To Find Out or Not to Find Out?

After the “Congrats! When are you due?”, the inevitable next question is “Are you finding out?” Referring, of course, to whether or not you will find out the sex of the baby beforehand, or will wait and savor the surprise for the delivery room.

This has been on my mind a lot lately, seeing as how I happen to have a sealed envelope in my car, stuck between the pages of the latest Vogue magazine. That envelope does indeed contain the simple answer: boy or girl? Phoebe or Phoebo? Sugar and spice or frogs and tails?

I am not so conflicted about whether or not to open it. I’ve done this before, and I know all the pros and cons. What I am thinking about is what the decision to find out says about you.  Here’s the thing: I want to be an ethereal, diaper-cloth obsessed, organic only food-making mama, with that air of calm and that smile that says I know exactly what I’m doing and I’m doing exactly what I should be in this world.

You know the mom I’m talking about. The one that actually does seem to have a glow when pregnant, the one who radiates inner calm and joy, the one that does prenatal yoga, and writes letters to her unborn child in a journal, and takes weekly pictures of her growing belly. The woman that seems made for motherhood.

I want to be her. I want to believe there is an inner earth mama inside me, if only I could quit my job and declutter my life and move to the ocean and you know, discover the real me. (For some reason, I cannot envision myself being this earth mama in my current house or city. I obviously need oceans to walk beside and acres behind my house in which to grow my organic vegetable garden and hang my adorable cloth diapers across the trees. In other words, I need to have millions of dollars to buy a huge house with acres beside an ocean in order to be an earth mama.)

I am not this kind of mom. I never will be. And yet, there is something in me that still yearns to be her, in some way. And for some reason, being the kind of woman that wants to save the surprise for the delivery room seems to be one way I could be like that glowing woman.

The thing is, I love surprises. I never tried to peek at my birthday or Christmas gifts early. If I have good news, I wait until the best possible moment to tell you. I like to create “moments”. I always thought I would save the surprise for the delivery room. And then I married a man that is a planner. And actually got pregnant. And the funny thing is, I didn’t care at all whether we found out or not. He did, very much so, so I agreed. Here I was, growing this baby, feeling every movement and literally living with this life inside me, and he was on the outside. I think knowing we were having a boy helped him connect, plan, envision our future.

Last time, I carried that envelope around for weeks, waiting for the right moment. It came on a trip to Puerto Rico, on the beach, at sunset. Of course, it was crazy windy so we couldn’t actually be ON the beach or we’d chance having our eyes scratched out by sand, but we were right next to the beach at the hotel bar. I didn’t even feel a need to see what was in the envelope, I was just excited to take pictures of my husband’s face as he found out… it was a boy! We went back inside and shared our news with all of our friends that were with us, and they all toasted to our good news. It was a perfect moment, and one I won’t ever forget.

So since it worked out so well for us the first go-round and since all of my baby stuff is for boys and since I am really NOT an earth mama, my guess is we will open the envelope. But we need to find a perfect moment. Any ideas on how/where to open it? Any guesses as to what I’m baking? Did you or will you find out? Were you excited or disappointed?

For those of you NOT finding out, a friend’s wife started this genius website/registery called Not Finding Out. You can still register for blue/pink options, but you won’t know which one you are getting until post delivery when they ship everything to you.



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6 responses to “To Find Out or Not to Find Out?

  1. I didn’t find out either time but that choice was frankly uncharacteristic. I’m laughing about the inner mama because I want to be her too. I don’t think not finding out brings you any closer to being that mother, by the way!! (incidentally, my son was going to be called phoebe. You know, when I didn’t know the gender! :)). It’s my favorite name.


    • Lindsey, I think that’s what’s interesting. It’s totally not my nature to find out, I generally drag out surprises till the last possible moment and am not a planner. So it feels weird to go against your nature, you know? Hmmm, Phoebe is a great name but I think I like your son’s name even better.


  2. Hi! A few things . . .
    #1. Love the way this reads. Great essay!
    #2. “that” mom does not exist. I’ve met many moms in my 7+ years of having babies ( just had #4) and I swear I’ve never met “that” mom. She’s a legend.
    #3. I’ve never found out and couldn’t imagine not having that major moment of surprise at the end of all the labor. That said, I LOVE your idea of making the reveal extra special if you’re going to find out before then. No reason to do it in the ultrasound room. What a clever idea!
    #4. So glad you share my love of REVENGE. I realize that’s way off topic, but whatever. 😉


    • 1. Thanks!
      2. Nope, she doesn’t exist but doesn’t stop us from wanting to be her, does it?
      3. That movie moment at the end of labor is pretty tempting, I agree.
      4. Revenge is a glorious tv show, esp for a grumpy and tired pregnant lady! So much fun.


  3. Miss Frangipani

    In India, due to the high rate of female foeticide, we’re not legally allowed to find out the baby’s sex before birth. The guessing was part of the pregnancy experience for us. Funnily, almost all the elderly women who saw me commented “You’re having a boy” and we laughed it off, but guess what, we did! The shape of the tummy is apparently different if it is a boy or a girl. God knows what happens if you have twins!


    • Miss Frangipani, I had no idea it was illegal in India. Fascinating. We are at 28 weeks and haven’t found out yet. I could easily wait, but my husband is rather anxious to find out. Based on tummy shape, this one is a girl. Laughing about the shape of your belly with twins!!!!


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