"I Just Can't Wait!"
These days, curiosity, practicality, and peace of mind often trump surprise. "We felt that learning the baby's gender was a delicious moment, no matter when we found out," says Robin Rosen, of Atlanta, a mom of a girl and a boy.
Some first-time parents choose to know the sex of their baby but prolong the suspense the second time around. "As a new mom, so much is completely unknown," says San Francisco mom of two Kat Eden. Finding out the baby's sex and focusing on picking a name, clothes, and d?cor helped Eden feel grounded during her first pregnancy. "With my second, I knew what to expect," she says. "It was exciting to wonder about the little person growing in my tummy."
Sometimes siblings factor into the decision. "My older son is a need-to-know kind of kid," says Caren Rodriguez, of Greensboro, North Carolina, a mom of two boys. "Being able to tell his class about the baby was a source of pride for him."
Those who do choose to wait savor the anticipation. As Rachel Levin, of New York City, says, "Having the surprise to look forward to helped me get through those last, long weeks of my pregnancy."
What if you want to find out and your guy doesn't? Some parents adopt a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. One scenario: The doctor writes the sex on an index card and seals it in an envelope. The couple agrees that if either of them is bursting to know, he or she can peek.
You could also wait and see where things go. "We'd been trying to have a baby for a long time," says Sophie Beauvais, of Cambridge, Massachusetts. "We were so stressed out that we stopped trying and took a vacation. Soon after we got back, I found out I was pregnant." They remained undecided about finding out until the day of the baby's 18-week ultrasound: "By then, we were so thrilled our dream was coming true that when the nurse asked if we wanted to know, we both blurted, 'Yes!' It just felt right."
Dealing with Disappointment
What if you've been envisioning tutus and tea parties, only to find out you're having a boy? Or your husband has a deep desire for a boy, but you're getting a girl? You may be bummed out, and that's okay.
"It's normal to feel let down," says Sara Rosenquist, Ph.D., author of After the Stork. Feeling guilty about your negative emotions can add to the anxiety stew. Talk with your partner, a close family member, or friend. "Pretending you're not upset keeps negative feelings simmering and can intensify the sadness," Dr. Rosenquist adds. It's best to work through any regrets now, before sleep deprivation and other realities of having a newborn compound your sadness.
Kerstin Armstrong, of Atlanta, a mom of three girls, always pictured herself with boys and needed time to accept that she'd never have a son. "But wishing for a boy doesn't mean I love my girls any less!" she says.
Armstrong's husband, Scott, feels similarly. "I was hoping for a boy with each pregnancy, and a part of me will always long for a son," he admits. "But Kerstin once told me something that still resonates: 'Everything our daughters know about boys will come from you.' I consider it a privilege to be their vision of what a man should be."