19 WEEKS PREGNANT
Is Pink or Blue in Your Future?
This week, you can
• Think about the practical and emotional considerations that go into finding out your baby’s gender while you’re pregnant
• Research ways to build a nursery and wardrobe that will work for either sex
PROBABLY only a week or two away from your mid-pregnancy ultrasound—the
one where you can possibly learn your baby’s gender. Will you find out
whether your baby is a “he” or a “she”?
are those who will passionately argue that it shouldn’t matter to you
whether your baby is a boy or a girl. They act as though a mother caring
one way or the other whether her baby is a boy or a girl is somehow
frivolous or selfish. Of course, a healthy baby is the most important
thing to any expecting mom. But I’d argue that gender is important, too!
There is a lot wrapped up in the decision of whether—or when—to find
out if you’re expecting a boy or a girl, so don’t make that decision
For example, whether you’re having a
boy or a girl could make a big difference in the relationship you have
with this child down the road and how you adjust to motherhood. If it’s a
girl, you may find that you’re terrified of passing on some of your
less-than-perfect qualities or excited about sharing the things that
made your girlhood special. If it’s a boy, you may worry about how
you’ll relate to him or revel in the chance to bring up a strong,
sensitive man. Your background, childhood, relationship with the baby’s
father, and even long-standing fantasies about what your first child
will look like all come into play as you’re contemplating. And if your
husband or partner has a strong preference one way or the other, that
will also affect how you react.
the baby’s sex can also make the whole pregnancy seem a lot more real,
and that can be rather mind-blowing. Up until now, the baby has probably
seemed more like a vague concept than an actual living person. Knowing
that the baby is a boy or a girl suddenly makes him or her so much more
human and specific. And it can be jarring to find out that your baby is
a different gender from what you had anticipated or fantasized about.
Though mothers have no control over who our babies are or who they will
become, it’s hard to resist pouring a lot of wishes and hopes into that
growing fetus and thinking that you can somehow create it in your image.
If you’ve been dreaming about a little Elizabeth, finding out your baby
is actually an Ernie may be the first step to crushing that illusion.
And that can be painful.
Meagan, who had four
sons before giving birth to her only daughter, loves her boys dearly
and can’t imagine girls in their places . . . now that they’re actually
here and in her life. It was a different story when she was pregnant and
didn’t “know” her babies yet. She’d always wanted a daughter, and each
pregnancy represented the possibility of a little girl. As she had boy
after boy it began to seem less likely that her dream would be
fulfilled. Meagan never felt that wishing for a girl was the same as
wishing away the boy baby she actually had. But still, she needed a bit
of time to mourn the idea of the girl each of those babies turned
out not to be. As a side note, by the time she got to her fifth
pregnancy Meagan was so comfortable with the idea of having a family
full of boys that she didn’t believe the ultrasound technician’s report
of “Mom, you got your girl!” So no matter how disappointed you fear you
might be if your baby is not the gender you hope for, don’t worry—once
you see your actual baby in your arms, you will love him or her just as
he or she is.
If you are likely to be
disappointed by the news that the baby is a different gender than you’d
hoped, consider when you’d like to receive that bit of news. Meagan, who
had four boys and then a girl, always felt it was better to know
halfway through the pregnancy and get past any pangs of disappointment
early on, then go through the rest of the pregnancy embracing the actual
baby rather than the dream baby she’d been fantasizing about for the
first twenty weeks. Amanda, a first-time mom I know who was hoping for a
boy, decided she’d rather find out after the baby was born because in
all the excitement of the birth she’d be less likely to feel
disappointment if “he” turned out to be a “she.” There is no right or
wrong approach, just how you feel and how you are likely to react.
HOW RELIABLE IS AN ULTRASOUND FOR DETERMINING GENDER?
With today’s technology, a technician should be able to tell you your baby’s gender at twenty weeks or later with close
to 100 percent reliability. As with anything in life, there are no
guarantees. Your baby’s age, her position, and the age and condition of
the equipment will factor in, as will the skill and experience of the
technician. So keep in mind that even if you’ve been told “It’s a boy!”
or “It’s a girl!” there is still a slim chance . . . that it’s not!
Of course, some parents truly have no preference for one gender or another, and in that case, it’s just a matter of deciding
whether waiting or finding out ahead of time will bring you more joy!
Some parents love finding out early on because it allows them to start
thinking of their baby as a real, concrete person. They can refer to the
baby as “he” or “she” and even start calling the baby by name if they
wish. Others find that the surprise of finding out the baby’s gender
just after giving birth adds to the happiness of the moment. Karen, a
first-time mom I know, asked the doctor and nurses to not announce her
baby’s gender after it was born. Instead, the doctor handed Karen the
baby immediately after birth, and she and her husband Keith made the
discovery together: Their baby was a little girl. Both Karen and Keith
say they’ll treasure that moment forever.
the emotional concerns that will help shape your decision, there are
some practical questions, too. Lots of women would rather know the
baby’s gender because it makes choosing a layette, nursery theme, and
baby gear easier. On the other hand, there are ways around the issue. If
you aren’t sure whether you want to find out your baby’s gender ahead
of time, but are afraid you won’t be able to prepare properly, consider
Navy blue, yellow, green,
brown, and cream are great colors for either boys or girls. Try tie-dye,
rainbow, plaid, or animal prints. Check Target, Pottery Barn Kids, or
the Land of Nod (www.landofnod.com) for beautiful unisex bedding and decor.
