“Do you want a boy or a girl?”

It’s one of the first questions you get asked when you tell someone you’re pregnant, and it’s actually kind of an odd one, because, as far as I can tell, the ONLY acceptable answer to it is the standard, “Oh, we don’t care, as long as it’s healthy!” Like, no one’s actually going to say, “Well, I really, really want a boy: I don’t even care if it’s healthy!” At this point I submit into evidence the wonderful Garfunkel and Oates, with ‘Pregnant Women Are Smug‘:  go and listen, I promise you wont regret it…

pink rose on grey sweaterIt’s true, though, isn’t it? I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever met a pregnant woman (or partner) who’s admitted to having a gender preference: it’s just Not The Done Thing, really. Which got me wondering <Carrie Bradshaw mode engaged>: do people actually MEAN it when they say they have no preference, or is it just one of those things they say because they know it’s what they’re supposed to say?

There are lots of reasons why someone wouldn’t admit to having a preference, after all. For one thing, it would be pretty awful for your future child if you’d spent your entire pregnancy banging on about how much you wanted a boy, only to be presented with a girl at the end of it, wouldn’t it? For another, though, there’s a huge amount of pressure on pregnant women to be grateful at all times: in most of the ectopic pregnancy support groups I’m a member of, for instance, there are strict rules about not expressing a gender preference, because it’s understood that most of the women in those groups are just so grateful to be having a baby at all, that it would be hugely insensitive to effectively say, “Well, I’m grateful, of course, but I’d be even MORE grateful if it’s a girl!” I mean, seriously.

So, people either genuinely don’t have a preference, or, if they do, they keep it to themselves. What’s interesting about this, though (to me, anyway), is that while there are fairly obvious reasons why parents-to-be want to stay schtum on this particular subject,  a lot of other people seem determined to draw them out on it, hence the constant questions about what your preference might be. In my case, I’ve noticed that a lot of people seem to just assume that I must want a girl, or already know I’m having one: when I announced the pregnancy, I got quite a few comments from people saying they couldn’t wait to see “all the little dresses” I’d be buying, and when I posted the image in this post to my Instagram stories last week, I got a lot of excited messages from people assuming it was some kind of subliminal message about me wanting/having a girl – it was actually just some new sweaters I’d bought myself, in my current favourite colours!

So, just to set the record straight: no, we don’t know what we’re having yet. We did have the opportunity to find out early, as part of the Harmony Blood Test I had at ten weeks, but we were in two minds about it, really: or I was, at least. Terry was pretty sure he wanted to find out, but while I was super-curious about it, I also felt it might be a bit too early to have that information, because while I knew that if something went wrong at that stage, I’d be devastated no matter what, I still worried that knowing the sex would make it all a bit too “real” for me, if that makes sense?

As it turned out, though, the decision was taken out of our hands: during the test itself, I was so worked up about it that I forgot to ask whether or not we’d be told the sex, and we later discovered that we’d have had to have specifically requested that information at the time, if we’d wanted to know. So we didn’t find out then, but we ARE hoping to find out at the 20 week scan in a few weeks time (This has caused some controversy, as quite a few people feel it “should” be a surprise. My take on that, though, is that it’ll be a surprise whenever we find out, and I don’t honestly feel that meeting our baby for the first time will be any less special if we already know the sex: I mean, it’s not like they’ll hand us the baby and we’ll just be all, “OLD NEWS! I wish this day could have been a bit more surprising!” is it?) – mostly because we’re just too impatient to wait another few months, if we know the information is available to us.

With that said, while we are really, really excited to find out what we’re having, we won’t be gutted if it’s not possible to tell (Our hospital are happy to tell you the sex if they can, but I know sometimes the baby can be lying the wrong way or something…), and no, we don’t have a preference (“AS LONG AS IT’S HEALTHY!”) We are, however, both still pretty sure it’ll be a boy, for no other reason than that it’s the father who determines the sex, apparently, and boys run in Terry’s family (I’ve said this before, I know, but Terry has three brothers and just one sister; we have five nephews and just one niece; Terry’s dad had four brothers and his dad had three brothers (no sisters), and so on and so forth…), so while I’ve no idea whether there’s any scientific backing for that theory, I don’t really see us bucking the trend!

