Over the past few months, we have done our baby registry, gone to classes at the hospital, interviewed daycares, and done meet-and-greets with pediatricians. In addition to talking to people every day, they all add up to a lot of encounters where we are asked what we are having. And, of course, being witty and a bit devilish...we always say, "A baby, we hope." Sometimes we get giggles, other times we get the dumb dog look and they rephrase the question:
"No, what is the gender of the baby?"
"We don't know."
"Oh, you aren't far along enough to know the gender."
"We could have known if we wanted to. We want to be surprised."
The reaction to this statement varies from confusion to dismay to delight. Some people who know me pretty well know that I am a planner and I think they are a bit confused at the fact that I wouldn't want to know. Others just look stressed out at the prospect of not knowing; they aren't having the baby, but they still need to know. And, then there are those people who geniunely think it is wonderful we want to be surprised - "there aren't enough surprises in the world."
My feelings mirror the last sentiment.
Outside of knowing how to decorate the room and what clothes to buy, no one can give me a compelling enough reason for knowing the gender of my little one before he or she is born.
Knowing the gender of the baby isn't essential to planning for his or her arrival (I have a whole planning binder to ensure we don't forget anything). All babies, regardless of gender, need the same things - stroller, crib, diapers, a home, love. No where in that list is there appropriate decor based on the baby's gender.
We are expecting a new human being who has very little understanding of society's gender stereotypes until at least the age of two or three (and I hope we don't let too many of those stigmas into the house at that point in their lives). We have time to add the girl or boy into things after the baby has been in our lives for a while and we have a sense of his or her persona.
All of the reasons for knowing the baby's gender are really for the benefit of adults. Naming made easy - perhaps, but I don't mind keeping two lists. Shopping is easy - I'm not convinced because I am not overly keen on the profusion of pink that defines things for girls. And, babies could care less about what they are wearing, as long as they aren't too hot or too cold. Baby clothes are created to be a cue for adults so they can look at the bald baby in a blue outfit and say without fault, "What a handsome boy."
I'll admit that what first was a decision just simply because we wanted to be surprised, has now become even more deliberate. I found that without knowing the gender, we are simply expecting a child that we anticipate with a lot of love and affection. This is not a gender-defined child with built-in stereotypical expectations.
Not that we don't sit around in the evenings listing all of the things our baby could be -- a famous physicist, space travel pilot, chemist who finds the cure for terminal diseases, renowned artist, philanthropist. The list is long, but it is about our child being whoever he or she wants to be. She could be a girl who is obsessed with Star Wars and comic books or he could be a boy who adores reading all kinds of books and painting with his mother.
We want to be surprised. Not just by the gender of our child, but by the new discoveries and adventures we will have with this new addition to our family. We want to be surprised and awe struck by the little moments of joy. We just want to infuse his or her life with love, learning and exploration. We look forward to the surprises in life and even more so now that we will have a child with whom to share those surprises.
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