To see, or not to see? That is the question.

People have always asked if we find out the gender of our babies before birth, and my answer has always been the same: “No, because I’ve never had a midwife who did ultrasounds.  I would love to if I had the chance, but I just can’t justify the extra cost.”

I always thought people who didn’t want to find out were a little weird.  Who wouldn’t want to know?  It would make it so much easier to plan ahead for clothes and accessories.  You could name your baby way ahead of time and talk about it/him/her without the awkward pronouns.  What’s not to love about knowing ahead of time, except for the cost?

Tomorrow I visit a new midwife for the first time.  She has an ultrasound machine in her office.  The cost of the ultrasound is included in her price for prenatal & delivery.  At 20 weeks, people tell me I should be able to find out what we’re having.

And to my complete shock, I suddenly understand why some people don’t want to know.

I feel like I’m being offered the chance to peek at my presents before they are given to me.  “It’s ok,” the voice in my head whispers.  “It’s not really cheating.  Everyone does it, and nobody will mind.  You’re expected to do it.  Who wouldn’t?  Why wouldn’t you?”

But I feel like the delivery itself will be anticlimactic if the baby and I have already met.   It will become simply something to be endured, instead of the price and prelude to meeting our newest baby.

And because the thought is lurking shamefully in the back of my head, I have to admit that I’m afraid it might be easier to be disappointed if I see a little girl in an ultrasound.  At the moment of delivery, there is no way to be disappointed.  I will have a sweet, precious new baby in my arms and at my breast.  But at the halfway mark, with 20 weeks to go, maybe there is a chance of disappointment.  I might have to put on a brave smile and say that I’m grateful while inside I’m making emotional adjustments to the notion that my boy still doesn’t have a brother.

I’m sure this falls under ovarian guilt.  I just want to be sure I’m as thrilled to meet this new baby as I have been with all the rest – and I’m suddenly unsure if that would happen in an ultrasound.


  1. I was die hard about not finding out with our first 2. But, after we traumatically lost our third baby, and I came VERY close to dying in the process, we did go ahead and find out about our 4th baby. I wanted to pray for my baby by name, and, knowing the risk I was now facing going into labor, I wanted to write letters and prayers for my little one in case I did not make it. Samuel and I did make it (though not without a MAJOR hemmorage) and I don’t regret finding out. Either way, you are gonna LOVE that birth! Enjoy!!

  2. My husband likes to know the gender, and I like to be surprised. So we take turns. The last baby was his turn so we knew ahead of time that the baby was a girl. The baby before that was a surprise — a boy. I remember I told my midwife and my husband NOT to say what the baby is when he or she is born…that I wanted to see for myself. Since I deliver at home and in a pool of water, the “image” is a bit distorted when the baby is born, being under the water, so luckily no one could cheat by looking before I got the chance. I reached down and felt the baby, felt his little boy parts and said, “A boy!”
    That was a lot of fun. Although we deliver at home and have a midwife attending the entire pregnancy (no doctors or hospitals) I still go to a clinic to have one ultrasound at the 20 week mark to check the baby, making sure (or as sure as we can get) that the baby doesn’t have any health issues that would need to be addressed at the birth.

    My opinion is that it’s a *little bit more exciting when you do not know the gender and find out at the birth. I stil prefer that:) Hey, and that reminds me….the next time it’s MY turn again! Yay! The kids will be so mad. (they always give me a hard time about waiting ….. they are all so impatient!)

  3. Well as a childless person (who will be studying for midwifery in a couple of years) I am not sure how much my opinion is worth to any of you other commenters, lol!

