Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The inevitable question: boy or a girl?

It's amazing to me how so many people treat pregnancy as the only excuse necessary to inundate a woman with information and advice and stories. From friends and family I've heard stories of being offered advice regarding labor (Of course you'll get the epidural! Or, my hospital is the only good place to give birth!), lectures about why they should or shouldn't do something (Clearly breastfeeding is the only way to go! Or, remaining vegetarian during pregnancy is bad for your baby!), and stories about other people's experiences with birth. I even hear about complete strangers touching and rubbing the bellies of pregnant women with no permission asked!

Fortunately, I am a hermit who doesn't leave my house much, so I haven't had to deal with this much. And with my poofy cold-weather jacket on, I'm still not obviously pregnant-looking, even at 34 weeks.

Regardless, the fact that I am with child does still come up with surprising frequency. And whenever it does, you can be sure that the conversation will include two pointed questions:
  • When are you due?
  • Is it a boy or a girl?

I don't mind these questions, so don't get me wrong. Admittedly, I have gotten some slightly questioning looks when I say that I'm due in either late February or early March; you can almost hear the mental admonishments of “how can she not know her due date??” It's not that I don't know it, because I do. But there's a reason it's called an estimated date of delivery; the “traditional” methods indicate that I'm due on February 19th or 20th, but I've been told by everyone under the sun that first babies are usually “late.”

So we'll see how this turns out. Personally, I think having a Leap Day baby would be awesome, but the truth is that my baby will make it's way into the world when it's good and ready to.

As far as gender goes, I don't know. D & I decided early on that we wanted it to be a surprise, so we simply didn't find out. Most people are very supportive of this, but we do run across the occasional incredulous response: How could you not want to find out? Isn't the suspense killing you?

No. It's not. :)

But just because we haven't found out scientifically whether we're having a boy or a girl hasn't stopped friends from speculating. We all know there are a plethora of old wives tales that can supposedly determine what gender a woman is carrying. In my unemployed housewife boredom, I decided to play on Google and look some of them up.

Girls steal your beauty. Is that so? Because I've had several people tell me that the opposite is true as well. Early on in my pregnancy, I was plagued with zits. I thought I had kicked pimples soon after high school through the adoption of a cleaner diet and better hygiene practices, but my first trimester brought them back, and with a vengeance. Before I knew I was pregnant, I was cursing this newfangled Illinois climate, the stress of moving across the country, too much chocolate, you name it; once I realized that I had a baby growing in my belly, I determined my newly-rediscovered skin problems were likely due to hormonal shift my body was now undertaking.

I spent most of my early pregnancy working at a little café called AOK Gourmet, and one of my coworkers there told me about how, when she was pregnant with her son, she too had skin problems galore. The opposite was true with her other child; when pregnant with her daughter, she had skin that absolutely glowed. This was the first that I had ever heard of a woman's physical appearance being a predictor of the gender of the child she carried. (How had I not heard any of these old wives tales before? I think I must be bad at being a traditional woman.) Not too long after, a friend informed me that it's actually girls who cause the appearance problems. Clearly, my recent outbursts of pimples meant that my baby was, in fact, of the female persuasion.

It's also worth noting that my skin problems have, for the most part, cleared up. I wouldn't say that I'm glowing by any stretch, but I'm definitely feeling less-conscious of my appearance at the moment. So what's the verdict here? Undecided.

A mother's intuition. Early on, one of my best friends told me, very matter-of-factly, that I was going to have a boy. When pressed, she could offer no evidence to back up her claim, she just “knew.” One of D's shipmates told him pretty much the same thing. I've had several other people tell me the opposite; obviously, we're going to have a girl. No particular reason provided; we just are.

I've had lots of people ask me what I think I'm having. Honestly? I don't know. I've had dreams that go both ways. Some mornings, I wake up positive that we're going to be having a little baby boy. Other times, I'm just hit with the inescapable knowledge that I'm carrying our daughter. Verdict? Undecided.

Ancient Chinese gender chart. A few of my friends have mentioned a method that uses a chart to tell you what gender your baby is. Upon further research, I determined they were probably referring to an AncientChinese Gender Chart, a 700-year old document which was apparently discovered buried in a tomb in Beijing. It uses two factors to determine what gender a child is: a woman's age, and the month during which a child was conceived. Depending on who you ask, this method is anywhere from 50-90% accurate. One key thing to note is that you're supposed to use your age according to the Chinese lunar calendar, or else the results may be inaccurate. The verdict? Whether I used my actual age or my lunar age, the result was the same: I'm having a girl.

