Posted by: Kate | October 23, 2009

To Peek or Not to Peek

I hadn’t consciously realized how much anxiety I was carrying about this pregnancy, until a week or two ago when I passed the 15-week point.  In my three prior pregnancies, I’d had a miscarriage at 13 weeks, very heavy bedrest-inducing bleeding from 11-15 weeks, and then another miscarriage at about 5 weeks.  I hadn’t had a single worrisome symptom this time around, and yet experience had trained me to worry, and worry hard, at least until I made it past those particular milestones.

Feeling the baby move so early has helped – I felt the earliest flutters around 13 weeks this time, despite the fact that the books and websites swear it’s not possible, and now am feeling them on a daily basis.  The kids and Willem have each tried, and maybe even succeeded, to feel some of the flutters from the outside, though I’m nowhere near the point of whole-belly movement that will really impress the audience.

But still, that anxiety festered,  and with a different quality from what I would consider to be the normal, about-to-change-my-life-again sort of pregnancy anxiety.  It wasn’t that I was afraid something would go wrong; it was that I was just waiting until I found out what that was.  Not an “if,” but a “when.”

And, in the past week or two, that has lifted.  Slowly – not in a lightning-bolt epiphany sort of way, just a  little at a time – but tangibly.  I’ve always, at some level, had an odd and simple serenity about this pregnancy: despite my history, this was going to work out.  I just couldn’t quite make that conviction move from my heart to my head.

It seems to have done just that, and just in time for the angst over whether to find out the gender.  We never have before; with both Emily and Jacob, we picked out both genders’ names, looked away at key moments of ultrasounds, and waited for that moment in the delivery room, “It’s a…”  Fun, both times, and I do love that moment.  But it’s easy to forget the several weeks’ worth of waffling that I have done, now for a third time, leading up to the halfway-point ultrasound and then lingering for a while afterward.

Because as much as I enjoy putting off that moment, and leaving something to learn in the delivery room, I also hear the other side.  The people who want to know, because it’s easier to plan and purchase gender-appropriate outfits.  To help the brain wrap itself around the correct set of pronouns as soon as possible (and this is particularly appropriate for me, because this time around I am, for the first time, completely convinced of the gender and already think of the baby as “she” and not “it”).  To know, just because the knowledge is there and available and yours for the taking.

So, I waver.  And of course, Willem is no help at all… he also liked waiting to find out the gender of the first two kids, but we both feel like, we’ve had one of each, and so truly, really, the gender of this one is not an issue (not a smug thing, honest!).  If we’d had two girls, or two boys, then we’d be rooting for the other side to make an appearance, but this way, meh.  We wanted a girl the first time around, we wanted a boy the next, and we got what we wanted.  (Hmm, I wonder if we’re damning ourselves to a hermaphrodite if we keep on not-wanting one gender over the other this time.)  So, being a perverse sort, Willem has announced that it’s all up to me: he enjoyed not knowing the gender before, and would be fine with playing by the same rules this time, but he also wouldn’t mind changing the rules a little.  Bastard.

I’m reasonably certain, most days, that I won’t find out, because I really do enjoy the not-knowing.  We’ll know for the rest of this kid’s life, and so the suspense is time-limited and kind of fun.  But ohhhhhh, it’s hard not to cave, and it’s only going to get harder as we sneak closer to November 6th, when that next ultrasound happens and the tech will, inevitably, turn to me and say, “Do you want to know the gender?”



  1. I didn’t want to know with The Girl either. To me, finding out early is kind of like opening your Christmas presents on Columbus Day. The not knowing was fun. Throughout my pregnancy people insisted I was having a boy because of the way I carried her, her level of activity, et cetera. I wanted a girl and couldn’t even look at little frilly pink things without getting a little sad. When they pulled her out and said, “It’s a girl!” I was so happy, but I said, “A Girl? Are you sure?” (Nevermind that with my emergency c-section there were about 25 people with many many years’ medical experience in that room, haha.)

  2. Having had my baby in the era of no ultrasounds, no preliminary information, no knowing anything until birth day, I didn’t care either. We just hoped all would be well–gender was such a low priority!

    Play your guessing games if you want to. It’s one of the few where the answer won’t matter to your child’s future.

  3. Well, we caved, as you know. Of course, it serves us right that we caved and came back with a Fuzzy with a Chance of Girl prediction….

    I can make a good case for both sides. I’m not sure we could have held out.

  4. I never felt the desire to find out with any of our four. So I’d argue for not finding out. But several friends found out with number 3, saying that they’d had the fun of waiting with the first two.

    So I’m no help, am I?

  5. I can see both ways of doing it, though I found out both times. After my miscarriages, I decided that I wanted everything I could get in order to squash that anxiety and “bond” more with the baby.

