Saturday, September 5, 2009

On Finding Out

Where I live chitty chat with strangers goes precisely like this when a big ol' pregnant belly is doing the ice breaking:

Stranger – When are you due? (said with semi-precious smile)

Preggers Lady – (insert due date)

Stranger – Oh! Do you know what you’re having? I mean, do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl?

And that is how I ended up telling strangers on elevators, in cafes, in shoe stores, on park benches, in waiting rooms and who worked in the office building down the hall but had never said boo to me before what the genitals of my unborn child looked like.

Was there a dangly bit there? Nope. We distinctly saw a labial cleft on the 3D ultrasound. Yup. Labia.

It looked like one of those plastic change purses that were everywhere in the 80s that you squeeze and it opens up and you can put coins in there. Mmmhmmm. The genitals of the unborn are kind of hyperbolic you see, because they are swollen by all the preggy hormones coursing through theirs and their mama’s shared system.

Okay, well I didn’t say that. I just said it was a girl.


It made me feel weird. I mean, I do understand why people ask the sex of your baby when it’s all swaddled up in gender neutral organic cotton– it’s quite impossible to talk about someone in the English language without indicating gender. You can talk about a him or a her but you can’t tell a new mom that the “it” in her arms is a beautiful little it without offending.

And I ask pregnant ladies too.


It made me feel weird. Like I was exposing something private. Like the world was after the only secret my baby owned and I let them have it. Like I was being inappropriately sniffed by these strangers in a dog park sort of way.

The worst though were the judgemental ones – they’d ask and then explain that they’d rather not know because as they see it, “There are so few real surprises in life.”

Well then. Why did you JUST ASK ME?

And also life is nothing but SURPRISES, Dorkus.

Anyhoo. Deep breath. Moving on.

We decided not to find out with number 2. I’d had a strong intuition that number 1 was a girl which was confirmed at a 7 month ultrasound.

After talking to some other moms I heard interesting anecdotes about how some women just knew, with certainty, what gender their kid was. One mom told me that at one point her unborn just told her, “I’m a girl.” And she was. How did she tell her? She doesn't know. She just told her. Only one mom I talked to was certain but wrong.

I discovered that statistically women are 70% correct in guessing the sex of their unborn child. I find that statistic impressive. 70% is not just guessing. It is significantly not just guessing. In fact ultrasounds are only 95% accurate. So I wanted to see if it would happen to me.

It totally did.

I really wanted number 2 to be a boy. His big sister really wanted him to be a pony, but that’s beside the point. For most of my pregnancy I just rued not asking to find out at that early ultrasound because the curiosity almost killed this kitty.

And then, at 26 weeks we flew to Mexico. I kept drifting off to sleep on the airplane. Then I’d wake from these very vivid and terribly biological dreams. They were dreams of baby testicles. Tiny baby testicles. Wee and red like choke cherries and straining hard against the veiny skin they were in. It was like I could see them from the inside, they were inflamed and they were working hard to… um… to become is the best word I can think of.

I know, right? Like first of all, ew. And second of all, whatever.

But then when I got around to checking my email latter that week I had a message from explaining what my unborn was up to, developmentally.

And it told me that that was the week that, if I was having a boy, his testicles would drop down and that it was a chemically involved process that would take all week.

I was like, ohmigod. It's a boy. I KNOW.

Then I proceeded to tell everybody who asked if I’d found out if it was a boy a girl about the baby testicles dream.

And they listened patiently with a smile that said, what a kook and wow, too much information. Maybe I should stop asking preggy ladies in elevators about the genitals of their unborn.

And then he was born.

And after all that waiting and waiting and hoping and wishing and fretting that the dream was just a manifestation of my own desires and really it would be a girl and I wouldn’t love it quite as much as a decent mother should love a newborn and the gig would be up for me, I’d have to admit to myself that I was a terrible human being, and then the labour with the swearing and moaning and then the pushing and finally! the midwife put him in my arms and I lifted that little leg up and beheld a scrotum full of family jewels.

I have never ever in my life been so happy to see testicles.

I will indubitably never again in my life be so happy to see testicles.

And having tried both ways I firmly assert that not knowing was the bestest ever.

For me. At that time in our lives.

So here I am 7 months preggers with number 3 and I have no stinking idea what he or she might have between his or her baby legs. No wisps of intuition. No vivid biological dreams, no chemical messages from tiny gonads. No clue.

And I can’t wait to find out. But I can.

And it’s very exciting. It’s a secret nobody knows, not even strangers on an elevator not even me. It's a pearl in a oyster deep deep deep down under.

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  1. I have a funny baby gender story too. My husband and I both don't like surprises. With our son, the ultrasound tech said without a doubt 'boy', and he was. With our second, the tech waivered and finally said she couldn't be sure. So we shelled out the cash for one of those 3D ultrasounds.

    Those are cool. You actually SEE the baby! We were recording it on dvd and when it came time to check the sex, the tech ased if we wanted to tape that too. We were confused, I mean why not? The ultrasound showed girl, just like you so eloquently outlined in your post. We were so excited. That night my in-laws came over for dinner and we eagerly put in our dvd and sat down so they could see their new grand-daughter. I'm sure I blushed (as did everyone else, especially my father in-law when they got to THAT part). Finally I understood the question. ;)

    Great post!

  2. I had a strong feeling that my #1 was going to be a girl. I would've bet money on it.

    ("She" turned out to be a boy.)

    I was positive that #2 was going to be a girl.

    ("She" was also a boy.)

    #3 is due in a few days. This pregnancy was so different that I just knew - I KNEW - this was my girl.

    (But then we found out that "she" has a penis.)

    Soooo ... I fall squarely OUTSIDE of the 70% category. I must have zero mother's intuition when it comes to these things! :)

  3. My husband 'just knew' the gender with both of our kids, and he was right. He can only do this trick with his own fetuses. As for me, I 'knew' both times and was TOTALLY WRONG.

    The first time, I was dead convinced it was a boy. I had dreams it was a boy. They couldn't see at the 18-week ultrasound, but I just knew. We chose boy and girl names, but I only used the boy one in my head. And then my lovely daughter was born, and I wasn't disappointed at all. Because she was my actual baby and far better than any imagined offspring.

    Tthe second time I 'knew' I was having a girl. PBut this time my husband was very vocal in his certainty that it was a boy, and the 26-week ultrasound confirmed it. I posted the ultrasound picture to my online gallery, with the little penis circled, and it felt super-weird. But all the relatives were very grateful to see for themselves, so I sucked it up.

    But yeah, the whole thing is 15 kinds of weird, for sure.

  4. Great writing. And funny, I was talking about this subject this very morning. Mothers intuition is really quite spooky sometimes. Maybe next time I won't find out, and we'll see if I guess right!

  5. I laughed out loud about the labia part. So good. Our society is obsessed with gender... it is the number one way we define ourselves. It is impossible not to ask the question. Because we define ourselves by gender, you can't really blame people either. I took a class called sociology of reproduction and we talked about that sort of stuff a lot.


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