LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - We're looking at 20 1/2 weeks of pregnancy and the hours are moving quickly! When I look in the mirror, I can see my body changing almost daily. I now feel my baby flipping around - an indication that all is well inside of me!
Our latest doctor's appointment, 20 weeks, was a milestone. We experienced a full anatomy scan of our baby via ultrasound. While we wanted to learn about every single cell that makes up our baby, we left out what some consider the most anticipated part of the appointment.
My husband and I were offered a complimentary ultrasound at 16 weeks to learn the sex of our baby. While that sounds like the peak of excitement during most pregnancies we voluntarily passed.
I'm at the point now where my stomach is a sure sign of pregnancy. With this obvious physical growth, it warrants the frequent question, "boy or girl?" My response, "we're not finding out, we want to be surprised!"
While that response is an honest answer, there are some factors that contribute to our decision. A decision that truly didn't take much thought.
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The morning our pregnancy test proved positive Willie and I wept with excitement. I can vividly recall us standing in our master bathroom staring at the stick. Our dream, now a reality. A reality we'd been preparing for for years. However, there was still a conversation we'd yet to have. One that neither of us had put much thought toward before.
We went to dinner a few nights later. At this point, all conversations steered toward pregnancy.
"What do you think we're having?" I asked my husband.
"I could never answer that question because in my heart it truly doesn't matter," he answered.
THIS is why I married Willie. His sincere love for what's important, versus what we often have an opinion about.
It was at that dinner I suggested how fun it would be to not find out the sex of our baby. A puzzled look streaked across my husband's face. He sat silently for a few seconds and smiled as he agreed to the mission.
From that day on, I've referred to our baby as a boy one day and a girl the next. Although the term makes my mother cringe, I often refer to our baby as "it." Nonetheless, the baby knows how loved he or she is, as I rub by belly multiple times throughout the day as a sweet reminder.
At our first doctor's appointment, our 8-week consultation and ultra sound to confirm pregnancy, our nurse practitioner read aloud a list, explaining what would take place at each upcoming appointment, ensuring we were mentally prepared.
"Sixteen weeks, you'll get a complimentary ultrasound to learn the sex of your baby," she smiled.
"We've actually decided to wait until delivery, we want to be surprised," I replied.
The sincerest smile formed on the NP's face, "my favorite deliveries are when it's a surprise."
The conversation continued and the nurse explained how the birth will likely be set up to ensure Willie is the first person (outside of physicians and nurses) to see our baby. I'll never forget the sense of pride revealed in my husband's eyes, as he turned to me, "I'll get to tell you if it's a boy or girl," he grinned.
Up to this very moment, it's safe to say my husband has encouraged me to lead the way with making recent decisions. I chose the doctor's office we're patients of, along with the appointment times. I decided when we were comfortable sharing our news with family and friends. Now, this moment we're anticipating in June 2018 is one Willie is taking the reins on. Regardless of how God carries out our delivery, through vaginal birth or caesarean section, my husband will get to reveal the first hint of detail regarding our loving baby to our family too.
As I follow-up with the above response, after some ask why we're waiting, a lot of people commend us for stepping away from the norm of "finding out." However, many question "how can you stand not knowing?" "How will you prepare?" "What about your baby shower?" While all of these are, without a doubt, valid questions, it's also helped me confirm the biggest reason we've decided to not learn the sex of our baby.
Let it be crystal clear, I am in no way shaming ANY parent who chooses to find out. That is the luxury of being a parent, you are in charge of your babies. As a pregnant woman, you are in charge of your body. Finding out the sex fulfills a lot of needs and desires for many parents and I have the utmost respect for that. These parents get the pleasure of hosting a "gender reveal party" or having monogrammed decorations in their nursery. That, again, is exciting and fun. However, the thought of that drains me.
Yes, I said it. The idea of preparing to give birth to a baby is exciting and overwhelming in the greatest way possible. When you tack on preparing the nursery with specific details, registering for your baby shower, choosing the perfect fitted sheets in the appropriate color, that is when THIS Momma feels the anxiety of "getting it all perfect." Which is why I'm choosing to let go of control.
With that said, our decision to be surprised about the sex of our baby has actually turned into an empowering state-of-mind, allowing me to enjoy what matters most (to us) throughout this pregnancy. Let me go a little deeper with you. (Have I mentioned pregnancy makes me braver?) I often struggle with anxiety. I'm not medicated for it, nor have I been diagnosed by a doctor. However, I know my body. I know my mind. I know when I'm slipping into an immense position of "needed" control or perfection. Because my baby, in addition to my husband and daughter, are the center of my world, this situation would be no different.
By letting go of control, I'm able to be the pregnant wife I want to be. I'm fulfilled going without the personalized onesies, because my baby will have plenty of clothes. I'm fine not painting our infant's name on the wall above the crib, because my baby will have a name that's already tucked away in our hearts. I'm content with using any neutral, hot pink or baby blue color to celebrate during my baby shower, because the fact that God has blessed my body to carry this baby, is reason enough to gather with family and friends.
We put pressure on one another, let's be honest (often unintended of course). As girlfriends, we remind each other to take that perfect "maternity picture." As sisters, we want to ensure everyone in the family knows the fine details of every upcoming event. As grandparents we want our children and grandchildren to have it all, everything we didn't get to have or provide before now. There is nothing wrong with the need to please, satisfy and smother with love. But, for Momma's like me, I'm finding satisfaction in letting go. God is in control of my baby.
Could knowing the gender help me prepare more? Yes, in certain ways I'm sure it could. It would also cause me to focus on details that would take away from a lot of the moments I'm enjoying now.
Ultimately, making the decision to keep our baby's gender a surprise has uncovered so many moments in my life that I obsess about having control of outside of pregnancy. Such as work-related stress, the urge to always please everyone I communicate with, ensuring my daughter is experiencing everything she deserves. All of this on top of splitting my time equally among family members, keeping my house clean and making sure my husband knows he's always my #1. We all have to navigate through life. It's a day-to-day success, and sometimes feels like failure. However, I'm learning how good "letting go" feels. It's refreshing. It's comforting.
Is this the calm before the storm? Maybe. If it is, at least I've given myself time to rest and mentally prepare.