(I set absolutely no store by any of the old wives tales about predicting the sex of a baby, by the way, but if I DID take them seriously, it seems I’d be having a hermaphrodite. So that’s helpful.)

While we don’t have a preference NOW, though, I can’t honestly say that’s ALWAYS been the case. If you’d asked me a few years ago, say, whether I’d prefer a boy or a girl, if I’d ever had a baby, I’d a) have laughed my ass off at the thought me ME ever having a BABY, and b) had a very definite preference. If you’d asked me two years ago, meanwhile, I’d still have had a preference… but it would’ve been a totally different preference from the one I’d had just a couple of years earlier. Both of those preferences, though, would’ve been totally based on stupid gender stereotypes, none of which I actually believe in (And while we’re hoping to find out, it’s not so we can do the whole, “Pink-for-a-girl, blue-for-a-boy,” thing – our plan is to stick to neutrals for the nursery and clothes etc, although we won’t be remotely offended if people buy us pink or blue things either…), and which make setting your heart on a particular gender seem pretty pointless, really. Ultimately, though, I think the “as long as it’s healthy” cliché is pretty true for us – although, I have to admit, I can’t wait to find out!

What about you? Did you/do you have a preference? And did you find out early, or wait for a surprise?

[MY PREGNANCY DIARY]

53 Comments
  1. Hi amber! Kept baby no 1 a surprise and found out with baby no 2…….you’re right, finding out the sex didn’t change the joy/relief/amazement as the baby was handed over to me. X

  2. I definitely had a preference on both pregnancies. With Konrad I wanted a boy first as both me and David come from families that have older girls and younger boys so always wanted a big brother. This time I wanted a girl and was adamant it was a girl as I have had completely different pregnancy symptoms this time round but we found out last week that it is another boy. Was a bit disappointed initially but now completely happy as Konrad is so excited to have a little brother.

    1. Aww, another little boy! Did you do a private scan to find out? We’ve been thinking of having one, just because we’d like our parents to see one, and we’re not sure how well Terry’s mum will be feeling further down the line…

      1. Yeah we went to babybond for a private scan. Only way Konrad could see it as he isn’t allowed into the nhs ones with us

  3. I am pretty sure people have a preference but don’t feel like they can admit it. I have read some articles on gender disappointment which is a thing but people feel like the worst people in the world for feeling it so they keep it inside which doesn’t help.
    Also I have read a few more articles recently about not saying “as long as it’s healthy” because what about the couples who don’t get a healthy baby? Do they love their children any less? Nope. So the articles instead suggested either telling those questioning you to shut up (😂) or say I don’t mind the gender I just want the baby I have. It’s interesting and not something I had ever thought about.

    1. Yeah, that’s a good point! I just always think that wanting the baby to be healthy is just a given, that doesn’t even need to be stated, really – also not mutually exclusive with having a preference, either!

  4. I agree that knowing the sex of the baby before birth takes nothing away from the surprise. I was so convinced I’d have only girls like every one in my family that I was a little surprised when I got told my second child was a boy… Very few hand-me-downs for him! 😛

  5. Very few people express a preference for the reasons you suggest, but it’s fun trying to imagine the little person your baby will become. We went to a wedding on Saturday where the vicar quoted that “we are not human beings, we are human becomings”. I just loved that and all three of you are human becomings: becoming parents and becoming a baby.

    I love to see all babies dressed in white, although that’s not currently fashionable, but then I had my babies forty years ago. I must admit I hate babies in denim, no matter how soft the fabric. I’m not sure if you will want to post photos of your little one in the public sphere, but would hope to see them if you do.

  6. I’ve openly said (both before and after I found out the sex) that I would have liked a girl. But now that I know I’m having a boy I couldn’t imagine changing that for the world. In fact I would be quite upset if he popped out as a she! (Found out genetically after my CVS, plus he has been keen to show off his boy-ness at every scan so it’s for definite!)
    It does seem a real “trend” not to find out these days though, and I’ve seen quite a lot of snide, looking down their nose comments about those who do choose to find out. It’s fine if you want you surprise to happen at delivery, or you want the dad to do the reveal. Just don’t minimise the joy and surprise of finding out the sex at 20 weeks (or in my case 13). There’s no right or wrong way.

