Baby shower? So 2010. Edgier moms-to-be have a baby gender reveal

Forget the baby shower. It's a ... "gender reveal!" For moms-to-be who want drama in their shower of baby gadgetry, gender reveal parties let everyone – including Mom – find out the sex of the baby together. "Huh?" asks our pregnant blogger.

Craig Cunningham/Charleston Daily Mail/AP
Baby shower? Not for Shainna and Bryan Pickens who – like a growing number of moms-to-be (and dads) – announced the sex of their unborn child June 22 to a group of about 20 by having guests bite into cupcakes: blue butter dream filling revealed the Charleston, W.Va., couple would be having a boy.

And you thought a baby shower was all the pre-birth feting your little one needed.

Silly Mommy. How 2010 of you. Today, baby showers are the least of it.

Or so I learned the other week, lying on that super comfy ultrasound bed for one of the more interesting pre-natal checkups; the one that not only determines whether your baby-to-be has all his/her fingers and toes, but also what sex organs he/she happens to boast. 

“Do you want to know what you’re having?” the friendly ultrasound technician asked.

"Heck yeah," I answered.  My husband and I were expecting this question, and, not exactly the patient types, already knew our answer. (Check out our post from earlier this year about the stats on who “finds out” and who doesn’t.) 

And then she asked: “Do you want me to tell you now or write it down?  You know, for your gender reveal?”

Huh? 

(Actually, I thought she said “gender unveil,” but that might have been an accent issue. We’re not from Massachusetts.)

Yes, the “gender reveal,” she explained. It’s all the rage these days. You have a party where your family and friends are dragged once again to pay homage to the bump (OK, she just said “come to celebrate”) and at the best dramatic moment, you open the envelop (or look in the cake, or lift a curtain, or whatever) and discover whether to paint the nursery pink or blue.

Seriously.

Husband and I exchanged looks.

“Really?” I asked.

It was all I could muster.

“I know, I know,” she said.

Like any professional researcher, when I got home I turned immediately to Google. Sure enough, authoritative mommy sites from WhatToExpect.com to BabyCenter.com to Pinterest have lists of Gender Reveal ideas and party tips. There are entire websites and books devoted to this.

“Expecting a new baby is a very exciting time for a couple,” writes www.genderreveal.net. “One of the most thrilling parts of pregnancy is revealing the gender of your beautiful little bundle. Don’t announce it just by making a phone call to your family and friends. Make your baby gender reveal party a big, wonderful, landmark event in your life by holding a well-planned baby gender reveal party. Celebrate the arrival of the newest addition in your family with all your friends and loved ones.”

There are plenty of ideas out there for a rockin’ Gender Reveal.  One is to give the secret envelop to the party’s cake maker, who then brings out either a pink or blue cake at just the right moment in the party.

There’s the balloon approach, where the Keeper-Of-The-Ultrasound-Envelope orders a huge box of either pink or blue balloons, to be opened by the parents-to-be in front of guests.

I also saw some people advocating a piñata approach. Apparently guests (or mom and dad) can bash through one of those paper animals – sometimes with a question mark drawn on its side – to reveal a cascade of either pink or blue candy. (Am I the only one to find that one a little disturbing? Especially as my own form begins to increasingly resemble that of one of those piñata donkeys... I mean, really, folks.)

A lot of party planners will encourage parents-to-be to have their guest pick sides, or vote, or otherwise get into the Gender Reveal spirit.  You know, pink buttons for Team Girl, blue for Team Boy.

And most importantly – all of this looks really good on Facebook

Ok. So parents-to-be out there who have embraced the Gender Reveal party, you’ve got to help me out with this. Because honestly, I don’t quite get it.

Sure, finding out the sex of your baby is cool – either at 20 weeks pregnant or on the child’s birth day. But hard as this might be to believe before it happens, it’s a piece of info that way pales in comparison to the actual existence of the kid. (Which is why some people who decide to wait to find out the child’s sex at birth realize later that they never even asked or thought about it in the moment.)

And here’s another thing:

While this little nugget of he/she info is pretty important to parents-to-be (how else to know how to decorate the nursery for Pinterest?), your friends – I promise you – do not care. I mean, they’re interested, sure, just in the same way that they’ll be interested in your first baby pictures and the name you pick and all of that good stuff. They care about the you, and the baby. But for 99.9 percent of the folks in your life, it matters not at all whether the upcoming bundle is a boy or a girl. Even if balloons are involved.

So maybe this is just an excuse for a party. And that’s cool. There have been far sketchier reasons for get-togethers.

But I can’t help feeling (I know, I know, grinch over here) that there’s something just a wee bit narcissistic about the Gender Reveal. We somehow think that our boy-girl moment is something other people should celebrate. It’s an Everybody Gets a Trophy kind of party. (I differentiate this, albeit with scant logic, from the general baby shower, or baby party. Because all babies are worth celebrating. Even if there are lots of them born every day.)

Moreover, there seems to be a growing sense that incredible moments are only truly special if they are photo-ready, admired by others and, preferably, color coordinated. Put it in the same category as the professional birth photographers.  But with more decorating potential.

But, I guess it’s whatever floats your boat. If the Gender Reveal brings joy, who am I to question it?

Over here, our Gender Reveal happened in the ultrasound room, when the technician asked whether Husband could identify the sex from our baby’s little parts, displayed on the fuzzy, black and white screen. He got the answer wrong. The technician corrected him. And then we went home, happily, to where there was no cake, and to where we could enjoy imagining our future with Baby Two To Be.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.