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On Keeping Baby Genders A Surprise (And Baby Names We Didn't Use)

One of the questions I receive the most is about our decision to keep our second daughter's gender a surprise until birth. My Insta and Facebook feed have had so many pregnancy announcements recently that I figured it might be a fun and timely topic to discuss. People have asked me -- what made you decide to keep it a surprise? Was it worth the wait? Would you do it again? Was your guess correct?

So, first things first, we did find out the gender with my first pregnancy, Camille. We actually got it done a tad earlier than my OB's office would do at a private ultrasound practice so that we would know in time for our gender reveal party (I planned the party, printed/mailed invitations, THEN found out that the anatomy ultrasound appointment was happening after the party ... drama).



With Camille, we were both secretly hoping for a little girl! Ian was inclined to keep the gender a surprise, but I pulled the Type A card and really pushed for us to find out. Um, hello, gotta plan.

So, when we were expecting our second child, I decided to give him his wish and have us experience the true surprise of finding out boy or girl at the moment of birth. Here are the reasons why I was down:

+ I had already experienced a pregnancy knowing the gender, so this was a way to experience it a totally different way
+ I already had so many baby necessities from Camille that were gender-neutral colors or styles and could work for a boy or girl
+ I wasn't planning on doing another registry or having a big lavish baby shower for gifts
+ Something about finding out with just Ian (other than the medical staff) felt really intimate and special
+ Being busy with a wily toddler, I didn't have as much time to just sit around and navel-graze and ponder pregnancy. Life was all about Camille and this second pregnancy was so wonderful but not as "in the limelight"


One stipulation that I did have was that I asked our delivery room medical staff (midwife and nurses) to let Ian be the one to tell me what we had. I made this wish very clear because I just always wanted that memory of hearing the news from him!

And boy, was that a surreal moment. I will never forget hearing from him that we had another daughter.



I was also SO wrong in my mother's intuition ... I thought for sure we were having a boy!

SO, although I really think with every cell of my body that our family is complete as a family of four, if I did it all over again, would I wait to find out the gender?

Probably not. :)

It was definitely a sweet and wonderful surprise, but being the planner I am, I took so much JOY in connecting with baby Camille in my tummy, knowing she was a girl. Running my hand over little pink outfits in the store, Registering for blankets with ribbons on them. Picking out girl names.

(About that: The hardest part of ALL for me was having to go to the hospital with both a girl AND a boy name, both of which we loved, and then have to leave one of those names on the proverbial cutting room floor. Our boy name was Carter. Our other girl name that we decided against at the very last minute was Scarlett. We loved both Charlotte and Scarlett but Charlotte just seemed more classic and special to us and our story.)

I'm definitely glad that I experienced the two pregnancies in different ways. And it was fun telling our moms as they entered the room that the baby in our arms was another darling girl.

So, what did you do, or what do you plan to do? Will you find out the gender?
Care to share the baby name(s) you ended up not using?

31 comments:

  1. I love this post friend! With all 5 of our pregnancies- we have waited to find out the gender! I absolutely would not have had it any other way :)

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  2. We didn't wait to find out with either of my kids. I have a girl and a boy. But if I were to have third (which isn't the plan) I would try to not find out. But like you I'm a big planner. I doubt I could Hold out. With my daughter the boy name we didn't use (Bennett) we used for my son. It was a family name so it was a def. use name. With my son, had he been a girl he would have been named Claire Elizabeth. Which I still love....

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  3. Wow, almost exactly the same :)
    I insisted on finding out the first time because- planning and shopping. Plus I wanted to know who was in there so I could feel connected and bond. We had a boys name picked out straight away (August Alexander) but didn't choose a girl's name for a long time! I wanted Hazel but we went with Violet as my hubby really didn't like Hazel.
    With baby 2, we opted for a surprise which I was happy to do for similar reasons- to give hubby what he had wanted the first time, because I had a ton of neutrals and not planning a shower or anything requiring gifts and to make pregnancy and birth 2 special and different in some way as poor pregnancy2 got quite neglected as chasing a toddler etc.
    Well we got our wish about special and different as labour was so fast that I delivered the baby myself in our bathroom!! So surprise...!! I got to announce to my hubby that we had a girl and I think he was so shocked and happy and emotional by the whole event that the girl announcement got a bit lost actually.
    We named baby 2 Eden Rose, but the two other girl names we had picked out were Stephanie and ... Scarlett! My hubby really wanted Violet and Scarlett, but when she was born she felt like an Eden to me. We still had August Alexander picked for the boy and I'm so so sad that we didn't get to use it. I'm emotionally attached to this name and somehow to the little boy it belongs to that never existed!