  7. First time around I had no gender preference, just wanted a healthy baby, safe delivery. Second time around I wanted a girl. I already had a girl, I knew what to do with a girl, we had all the stuff. I wasn’t anti-boy, I just would have preferred a girl. I know it’s 50/50 but I was floored when Felix came out and had to check 3 times to be sure it was a willy I could see and not the cord! Now I cannot imagine life without him or that I’d have preferred a little Camille Joy (as a second girl would have been called). Finding out after all that hard, messy work was two of the nicest surprises I imagine I’ll ever receive in life 🙂

  8. I had real issues in getting pregnant so I was just very happy when it happened. But if I am really honest I did hope it would be a girl as I thought I would know what to do with a girl. My partner thought the exact opposite. When he was born prematurely I was just so happy he was ok I didn’t really care. There have been times when he has wanted to play Ben 10 or Star Wars I have thought this would have been easier with a girl, but I have run round the house while he has transformed into a myriad aliens and I have perfected my being defeated by said alien quite well! He is 14 now and I cannot get interested in gaming at all. My partner has to handle that! He does like clothes so that is our shared interest. I wouldn’t change him for the world. I do sometimes get a pang when I see friends with their daughters, but I give myself a slap and remember I am lucky I was able to have one. That’s why I read your blog as no one in this house cares about shoes!

  9. I must admit I did lean slightly more towards wanting a girl rather than a boy. I just had a feeling from the start that the baby was a girl. My husband and I couldn’t agree on a boys name but we picked out the perfect girls name really early on. That said I wouldn’t have been dissappinted if she had turned out to be a boy. I know my mum was hoping she was going to be a boy!

    When people asked if I wanted a boy or a girl I said I didn’t mind either way but had a feeling it was a girl.

    As for the being healthy thing, I did avoid saying that as if she wasn’t healthy when she was born, or had disabilities etc. I wouldn’t have loved her any less and her life would still have been as precious and valuable -healthy or not. I also have a family history of spina bifida so it would have been insensitive for me to make the healthy baby comments to certain family members.

  10. My sister’s first pregnancy they told her it was a boy, so they bought everything boyish and blue they could find – yeah, turns out it was a girl 😂
    I am sure technology and testing have come a long way since then!

  11. I didn’t find out with either one and drove our family’s crazy. They kept asking how they were supposed to shop without knowing the gender. I just told them to keep it neutral.

  12. Honestly, as this is my first pregnancy and I’ve got no experience really with any babies, I didn’t mind whether it was a boy or a girl (turns out I’m ‘team blue’ – stupid expression).

    However, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t prefer a girl for our next baby, as one of each would be lovely. However, I know that any gender disappointment I would experience from finding out it was another boy would disappear quite quickly. I mean, at the end of the day they are your flesh and blood, and you will love them no matter what. x

  13. I had a slight preference for a girl because I am one and therefore have half a clue about them and I know nothing about little boys. We found out at the 20-week scan on Hannah and had her name picked out by the time she arrived. We still kept everything neutral in her room though – in this case green, red and white as we both like bright colours for children.

    I had the panorama test second time around which is similar to Harmony but can be done even earlier so we knew from 10-weeks that the second one (Hazel) was also a girl, which I was really happy about – all the lovely clothes we had kept could get a second innings and sharing a room etc would be easier over the years.

    So I had a preference but I kept it to myself largely, until we knew for sure. That said, I would have been fine if either had been a boy.

    So far they both have tiny feet like me so there is a chance they will be able to benefit from my extensive shoe collection too. 😆

  14. It is a bit of a daft question, we had all boys between me and my sister and I remember thinking a girl would be nice, I wouldn’t have been annoyed or loved the baby any less if it had been a boy. We didn’t find out the sex of the first two, the hospital would tell you back then but we found out with the third, purely for practical reasons, do I Keep all of these girl clothes?! the answer was no. x

  15. My husband and I did not find out with babies 1 (boy) and 2 (girl), did with baby 3 (boy) just because I wanted one more of each but had been told baby 3 needed to be my last for medical reasons. I wanted to get any sadness (I love having a sister so wanted my daughter to have one too) out of the way so I could just be excited on day of delivery. Turns out, baby 3 was my most joyful, snuggly and affectionate as a baby – and at 19 he is still a joy! Can’t imagine it any other way!

