Sunday, January 25, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Babies in the womb can’t keep a secret anymore

MarionFranckW

By
From page A10 | March 02, 2014 |

* Editor’s note: Marion is taking the week off. This column first appeared in slightly different form in 2005.

“My friends look at me like I’m crazy, like it’s almost a sin or something,” said my niece, Traci, at her baby shower last weekend. “They ask me, ‘How can you stand not to know?'”

“Everybody in my birthing class knows,” added her cousin, also very pregnant, reporting on 12 couples. “Well, two don’t know. Not many.”

What are these young women talking about?

They’re discussing the biggest change in motherhood since I became a mother: knowing the sex of your unborn child.

Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but I don’t like this change.

I grew up with the movie-inspired image of the baby issuing from the mother’s womb to be held aloft triumphantly by a white-coated male doctor who triumphantly announces, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!”

By the time I had my first child, this picture had changed.

In particular, the pre-natal period had become almost as dramatic as the birth itself. Older mothers like me were referred for high-stakes genetic testing, due to our greater risk of a baby with Down syndrome.

The test had the side effect of revealing the sex of the baby, but most parents didn’t focus on that. (The big issue was whether it was OK to have an abortion if a genetic defect was discovered.)

After our baby tested normal, my husband and I debated whether or not to ask the sex. We chose to be surprised, in part because the old fantasy scene sounded so good.

(In fact, the sex of our baby was announced by a green-garbed female midwife instead of a white-coated male doctor, but we got the thrill — it’s a girl! — as we hoped.)

By the time we had our second baby, genetic testing was widespread, and everybody had figured out that it was a huge practical advantage to know the baby’s sex.

This being America, a lot of this was about shopping. Why buy green and yellow outfits when you can purchase pink or blue? Why miss the chance to buy a baby-sized football or a first Barbie? Why not furnish the nursery in the appropriate color?

Curiosity and impatience play a role, too. At the point where you can find out the sex, most commonly at 20 weeks, another 20 weeks of pregnancy feels like forever. For our second child, we chose to know what was coming.

A boy!

Nowadays, you don’t have to be 35 years old and eligible for genetic testing in order to learn the sex of your child. Ultrasound is routine, and it almost always answers the question.

My niece and her husband got into some friction about this, he clinging to the romance of the surprise and she feeling like this was a Christmas present she couldn’t wait to open.

I’m glad he won, and she is now, too.

“In the second trimester, it was driving me crazy not to know,” she said with a smile at her baby shower. “Now that it’s only 12 more weeks, I can wait. Actually, I’m looking forward to the surprise after nine months of dreaming and guessing.”

All this talk about knowing or not knowing led me to think about the other unknowns in our lives.

There are small numbers of big unknowns like “Will I find Ms. Right?” and “Will I be happy?” and big numbers of small unknowns like, “Will the steak taste good at this restaurant?” But there aren’t very many of the baby variety: an important unknown that lasts for more than a day but less than a lifetime, say, nine months.

I’m living with the one unknown that’s just as important as birth: I wonder when my father, who is 88 years old and mentally infirm, will die.

Not knowing the answer leads to lots of worries. Will his money last? How often should I visit? Should I force him to move closer to me? Some days, I shake my fist at the sky and say, “Why can’t I know when it will happen?”

Compared to that situation, the other unknown, the sex of your baby, is a picnic, a joy, a delight perhaps not to be missed.

It’s entertaining to watch people get involved as they guess “boy or girl.” It’s fun to get gifts in lots of colors. There’s pleasure in fantasizing the next 18 years of life as a parent of a girl and then starting all over imagining them with a boy. Even choosing names for both sexes helps you get through the long nine months.

It makes me sad that these pleasures have been snatched away from a new generation of young people, in exchange for what? The ability to shop more efficiently?

But what’s done is done and we can’t go back.

People who remember the old way will eventually die off. Knowing the sex of your baby will be as normal as having a TV in your living room, a computer in your den and a camera in your cell phone. Death will remain the great mystery and birth will remain not quite as suspenseful as it used to be.

— Marion Franck lives in Davis with her family. Reach her at marionf2@gmail.com

Comments

comments

.

News

Four days of unusual, adventuresome music

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Red Cross honors community heroes

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Bridges of Yolo County: Wear, tear … repair?

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Spanish police arrest 4 suspected members of a jihadi cell

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Rockets kill 30 in Ukrainian city as rebels launch offensive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Abe ‘speechless’ after video claims IS hostage dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
GOP presses state bills limiting gay rights before ruling

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Abortion opponents express renewed hope at California rally

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Fake schools draw federal scrutiny

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Winter produce available at Sutter market

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Sip wines at St. James’ annual tasting

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Logos Books celebrates 5 years, offers language groups

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Australian olive oil company opens U.S. headquarters in Woodland

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Explore at the YOLO Outdoor Expo

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Donations to be distributed during homeless count

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

 
Speaker will share computer security tips

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Yolo animal shelter seeking rawhide donations

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A5

 
Woodland Healthcare employees take Great Kindness Challenge

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

At the Pond: Nest boxes give birds new homes

By Jean Jackman | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
California ranks worst in nation for guidance counselors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Music and Words Festival events

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A12

 
Davis, Woodland are saving water

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A12

.

Forum

Family isn’t keen on relationship

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A8

 
 
Caring for the aging mouth

By Samer Alassaad | From Page: A8

Rick McKee cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

 
Big utilities’ nightmare begins to play out

By Tom Elias | From Page: A10

Mayor’s Corner: Let’s renew Davis together

By Dan Wolk | From Page: A10

 
We have the right to choose

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

We don’t have to suffer

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
City helped immensely

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

When measles spreads from Disneyland, it’s a small world after all

By New York Times News Service | From Page: A11

 
From innovation parks to innovative buildings and planning

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

.

Sports

Lady Devils hold off Pacers, stay perfect in league

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Wildcats’ inaugural kids development league exceeds expectations

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Aggies get top 2015 gymnastics score, but fall short

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Loud crowd sees DHS boys win

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

UCD men take two tennis matches

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

 
Watney in ninth at Humana Challenge

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B8

.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

 
UCD grad makes insurance ‘hot 100′ list

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Yolo County real estate sales

By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A9

 
Davis man focusing on cannabidiol business

By Will Bellamy | From Page: A9

Marrone Bio’s Regalia approved for new uses in Canada

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

 
.

Obituaries

Thomas George Byrne

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, January 25, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B8