Friday 22 September 2017

My husband knew the sex of our baby . . . but I didn't

Heidi Scrimgeour

Heidi Scrimgeour understands why Matthew McConaughey prefers to keep the gender of his unborn child a surprise

Towards the end of my 20-week scan during my second pregnancy, the sonographer turned to my husband and me to ask us the million dollar question: "Would you like to know whether you're having a boy or a girl?"

We exchanged nervous looks. "Yes, definitely," said my husband, at the very same second that I uttered a firm "No thanks".

So the sonographer scribbled down the 'answer' on a scrap of paper and passed it to my husband. He glanced at it furtively -- without giving away a trace of reaction -- then pocketed it for safe keeping.

With our first child we chose to find out that we were having a boy, so this time I wanted a surprise. I'll admit that questions from nosy parkers had begun to get on my nerves. Being able to confound them with a smug "My husband knows, but I don't," was oddly satisfying.

So I wasn't surprised to read that actor Matthew McConaughey has decided not to find out the sex of his third child. McConaughey, who already has a daughter and a son with his wife Camilla Alves, told reporters: "We didn't find out with the first two and we won't find out with this one."

Presumably questions from the press about your wife's pregnancy are much more intrusive than ill-considered questions from well-meaning friends.

And in these days of over-sharing, McConaughey's approach is a refreshing counter to our modern obsession with knowing and divulging every detail of your unborn baby's life, from posting scan pictures on Facebook to throwing 'gender reveal' parties.

Lucy is mum to Olivia (4) and Tom (20 months). She didn't find out the sex of either baby until their births. "Where's the fun in finding out?" she asks. "Plus, men have so little involvement during pregnancy that I wanted my husband to be the first to find out the sex."

For Lara, mum to two children aged five and three, the excitement helped her cope with labour. "The anticipation of finding out helped make the infamous 'ring of fire' moment much easier to deal with!"

For some mums-to-be, finding out can feel like the least of their concerns. Cathryn, mother to Eva (2) and Owen (10 months), says: "The baby's gender didn't matter. Having had a miscarriage, I just felt so grateful to be pregnant."

But for Esther, whose second baby was stillborn, finding out the sex was important to both her and her husband. "We wanted to find out as we felt we could have more of a bond before he's even born."

In contrast, Laura relished not knowing her baby's sex. "We wanted to respect our baby's privacy. Plus, it was lovely to have the surprise at the end."

But life has a funny way of throwing surprises at us. Lizzie, mum to Josephine (2) and Caleb (five months), was told she was probably having a boy but gave birth to a girl. "It took a few days to get the pronouns right, but it didn't affect our joy at all."

In the end I caved in and asked my husband what we were having.

He wasn't sure if I really wanted to know, so I was never quite sure he was telling the truth... until the birth. When I was surprised and delighted to learn that we had another bouncing baby boy.

Irish Independent

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