  16. For what it’s worth, my dad actually did want a little girl. Yay me! And then followed up with three boys. My mother was so certain that #3 would be a girl they didn’t have a name ready when he arrived. I don’t think it was a matter of preference as just a feeling for the odds. 🙂

  17. I always got a kick out of people who didn’t want to know the gender, but then engaged in every old wives tale there was for the remaining pregnancy to try to predict the gender. There’s an actual medical test for that!! I secretly wanted a girl, just because I was a girl, and felt I would have been able to travel that road better. But we found out the sex at the test and I was glad to be able to bond with my little boy (I had been imaging the baby as a girl “in there”) for the rest of the pregnancy and call him by his name. And, geez, our second son is adopted and like I always have said with that: you’re going to love whomever you get. Helplessly love.

  18. Like you are thinking of doing, we chose to find out ahead of time. Seems like there is enough surprises with delivery, and finding out the gender is a surprise anytime you find out.

    It’s so funny too. I honestly didn’t think we’d had any expectations about gender, but when we found out we were having a boy, I think we both realized we’d subconsciously been expecting a girl. I’d been thinking about STEM and girls, plus I’d had a crazy-realistic dream about giving birth to a girl. So, it was a shock to see boyish-ness fully and definitely on display, lol. But after a shared look that said, “Guess we’ll need to choose a different name!” We’ve loved having a boy. The other funny thing is, his room has a ton of blue, but we’d planned on going gender-neutral colors. Blue furniture was chosen because it reminded me of my childhood furniture (some of which was blue from when my dad had painted it as a boy), and because it is a favorite color of mine. But the end result does look very…. boyish.

    Good luck to you whether you decide to wait or to find out the gender ahead of time <3

  19. Ha! I had to laugh at the “hermaphrodite” line, because according to all of those old wives tales, that’s exactly what I am having! We opted to NOT find out, simply because we didn’t have a gender preference and thought it’d be fun to keep the suspense going for everyone for the entire pregnancy. I thought it would drive me nuts, but it really hasn’t been hard “not knowing.” (Although, now that I’m down to a handful of weeks left, my curiousity is KILLING me!) I can list pros and cons for either sex, and will be thrilled with either, obviously. The thought of my Michael with a daughter makes my heart melt, but the thought of my Michael with a little mini-him makes my heart melt, too- either way, I’m already smitten and in love. The sex of the baby, as “big” as it is, really somehow is a small detail in the grand scheme of things!

  20. My husband and I were both open about our preference for a girl when someone would ask. Obviously that preference would have flown out the window, never to be considered again, if the doctor had handed us a wonderful little baby boy instead, but the 50/50 coin toss was in our favor and we did end up having a daughter. And now here we are, eight years into this parenthood adventure, and the line “Who’d have ever thought her?” in the Loudon Wainwright song Daughter still makes me cry every time I hear it because nothing can prepare you for how awesome your own kid is in ways you never could have predicted. It’s about as close to magic as we get in life, I think. Can we start taking hair color bets? Because I’m rooting for another gorgeous redhead. My prediction: ginger boy.

    1. Ah, I don’t think that’s possible, actually – from what I’ve read, both parents have to carry the redhead gene, which isn’t very common in Greek families!

  21. My parents half-expected a boy as my dad is one of six with no sisters. But like a couple of other ladies here my mum would’ve preferred a girl as she had only a sister and didn’t know anything about boys. My dad was rooting for a little girl though because he grew up surrounded by guys, so he was over the moon. They’d already chosen boy names but none for girls, so I could’ve been a Dorian or an Inigo (my dad’s ideas despite). But I turned out to be a girl and my dad ran straight out and registered me as Emily without running it past my poor mum!

  22. We didn’t find out first time around – we didn’t have a preference as to who we would be parenting BUT my cousins had produced 16 boys between them and no girls; I did kind of want to be the one who broke the streak (especially as I was the only female firstborn of our generation so OBVIOUSLY should be the producer of the first female of the next generation). I had a hunch she would be a girl but I didn’t dare say so in case she turned out to be a boy and grew up feeling that I’d been disappointed.

