The Crying Game
One of the many stunning gender-neutral outfits May Blossom will be handing down to her sibling.
According to the medical establishment I am now 24 and a half weeks pregnant. That is more than halfway there. More than halfway to having equal numbers of parents and children in this flat, which frankly scares the bejesus out of me. At the mid pregnancy scan, which is also known as the anomaly scan (yes, Anomaly is a lovely name for a girl and it is on our list), we had the opportunity to find out what sex our baby is. We opted not to. So when people ask if we know if we are having a boy or a girl, we typically answer ‘Yes. We are having a boy or a girl.’ Unless, that is, we are having an intersex baby, which has a little from column A and a little from column B, like Chardonnay’s baby on Footballer’s Wives, a terrible British drama series that I of course have never watched every single episode of.
For some reason, it drives some people crazy that we have the option of knowing the baby’s sex and choose not to. ‘But why wouldn’t you want to know?’ they wail. ‘How can you stand not knowing? Doesn’t it make planning so much harder? Wouldn’t it would help you bond with the baby if you knew more about it.’
We have several reasons for not finding out, and for me the top two are probably laziness and a stubborn adherence to the notion that one’s sex does not define one as a person. What I mean by that is that I don’t feel that knowing that I have, say, a boy child currently attempting to judo-chop down the walls of my uterus helps me know this creature any better. Because ‘boy’ isn’t exactly a useful way to describe someone’s personality. It’s a useful way to stereotype them, sure, but the child will get enough of that once it’s born. Why not let it grow in peace, without all its family and friends deciding it will be Daddy’s Little Buddy or Pretty Like Mommy.
Before she was born, I couldn’t have begun to imagine the person May Blossom is. Even if I had known she was a girl, I would never have dreamed she could be such a funny, strange, clever person. You just can’t know someone until you have met them. Knowing the sex of this baby wouldn’t help me bond with it any further than the odd thought of where it might go to school.
So how can we plan for this new baby if we don’t know what sex it is? That is quite simple. NB will wear a lot of May Blossom’s hand-me-downs, regardless of whether it is a boy or a girl. I said the same thing before May Blossom was born. In the year before I had her, my three cousins each gave birth to a girl, so I knew we’d have access to a lot of girls’ clothes. My plan was that our kid, be it a boy or a girl, would wear their hand-me-downs. And so she did. NB will wear lots of hand-me-downs from his or her sister, and from lots of generous friends. I don’t intend to dress a little boy in an Alice in Wonderland costume, unless he wants to, but beyond that, overalls are overalls. Also, since babies don’t even know they have hands for a good ten weeks or so, I’m pretty sure I can’t cause any lasting damage by popping the little mite into something that is the ‘wrong’ colour for its sex.
The issue of laziness comes into it thus: if I know what the sex is, I might be expected to plan a more gendered wardrobe, which is way more than I can be bothered to do. Between all the extra sleeping and weight gaining and not doing my pelvic floor exercises and defending the bump from the marauding May Blossom I’m doing at the moment, dragging out newborn clothes and sorting the blue from the pink is exceedingly far down the priority list for me. It’s right down at the bottom there with brushing my hair and maintaining my Linked In contact list.
As for pre-birth bonding, that all seems a bit overrated to me. Now I know how much it’s possible to love a child once they are in the world (quite a lot, as it turns out), I’m less worried about forging a deep connection with this one before we are even properly introduced. Right now, the best bonding we can do is happening via the umbilical cord, through which I am endeavouring to pump nutrients and hydration and only essential amounts of caffeine. I don’t need the added pressure of trying to build an imaginary relationship with NB, based on not very much at all. That strikes me as a bit like when in primary school you used to have to write to a penpal in another country, whom you’d never met. It was awkward, and involved lots of ‘How are you? I am fine’s. I am increasingly confident that NB and I will like each other just fine when we meet, and until then, we can give each other a little bit of space, and each go about our business.
I don’t even wonder that much about what sex the baby is. Is that a bit strange? From the people I’ve talked to about this and the whole Internet, which I have read, it seems that non-finders-out generally spend their pregnancy in a state of high anticipation about whether they are having a boy or a girl. Enjoying the suspense isn’t really an issue for me. I truly, honestly don’t care one way or another. All that matters is that it is a genius.