Gender

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A Private Gender Reveal: An Intimate Dinner and a Card  |  nextlifechapter.com

I can’t believe I’ve kept this a blogging secret for so long. And to tell you the truth, I’m not really sure why I haven’t announced it before now. When I was pregnant with Adelaide, I posted about her gender reveal right away.

I was equally excited to find out the sex this time, but the second time around has felt different for various reasons.

  1. I felt much more sick this pregnancy. I started to feel better around 16 weeks (which seems like a long time ago now), but it did keep me from blogging as much as I wanted this summer. In my “free” time (read: in the evenings after Adelaide was asleep or on the weekends while she was napping), all I wanted to do was nap or go to bed early.
  2. I’ve been more worried and reserved this time around. Miscarriage will do that to you.
  3. I’m busy! I have a full-time job outside the house, and this time I have to keep up with a 3-year-old as well.

Since technology has advanced since 2011 and since I’m over 35 this time around, we had a cell-free fetal DNA genetic test when I was only 10 weeks pregnant. Apparently, DNA from the placenta is in my blood so a simple blood test was able to indicate increased risk for a few genetic mutations as well as reveal gender. In my first pregnancy I didn’t find out the gender until the anatomy ultrasound scan at 20 weeks. This time, I had the results back before 13 weeks.

During my first pregnancy there was some debate over whether or not to find out the baby’s sex. Tim won that debate and obviously, we found out. Still, until I could verify for myself, I was paranoid the rest of my pregnancy that they got it wrong. This time we knew we wanted to find out, and I knew I would feel more confident in the result since a blood test doesn’t allow for much error. I had the test at the end of June.

Last time we brought a card to the 20-week scan and had the ultrasound technician write the gender inside. She sealed the envelope and Tim and I opened the card together a few days later when we were away from the sterile hospital environment (and when I didn’t have to immediately return to work).

This time, the genetics counselor said she could call us with the results of the baby’s sex. She said she even had pdfs for, “It’s a girl” and “It’s a boy” that she could send via email for us to open together. She said she drew the line at calling the bakery for a gender reveal cake, but if we gave her the name of a friend and wanted him/her to call, the friend could communicate the gender reveal to the bakery for us.

Our parents both live out of town and we thought it a little presumptuous to think our friends would care enough about the gender to attend a gender reveal party. We decided to do the card thing again.

I purchased a cute card and inside wrote, “It’s a _______.” Then I dropped it off at the genetic counselor’s office with a self-addressed stamped envelope. Tim and I hoped the results would be back by the first week of July so we could open it together over dinner when we celebrated our six-year wedding anniversary. And that’s just what we did.

We dropped Adelaide off with her aunt and uncle in the suburbs and enjoyed a nice anniversary dinner. That morning I joked to Tim that maybe we shouldn’t open it. Maybe we should wait. He didn’t take my suggestion seriously. He said knowing would help with planning and I knew he was right. We already had so many girls clothes sitting in big rubbermaid bins in the basement–knowing whether or not we could reuse the majority of them seemed very helpful.

We didn’t tell Adelaide that she was getting a baby brother or sister until the afternoon before we did our gender reveal dinner. We knew she couldn’t keep a secret, and we didn’t want her to get her hopes up for a girl or boy without quickly being able to give her an answer. I took some video footage of us telling her she was going to be a big sister, and I’ll post it later this week.

A Private Gender Reveal: An Intimate Dinner and a Card  |  nextlifechapter.com

The card right before I flipped it open. We didn’t even wait for the appetizer course.

A Private Gender Reveal: An Intimate Dinner and a Card  |  nextlifechapter.com

It’s a girl!

A Private Gender Reveal: An Intimate Dinner and a Card  |  nextlifechapter.com

We stopped at the grocery store on the way back from dinner and picked up a balloon to surprise Adelaide.

A Private Gender Reveal: An Intimate Dinner and a Card  |  nextlifechapter.com

Big Sis!

A Private Gender Reveal: An Intimate Dinner and a Card  |  nextlifechapter.com

And baby makes four.

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I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted. I’m not doing a very good job of being a Mommy Blogger. This working outside the home thing in combination with being a new mom doesn’t leave me a lot of “free” time. I knew it would be hard, but it’s all I can do to bathe myself regularly and do at least some of the dishes every couple of days. Emailing, blogging, cleaning, among many other things, have taken a back seat.