you can only purchase (or register for) items that aren’t usually
gender specific (strollers, cribs, etc.) and wait until after Baby’s
here to go all-out in decorating the nursery. This is also a smart move
if you plan to have more children down the road, since it’s more likely
you’ll be able to reuse your gear then. If you can’t bear the thought of
a bare nursery, try just investing in small items like lamps, wall
hangings, crib or bassinet sheets, and a pretty, light blanket in a
color like cream or apple green. Later, you can layer more bedding on
top. Since heavy crib bedding isn’t considered safe for young babies,
you probably wouldn’t be using a comforter at this point, anyway.
for strollers, car seats, and other “on the go” gear in black, gray,
brown, or navy blue. These are stylish, gender-neutral options, and they
won’t show dirt as readily as pastels.
And chuck the idea that your diaper bag has to “coordinate” with your baby’s gender. You
are not an infant, and your baby isn’t going to be carrying the diaper
bag. There’s just no reason to accessorize with a bag decked in pink
hearts or blue teddy bears (unless that’s what you like, of course).
Pick something that appeals to your sense of style—you have to live with
it, after all, and the baby won’t care. Due-Maternity. com has a great
selection of diaper bags that look like designer purses, not cartoon
nightmares. Or you can just carry a purse that has enough room for baby
stuff. Believe me, you will not lose any “mom points” if you never buy a
babies really don’t need to be equipped with full four-season
wardrobes! In fact, many babies outgrow those newborn outfits within a
couple of weeks. Consider waiting until you know how big he or she will
be until you invest in much clothing. For now, purchase a very limited
layette of gender-neutral colors. You can shop again a month or so after
your baby’s born, when you know how big she is or how fast he’s
Whether or not you find out your
baby’s sex, raising him or her in a “gender-neutral” manner is another
possibility. In fact, there is a growing movement of parents who believe
that avoiding “pink for girls, blue for boys” as a general rule helps
children discover who they are, rather than who society says they should
be based on their gender. Even if you don’t embrace this idea fully,
don’t be afraid of buying dolls for your baby boy or trucks for your
baby girl. Not only will it broaden his horizons or show her that she
can be anything she wants, but it’s practical, too: If you have the
opposite-sex child later, you won’t have to worry that you don’t have
anything to hand down because all the gear and clothing is too “girly”
Here are some tips for building a gender-neutral wardrobe that will work now and for future babies to come.
Gender-neutral clothing is pretty easy to come by for little babies,
who mostly live in sleepers and nightgowns. You won’t notice much of a
difference between the “girl” and “boy” versions of these items except
that some will be blue and some will be pink—but you’ll also find plenty
of other colors to choose from.
clothing is harder to come by in bigger sizes, where the difference
between “girl” and “boy” styles becomes more and more pronounced.
T-shirts (long- and short-sleeved), bodysuits, and pants are the staples
of a gender-neutral layette. Look for colors like navy blue, brown,
purple, gray, light green, and orange, in solids, stripes, or fun prints
that don’t scream GIRL or BOY.
buying pants, look for a fit that’s not too tight or loose, without
details like ruffles or hearts. Little jeans or corduroys are great, if
you can find them without “boy” detailing like hammer loops and side
pockets, and without “girl” detailing like appliqués and bows. Stay away
from bell-bottoms and capris, which look decidedly girly no matter what
you pair them with.
• Shirts can be a
challenge, too, as “girl” shirts tend to have puffy sleeves, gathers in
the neck, and other details that just don’t meld well with a unisex
wardrobe. Try the boy’s department instead. You’ll have to flip past a
lot of bears playing baseball and driving trucks, but you should be able
to find a few plain T’s that will make great layering basics for either
a girl or a boy.
• Go online. Do a search for “gender-neutral baby clothing” or “unisex
baby clothing” and see what comes up. Many boutiques and specialty
stores are now catering to the parent looking for unisex fashions.
Once you’ve pulled together Baby’s “base” wardrobe of shirts and pants,
you can use layers and other accessories to make it more girlish or
boyish. Think hoodies, button-down shirts, or cardigans over those
T-shirts. Many baby and toddler dresses look adorable worn over a pair
of pants. Hair bows, cute socks, or rugged boots go a long way toward
adding a “girl” or “boy” vibe to that otherwise neutral outfit.
didn’t give you much to do this week (after the way I’ve been working
you, that should be a relief!) but there is a lot to think about, isn’t
there? Don’t worry. If you still can’t make up your mind whether or not
to find out at your ultrasound appointment, you have another option. Ask
the technician to write down the baby’s gender and fold up the piece of
paper. Place it in a sealed envelope (so neither you nor your spouse
can peek without getting caught) and put it somewhere safe. The two of
you can talk it over at leisure until you’re either comfortable opening
the envelope . . . or maybe even throwing it away. After all, sooner or
later you’re going to find out for certain whether this baby is a boy or
a girl. Maybe you’ll realize that you don’t need to know until he or
she is in your arms.