We all want a healthy baby. There is no question about that, so it's rarely even a spoken question, just an assumption. The real questions start to come when you discuss the sex of your baby. Do you want a girl or a boy?
That is certainly a loaded question. Some would argue that we all have a preference, even if we don't admit it. Others openly say that only sometimes does the preference surface, for example if you already have a boy and this time you'd like a girl or vice versa. Is it ever a problem to desire one sex over another?
The mother of four boys might say that her desire to have a baby girl overrides the reality that the statistics are against her. Will her desire for a baby girl impact her relationship with her sons? For most of us the answer is no. We simply grieve the loss of the dream of the sex we had hoped for and move on.
Though there are some women and their partners who actually experience more than a passing depression over the sex of their baby. For these people, counseling to explore their feelings is a must, even if they feel that it does not effect their relationship with their child. The feelings will come out, even if in small ways. There are also couples who choose to do sex selection techniques to ensure the sex of their next baby, like MicroSort®, Shettles Method, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), etc.
Finding Out Before Birth
The case for finding out the sex of your baby before birth is largely based on claims of prenatal bonding, selection of a name and preparation for a new baby. Some mothers feel that it would be easier to deal with a less than ideal sex or even an out right disappointment prior to the birth of their baby. So that knowing ahead of time actually allows them to work through their grieving process during the pregnancy, rather than in the immediate postpartum period.
Though ultrasound is not perfect. Heck, even genetic testing has its limits. Mistakes are made and heart are unnecessarily broken, even if just for a little while. Let's not forget the expense that could happen if the baby turns out to be of the opposite sex. This can lead to a different depression after bonding with your baby boy or girl, only to find out that your baby is the opposite sex.
Waiting to Find Out
Waiting to find out the gender of your baby at birth also has advantages. First of all there are no mistakes made. No names picked out and labeled. No rooms are painted. And no gender specific clothing purchased.
Families and moms who chose to wait say that even if they have a strong preference for a girl or a boy, waiting is beneficial for them. One mother explains it as being caught up in the moment. "I really, really wanted a baby girl. When they handed my son to me and said, 'It's a boy!' I just cried, he was perfect and I was very happy. I didn't even think about a girl at that moment." Later she admits to thinking about the differences in her previous preferences, but says that it wasn't really a factor and did not cause depression. The hormones of labor and birth can help with that, though not always.
What if your baby isn't the "right" sex?
That's a tough question. The first part of the problem is going to be admitting that your baby is different from what you expected or desired. Today's society, despite everything it claims about being supportive and pressuring women to have preferences, is not very forgiving when you hold a healthy infant and claim to be sad because it's not a girl or a boy. This can lead to many women not admitting that they are disappointed. Bottling these feelings up can lead to even more disastrous results, including full swing depression.
Find a friend or a counselor, talk to them about your preference. Being able to say, "Hey, I love my baby, but I'm still disappointed." is good for you. It is not impossible be happy that you have a healthy baby and be disappointed.
Being disappointed doesn't mean not loving your baby or being a bad mother. It means that you had an attachment to a dream of something specific and the end result is great, but different than how you had imagined it to be. This doesn't make you ungrateful. It makes you a realist.
Take the time to grieve the loss. Acknowledge that it is the loss of something special to you. This will help you heal and move forward. Love your baby and talk it out with someone who will listen without belittling your feelings. The majority of women find that within a few weeks they laugh and can't imagine that they ever wanted something other than what they got, it just takes a bit of time to realize the gift they have.
A gender-reveal party is a trend that has been growing for about five years. Instead of learning a baby’s sex in a sterile medical room, parents-to-be are delivering the envelope from the ultrasound technician to, typically, a baker who creates a treat that will reveal the news via pink or blue frosting.
“In the last year, gender-reveal cakes have become more popular,” said Jasmine Clouser, owner of The Couture Cakery in Camp Hill. Even before orders started coming in, she was familiar with the concept from the party-planning websites that she frequents. The most popular cake-reveal method is a layer cake with colored frosting between the layers. The cake is covered in a neutral frosting. The couple cut the cake together to reveal their baby’s sex. Some opt for cupcakes filled with pink or blue frosting and guests are invited to take a bite simultaneously and find out the news together.