I’ve been wanting to write a Halloween post since, well, Halloween. So finally, here it is. At least I posted it before Thanksgiving and I’m not behind by yet another major holiday.

Funny, I started this post in a Word document and when I went to save it, Word automatically populated the first few letters I’d written as the document’s name. “I can,” is what it said, ignoring the apostrophe and “t” that followed. Although it’s not the name I would have chosen, it somehow seems appropriate. I can.

For Adelaide’s first Halloween, we had the luxury of dressing her in whatever we wanted. We can hopefully postpone the Disney princess outfits for at least a few years. When I saw an adorable banana baby costume online several weeks before Halloween, I knew we would be set. Then, I stumbled upon a banana dog costume at Target. While we already had a perfectly good costume for our dog Hugo that was leftover from a couple of years ago, I couldn’t resist.  For a mere $12.99 we could have matching dog and baby bananas. Just think of the photo potential! Here are the results:

My banana baby!

On the streets of Philadelphia

Tim and Adelaide at my work Halloween party

On Skype with Tim's parents

Hugo is not amused.

The whole family before our dog park's Halloween parade at the nursing home.

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Is it normal to worry that our girl isn’t a girl?  I think all the dresses and pink are making me paranoid.

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The reveal

Two weeks ago I bought a baby card for myself. It’s light green and sparkles with glitter. In a yellow banner above a mobile of animals—a lion, elephant, owl and monkey—it says, “A wee one is on the way.” The inside says, “Looking forward to seeing that adorable little face!” and in black felt-tip pen I added the words, “It’s a ______!” leaving a blank for the ultrasound technician to write in the sex of our baby.

So dear readers, I know you’ve been on pins and needles waiting for me to announce the results of last Sunday’s reveal. Or maybe it’s narcissistic to think anyone besides Tim, me, and our immediate family really cares one way or the other.

Sunday was a beautiful day—sunny and warm, at least in comparison to the several days prior. Tim and I decided to drive to Rittenhouse Square, open the envelope there, and then have a late lunch at Parc, a cute French-style restaurant right across the street from the park.

Surprisingly, I was nervous. On the short ride over, I asked Tim what he thought we were having. At first he said he had no idea. Then he said part of him thought it was a boy. I agreed. Since I think we were both kind of leaning toward a girl in the beginning, I didn’t want to get too set one way, and I started to think more about having a boy.

As we approached the Square, Tim and I scoped out the best place to sit and open the card in relative privacy. The sunny spring weather brought out the masses, so most of the park benches were taken. The ones that weren’t occupied were too close to other benches, and having a somewhat secluded space was important to me. We walked by the center fountain—still void of water, children and families adopted it as their playground. A half dozen college kids stood grouped together holding signs that said, “Free Hugs.” A nice idea I suppose, but I was slightly creeped out by them. We were on a mission, so we walked with purpose, and they approached the middle-aged woman behind us instead. “Want a free hug?” they asked. “Why sure!” she said. “Can’t turn down a free hug.”

In the northwest corner of the park I spied a quiet spot in the grass near a bed of yellow daffodils. We made our way over and sat in the grass—not without first posing for a few photos. I made Tim hold up the sealed envelope. “Take your sunglasses off,” I said. “I want to see your eyes.” We were both anxious and excited. I asked Tim to take a few photos of me with the card as well.

The sealed envelope.

Finally, the moment had come. I felt as if we were the only two in the park. I broke the seal of the envelope and slipped my hand inside the card. I wasn’t sure if the technician had included additional ultrasound photos, and I wanted to make sure they did blow away. The card was empty, so I pulled it from the envelope and sat with the card closed for just a second. “You ready for this?” I asked. A rhetorical question. On the count of three I opened the card and held it so both Tim and I could see. Tim exhaled. “Wow…”

Handwritten in blue ink was the word “Girl.” She also wrote “Congrats” underneath.

Tim beamed. He put his arm around me, and we kissed. I was speechless, still in disbelief. After a couple of minutes and a few more photos, we decided to walk over to a little children’s boutique not far from our corner of the park. The store was much too expensive for our shopping tastes, but Tim and I smiled at the pink infant sundresses (only $65) and the knitted booties I swore I could make myself ($27).

