Why you shouldn't care what sex your baby is

"To be sold on your child being one gender over the other to me feels kind of greedy." Photo:...
"To be sold on your child being one gender over the other to me feels kind of greedy." Photo: Getty Images
Opinion: After struggling to fall pregnant and enduring fertility treatment to make my dream become a reality, there was one question on my mind at my 20-week scan, writes Jenni Mortimer.

"Is my baby healthy?"

Twenty weeks marked a crucial anatomy scan that takes measurements and tests for a range of syndromes, such as Downs and also tests for many other potentially life-threatening health conditions. The idea of something being found left me terrified and all I wanted to know was that my child was ok.

As I asked the question my voice trembled, praying that everything would be ok and this pregnancy was viable, there was the sonographer excitedly asking me "do you want to know the sex?"

I decided I did want to know, but it was far from the first thing on my mind. We decided we wanted to lock in the name and finally build excitement that our child was real. After all of our sad emotions, it felt like now was finally the time for some elation.

It was a boy. And I was thrilled. Tears streaming down my face, heart bursting out of my chest, over-the-moon thrilled. This was the child I was meant to have and I would have felt exactly the same way if the sex of my baby was female.

My son was born 21 weeks later, and he was healthy, happy and mine. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Maybe it was the struggles that I faced that made the sex of my child seem so obsolete and something that just did not matter to me at all. I would joke to friends that I didn't want a girl cause I didn't want to raise "girl me". But the reality was, there was no part of me that actually cared when I was given the chance to finally be a mum. Maybe the sheer fear of not knowing if I could ever have that chance was enough to scare the notion of a preferred gender right out of me.

Maybe that's why seeing people who are pregnant for a first, second or even 10th time, hoping for a particular gender in order to make their idea of a "perfect family" a reality, really irks me.

Why in 2021 are people still so obsessed with a boy, girl combo and the idea of "one of each"? The idea and concept as a whole actually makes me a little bit sad - that if a parent is given the sex of the baby they don't want, that they might feel disappointment or anything but elation at the identity of the tiny person they have been given the privilege of raising.

It's another reason why I can't stand gender reveals, celebrating the sex of your baby is a truly bizarre concept for me. It's also hard to grasp for other women who struggle to fall pregnant, as well as couples who cannot conceive, or same-sex couples battling with outdated laws, desperate for any child to love.

To be sold on your child being one sex over the other to me feels kind of greedy. Not only are you getting what you want, a healthy baby, you also want to put in a special order on how that baby might be, the things they might like and the colours they might be dressed in. It's a child, not a SIMS character.

That's why phrases like "we are going to keep going until we have a girl" genuinely fill me with confusion and rage. The very premise that your family is not complete without both genders under one roof feels archaic to me. And it implies that there is something wrong with other families who may have children of the same sex, or shock horror, just one.

Then there are the other factors to consider, like the fact that just because your baby is given certain sex at birth, doesn't necessarily mean that's the gender of the child you are going to raise. Your requested girl might actually identify as a boy, or non-binary. And it's actually your job as a parent to navigate that with them, and support that, not push ancient gender ideals.

Now, I am far from a "woke mum", in fact, I am what I would call a "realist mum". And the reality is, this opinion might make some feel uncomfortable, that the idea of this boy, girl combo family they grew up knowing was "goals" is being challenged. But why shouldn't it be? It's outdated and another way people are setting themselves up for disappointment over something they have absolutely no control over, and shouldn't have control over.

I believe as a parent, you are given the child that you are meant to raise. They are a little bit of you, and a little bit of another person, and together that creates an absolute miracle. A tiny person to pour all your love into, and what equipment they have does not bear a limit on that love, nor should it on your excitement on their arrival.

Any child is a gift, and if you are able to have one you should count yourself eternally blessed that you were that lucky. Some people aren't that lucky, and some people would give everything just to hear a baby's heartbeat during their sonogram - to them the sex of their baby would be a distant afterthought, not the main event.\

  • Jenni Mortimer is the NZ Herald's lifestyle & entertainment editor.












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