  6. Frank and I were giant wafflers, too. With Alena, they gave us a genital pic but didn’t tell us what we were looking at, but with the beauty of the internet I was pretty certain of her girl-ness but based on the picture, Frank was certain it was a boy. So he was DEFINITELY surprised. 🙂

    With Jake, I really really wanted to know. Frank was very meh about finding out. So we asked the ultrasound tech to ONLY give us a gender pic in a sealed envelope.

    Of course then the radiologist, ten minutes later, hovered over a very evident penis-and-testicles and asked, Hey, do you want to know the gender? Well, if I did or not, moron, I’m not blind. Frank didn’t see it. But I couldn’t have the burden alone. We didn’t even get to the parking lot before I ripped open the envelope to confirm what I saw, and then showed him. We didn’t tell anyone else (internet friends aside!) it was a boy until we were close to our due date, and then I think we only told some friends but kept it from our family. 😀

    Even though it is something they deal with every day, the techs and doctors have always been reasonably happy to play along with whatever we’ve decided… or waffled on.

  7. Well, we found out this time. We justified it for planning purposes-do we need to get rid of the mountains of girl clothes we have? Do we need to buy a less-girly car seat cover?

    One of the women in my prenatal yoga class said this week that she had decided not to find out going into her ultrasound (we only have one here unless there’s a problem). The tech said, “do you want to know what it is? Because I know.” She didn’t decide until afterwards that she really wants to know. So now she’s trying to get the midwife to come up with an excuse to send her for another one…

    It certainly makes the knitting easier when you know ahead of time 🙂

  8. I knew Seth was a boy the second I knew I was pregnant. When I had a 3D ultrasound at week 15 I was told that he was 100% positive, even that early that I was having a boy…and here he is. I also have a very odd conviction that I will some day in the future birth another baby girl. Even though my husband swears he does not want anymore children. Ever. I had the same conviction feeling when I told you that I KNEW you would be getting pregnant soon. I dont know why or how, I just knew. I would tell you to find out what you are having..just so you could tell this child she was special because with her you choose to find out her sex and you did not with the other children. I grew up in a house of three daughters, and I think it was hard for my parents to make things special for the youngest being that me and my middle sister had already been there, done that. So I think finding out would make it special. Oh and you better email me right away when you find out….I did after all tell you about your upcoming pregnancy….hehe. Much Love ❤

  9. I’m not good with waiting, but I wanted to know for different reasons. I really liked that I felt more bonded to LouLa when she was still inside because we knew she was a girl, and she had a name. I knew it was going to be the only pregnancy for me, and I always felt like an alien was inside me. Not that she was an alien, but the whole idea of having something living inside of you, is kind of weird. It just felt like the being was a human, and was my baby, rather than some tumor or something.

    I can see how the delivery room moment would be nice, though.

  10. I didn’t want to know and I’ve known people be misinformed, especially if it’s a girl! Keep the element of surprise I say.

  11. I didn’t find out with either of the girls, but wanted to know with DJ since we were overseas and the family wanted to know. For me at least it didn’t ruin the suprise at all, since I knew of at least 2 people that the ultrasound tech was wrong on, so I wasnt sure I believed them until he was actually born. 🙂

  12. I suggest buying what you like and worrying about sex later. If you steer clear of powder puff blue and pink, anything goes, and you can just have fun.

  13. I was trying very hard not to know with #3, but then I said, “Is that the umbilicus??” “No, the tech said, that’s a penis. This is the umbilicus.”


  14. Okay so with my second pregnancy, the same as the first, I wanted to know. What is my baby? My son was out there and very proud to be a boy. My second child I knew was a boy. When the Dr announced it was a boy and that she was 95% sure I was elated. The next month when we went back and I was 22 weeks, it was a girl. What the ???!?!!?! How does a boy go from being a boy to being girl? Evidently when they were never a boy. My dr looked again and said, I honestly can’t tell now. I ended up having 4 ultrasounds and even an ultrasound technician couldn’t tell. He told us good luck. So we looked at each other and said I guess it will be a surprise. My daughter was born this March. I was sure it was a boy until a week before she was born and then I had a dream that it was a girl and I knew that I wasn’t getting what I thought I wanted, a boy. I got what I now know I needed, a girl. So either way, remember, they aren’t absolute.

  15. […] One-Eyed Compromise I think I’ve figured out how to solve my “to peek or not to peek” dilemma.  I’ll tell the technician, and the doctor, and anyone else within earshot, […]

  16. It’s the best surprise you’ll ever have! I didn’t know with Eldest and Middle, and then since Baby was such a surprise anyway, we found out beforehand that he was a boy. And because it was a scheduled c-section, I felt like there was really no element of surprise involved.

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