We had a lovely lunch at Parc over discussion of baby names. Our window seat was warm in the afternoon sun and we had a prime view for people watching–not to mention the amazing goat cheese and leek tart, my iced hazelnut mocha that tasted like liquid Nutella, and the vanilla bean creme brulee.

Our evening concluded with phone calls to our parents, grandparents and siblings. “It’s a girl,” we announced. “It’s a girl.”

Tim right after opening the card.

Me right after opening the card.

The card!

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I lay on the examining table.  My underwear and pants are bundled at my ankles so they won’t get gooed by the ultrasound gel.  My boots are still on.  A paper blanket covers my legs, and my tummy is smothered in clear jelly.  Tim sits in a chair to my left, the ultrasound machine and monitor to my right.  The technician leaves the room to show our 20-week ultrasound images to the doctor.

Up to this point the ultrasound technician has been unable to get views that reveal our baby’s gender.  Tim and I discuss the possibility that we may not be able to find out until the baby’s born, and we talk about whether we want a boy or girl.

“I just love our girl’s name so much, I would be sad if we don’t get to use it,” I say.  “Plus, that just means another few years of worrying every time a friend gets pregnant and hoping no one else uses it.”

“No one else will use it,” Tim says.  “It’s not like it’s popular.”

“It’s sort of popular.”

“No it’s not.”

“Well it should be.”

We also talk about how raising boys might be easier in the long run. “Girls can be so caddy and mean.  Junior high girls have to deal with so many self esteem issues. Boys probably have some of that, but not as much.”

“Yeah, not as much,” Tim says.

“We’ll just get our son contacts when he goes into high school. He’ll be fine.”

Tim laughs.  He has told me about how he got contacts the summer before his sophomore year and how suddenly his status on the social ladder improved.  It was your stereotypical high school movie.

***

When I return home that night I see the Facebook status of a high school friend.  She says her five-year-old daughter refuses to wear any of the jeans in her closet.  She only wants to wear skinny jeans from now on.  “Oh boy…,” the status says.  Oh boy is right.

There is a part of me that doesn’t want to open the envelope revealing our baby’s gender.  Once we know, I will look at baby clothes more one sided–the adorable little dresses, the cute baby bow ties.  It will be exciting to know, and  it may make things feel more real–especially for Tim, for him I imagine this whole pregnancy is still somewhat abstract.  Still, until that telling moment, there is only possibility.

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I was actually looking forward to our doctor’s appointment this week.  We would get another glimpse of our baby–likely the last time we would see him or her until the arrival in August.  The ultrasound was Thursday morning and the blueberry wasn’t cooperating at first. The baby was  facedown sleeping and its legs were crossed. The technician took a bunch of measurements of the head and other body parts, but she really needed to get some better photos of the heart and even though we asked her to write it down and not tell us right there, she knew we wanted to know the sex.  Eventually she made me get up, walk around and go to the bathroom before jabbing around some more. If they couldn’t get all the views they needed that morning, we would have to come back.  I wasn’t too worried about not finding out the sex.  I figured if we didn’t find out that day, we could just find out in a few weeks when we had to come back.  Still, when I went to the bathroom I jumped around and poked my belly to try and get the little booger to wake up and move around.

Finally, the technician was able to gather all the photos they needed, but still no good shot to reveal gender. The tech said she needed to show everything to the doctor and have him come in, so she promised to take one last look before we left.

After she left the room, I turned to Tim.  “It’s funny. We debated whether or not to find out the sex, and maybe the baby is just going to decide for us.”

“Yeah.  Maybe so,” Tim said. He looked disappointed.

“Are you going to be really upset if we can’t find out the sex?”

“Nah.  I mean, I’ll be a little disappointed, but maybe it’s just not meant to be.”

I was going to be disappointed too.  Once we finally decided we were going to find out the sex, I was excited to know.  I was looking forward to our “reveal” on Sunday.  While we waited for the doctor and technician to come back into the room, Tim and I talked to the baby and prodded my belly.  I laid on my side to change-up the position.

“Wake up in there, baby.  Let us see your private bits.”

