I am lucky. I have a beautiful son who I love to bits. But it was nothing like I imagined. Not just the fact that motherhood is nothing like I had thought it would be but the fact that having a son was never in my life plan. Not when I was a little girl playing mum and not when I was pregnant.
I grew up with two sisters and playing mummy was one of my favourite games. I always played with girl dolls, I dressed my dolls in pink babygros, I swaddled them in pink blankets. I named them the most feminine names I could think of and I never ever confused them for boys.
So when I was pregnant I just assumed I was having a girl and I was thrilled. I imagined my relationship with my daughter in quite some detail so when I went for my 18 week scan it was almost as an aside that I asked them to confirm that the little baby growing inside me was indeed a girl.
I was shocked that my baby had a penis. Shocked and petrified.
I called my sister – she has always been the best person to help me deal with myself and she calmly and rationally told me “a baby is a baby, it makes no difference if it’s a girl or a boy, your baby will love you and you will love him”.
I don’t regret finding out his sex (and I certainly don’t regret him being a boy) because when he was born 10 weeks early, I certainly didn’t need any more surprises. I was also ecstatic that I had found out early in the piece because I was totally at peace with the fact that he was a boy by the time he was born.
But my reasoning for finding out his gender wasn’t sinister, it was curious and it was important to me because I don’t like surprises.
However the practice of “selectively aborting” foetuses (usually female) as a way choosing the sex of a child has reached such worrying proportions in some former Soviet states that members of the Council of Europe Committee have passed a draft resolution instructing medical staff to “withhold information about the sex of the foetus”. The resolution states that prenatal sex selection should only be allowed in order to avoid serious hereditary disease linked to one sex.
The recommendation covers all 47 member states of the Council of Europe Committee. (The Committee is based in France and covers virtually the entire European continent meaning that if the resolution is passed, most European countries will be blocked from telling expectant parents whether they are carrying a boy or a girl.)
The Council of Europe can’t impose binding orders on governments but is highly influential in policy-making. The draft resolution by the council’s equal opportunities committee will now go before the council’s full Parliamentary Assembly for approval next month.
Would you want to know the sex of your baby before it was born? If you have a child did you find out what you were having before you delivered?