To Know or Not to Know: Gender at 20 Weeks

By Jeana Lee Tahnk

Ah, the 20-week ultrasound, when the baby's gender finally can be revealed! Even though I have always been in the don't-want-to-find-out camp, it's still an exciting appointment when the full anatomy scan is done and you can find out whether to break out the blue or pink.

With all my pregnancies, I have been pretty steadfast in not wanting to know the baby's gender. I loved the mystery of who was inside of me, wondering if it was a boy or a girl and thinking about what the baby would look like (this was also before the days of the 3D ultrasound).

And there was enough anticipation around each ultrasound that gender seemed to take a back seat. I was a worrywart: Will I hear the heartbeat? Is the baby growing? Is the baby developing normally?

I still recall those appointments so clearly. Lying on that table with the crinkly paper underneath, feeling the warm gooey gel on my belly and looking up at the grainy black and white screen and having no clue as to what I was looking at, and wondering with every pass of the wand, if I'd accidentally see the baby's gender.

With any pregnancy, often the first question you're asked is, "What are you having?" Nine times out of 10, I'd be met with surprise when I said I didn't know. The ultrasound technicians also would confirm that I was in the minority when I prefaced each scan with, "Don't tell me the gender!"

It's funny because when it comes to finding out your baby's gender, there are people who need to know and others, like me, who prefer to wait. I didn't have any kind of pressing desire to know for nursery-planning or wardrobe-buying purposes. You can imagine how many lime green and yellow onesies I got at my baby shower.

Learning the baby's gender is a surprise, whether it's at 20 weeks or when the baby is born. In the case of my first - when I was truly surprised by the gender - hearing my husband announce, "It's a boy!" was so awesome. And even with kids No. 2 and No. 3 when my hunches were right, being able to see those squishy baby faces for the first time were moments I'll never forget.