The technician returned for a final look.  She told us to look away from the monitor.  I held my breath and hoped that the baby would play nice this time.  She got it!  She said the positioning was good and she could tell.  Hooray!  Thanks for cooperating, baby.  Of course, she had to give us the disclaimer that the results aren’t 100% accurate. She said it was probably about 95% accurate though. So, she wrote it down for us, and I have it in a sealed envelope in my purse.  The answer is sitting right there in my bag.  Tim and I are going to open it together tomorrow.

We know our life will be forever changed come August, and I can’t help but think about how our lives might differ depending on whether this baby is a boy or a girl.  Until tomorrow…

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Watch this video. It is HI-larious.

I should probably be offended, but it’s funny and some parts are definitely true.  People have asked us whether we want a girl or boy.  It’s really not a fair question.  Do they actually expect me to answer one way or the other.  “A girl.  I definitely want a girl.”  Then what?  If I have a boy they’ll feel sorry for me?

Truth is, I was leaning toward wanting a girl.  I think Tim was too.  Part of the reason is that we have awesome girls names picked out, and we still haven’t found that one boy’s name that sets itself apart from the rest.  For me, I feel as if I know more about girls.  I have a sister and never had brothers.  Although I don’t know a lot about raising children, I know what I went through growing up as a girl and how I was raised.

My friend Chris said it well when I talked to him on the phone a few weeks before his baby was born.  “I feel like I know more about how to raise a bad-ass girl than I do about raising a sensitive, emotionally available guy.”  Chris explained that he basically wanted his kid to be the opposite of the gender stereotypes, and raising a girl who played the bass and was totally into trucks seemed easier than raising a boy who wasn’t afraid to play with dolls.  Chris and his wife Jennifer also had better girls names picked and were still indecisive about boy names.  Of course, this meant Chris and Jennifer were meant to have a boy, and after he was born he went unnamed for two days.  Baby Felix is now three weeks old, and they couldn’t have imagined their lives any different.  They have fallen completely head over heals for their son, and I’m sure they’ll do a fantastic job of raising him to defy stereotypes.

In fact, seeing photos of baby Felix and the photos of Chris and Jennifer with him the last few weeks, have made me even more excited to meet our little blueberry.  It’s also made me less frightened of having a boy.  I think that’s it.  It’s not that I don’t want a boy, it’s just that having a boy seems even more scary than having a girl.  Whichever way the gender revealing news goes, we have our anatomy ultrasound on Thursday and I’m sure I’ll be ecstatic.

And the girls names we like?  Well, we know, but we’re not telling…

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To continue my post from last weekend about whether or not to find out the sex of our baby:

Tim finding out and not telling me is not an option.  First of all, that’s no fun.  If he’s going to find out, I’m going to find out.  Plus, he said he wouldn’t be able to do it.  He said he wouldn’t last 24 hours without making an accidental slip referring to either “him” or “her.”

Tim and I are also considering the idea of finding out, but just not finding out that day in the doctor’s office.  We’d ask them to write it down in a sealed envelope and then Tim and I would open it together later.  We’d make a special event out of it–go to dinner or invite some friends over for a reveal party. A few years ago, a college friend of mine told me she and her husband did this.  It was right before Christmas so they put the envelope under the tree and opened it together on Christmas morning.  What a nice Christmas surprise.  Obviously, that timing’s not going to work for us.  There isn’t really a big holiday at the beginning of April, and I think opening it on April Fool’s Day is just begging for error. But maybe it doesn’t have to be a big holiday.  It can just be a special moment between Tim and me.

A co-worker of mine said reveal parties are actually becoming a trend in some cities.  Apparently, parents-to-be will take the envelope to a bakery and have them bake the answer into a cake–they’ll make the cake pink for a girl or blue for a boy.  Then, the couple will invite their friends and family over and cut into the cake to reveal the color, and thus the sex of the un-born baby.  I thought this idea was kind of cute.  It’s not a big thing in Philly yet, so I thought our friends would think it clever.  However, when I ran the idea by Tim, he thought it was a bit cheesy.

“I mean, I could see inviting some friends over for pie and opening the envelope together, but I don’t think we need to take it to bakery.”

