Finding Out

I like routines.  Like a young child, I find comfort in knowing what to expect and don't do well with last minute changes of plan.  Yet, and the irony is not lost on me, the unpredictable nature of spending all day, every day with children and their own internal schedules is something with which I struggle.  For that reason, I really cling to my evening rituals.

There's nothing particularly interesting about my evening routine.  Once the girls are in bed, I putter until my chores (dishes, laundry, etc...) are done.  Then I sit on the couch and read or watch a little TV or pull my sewing machine out.  When I'm tired, I head upstairs, brush my teeth, check on the girls, and then read in bed until I fall asleep.  My husband and I are often doing the same things in parallel.

Last night, however, I stayed up late watching crappy, reality TV.  (Hey, I'm not proud.)  By the time I got to bed my husband was already asleep.  This left me in quite a quandary.  I was afraid to check on the babies because they are such light sleepers that about 50% of the time they wake up when I go in.  (When my husband and I are both awake, it's not a problem.  I nurse them and then we play with them for about 10 minutes before putting them back down.)  Not wanting to wake my  husband, I skipped the baby check.  Then, knowing that the light would bother him, I also skipped  my reading. 

And, of course, I could NOT fall asleep.  Somehow, in all that wide-awake thinking, I ended up in the memory of discovering that I was carrying twin girls.  For those of you who know me personally, you will likely remember that I said we did not know what we were having.  Well, we did know and finding out was such a traumatic experience for me that I was in a lot of denial about actually knowing.

Here's the thing.  I felt that just because I could find something out before nature intends didn't necessarily mean that I should.  There are so few truly wonderful surprises in life that I wanted the sex of my children to be unknown until I was meant to find out.  I had been VERY CLEAR to everyone who had any involvement in my pregnancy that we absolutely did not want to know.  So, after we discovered we had twins and my departing midwife dropped off my medical records at my home, I didn't think anything of looking through the file. 

Well, there it was:  Baby A is female.  Baby B is female.  I burst into tears.  The sex of the babies was absolutely irrelevant in assessing their health and the documentation of that fact made me angry.  Even if the documentation was "standard practice," I felt betrayed that my midwife had been so careless in passing the records on to me instead of mailing them to my new practitioner directly.  Plus, there was the disappointment of knowing that there was not a boy growing inside me.  It was a disappointment that lingered with me throughout the remainder of the pregnancy (even though I didn't fully believe it until I birthed both babies).  Of course, the disappointment led to guilt because I didn't think I actually wanted two girls and then I felt even worse.

The thing is if I had not known the sex of the babies, I would not have had more than one moment of disappointment.  One feels differently when the baby is physically in the world but I had three months of anger and disappointment at my surprise being stolen.  To cope with those feelings, I went into a place of deep denial.  The ultrasound couldn't be correct.  Even after the second test and the stupid technician kept slipping and referring to the babies as "she,"  I still couldn't go there.  That's why we did not, in fact, have a second girl's name picked out.  No girl's name other than Eliya (which, ironically, is derived from Eliyahou, the  Hebrew version of Elijah) appealed to me.  In retrospect, it is pretty clear to me that by finding two girl's names, I would have implicitly accepted my knowledge of their sex.  Clearly, that was something I wasn't able to do at the time.

Lying in bed, I felt angry all over again.  It was a strange emotion since I adore both of my Turtles and could not imagine having a boy in the mix.  Jude and Ellie are infinitely perfect in their girl bodies and having a house with three sisters feels right in so many ways.  I came to realize that the anger is because my wishes weren't respected.  The casual nature of the whole debacle led me to feel dismissed and overly sensitive.  That's what still makes me bristle.. not my beautiful girls.

This leads me to wonder if anything like this has ever happened to you.  Did you find out the sex of your babies in advance?  Why?  If you didn't, why not?


  1. We didn't find out ahead of time either. The first the the tech said "he" and I said "he?" and she said: "no, no I meant 'it'" and I remained innocent.
    With baby number 2 we had no ultrasounds so no risk of finding out.
    Definitely understand about the bristling over the lack of respect. There was absolutely no reason for anybody to be looking at gender after you specified that you didn't want to know!

  2. we didn't find out either, mostly because its one of the few times i thought i would like to be surprised. i understand the anger though, if only because its a choice that was taken out of your hands, when you already were dealing with enough surprises... :)

  3. When I became pregnant, my husband and I agreed that we did not want to know the sex of the baby. Once we were told I was carrying twins, we felt that was surprise enough, and opted to learn the sexes when the time came. However, there was never a definitive shot of my daughter. The technician said she concluded that baby A was a girl because there was no evidence of any male parts, which I she said is hard to miss even if the baby isn't turned right. Still, I wasn't absolutely convinced until she was born. We had chosen two boys names and one girls name, just to be safe.

  4. I never had an ultrasound for either of my babies. I didn't feel they were necessary and I really wanted to be surprised at birth when it came to finding out the gender. I also didn't want mountains of blue clothes for my baby boy or pink clothes for my baby girl. This was my sneaky way at encouraging (or rather, forcing) people to buy gender neutral clothes. ;)

    With my first baby, I was sure I was having a girl so I was surprised it was a boy instead. The second, I had a feeling it was a boy even though everyone said it was a girl. I was right this time. ;) I'm happy that my pregnancies went so smoothly that an ultrasound wasn't necessary thus no slip-ups by anyone. But I'm Deaf so I could have missed any slip-ups spoken but definitely not the written ones. =P

    Did you ever talk to your midwife about this slip-up? Perhaps telling her your feelings will help you feel better but also encourage the midwife not to write gender information in her patient files...

  5. It was a given we would find out. Hubby wouldn't want me to know something like this when he didn't. And well, I was the kid who would gently lift the tape off the sides of gifts before Christmas. I can't wait for *anything*!

    When we found out our first was a boy, I was very happy...but wondered, "What the heck do you do with a *boy*?!" I was totally prepared to raise an independent little girl and help her revolt against all the sexist messages and expectations of society. But a boy?! That's a whole other list of responsibilities I couldn't wrap my head around.
    Just a few months later, I started noticing little boys with their itty-bitty work boots and just thought they were SO cute! I never imagined raising a boy could be so much fun!

    When the tech asked us if we wanted to know on our second, we definitely did. We wanted to know if we were "Getting our girl". I was a bit surprised when she came out with it so quickly, "Its a girl"...we were so relieved. I am disabled, and find raising two toddlers *plenty* challenging enough. We knew we couldn't handle 3. Being outnumbered was just a *bad* idea. But if our second had been another would have been a challenging thing to stick to my decision.


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