Published: August 12, 2013
While parents-to-be always hope for a healthy baby, finding out the gender of a little bundle ahead of time makes it so much more personal and fun.
Or does it?
A growing number of parents are choosing not to learn whether their first child is a boy or a girl.
Heather Crothall finds herself happily in that camp, and there's even a name for it at the mom site BabyCenter.com: Team Green.
"We would rather be surprised," said Crothall. Due Oct. 1 with her first child, she said her husband is into the mystery, too, though his resolve is cracking a bit.
"For my part, I think it's a fantastic motivation for getting through delivery," she said by telephone from Windsor, Ontario, just across the border from Detroit.
Crothall and her husband are dealing with some serious pushback from some loved ones.
"I wasn't expecting nearly as many people to be polarized as much as they are by it. Why are you being selfish is really the biggest question. It's seen as a decision that somehow we're withholding critical information. They've made it that we're being difficult," Crothall said.
Christine Ward in Sacramento, Calif., landed in an unusual pickle when she wanted to know the gender of her first but her husband preferred to remain in the dark.
"He wanted the traditional experience of finding out what the sex was at the birth," she said. "I'm good at keeping secrets."
Ward and Crothall agreed that those looking for gender-neutral clothing and other baby gear need to dig a little deeper, especially if they're not fond of animal or jungle themes - or brown.
"We're not pink-equals-girl and blue-equals-boy people, anyway. Fortunately, the colors we chose for the nursery - white, yellow and gray - are among the more popular gender-neutral choices," Ward said.
At first, she said, friends and family were confused over their split predicament. Among the challenges: remembering to refer to the baby as "kid, kiddo or, if kicking especially hard, 'spawn,'" she said jokingly.
While expectant parents who want to be surprised feel in the minority, a 2007 Gallup Poll showed them slightly on top. Gallup asked 1,014 adults in the U.S. ages 18 and older where they hypothetically stood on the gender secret if they had "just found out" they were having a baby. According to the poll, 51 percent said they would wait until the baby is born, while 47 percent said they would like to know ahead of time.
The reasons for keeping the secret can vary, but the headaches are more universal.
"When it comes to clothes we've pretty much got both of our parents on speed dial to go out and buy something the minute we find out," said Crothall, who shops British websites for a wider range of colors and patterns to get beyond soft pastels and boyish primary colors.
"Green, yellow and orange layettes are usually very masculine in design and appearance," she said.
Jillian Duquette, who lives near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and is due Sept. 5 with her first, said she and her husband are dealing with "a lot of annoying green or yellow" while shopping for clothes for their mystery baby.
"I feel like there are no surprises in life anymore," she said. "We wanted something that was a good surprise."