So, another idea shot down. When I started thinking about who we would invite, which of our friends would care enough about the sex of our baby to attend a “gender reveal” party, I thought maybe Tim was right.  Maybe this is something private, something we’d like to learn outside the clinical environment of the doctor’s office, but something still reserved for just the two of us. So, it’s looking like Tim and I will find out, that we will ask them to write it down and put it in a sealed envelope.  Then, we’ll open it in some kind of special way, on our terms.  What this “special way” will be has not yet been determined.  I’ll keep you posted.

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That is the question.  I’ve noticed that when you tell someone you’re pregnant, one of the first questions they ask  is, “Are you going to find out if it’s a boy or girl?”  Tim and I had our programmed response to this question when we first started telling people our news. “We’re not sure, yet.”

Tim wants to find out.  He thinks it would “help in planning.”  I’m not sure.  I kind of want to wait.  I think part of me is scared that they would be wrong, that we’d get set in our mind that it was going to be one way, only to be surprised, slapped in the face, “Oh that little girl you’ve been planning for and talking to the last four and a half months? Yeah, sorry it’s actually a boy now.”  I know that the technology has improved and that the ultrasounds are wrong less and less these days, but it still happens.  When I asked Tim what he thought about this, he said, “Well, that’s why you buy baby neutral stuff.”

So, if that’s the case and we’re going to buy greens and yellows and baby neutral stuff anyway, I don’t see how knowing the sex early will “help in planning.”  I think Tim talked himself in a circle there.  (Sorry, honey.)  In fact, I’m not a big fan of overly-girly pinks and princess stuff for girls, and blues and trucks and baseballs for boys.  I love the color blue and I’m a girl, so I think blue is a perfectly fine color for females too.  And why can’t girls like baseball?  I do love little floral baby dresses and lace and although I wouldn’t inflict that on my newborn boy, I’m not going to be a strictly gender-neutral mom.  Still, I can see how it would be nice to try and avoid at least some of the gender stereotyping that occurs immediately after exiting the womb.

We already have our anatomy ultrasound appointment set for March 31, so we can find out the sex then if we want.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the pros and cons of finding out.

Pros

  • Help with baby names–boys names are not our specialty so if we’re having a girl we may not have to worry about it and can save ourselves the stress of trying to decide on that perfect boy’s name.  If we’re having a boy, we’ll  need to step up the boy name search this summer.
  • Planning – for me this is more about emotional planning vs. knowing whether to buy blue or pink.  However, it could be helpful for friends who want to knit baby sweaters or grandmothers who see baby clothes on sale and are dying to make a few purchases.
  • Bonding – I think it would be nice to refer to our little one as “he” or “she” and not “it.”  It sounds so alien, and I already feel as if I have an alien growing inside me.  I think knowing the sex might help me feel more connected and put a “face” to this being that will soon be part of our family.

Cons

  • Error factor – What if they’re wrong?
  • Gender stereotyping – the fear of getting all blue and pink and gender-specific gifts.  However, I guess this is just as much a concern after the baby is born.
  • Ruining the surprise – I’ve had friends tell me, “it was just as much a surprise at 20 weeks as it would have been at 40 weeks,” and “there were so many surprises in a first-time pregnancy and delivery, given the opportunity to take one more surprise out of the equation, I wanted to do it.”  Still, I kind of like the idea of using the unknown sex as motivation on delivery day.  (Although I’ve had mothers tell me that this notion is kind of silly–that meeting your child and looking them in the eye is enough motivation.)

So, still not sure where this leaves us.  Part of me thinks maybe I’m just riding my high horse because my 24-year-old self was so adamant about waiting to find out.  When my friends Angie and Dylan found out they were having a girl back in 2002, I told them there was no way I would find out the sex of my child until it was born.  I wanted it to be a surprise.

“You’ll change your mind when you have kids,”  they promised.

“No I won’t.”

This was before Tim and I met, and before I was anywhere near ready to have kids, but part of me–a big part of me–doesn’t want to have to eat those words.  Angie and Dylan probably don’t even remember me saying this, and if I lived my life by everything my 24-year-old self thought, I’d probably be in some trouble right now.  Still, it burns me to change my mind.  I guess I could always just plead the “my husband made me do it.”  He is pretty persuasive.

To be continued…

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