I should probably start by saying that I don't do surprises. I realise this makes me sound a bit Verruca Salt, but it's the truth. Yes, I'm almost 30 years old and still, when my husband has gone to bed, carefully unwrap my Christmas presents, peek at the contents and replace them under the tree so no-one will ever know. Pathetic? Yes. Satisfying? Most definitely. I managed to ruin my husband's proposal plans by finding the ring he'd left in our joint rucksack whilst we were on holiday. This was an accident, and I lasted around two hours before breaking down in floods of tears and admitting what I'd seen, but deep inside I was probably a little bit glad that I'd not had a 'shock' moment.
There was no argument then that when I was pregnant with my first child we would find out the sex. It was bad enough waiting a full 17 weeks or so until the scan which confirmed my 'gut instinct' that our first baby was a boy.
I barely had a bump by the time we found out we were expecting T (something definitely not due to 'strong stomach muscles' like the midwife suggested!) but was already fed up of the public property aspect of pregnancy. It was very kind and generous of my inlaws to furnish us with enough babygrows and vests to clothe a particularly sicky batch of quads, but in my petulant hormonal state I moaned to my husband in secret that I wanted to go out and buy things myself. Then there was the rubbing, it seemed like every Tom, Dick and Aunty Mary wanted to give my abdomen a quick stroke, something which felt strangely intimate, especially when the far reaches of my family-in-law leaned in for a quick feel, Great Uncles who've only met my husband a handful of times and don't know me from Adam.
The expectant father and I hatched a plan then, we would find out the sex at the scan and not tell anyone. It would be our little secret, and the perfect antidote to a pregnancy which had become not just a family event, but one to be shared with neighbours, friends and even the man who runs the corner shop. For 20 weeks, choosing the name, buying outfits in the 'correct' colour and planning life with our son would be just ours.
We claimed that, despite wanting to know, T had been unwilling to play ball and had kept his legs crossed throughout the scan. My inlaws were disappointed, but continued to buy small items in white, lemon and green with gay abandon. My mum looked at the picture and said that after 25 years of teaching small children she could 'recognise a boy's head anywhere', and would be very surprised if she was wrong. Of course she wasn't.
Earlier this week I went for my second scan for my second baby. It was a long process. Evidently I am going to give birth to a lazy one. Despite being prodded with the sonographer's probe, and some earth-shaking contortions on the hospital bed, it wasn't until I'd run up and down the stairs a couple of times, eaten a packet of Fruit Pastilles and drunk a bottle of ice-cold Coke that the baby consented to having measurements taken. We asked about the sex, but guess what, the baby really did have their legs crossed. There was more poking, turning to the left and right, and prodding. I'm not sure that cool jelly is ever going to come out of the lower reaches of my navel. Eventually the sonographer conceded that the baby was 'probably' a girl. Her instinct and the evidence on the screen suggested so. 'Don't buy everything pink though, just in case' she warned. 'It's really not that clear'.
As luck would have it, much less precious and self-centered in my second pregnancy, we had decided to share the news with family and friends this time. I'm not sure I'd stake a wardrobe of baby-girl clothes on a 'probably', but I know 100% definitely, certainly, without a doubt, that this is karma and the uncertainty well and truly serves me right!