    We have found out this time around. We were in no rush to find out the sex particularly but it is convenient to know as there are practical things like whether or not to keep Matilda’s more gendered clothing for the second kid and how long they can share a bedroom to consider – it’s handy to have answers to those questions! Also, it makes the whole choosing a name thing 50% less daunting!

  23. The surprise thing has always bothered me. I’m with you – it’s a surprise whether you find out at the 20 week scan or when they’re born. And I’m a big planner so I really wanted to know. Plus so much of the birth experience is a surprise – I had no idea he’d be a hefty 8 pound 9!

    1. I’ve just never understood why it’s deemed to be less of a surprise if you find out at 20 weeks, rather than full term – I mean, surely it’s the SAME surprise, whenever you get it?!

  24. Honestly, I’m all for knowing (if you want to!). I feel like it makes getting ready ten times easier… can you tell I’m a planner? I feel like people should come up with more creative questions too though. Gender is so 2016 anyway, right? hahaha

    🍉 Pia
    http://gymbagsandjetlags.com

  25. When I was pregnant with the twins I didn’t really care what they were – although I was convinced at least one would be a girl, which just shows how wrong MY gut instinct can be! With Coburn I wanted a girl and was unashamed to admit it. I was also unashamed to show my disappointment at the scan when we were told he was a he! But guess what? I am 100% in love with this little fella now he is here, and always knew that, no matter the sex, I would be!

    When I was pregnant this time around there were a number of questions people regularly asked that they did not really want an honest answer to. The worst was “Just the one in there this time?”, difficult for me because this started as a twin pregnancy but I miscarried one twin at 11 weeks. Most people seemingly assumed that it would be a girl and when told otherwise would ask “Oh – I bet you’re disappointed?” I just used to smile at this because I didn’t dare test their reaction!

    Having Coburn has made us seriously consider having one more try though. He is such a joy – and I have too many baby girl names I want to use not to give it another go… 😉

  26. I found out with Ruby, made the whole thing a bit easier on my eldest (who is on the autistic spectrum) so we could pick a name and he could get his head round stuff….also (as mentioned by Lynsey) there was a huge bag of baby girl clothes…gave me time to sort through. Either way knowing/waiting it’s gonna be magic! I’m so excited for you all xxx

  27. This is such a dividing subject, and as someone who went through an unexpected pregnancy and then a miscarriage, I totally and fully understand the “being grateful to be having a baby at all”. That said, I have always known (despite having no preganancies planned in the near future, or possibly at all, depending on where life goes) that I have a very strong preference, so much so that I wouldn’t want to find out during pregnancy and actually worry that I’d be disappointed should the other outcome arise. I know that’s a controversial thing to say, but it’s the truth.

  28. Just in case you want to know here is how it works: as you know women have the XX chromosomes and men the XY. When creating gametes (your ovum, his spermatozoon), the chromosomes are divided in two batches, at random. It means that all your gametes have an X, while half of his have an X and the other half has a Y.
    So it is indeed the father’s half of the chromosomes that decides if it’s a boy or a girl, but it’s still always a 50/50 toss. In Terry’s family, the toss seems to have been on the boys sides most of the time, but it doesn’t mean that the next toss will – there’s no way to know!
    At least that’s what I remember from my biology classes… 🙂

  29. Re- the baby red head, my mother was a red head, but my father and all his huge family were very dark haired. They produced 2 red heads and a natural platinum blond. I don’t believe there are any hard and fast rules, only possibilities!!
    When I had my children there were no ways of knowing what was coming, every birth was a surprise.The first time I wanted a girl, my husband, my family and his family wanted a boy, and we got a boy. The second time I was convinced I wouldn’t be lucky enough to have a girl, anyway another boy would be more convenient, handing down clothing, toys and sharing a room. Guess what, I produced a GIRL.
    Everyone said how lucky! One of each!
    I wish you and Terry all the very best!

