Zoo shoes by Tilly Whistle
Last week during prenatal yoga we went around the room and had an even count: two expecting boys, two expecting girls, and two expecting surprises. This is the only situation where I've seen neutrality well received.
Another example, my BFF makes these incredible hand-made baby shoes and sometimes I accompany her to markets. People coo at the shoes and offer their praise and disbelief that such shoes even exist. Sometimes they confess they don't know anyone who is expecting, and sometimes they have a specific baby in mind. And sometimes, we get the vicious "My sister/co-worker/postal worker won't tell me what she's having?! She wants it to be a surprise?! Doesn't she know that the suspense is killing me???"
I understand that in the context of baby shoes, gender might be slightly relevant (although there are always numerous gender neutral options on the table). However, outside of this I wonder how and why we get so tied to the gender of the baby.
Tips for Mamas-to-be
Stand your ground. Unless you are the Queen of England, the monarchy does not rest on the gender of your offspring. Feel free to point this out.
Be kind to your fellow pregnant mamas who make a different choice. Some women desperately want to know, and that is their business. In the world of parenting, everyone is different, so this is a great practice point.
Meet your partner halfway. If your partner wants to know, s/he should get to speak their mind. Understand that they might be a little jealous that you get to make so many executive decisions. If you're in a partnership, be a good partner.
Tips for Your Friends on a Gender Bender
Focus on how you will treat the baby, regardless of gender. What is the same? 99% of the baby's needs will be identical regardless of gender, so focus on gender neutral or useful gifts that don't rely on gender, like silverware, car seats, and college funds.
Imagine all the things you will want to do with the new baby. Teach them to fish? Catch a football? Bake cakes? Pee outside? Maybe you think there is a gender bias in these activities, and you want plenty of time to change your perspective. Instead, make a full list of what you would do with a girl baby and a full list of what you would do with a boy baby. And then, do both.
Help others see the light. If there are others in your family or friend group who are still hell-bent on knowing, take them out for a drink and get all of the grousing over with. Help them to focus on the shared qualities. Remind them that this baby will not have the opportunity to rule the land based on genitals, but based on an electoral college (and redirect to a fun political debate instead!).
I'm one of those people who loves making your life easier (and I believe in you). I am an experienced registered prenatal yoga teacher and a lactation educator.
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Thanks for inviting me to be a part of this process with you. You're stronger than you think you are.