Babies. They’re everywhere. As they always have been. Yes, since the dawn of time we’ve been having them and for most of that time we haven’t been able to find out the sex of our babies, even in my mother’s generation, it was a surprise. My mum was told “They always have girls in that bed”, and behold, a miracle, she did! And so, the myths and legends that surround baby gendering lived on another day.
So, how much attitudes have changed, that without doubt, the most frequent question I get asked whilst being pregnant, is “Are you having a boy or a girl?” The reply I give, sometimes deliberately, sometimes apologetically and often just matter of fact, is “We’re not finding out”. I have been met with horror “Oh no? Really?!”, comfort “Oh, well, nevermind”, mocking disgust “You’re not one of them are you?”, or good humoured “No, you’re going to keep me guessing the whole time!” and sometimes, just a wide eye as to not express the feelings that have instinctively come to mind. For the most part, it has washed over me, although it has come as a bit of a surprise. I did learn from my last experience of growing a person, however, that people have more to say to a pregnant woman than they probably should, and often it comes out wrong or potentially offensive. The myths and legends march on.
I understand that in the past, it was important what popped out – it could determine a kingdom’s rule, whether you would have help in the field or in the kitchen, whether you would have to pay a dowry or not, or in those extreme cases, life and death. But as far as I can understand, and the main reasons that have been expressed to me during this time, are much more materialistic. How will you know what colour to put your baby in? Will you have to paint the room a mild green or sickly yellow so as to avoid a rapid post postpartum paintjob? What will people bring to your babyshower!!? I must have crossed a line somewhere, but I don’t care about these things. If it’s your first baby, watch out, because the first 6 weeks are going to be such a headlong crash course, that just getting your baby into anything clean will be a major, and well deserved, achievement. And if you’ve been here before, you know this already.
I do understand some of the deeper reasons people want to know. Some know it will help to bond with their baby, some need to know the baby’s name for when it pops out. Especially for first timers, it is one thing they can control, in the midst of so much unknowing. But…
TO BE CONT.