“Do you know what you’re having?”
Yes, I was having a baby. And I didn’t want to know if it was a boy or a girl.
It’s the ultimate modern-day pregnancy dilemma – finding out the sex of an unborn baby – and it’s heating up again.
Novelist, Ian McEwan, 65 – who wrote Atonement and The Cement Garden – has angered some after saying he thinks parents shouldn’t find out the sex of their child before it’s born.
McEwan’s comments were made in response to a question about how he figures out if a character will be male or female.
“It is above all a person. Knowing in advance this social identity which confers a pink and blue fate almost seems like a form of moral kitsch, because what you are celebrating is a person. So I rather take the same view of my characters, if it falls out it is a woman or a man then I go that way,” he said.
“It is always a great gulf that separates us … I would like to think that [for the novelist] it is a free and open field.”
McEwan’s comments have caused one UK mother to speak out. Tanith Carey wrote an article for the Daily Mail stating that knowing the sex of her both her babies before they were born helped her to adjust.
“The ‘is it a boy?’ slash ’is it a girl?’ moment may also make for great drama on Downtown Abbey. But after 26 hours in labour, ending in an emergency C-section, giving birth to my older daughter, Lily, the last thing I needed as any more cliff-hangers,” Carey wrote.
“One of the things that kept me going through those agonising hours was looking forward to meeting the daughter I had already bonded with in the womb.”
When it comes to ‘finding out’, I’m certainly not as adamant as McEwan. But, I never felt the need to know the sex of my unborn children.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t want to know. I spent hours deciphering cryptic language the sonographer had used. “Did she call it ‘babe’? Would you call a boy a ‘babe’? Must be a girl,” I’d mutter to my husband.
Everyone celebrates pregnancy in their own way. New life, new beginnings. Blue, pink. Whatever.
But when I was pregnant, I felt it was one of life’s greatest surprises. There’s not a lot else in this complicated, info-overloaded world that gives us a thrill anymore. I think this is excitement in it’s most simplest form. A girl. A boy. The news in itself is such a gift.
I don’t think there is less joy in being told the sex of an unborn baby. But there’s something so romantically old-fashioned about hearing: “They had a boy!”
Above all else, it’s the best conversation starter. Everyone’s an expert. Long live the best guessing game in the world.
Did you find out the sex of your unborn baby? Is Ian McEwan a dinosaur? Should he just roll with the times? Each to their own?