    But I vote don’t find out. For all of history no one ever knew until the birth. That is part of the excitement of birth! Now we “have the technology, so why not use it?” but we also have the “technology” to do plenty of things that we shouldn’t be doing, so that argument seems weird to me. Just like Kim uses a midwife, because that is the natural way, the way God intended, and the way women did until less than 100 years ago. Why should ultrasounds/sonograms be any different? 🙂

    But then I am one of those pesky and annoying people who has absolutely no desire to know what is in the package before Christmas. I take much more joy in wrapping gifts for my family and friends. There’s almost a let down in actually opening the gift, because then you KNOW whats in there! Maybe I’m TOO unbothered! 🙂

  4. Catherine Hochschild says:

    Don’t bother with an ultrasound. As Amanda pointed out above, if God had thought it necessary for us to know beforehand, He would have given us see-through stomachs. I think your reasons for not finding out are exactly right. On top of that, since there are legitimate concerns about the effect of ultrasounds on babies in utero, why risk it at all?

  5. Cassandra says:

    I wouldn’t worry about the disappointment. thing. I am going on 23 weeks along with this one, and we have two boys and two girls. Part of me was wishing for one sex over the other. But, when it came down to it, and we did a ‘peek’ with the ultrasound to see if we could see the sex, and we did, and it wasn’t what I was wishing for- no matter! I was just happy to see little arms and legs flailing about, and a good, strong heartbeat. Not a smidgen of disappointment. Just the wonder of seeing a perfectly developed baby at only 20 weeks! It never gets old. This makes 3 out of 5 that we have found out with. Hubby put his foot down with two, (our first and fourth) and didn’t really want to find out, but I got my way with this one. = ) I love knowing. I love having a name picked out, and I love referring to ‘it’ as a he or she, not an ‘it.’ Even though, with this one, we aren’t telling anyone else the gender, (someone has to be surprised!) and it’s hard not to give it away by slipping with an accidental ‘he’ or ‘she’! I say go for it. That’s my opinion. =)

  6. I have found out with all four of my kids. I’m one of those people who just has to know, mostly for planning purposes. With that said, since I now have both boy and girl baby clothes available, if I got pregnant again (highly unlikely), I don’t think I would find out. I think it would be fun to be surprised at least once.

  7. I have refused to find out the gender with either of my two, despite having had at least 3 ultrasounds with each one (not my choice). I felt the same as you – as if i would be cheating, opening a present before it was time. My husband agreed about keeping it a secret with the first, though he very much wanted to find out with the second. If we ever had a third, I still wouldn’t WANT to find out, but would agree to it, for him. We already have a boy and a girl, and I would feel no disapointment no matter what a third was.

    I DO refuse the 12wk scan to check for down syndrome markers though. The 20wk “has it got everything it’s supposed to?” scan is good enough for me, and I loved seeing #1 waving at us, and #2 sucking her thumb.

  8. Wow! I have never seen so many people who do not want to know! Everybody I know finds out, and we know the baby’s name, refer to him/her by name, buy presents for him/her, etc. It is very exciting to anticipate the arrival of Cole, Hudson, Emily, or whoever. I have only been blessed with one child, and I found out he was a boy. Calling him by name for 4 months made it very personal and felt like we knew him before hand. I too see his profile now as being the same as it was on the ultrasound.

    PS. I do not like to peek or have any clue about presents, and I did not mind at all knowing the gender of my son. I would do the same.

    Do what works for you.

  9. My son was diagnosed as a boy, very clearly, at 19 weeks. I always thought they waited as long as they did to make sure the parts were big enough to discern, not because they had to descend. Poking around on the Internet I’m finding indications that the gender can be discerned as early as 16 weeks with an experienced technician and the proper mother — and nothing about this descent. (though testse do need to descend, this doesn’t always happen before birth even it appears)

  10. I guess I am a “little wierd”.

    I have not found out the gender with either my firstborn, nor with this pregnancy. We have had ultrasounds, but have asked not to be told gender.

    We think it is one of the best surprises in life, and God did make it that way for a reason. I personally don’ t understand the need to see gender to be able to bond, since women have bonded fine with their babies for centuries without knowing.

    I also understand the disappointment concern… I really want another boy, so I am preparing myself to be excited for a girl.. that way I will be happy either way at birth – not that the moment wouldn’t take care of that anyway!

