Gender is such a hot-button topic these days that it’s become a means of also revealing your political slant. However, for baby gender reveal, most people go with the traditional girl or boy gender announcement with pink or blue themes.
It’s easy to see why baby announcements in pregnancy have become a cultural phenomenon and a booming industry. When most soon-to-be parents find out they’re pregnant, they want to surprise their loved ones with the wonderful news. When they find out the sex of their unborn baby, they want to share the news uniquely before setting their sights on the next big event—a baby shower. Sure, it’s a big deal. But isn’t a simple phone call enough? Well, for some, it’s not. And that’s ok.
The term “gender reveal party” in some circles causes vocal groans on the same scale as reactions to the phrase “avocado ice cream.” It sounds so millennial, so unnecessary, and so egotistical. To create an event so huge based on the time-honored tradition of telling your friends and family what sex your future baby may seem so ignorant to the world at large. One can imagine the same people would pay for a skywriter to let everyone know where their kid is going to college.
When do you find out the gender of the baby?
More often than not, soon-to-be parents can’t wait to know what sex their baby will be so they find out as soon as possible. Finding out gender used to happen at birth. The father would burst into the waiting room full of anxious family members and announce, “It’s a boy (or girl)!” They would smoke cigars (Inside? Gross!), pass hearty congratulations, and drunkenly peek at the tiny newborn through a window.
Things are different now. With the advancement of technology, your doctor can schedule an ultrasound at around 18-21 weeks to determine the sex of the baby, but some do it as early as 14 weeks. Add in the wizardry of the baby gender prediction test kit, which supposedly determines the sex 5 weeks into your pregnancy.
Not finding out the gender
My wife and I waited. We didn’t ever find out our kid’s gender until he was born. We figured that the gender of our baby might be the last best surprise of our young married life. It was amazing. I highly recommend this course of action. Sure, we had to paint the baby’s room in a gender-neutral color and populate it with gender-neutral toys. But isn’t gender-neutral parenting the progressive thing to do anyway?
Here are some tips about not finding out about the gender of your baby: First, tell your ob-gyn early that you don’t want to know. Then say it to every technician you meet. And then continue to tell them the same thing each time you go in for your appointments. You will be annoying, yes. But if it’s important to you, then take no chances. Eventually, they will start saying it back to you before you even have to mention it.
And that’s it. But I will say this, have the conversation with your partner each time you go in for your appointment. If one of you has a change of heart in the moment during the ultrasound—your partner may spring it on you and the doctor that they want to know—you will find out and possibly regret it later. Just having an understanding and a pact with your partner is critical.
How do gender reveals work?
How do you tell your friends and family the gender of your yet-to-be-born baby? Maybe a simple phone call will do? How about a lovely postcard they can keep for years to come? Perhaps a pyrotechnic display that rivals the one seen at the National Mall in Washington, DC every 4th of July? Hmmm, decisions decisions.
Gender reveals go something like this. Once you find out the gender, you secretly add the color related to the gender (blue or pink) to an item that will either be popped, cut, or blown up. Revealing the assigned color leads to squeals of delight. The creativity that goes into revealing the color is limitless.
Suppose you also want the gender to be kept a secret from you and your spouse. In that case, you can have your doctor send the information to a place that will add the appropriate color to the item you want to “destroy.” There are ways to contact, say, a bakery without you having to know. Whether the office does it, or the technician writes the gender on a folded piece of paper, or you appoint one trusted family member, there are many ways to accomplish this bit of subterfuge. Just make plans ahead of time then you can be as surprised as your family and friends in real time.
Again, I don’t know why a simple phone call isn’t enough, but as mentioned, everyone is different. I am not saying you shouldn’t do a gender reveal party. Not at all. This moment of revelation is an important one for your friends and family, and it should be celebrated.
