I Didn’t Want to Know the Sex of My Baby

Why I didn’t want to know the sex of my baby.



The author with her infant.

When I was in the home stretch of pregnancy, I went shopping for a few essentials: a take-me-home outfit, a crib and bedding, bottles, and hooded towels. Most of these fell into two color schemes: delicate pink and electric blue. Crib sheets had Tonka trucks or little mermaids. I always had the same question for the salespeople at Babies “R” Us: “Does this come in yellow?”

My husband, Josh, and I always were asked “what” we were having. (“A baby,” I was tempted to retort when hot and irritable.) In defending our decision not to find out, we explained that life rarely tosses up a surprise that’s “good.” Getting laid off unexpectedly, a diagnosis of illness, a fender-bender on the way home—surprises all, and unpleasant ones. A cry of “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” in the delivery room is one of the few Eureka! moments you’ll remember for the rest of your life. And it involves far fewer logistical headaches than a surprise party.

Some argue that finding out via ultrasound is all the surprise they need. We were all for checking the baby’s anatomy, but insisted the sonographer alert us to look away when scanning the nether regions. She agreed and kept her word. After printing a few
upper-body stills, she sent us on our way. But then, tormented by what she knew and we didn’t, I parsed our exchange for clues like an archaeologist decoding papyrus.

Where facts are absent, opinions rush in, as friends and family (heck, even strangers) studied my belly to deliver their verdict. Majority opinion held I was having a boy ‘cause of “my relative lack of acne” or the masculine “vibe” my grainy ultrasound gave off. My mother predicted I’d have a girl—a dissenter in the ranks! Her mother woke up in a cold sweat and cried, “Melissa’s having a boy!” Everyone was an oracle.

Even so, when I went into Carter’s and picked at the one measly rack of yellow crawlers and pajamas with duck feet, or when I saw my friends blissfully painting their nurseries, or when my grandmother shook her head and clucked, “I can’t believe you didn’t find out,” or when we referred to the baby with the ungainly “It,” part of me wanted to call the sonographer, and plead, “Okay, out with it!” But that impulse got squelched by another: to delight in the spine-tingling tease of not knowing, of waiting for the pure, surging joy of the Big Reveal.

My husband and I wondered to no end about this little life, whose thumps we tried to decipher like Morse Code (“Are you a girl? Tap twice”). We wondered, What day will you be born? Will you be fair or dark? Look like Mommy or Daddy? And we knew that our baby would clear up that other question, too. Either way, we hoped our baby would look good in yellow.

I’m thrilled to report: Samuel Isaac Pheterson, who made his debut on July 16, looks smashing in yellow.

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