There’s nothing like the thrill of opening that envelope. “It always hits me that I know the sex of the baby before the parents do,” said Clouser, who added that she can’t help checking twice to make sure she gets the frosting color correct.
Planning and etiquette
Gender-reveal parties are a new trend, so there are no firmly established rules. Clouser said some of her clients do know the sex, and the reveal is for friends and family, but most wait to find out at the party. Though occasionally couples will reveal the sex of a baby at a baby shower (typically when close family and friends live too far away to attend multiple events), gender-reveal parties are for celebration and fun — there is no expectation of gifts, though certainly some guests will not be able to resist.
Christy Beane of Duncannon never heard of a gender-reveal party until her mother-in-law told her about it. “We liked the idea immediately,” she said. “If you are planning on finding out anyway, why not do something fun?”
From balloon launches to a double-cake reveal, three local couples have embraced the growing trend and hosted gender-reveal parties.
Adam and Hope Pankake, Camp Hill
The Pankakes have been busy. Not only are they expecting twins, but at the time of their party, they were in the midst of a move. That didn't stop them from holding one last soiree in their old home. "I read about gender reveals on various websites and a couple friends had them, and I thought it was something special," Hope Pankake said. The couple hosted a casual lunch with close family and friends for both ease and economy. It was one of those occasions where dessert first worked. "We waited until everyone was there, cut the cakes and then had lunch," she said.
The reveal: Double cake cutting
Theme: "Who will they bee? Baby A and Baby B"
Party: Lunch buffet
It's... two girls! Due Nov. 4.
Randall and Jessica Hughes, Dillsburg
The Hugheses anticipated waiting to learn the sex of their baby, but in the ultrasound room it "was blatantly obvious that he was boy," said Jessica Hughes, who waited to reveal the gender at the shower when she was 36-weeks pregnant. "The reason we did that was because I have a lot of family and friends from out of town," she said. One caveat for those considering rolling a reveal into a shower is that shower gifts will be gender neutral. The Hugheses didn't mind, and it made the shower that much more memorable, she said. "It was so much fun to have that moment together."
The reveal: Balloon launch
Theme: Hot-air balloons
Party: Shower/gender-reveal combo
It's ... a boy! Gabriel was born May 25.
Jeff and Christy Beane, Duncannon
View full sizeSubmitted photoBig-sister-to-be Addison helped parents Jeff and Christy Beane cut the cake to find out what the gender of her new sibling would be.
"We liked the idea of having everyone in the family find out at the same time," Christy Beane said. "We have a huge family, who do you call first?" Instead of calling anyone, they threw a catered dinner for their family. They had a cake that read "Pink or blue, we love you!" and decorated with pink and blue balloons. "It was a low-key, fun, family event," she said. "I'm glad we did it. It was definitely something I'd do again, and I'd recommend it -- any opportunity to celebrate those little events in life is important."
The reveal: Cake cutting. Big-sister-to-be Addison helped.
Theme: "Pink or blue, we love you!"
Party: Catered dinner
It's ... a boy! Due Oct. 26.
A cake reveal is the most popular means of imparting the news, but it's by no means the only method. A quick search on Google, Pinterest, party-planning sites or blogs will turn up dozens of fun ways to reveal the baby's sex. Here are a few:
•Balloon launch: Craft a box for the party and have a family member or friend fill it with helium balloons in the appropriate color. Open the box to reveal the sex of the baby.
•Confetti: Entrust a friend or family member to order black or opaque balloons filled with a bit of pink or blue confetti. Pop a balloon to reveal the sex.
•Pinatas: Purchase a pinata and have a friend or family member fill it with pink or blue candy.
•Wrapped outfit: Give the ultrasound results to a friend or family member and have them choose an appropriate outfit and have it wrapped Ñ in gender neutral paper, of course! -- and open it at the party.
•Fortune cookies: Ask a friend or family member to order custom fortune cookies from a site such as myowncookie.com with "It's a boy!" or "It's a girl!" inside.
-- Written by Anne Burkley for Body & Mind