10 September 2010

Do You Know What You're Having?

The second most popular inquiry that I receive on a regular basis now is "Do you know what you're having?" And each time I'm asked, I smile proudly and say "Nope!" and then willingly admit that this wait has been a lot harder than I thought it would be. I never doubted my decision to not find out my baby's gender. And it's a decision I could have changed at any point. But I am committed to the surprise. And, apparently, I'm obsessed with the mystery.

a bib for Julia Minerva or Sergio Paulo

Not that I need to know for any practical reason - Sergio and I wouldn't be behaving any differently if we knew it was a boy or a girl. Quite the contrary, it's nice not to know the baby's gender in order to keep polarized gender stereotypes at bay for as long as possible. We are not pink-or-blue type people. And yet I still just reeeeaaaalllly want to know if this kid is a boy or a girl.

There are ... 'alternative' methods of ascertaining (with no certainty) the baby's gender and I have heard of all of them: if it kicks on the left, if it kicks on the right ... if you have a waist, if you don't have a waist ... if you carry it high, if you carry it low, etc. All of these measures - plus the Chinese calendar plus the spoon-or-knife-under-the-cushion test plus the grab-the-napkin-off-the-plate method - point towards this being a boy. But then ... the Facebook poll consensus was girl. And Sergio dreamt it was a girl. My mom called it "she" and "her" exclusively for the first several months. Maddox, my art director's son, who has guessed correctly on a few babies recently, has told me twice it'll be a girl. My editor thinks it's a girl. But then ... most of the farmers I buy from regularly have voted boy. (Although, there was one, farmer, whose name is Paul, who said girl and then the farmer next to him said, "Paul, how many kids you got?" and Paul said, "Two," and the second farmer said, authoritatively, "I have seven. I think it's a boy.") Even a perfect stranger in the hallway at work the other day, who asked me the popular question, said, "I didn't find out what I was having either and everyone told me it'd be a boy, but it was a girl. Don't listen to them." But at this point I am listening to no one and everyone alike.

And what about me? What are mama's predictions? I'm sorry to say I've got nothing. I kept waiting for my own instinct to kick in. A hunch or dream - something - anything. All I got were three dreams which amount to inconclusive results: in one dream it was a girl (and I took a picture of her with my mom, her namesake, and asked Sergio if he'd posted it on Facebook yet), in another dream it was a boy (who was already a toddler in the dream), and in the third dream they told me it was a girl but when they handed her to me she was wearing boy clothing. One vote for each plus a vote for transvestite. Not sure where that leaves me.

The funniest thing about this obsession is that it will absolutely vanish into thin air (I suppose) when the baby arrives and when we begin to fall in love with him/her as the him/her he/she has been all along. The other day, Sergio found a picture of our niece Nina from when she was just a day or so old. She was born five weeks early and even at that premature stage she already looked so Nina-esque. Which means our baby - by now a few weeks past the 35-week mark - already looks like what it's going to look like - and yet we don't even know if it's a boy or a girl.

Right now I feel the need to hold both possibilities in tandem - I have to imagine it both ways simultaneously and I find that difficult. But in just a matter of weeks, one of these parallel realities will shift into obscurity - into a funny footnote about this little being. A footnote like how if Sergio had been a girl he'd be Erica or if I had been a boy I'd be Taylor. Which we are not and which we never were. Just as surely as we are Sergio and Emily, this baby is already a fully formed __?__; we just don't know it yet.


Anne said...

You summarize my feelings exactly about how it felt to not find out.

Charlotte said...

People keep asking as though I'm supposed to have some psychic ability to see into my uterus and between its legs. I don't doubt that some women have that ability, but I haven't got a clue!

Linda said...

As one who gave birth in the era when advance gender knowledge was not an option, I find this obsession quite interesting. I guess if it's important to you to decorate the nursery in some manner that would be different for a boy or a girl... of if you need time to process information before people see your reaction to "it's a boy!" vs "it's a girl!", advance knowledge could be useful. But there isn't a darn thing you can do to change the answer once you know it, nor would you if you could. You'll love this little new being just as fiercely, whatever equipment it comes with, as will everyone close to you. In the words of singer/songwriter Iris DeMent, let the mystery be. We'll all have the answer soon enough, and will be tickled pink (or blue, or yellow....) for you and Sergio either way.

Emily said...

Good points, Linda. I like your (and Iris') suggestion to "let the mystery be." I don't know why that's been so hard for me or why it's increasingly harder in these last few weeks. But you're right - we'll be tickled green either way. :)

So, Anne, am I right? Does the obsession vanish once the baby's born?

I think some women *seem* to have that ability, Charlotte. But we have to remember - they've got a 50/50 chance of being right so is it their instinct or statistical probability?

Seana said...

Either way, boy or girl, it will be an amazing experience the first moment you and Sergio lay eyes on your sweet baby. I love how you say, "The funniest thing about this obsession is that it will absolutely vanish into thin air (I suppose) when the baby arrives and when we begin to fall in love with him/her as the him/her he/she has been all along." I think that is the case whether one finds out ahead of time or not, once you meet them you can't imagine them any other way, they are perfectly who they are, I find that sentiment continues even as they grow, well at least this has been my experience with it all.  

I am so happy for you both and so excited to follow along as you begin the wonderful journey into parenthood.