staff is not aware of your decision, they can’t reveal it by mistake.
    For the delivery, nurses where as much excited than us. It’s not very common here.
    The baby’s room was light gray and white, everybody respect the neutral gender theme. We did have names ready for a girl or a boy. We have two gorgeous boys!!

    • Dalia says...

      From Montreal also! Didn’t find out for both. My husband wanted to but I wanted it to be a surprise and I really liked my husband announcing the sex as the baby came out:) also loved how the nurses and doctors were so excited and making bets! I have a son and a daughter:)