Food cravings. According to most of the stuff I read online, women who eat a lot of sweet things are more likely be be carrying a girl, while cravings for sour or salty foods indicate a boy. I haven't had any real “cravings” thus far in my pregnancy, unless you count always being thirsty (for water) a craving. However, I have had an on-again, off-again aversion to sweet foods, specifically chocolate, for the duration. Seriously. For a few months early on, the very smell of chocolate made me nauseous. Based on this, I'd say the verdict is that I'm having a boy.

Morning sickness. I've read (and heard) predictions all over the map on this one. If you have morning sickness at all, you're having a girl. If you're severely sick, it's a boy. Nauseous at night = girl, while actual “morning” sickness = boy. If the need to puke in the middle of the night wakes you up, it's a girl. Or a boy.

I had pretty extreme nausea for the entirety of my first trimester. Basically, if I was awake, I felt sick. (Working at a café did not help much here.) The only time I didn't feel sick was when I was sleeping and, if my dreams were any indication, sometimes I felt sick even then. Despite suffering from near-constant morning sickness, I did not actually vomit once. There were plenty of times when I thought I might feel better if I did, but the contents of my stomach stayed resolutely put. And this nausea went away sometime during my second trimester, and hasn't really come back since; sometimes I get a little sick if I go too long without eating, and sometimes nausea is triggered by other unspecified things, but overall I've been feeling great since then. So the verdict here? Very much undecided.

Mayan numerology system. A couple of websites I perused mentioned some method of ancient Mayan numerology that can be used to determine the gender of your child. Like the Chinese system, it uses a mother's age, but it uses the year of conception rather than the month. If both are even numbers, then you're having a girl; if one is even and the other is odd, the baby will be a boy. I was 25 when I got pregnant, and the year was 2011; the verdict here is that I am having a girl.

There are so many more too! Apparently where you carry the baby can determine something, as can where you carry any gained weight. There is some sort of test that involves tying your wedding ring to a string and holding it above your belly; if it swings back & forth, it's a girl, while swinging in circles means it's a boy. I've read that women who have a major increase in appetite are more likely to be carrying a boy, but I've also read that the reverse is true. There was even some nonsense about peeing in a cup and adding Draino and seeing what color it turned! Even if I had Draino on hand (which I don't), that's just a little too weird for me.

So the final verdict? Ultimately, I still don't know. There seems to be a slight leaning toward having a girl, according to the “methods” I mentioned. The uncertainty of the back-and-forth leads only to one inevitable conclusion: there's a reason why these are called “old wives' tales!” I do believe we'll just find out the old-fashioned way.


  1. The funny thing is that no matter what you have, people will say "see?! I told you I was right!" If they were wrong, they'll say "Well, it could have gone either way" or they'll justify their original prediction. You and D should place bets on some of the crackpot things people will say to you, both now and after the baby is born...whatever happens, we want pictures IMMEDIATELY!!! ♥

    1. Fear not! D's first task after the baby is born is to count digits and determine gender. Second, naturally, is to take pictures and post something up on FB for everyone else to see! I suppose somewhere in there we'll be making some phone calls to family too, but Internet pictures may or may not take priority. :)

  2. First off, I must say you are awesome. As in, really, really awesome. And then ... glowing by any "stretch" ..? What kind of a pun is that supposed to be! :D

  3. It is incredible to me how invasive some people can be in your privacy when you hit major milestones like marriage, or pregnancy. When I was first married, I got asked about 2 - 3 times a week if I was pregnant. Somebody I didn't even know saw my picture via a relatives Facebook, and emailed said relative and claimed she had a "premonition" that I was pregnant. That was several years ago, so unless this baby has been in gestation for a good 36 months ... she was wrong! What makes the "sex guessers" unsufferable is that they have a 50/50 chance of being right... and according to the brain, which is very bad at estimating probability, if you've been right roughly half the times in your life that you guessed, you'll probably feel pretty darn sure that you are "almost ALWAYS right!"

  4. On the anecdotal side, a friend of mine who had four children also liked to be surprised with the gender of her child. However, she found that, during the pregnancy, if she could only think of lists and lists of girl names - the baby would be a girl. If she could only come up with boy names she liked - the baby was a boy. Now, she only had four kids, so it's impossible to say scientifically if this were very true. But, it always turned out according to her name lists (and she really did try to come up with lists of both, just to be prepared!). However, when my mom was pregnant with her last baby ... we all came up with miles of boy names, and she and Dad had a boy name selected. Then the baby was born, and it was a girl! She was 2 days old before she had a name. It took all 9 of us that long, sitting and reading baby name books, piled on Mom's bed and the rocker and sprawled across the floor, to agree on something we all liked.