Updated: Jun 20
For as long as I can remember, whenever I spoke to a friend or family member about the birth of his or her new child, the question always arose...did they want to know the sex? And it was almost always a given that everyone I knew decided to find out the gender of their son/daughter.
When my wife and I discovered that we were expecting our first child, I was knocked for six when Danielle told me that she didn’t want to know the sex.
This was an argument that I was going to fight until the very end...or was it?
I have three brothers and one sister. My mother and father chose not to find out the gender of four of their five children, so I asked myself ‘why did I want to be any different to them?’ My wife was very much influenced by her family (mum and aunties), with none of them wanting to find out the sex when they had their children. How had I not been influenced by my family's decisions?
Danielle made me realise that in life, and largely when it comes to having a baby, we generally know a lot of certainties. We know the due date (although Jonathan has since told me that’s only 3-5% accurate), we know we are going to need a cot, we know we are going to need a carrier to transport the baby from the maternity unit to our home, pram, nappies, baby wipes, sterilisers……sleepless nights…...and so the list goes on. But one thing you haven’t necessarily got to know is the sex of your child (unless you’re the sonographer!)
Dannii soon started to convince me that this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a feeling and emotion like never before. My wife was to carry, nurture and grow our child for nine months, dealing with all manner of hurdles along the way - severe morning sickness, needing to pee every two minutes, uncomfortable restless nights, blood tests, endless midwife appointments etc. The least I could do was let her have her wish of not knowing the sex. Maybe not knowing would give her a little more pushing power when the time to give birth came.
I was sold...we were set. For our first child, my wife and I chose not to know the gender of our baby.
It was then that public opinion started to raise a few eyebrows whenever we told friends and family of our decision.
How can you prepare if you dont know the sex?
“How can you not know the sex?”
“How can you possibly choose the right colour clothes for your child?”
“How will you know what colour scheme to paint the nursery?”
“How can you decide on a name if you dont know the sex?”
These kinds of comments really made me laugh because on reflection none of them mattered. And ironically, if I'm honest with myself, I used to be one of those people.
All the clothes we chose were of a neutral colour, including the clothes Danielle received at her baby shower. The nursery was painted green and grey. Danielle picked a girl’s name and I picked a boy's name. We were ready!
Don't get me wrong, I still nearly caved in on our 20-week scan. My wife was lying on the bed holding my hand. The sonographer was rubbing the jelly on Dannii’s stomach and our hearts were racing twenty to the dozen. Then all of a sudden our child appeared on the screen. It was shortly after that the midwife said;
“I’m just going down ‘that end’ to determine the sex of the baby - if you dont want to know the sex, look away now!”
It sounded like we were about to find out the football results on an episode of ‘Match Of The Day.’
“Dannii...let’s find out, we can know right now!”
“No darling, we’ve lasted twenty weeks, a few more weeks will be easy. We can do this!”
‘Okay’ seemed to be the hardest word to say at that point but I did, and we walked out of the hospital with a few scan pictures in our hands, still unaware of the gender.
To this day, I still get a shiver down my spine when I think of that moment. Would I have been disappointed if I found out? Would things have been different from then onwards? I was so set on wanting a boy, would I have been disheartened to discover I was going to have a girl? Who knows?
What I do know is that by holding out, one of the best moments of my life was still to take place.
Patience is a virtue
The nursery was painted, the wardrobe was filled, our names were chosen and after nine months it was finally time to find out whether or not we were going to have a boy or a girl.
It was in June 2018 when the magic happened. My wife had spent just under 24 hours in labour and we were in and out of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Margate throughout the whole day. In fact we were in and out of Queen Elizabeth more times than Prince Phillip.
At 3:08am on the 8th June 2018 my daughter was born...only eight minutes after I parked the car at the hospital! As the midwife held a vision of beauty in her hands, it was my duty to announce the news to my wife as she patiently lay there waiting. I took our daughter carefully from the arms of the midwife, carried her over to Danielle, where the love of my life heard for the first time me utter the words “I'd like to introduce you to our beautiful daughter Ottilie.”
It was one of the most magical, spine tingling, emotional and beautiful moments you can ever experience in a lifetime.
And I highly recommend it!
In episode one of the Poddy Training podcast, Jon and Lloyd discuss dads finding out the gender of their baby in more detail, and give their own recommendations based on their experiences. To listen to episode one now, or any of the season one episodes, click here.