Navigating the politics in baby gender reveals
Some people like to prepare in advance, some hate surprises, and others have to deal with gender gatekeepers who give unsolicited predictions because they also had a boy once. People have different reasons for wanting to find out the gender of their baby; I can respect that. It’s how you tell people where the real problems can arise.
Most gender reveal parties are very clever. The basic blue or pink cake can create a pleasant reaction from those who witness its cutting. In my opinion, pink and blue should no longer denote girls and boys; there are more than two genders and many sexualities for parents to stick to 2 colors. But I’ve come to understand that not everyone will agree and that’s fine.
Gender reveal party fails
Reveals go wrong. There are countless examples of people revealing the wrong gender, which is hilarious. The person in charge of the reveal could have double-checked, but you may have to roll with it if they still received incorrect information.
There are also quite a few anti-climatic reveals of people disappointed by the gender revealed, which is ridiculous. I’m going to judge anyone who sounds disappointed by the outcome as an inherently bad person and then move on.
Getting hit in the face with the gender reveal powder is always funny. When it’s a kid, they can cry, which may ruin the moment. Oh right, it could also hurt the kid if the powder gets in his eyes or something.
Many people use their pets to help with the reveal, leading to a varying degree of hilarity. But just a word of advice, I wouldn’t use your pet alligator. It puts everyone on edge. In addition to the animal’s welfare, what about your safety?
Preventing the dangers of gender reveals
Gender reveals have spiraled out of control. The need for thinking outside traditional themes and going viral has led to the popularity of elaborate gender reveal stunts that have become reckless and dangerous. So much so that the woman who “started” this phenomenon regrets doing so.
I will say that the idea of a firework explosion in the shades of blue or pink is a cool concept. But when people die from fireworks and wildfires, then it’s a problem. For instance, the California wildfire sparked by a reveal party killed a firefighter and burned 22,744 acres; the Iowa explosion killed a woman struck by a homemade pipe bomb intended to reveal the sex of the baby.
Here are ways to minimize the very real safety hazards from happening:
- The cake cut. The family stands around a frosted cake. You cut the cake and the inside is pink. It’s a girl, yay! Barring someone poisoning the cake or accidentally cutting someone with the cake knife, this one has no inherent danger. As long as there’s a steady hand, it should go off without a hitch.
- The balloon pop. A little riskier because it involves a loud noise, exploding air, and falling substances. Not to mention the clean-up. But it’s still an excellent, relatively safe way of going about it.
- Gender reveal games. Sometimes showing the gender of your baby yourself isn’t the most fun way to go about it. For instance, with the balloon method above, you could have some people throw darts at the balloon. You may skip this method if you have toddlers around. There are many other safe and fun games for everyone to play at your gender reveal.
- The “exploding” sporting equipment reveal. Do you and your family love sports and also maybe a little bit of danger? This might be the way to go for you. Fill any sporting ball or equipment of your choice with the appropriate gender reveal color—without the use of gunpowder. How you choose to “blow it up” is up to you. Just make sure that whoever is swinging the bat has at least a .250 batting average.
- The real exploding pyrotechnic insanity. This is where it gets scary. Yes, pyrotechnics are cool. Explosions are awesome. And if you choose to go down this route, you will undoubtedly create a spectacle your family and friends will remember for years to come. It would be best if you did this as safely as possible to avoid wildfires and possible loss of lives.
So many things can get in the way of a successful gender reveal. When you’re trying to extravagantly out-do your peers or want the attention that comes with elaborate and publicized gender reveals, you could fall victim to potential harm. I would recommend that you do what you want to do but with everyone’s safety in mind.
Look inward for inspiration. What would your gender reveal look like? How would you choose to make your gender announcement? How can you cause the most joy and the least amount of carnage?
Otherwise, I would urge you to wait if you can. The moment when I walked into the waiting room and declared to our family, “It’s a boy,” was so natural and pure. The best part was, “Do you want to meet him?” But that was our choice. As the kids say these days, “You do you.” Just don’t maim anyone or burn down a state in the process.