  30. I agree with you, new parents are asked all kinds of nonsensical questions that really shouldn’t be asked!

    As I’ve got to know more transgender and non-binary gender people I’ve realised I really like gender neutral parenting. For pronouns use ‘they’ and ‘them’ instead of ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘him’ and ‘her’. Parents/doctors maybe know what genitals the baby has, but no one else does. Genitals don’t tell us anything about anyone’s gender, so by keeping it neutral, children are allowed to discover who they are in their own time and go with what works for them.

    Which means that the last time my partner told me that a friend of hers was expecting, I said, ‘Oh! How lovely! When is baby due? Do they know what genitals the baby has?’ Then I asked her not to answer that last one. :p

  31. I’m not going to lie and say when I found out I was pregnant I didn’t think of the gender. To be honest when I started thinking of gender I was hoping for a girl… but I knew in my heart it was a boy. Sure enough when I got my blood test results back it was a boy and I was super happy. To be honest I did not care either way, I truly just wanted a healthy baby. But I did feel a slight preference before I knew the gender. Now that I have been shopping, and picking out all my baby boy things I am even more excited to be having a boy!

  32. Oh I am SO happy for you both, huge congratulations.

    We weren’t going to find out what we were having, although I really wanted to, but then my step son showed an interest at the 11th hour and asked to find out so we all went for a scan together and around 30 weeks and found out together.

    I really wanted a girl but was only disappointed for 2 seconds when we found out we were having a boy and now I am really, genuinely thrilled to have a little boy. For one thing, I am rubbish at plaiting hair….

    1. Ah, I think a lot of people will be disappointed with this one – both parents have to carry the redhead gene, which isn’t very common in Greek families. We really don’t care what colour its hair is, though 🙂

  33. I found out with all 3 of my children, and I think it’s nice to know and be able to plan things a little. I am actually not fond of surprises at all. But boys run in my husband’s family as well, so we were quite surprised when we were told that our second was a girl (which of course was my preference after having a boy the first time).

  34. I went back and forth about wanting a boy then wanting a girl for almost the whole pregnancy. I really wanted a boy towards the end. I didn’t find out what we were having, and even avoided Drs and the hospital completely as I had midwife assisted home birth. It was the longest few seconds though after I had my baby cause the midwife asked that no one blurt out what it was right away. It was me that finally did the blurting out though, What is it, what is it!!! I was very happy to hear I got my boy! 😊
    I wouldn’t do anything any differently if I had to do it again. I loved the surprise!

  35. I totally want girls. I’m a very girly girl and love clothes and shoes and panic that I won’t know what to do with a boy. My ex was really sporty and I was terrified we’d end up having all boys and I’d be left out all the time, which is stupid anyway of course, because gender isn’t necessarily going to mean they like sport or like fashion! Still though, I have this fear that when I’m pregnant if they tell me it’s a boy I won’t be able to hide my disappointment and everyone will think I’m a terrible person!! I’m sure I won’t care one bit once a real baby arrives, but when you’re trying to picture the future I think it’s natural to lean one way or another.

    1. I do worry about being left out with a boy, too: at the same time, though, teenage girls really terrify me, so I guess there are pros and cons to each!

  36. I’m the only girl in my family and there’s no girls in my husband’s family either! I had a boy the first time around and I was slightly disappointed when they told me, because I was hoping for a girl. Obviously I am very happy with my wee boy now and love him to bits! So this time I’m not findinng out. I think I’d never be disappointed after birth, no matter what gender baby is. I’m pretty sure it’s another boy though;)

  37. Hi, Amber! I recently stumbled upon your blog and am definitely inspired by you! As a newbie to blogging (with not even one post published yet… but soon!) you are one of the main reasons I started. Thanks for being you!!

  38. Wow I felt like I wrote this post haha. It’s weird I have a feeling we are having a boy, we have pretty much convinced ourselves that it’s a boy. I will probably fall of my chair if it’s a girl. But no preference, had a pretty crappy pregnancy so far so as long as they can tell me our baby’s healthy and growing fine then that’s an absolute relief.

    I think people tend to think us women want a little girl to dress up in frills and bows etc. Everything’s so stereotypical when it comes to pregnancy.

    Love your blog by the way it’s all so pretty and I love the way you write!

    xx

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