14/08/2014 16:53 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Outnumbered And Over The Hill: Do You Know What You're Having?

Outnumbered and Over the Hill: Do you know what you're having?

I've already mentioned that the world seems like a different place to the one I inhabited the last time I was pregnant, nearly seven years ago.

Everything has changed, from the ease with which you can find maternity wear that you might actually want to be seen in, to the advice dished out to pregnant women about what they can and can't do/eat/expect.

But where I've noticed a real step-change is in people's attitudes to finding out the gender of your child.

"Do you know what you're having?" is literally the first question that almost everyone fires at me, upon spying my bump and determining that it really is a baby and not just the after-effect of a few too many pies.

Perhaps I'm already suffering from baby brain or pregnancy-induced amnesia, but I honestly don't remember people pummeling me for information regarding the gender of my babies in the past.

With our firstborn we opted to find out the baby's gender but I was the instigator of that, and as a first-time mum I was driven by an all-consuming need to know if our baby was a boy or a girl mainly because I hoped it might help me wrap my head around the mad concept of becoming a mother.

As it happened it didn't really, so the second time we were faced with the option of finding out our baby's gender, I opted to wait for a surprise. My husband, however, chose to find out.

Fortunately our sonographer was an accommodating type, and she tactfully scribbled the baby's sex on a piece of paper and handed it to my husband, who peeked at it later when I wasn't around and thus wouldn't be tempted to find out too.

Somehow he managed to conceal the juicy gender details from me. Until a few weeks before my due date when I couldn't stand the suspense any longer and demanded that he share the secret. That backfired somewhat, since I then convinced myself that he was calling my bluff by deliberately telling me the 'wrong' gender, so I still spent my final weeks of pregnancy playing a guessing game, and was still a little surprised when our second baby boy emerged in a hurry not long afterwards.

This time I think I want a true surprise. Mindful that this is likely to be my last pregnancy (I am over the hill, after all) I find myself wanting to experience that moment that always seems to happen in the movies when the baby's father gets to break the news of what they've had to the mother.

It always looks like such a tender, unforgettable moment, and I've been reliably informed that the 'not knowing' and the anticipation of finding out whether your baby is a girl or a boy can actually be hugely motivating during the final stages of labour.


And if I'm really honest, I'm so tired of the world and its mother asking me 'what I'm having' that I've resolved not to find out, mainly to annoy the nosy parkers.


If I can't give them a definitive answer to their question then I don't have to accommodate their views on the verdict. Of course, what I also failed to anticipate was that not being able to silence them with the facts means that I'm now subjected to everyone's unwelcome speculation as to the likely gender of my child.

Being pregnant and the mother of two children of the same gender also seems to mark you out in people's minds as someone who must be hoping, nay longing desperately for a child of the opposite sex. Which is utterly bonkers to me. I no more care about the gender of my baby than I do the colour of its eyes. I genuinely see gender as a small part of the package of who this child is, and I'm as excited to discover what colour his or her eyes will be and whose nose they'll inherit (the husband's, hopefully) as I am to find out whether we'll need to think up yet another boy's name. (Having given each child three names we're really starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel for remaining boys' names that we like as much as theirs!)

So no, I don't know what I'm having and frankly I don't understand why so many other people seem to find this an issue of such pressing importance.

We haven't entirely made our minds up on this matter but I reckon we'll be asking to remain in the dark when we go for our 20 week scan in a few weeks' time.

And until then I'll just have to keep trotting out my stock reply every time some well-meaning person asks if I know what I'm having.

"Yes. Apparently we're having a... BABY!" I say, smiling sweetly and chuckling to myself as I walk away, leaving my enquirer stuttering in bemusement.