  11. I didn’t find out on any of my children. I did have all hospital births, and it was really special knowing that my husband and I (along with the doctor and 3 or 4 nurses) were the only ones who knew whether our child was a boy or girl. The people outside had to wait patiently until we let them in on the surprise!

  12. I am nearing my 20 week mark as well, Kim, and just had an ultrasound. I have three boys, and soon to have a fourth! We would have been thrilled with a girl, but honestly, I had a feeling it was a boy…Even though we “wanted” a girl, I can’t say I am any less anxious/excited to meet this boy, too!! Not only that, boys are what we know, and what we are mostly prepared for. It’s certainly up to you, Kim, but as much as you love your babies–all your babies–girl or boy??Either is an eternal soul, the exact one that God wanted to give you–to love, protect, train and nurture.

  13. Oops, I forgot to say that I have a good friend whose 3rd son was born just after my second. We knew his sex, name, and date of birth (planned c-sec) for months before hand. The only suspense was whether he would have bright orange hair like his mom and 2nd brother, or dark hair like his dad and 1st brother. (He’s a red-head.)

  14. I did not have any ultrasounds with my first two (both sons). My third was a high risk pregnancy, so we did have two very early ultrasounds, much too soon to tell the gender. That was fine with me, I had already experienced lots of condolences on the birth of my second son, as if it was some kind of tragedy to have two boys! What is the matter with people! Our daughter’s birth was a huge surprise to everyone, as my husband is one of nine boys. Then when we found that we were expecting our fourth, I was 41 years old, and so we elected to have a tertiary ultrasound to explore the possiblilty of Down’s, or some other genetic condition that might require more than standard midwife care at birth. What a waste that was – after about an hour long exam, the dr told us she couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary,but not to put too much stock in that, as drs are wrong about half the time. So I asked her just why we had done this exam if chances were 50-50 that it might be misleading? She had no answer for that, but tried to talk us into an amnio, which we strongly declined. Anyway, it was very obvious from the exam that our new baby was also a girl. I was thrilled, both for her sister’s sake, and for mine. I’m not sure I would have had the energy to chase another little boy thru toddlerhood at my age! Now my two girls are 8 and 10 and best friends, and my sons are 16 and 18 and best friends as well. So I do hope your little guy will have a brother too one day, but God does send you a hand-picked best possible child for you, so who can argue with that?

  15. I had ultrasounds done with all my 3 children. My husband is an ultrasound tech so I would get them done frequently. I loved seeing the baby and he/ she moving, yawning, sucking his/ her thumb, in different positions. I found out the sex of every one of them at around 21 weeks.

    Did you know that all babies “start as girls”? in the sense that ONLY at around 20 weeks the testicles descend and the clitoris grows into the penis. Of course that from conception, their DNA is either female or male, but that is the reason you have to wait, otherwise all babies look like girls (my technical husband said “they are undifferentiated, not girls”) and then later on, surprise You have a boy!! Sometimes we might be able to see the penis at 16 weeks but it is rare.

    I am pregnant with our #4 and was kind of disappointed at first when I found out it’s a girl, because I was wanting another boy. But the disappointment has worn out and I can’t wait to see her. 🙂

    If you like, see here a picture of my firstborn when she was only 12 weeks SUCKING HER THUMB. She was such an active girl…I have tons of pictures of her in utero. She would be on her knees “praying”, yawning, hiccuping, waving. She was adorable…still is.

    I am 33 weeks pregnant and this one is pretty active too. I don’t have as many ultrasounds with this one because I don’t have anyone to leave the children with to go see this one, but she is a kicker. 🙂

    Anyway, I think ultrasounds are a great tool, but as a tool it really depends on the person’s knowledge and experience using it for good results. 🙂

    Do share if you find out the gender.

  16. Thanks for your perspective! We actually just found out this morning that our second chlid will be a girl- but I wouldn’t have known that if the tech didn’t tell me! She even asked before we started if we wanted to see the gender. To me, though, the most facinating part was seeing the profile of our little one’s face at 19 weeks. It’s incredible to see how developed the little babe is already. If you don’t want to know the gender, I would say go ahead and see the amazing pictures and ask the tech/midwife not to reveal if it is a boy or girl. Good luck!