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    1. I can't believe you had your daughter in your bathroom! You are MY HERO! (PS, Violet was almost Camille's name!)

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  4. I LOVE this post. I'm not 100% sure whether we'll have a baby#2. I never thought I'd get pregnant with Baby #1 due to a WRONG infertility diagnosis. He was a total and wonderful surprise! With that said, I thought our first was a girl until the ultrasound that showed HE wasn't. A part of me always saw myself as the mother of a little girl and I LOVED our girl name (Merritt), but alas, we have a perfect little boy that I wouldn't trade for the world. His name is Roan (pronounced like Joan) and he's named after a mountain not far from Boone where my husband and I took our first backpacking trip together.

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    1. A total and wonderful surprise indeed. I love his name so much -- you know I heart Boone!

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  5. We will not be finding out our next baby's gender and what sold me on the idea was your blog! Everyone was SO excited when I was pregnant with my first, I think having a surprise element to my second will keep things fun this time around too! I have to agree with the names though, it will be so hard not to use one!

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  6. Awesome post! My thoughts on finding out the gender (and I've only done it once)....we got an extra special day around the 20 week mark AND When he was born. :)

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  7. Love this post! It's always so fun to hear about why other families made their choices. We found out with both our girls as soon as possible; the first on my husband's insistence and the second on mine! But I do love our boy name, Chase!

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  8. Since you had your desired gender in your first pregnancy would it have made a difference if you had a boy the first time around? Would you have still been on board with waiting the second time around?

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    1. That's a really good question. I would have totally been on board with waiting again. My number one reason for waiting was that it was Ian's preference so I wanted to give him an opportunity to have that delivery room surprise!

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  9. Great post. I always roll my eyes when people say they are waiting. I'm way too type-A for that! I like your story though.

    I agree about boys names though... I have two girls and I found choosing girl names to be more difficult. Because I don't want names that are too similar sounding to the girls we have now, I know I won't use Mara (LOVED this one), Lydia, Noelle or Colette. Also, we had a boys name (Owen) that we would've used with either girls. Within the 4 years since finding out I was pregnant with #1, I know at least 8 people who have used that name. I'm fine with popular names (We have a Charlotte too!) but too many people we actually know well in such a short time has put me off of it a little. If we have a third, it'll be back to the drawing board.

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  10. We found out and had no regrets. Two little boys! It definitely made it easier to connect to the pregnancy and made it more real. I'll find out ahead of time next time too because there may be a *touch* of gender disappointment if we don't get a baby girl as it will be our last. I definitely don't want that in the way (not sure if it would or not, but just putting it out there) when the babe is here. This is all hypothetical!

    Boy names we loved but didn't use are Cooper and Cannon.

    Girl names we loved but didn't use are Parker (we ended up using it on one of our boys), Elli, Caroline and Charlotte.

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  11. We have one girl so far and I definitely wanted to know... well...Because I'm both impatient AND wanted to plan ahead. It was lucky that my husband and I had agreed on a girl's name many years ago, but we all were so sure we were going to have a boy because girls are very rare on my husband's side of the family (hubs is middle of 3 boys, his dad is one of 3 boys and my hub's brother had 2 boys). But she was a pleasant change to our whole familys long streak of boys only! Her name is Madeline. We were undecided on a boy's name, so now we joke that in order to get the gender we want next time, we just need to agree on a name and we're set ;) For our next one I'd like it to be a surprise, too.

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  12. We found out too and I think it would drive me crazy not knowing. I think knowing is super helpful because, as you mention, it gives you time to process the news, plan and also connect more with your baby. I'm so glad you settled on Charlotte for your second darling girl. It really is absolutely perfect for your family!

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  13. Great post! I always love hearing people's baby names . I have a 12-year-old daughter named Piper who we did not find out the gender with, and names on the cutting room floor were Alden, Marris, and Jack Harding if she were to be a little boy. I gave birth to another little girl five weeks ago (yes, a tween and a newborn… Yikes!) and with this one we did find out her gender. Her name is Lucy Snow~ double name which I never thought I would do, but Snow is a big family name on my husband's side and we really loved it with Lucy. Other contenders were Eliza and Katherine, call her Rinne. Who knows if there is a number three in the cards!