  17. Just to let you know We live in NB Canada and their is a policy that when taking a U/S the tech can’t and will not tell you the gender and the reason is their has been so many mistake that they had to have a policy to protect themselves.

    So parent can’t sue the tech for giving them false or wrong info!

    Well that for me says it all !!! And if you really want to know you have to get a 3D ultrasound that you need to pay big$$$ and is not beneficial for baby’s health!

    Just some things to think about!

  18. We’ve always found out. I love it. I love knowing whom I’m carrying and it helps the kids to bond so much easier. I also really think that ultrasounds are a good idea for medical reasons. I have known several people that would have lost their baby if the medical staff was not prepared for the birth defect their babies had.

    Anyways, can’t wait to hear what you decided and congrats!

  19. I had two reasons for not wanting to know the sex:

    1/ I thought I might need the extra incentive during labor of finally finding out the sex (I ended up having an emergency c-section, so it wasn’t needed after all!)

    2/ I used to be a big shopper and I was afraid if I found out the sex I would buy up all the stores.

    With our next child there was no question, we liked the suspense and what my husband called “the only real surprise in life.”

  20. I say, if in doubt, don’t do it. There’s something so exciting about waiting until the moment of birth to make that discovery. Also, I’ve known too many people who were told WRONG about the sex of the baby, and THAT would be reeeeeally disappointing to think you know and then find out that you were wrong. It increases the chances for a lot more emotional upheaveal conflicting feelings and who needs that?? Don’t borrow trouble. I’ve been pregnant six times and I never find out…drives my daughter nuts! 🙂

  21. I don’t know. I’ve always liked the surprise at the end. It drives some people crazy. We have had an ultrasound with all seven babies, but I always tell them I don’t want to know the gender and they have been good about keeping it hidden. It is nice to peak at your baby through the ultrasound, but the surprise at the end is so much fun. We are expecting our 8th and I will probably have an ultrasound but I still don’t want to know the gender.


  22. Don’t do it!! You are SO right. With my third child I wanted a girl very badly, and DID feel disappointment that I felt very guilty for, when my ultrasound showed that he was a boy, and I never would have been disappointed to have another boy if I had found out when he was born. He is my cuddler and the joy of my heart. (He is seventeen now.) And we went on to adopt 5 children, so I have lots of lovely girls. 4 boys and 4 girls. Pure delight.

  23. I am preg. w/ #6 and I sure don’t want to know. I HAVE found out with 4 of the 5 ..only because Hubby HAS to…but he was sick with the one I did not find out the gender of..he didn’t speak to me for 3 days he was so upset…but that was our only boy…when he was born and they said its a BOY!! I didn’t believe them (already having 3 girls) and head to look for myself…and was surprised every time I changed his diaper for weeks..but it was a thrilling surprise!! Now Hubs thinks if we DON’T find out it will be another boy 🙂

  24. I only have one baby so far, and we found out her gender at the 20 week ultrasound. I absolutely loved knowing, myself. And, there was definitely NO doubt she was a girl from the photos. 😉

  25. Well, at least you know that there’s only 2 options. 🙂

  26. I like the envelope idea. And unload that ovarian guilt! Gender is encoded on the man’s seed, anyway- some men have more Y-chromosome seeds (like my dad, haha- I’m the only girl in a crowd of 7 brothers); your Mr. must pack mostly X chromosomes 🙂 You’re both incredibly blessed to have so many beautiful children.

  27. Follow where your peace is! 🙂

  28. Oh, as for “the ultrasound might be wrong”? Honestly, I’d love having THAT story to tell growing up, too.

    Do you remember for the last three months of his gestation, we called Isaiah, Ruth? Hey, look at this card we kept. We’re so glad God gave you to us. Even if you did hide your true nature from us, you little stinker-you.


  1. […] had several emails asking if I got an ultrasound.  No, I didn't.  Actually, I didn't have the option yet.  My initial visit with the new midwife […]

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