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  14. Love this post!! We don't have kids yet but there's no way I'd be able to wait until birth to find out the gender. I've heard from a few people that not finding out just kind of hurt the connection with the baby while pregnant. LOVE your other names though. I really love Charlotte and Scarlet (love southern names) but my husband shot both down :( lol Thanks for sharing!

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  15. Great post! We found out with all 6 of ours, with that many I have to plan!
    I thought our first would be a girl, but I was wrong, we had a boy. Then, I guessed boy with all the rest, and we had 5 daughters in a row! Our children are Henry (hank), Scarlett, Lucille (Lucy), Eleanora (ella), Caroline and Evelyn....any more, no ideas on names!

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  16. Scarlett is the name I want for a girl! I'm pregnant with a boy but maybe next time!

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  17. I think baby name discussion is so interesting! We just had our second boy December 2, and his name is Caleb. Our girl name (that will never be used!) is Mary Alice. Mary and Alice are both family honor names, and I love double first names!

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  18. Such a fun post!
    We found out with both! WAY too much of a planner here. And so are too many other members of my family.
    My first is Josiah...would have been Evangeline. My second is Lydia...would have been Levi. If we ever have another, we'll wait to find out. Everyone will just have to deal...including me!

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  19. Love hearing other people's perspectives on this. We waited to be surprised and hearing my husband tell me it was a boy was the absolute best part of the delivery, in my opinion! I always said we'd find out ahead of time for #2 but now we can't imagine ever wanting to find out.

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  20. I don't think I could wait to find out the gender. I'm WAY too type A for that! We found out with both of ours because I had to be able to decorate a nursery. Hehe.

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  21. I love the new look!
    We decided to keep the gender surprise for our first! I was surprised by how many people told me I was crazy for not finding out the gender. I'm so glad we didn't find out bc we were so surprised when our little one was born. We were convinced it was a boy and we had a little girl! However, for our second child, I will definitely find out the gender!! I did miss out on connecting during the pregnancy to a boy/girl and I missed out on the shopping for bows etc. :)

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  22. I love how you did this! Such a sweet story for both babies! xx, I'm Fixin' To

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  23. I love this post! Congrats momma. I don't have any kids so I'm not sure what I will do when the time comes, but this was such a great read and so much to keep in mind. You have a beautiful family.

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  24. Oh, I absolutely love this post. While I don't plan on having babies anytime soon, I do know that I want to keep the genders a surprise. And your name choices are classic and lovely.


    By the way I added you to my list of blogs that I love in my right hand sidebar.I know I don't have time to write comments much here but I am always reading on slow night shifts and follow on Instagram :)

    http://aduchessandablog.blogspot.com/

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  25. I've been thinking about a blog post like this for ages - especially now in the middle of our third pregnancy. We kept the gender a surprise for our first two pregnancies and we loved the secret and element of surprise - as this is our third and final pregnancy, we decided to do something different and find out. I won't lie, it has been quite weird but it has been a nice change and even better for my A-type personality to be organized... And all three girls for us :)
    x

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  26. I'm pregnant with my first and we chose not to find out. I have been amazed at how many people I encounter who have implied that because we don't know the gender it means that we won't be prepared! I consider myself a planner and a relatively Type A personality. I'll still have all the infant necessities that anyone else has, maybe just not as many pink or blue clothes .... but in reality is a newborn really wearing that much more than onesies and swaddle blankets in the first few days and weeks anyways?? My OB tells me that we will be the hit couple in the delivery room as nurses love when the gender is a surprise! I've just been amazed at how many "negative" reactions I've gotten with our decision to be surprised!

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  27. I'd always thought I'd wait for it to be a surprise... until I actually became pregnant. Then I HAD to know! Names are so hard, that's most of the reason we did find out with both kids, to help pin down name options! I'd always thought Lawter would be a middle name (it's my middle name) until Anthony suggested it for first name. I also thought we'd use Grayce, the way my grandmother spelled it too, but it was just so heavily used around the time L was born. Until we came across Tell in the family records, I'd been advocating for Landon, which also happens to be a family name.

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