Are You Having a Boy, a Girl, or a Miracle? (Let’s Talk About What Really Matters.)

I’m 41 years old and pregnant with my last baby. I realized the other day that this is the final season during which I’ll answer a predictable series of pregnancy-related questions such as: When are you due? Do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl? 

I’ve never minded these questions. Heck, within reason, I don’t mind when strangers touch my gigantic belly. We humans are curious about one another, and it’s generally sweet during a time like this.

At its best, inquiring about the baby’s gender is a way of imagining how a new life might shape a family. It’s a question about possibilities with an eye towards hope and the future.

At its worst, that little gender question can lead to some pretty boneheaded comments. Here are a few memorable examples from my experience:

An acquaintance once said: All guys want to have a son. Maybe they don’t all admit it, but they all want one.” 

A member of our extended family suggested he’d like to see me “produce” a son at some point.

While working out at the gym, I felt a woman staring at me. She struck up a conversation about my obvious pregnancy. It quickly turned to gender. I answered that I have two daughters, and we’re expecting another girl. Her whole body slumped and she rolled her eyes skyward, as if to communicate RATS! You must be so disappointed! 

woman-356141_1280And, finally, this gem, from a checker at the grocery store, within perfect earshot of my daughters:

Checker: “Two girls? You gonna try for a boy?” 

Me: “Oh, no. I don’t care about that.” 

Checker (unconvinced): “Yeah, but what does your husband think?”

Me: “My husband adores his daughters. He’s thankful to have two healthy children.” 

Checker shakes head, and I walk off wondering why this stranger felt the need to plant the idea— in front of my girls—that they somehow weren’t enough.

Is a father really unfulfilled if he never has a son? Women are still pressured to birth sons in 2015? Should we interpret a boy-child as a sign of particular divine blessing? Should we assume a family is desperate for a boy, or a girl, or whatever gender isn’t represented simply because there are multiple children of a kind? My sample of comments suggests there are many who cling to these archaic and biased beliefs.

It would have been wasted effort to explain to the checker that my two daughters are more than enough. They are my joy, my husband’s joy. I’m thankful for a husband who’s taken a deep interest in their existence from the beginning. He rejoices in milestones and watches their personalities unfold. He accepts his girls as they are, not placing rigid stereotypes on them. He encourages their growth. I believe he’d take the same approach to fathering a son, but I’ve never felt for a second that he’s disappointed because he doesn’t have one. He knows life is precious, and he treats his daughters as gifts.

Is it really so easy to forget that life is a miracle? 

I was thinking of some women I know and love. In light of their losses, gender seems so insignificant.

One desires more than anything to have a partner and babies—a dream unfulfilled.

Another was never able to conceive.

Another conceived but never carried a baby to term.

After giving birth to a son, another had multiple miscarriages. She endures judgmental comments about how her son would be so much better off with a sibling.

Another goes through the emotional ringer of unsuccessful attempts to adopt a child.

Another adopted, and desires to adopt the child’s half-sister, but it hasn’t worked out. She wishes she could give her daughter a sibling—this particular sibling.

Another lost a baby during her last month of pregnancy.

Another delivered a stillborn.

Another’s daughter developed leukemia at age 5. Now age 8, the little girl is fighting her second round.

When you consider the aching emptiness that families— particularly women—often bear silently, the question of gender seems irrelevant.

I decided to learn the gender of my babies in all three of my pregnancies, for different reasons. I, too, find myself asking, do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl? I don’t mind the question when it’s posed to me. I’m thrilled about the life inside me; I want to talk about it. I like focusing on hope and possibility.

I’d just love to see the natural curiosity we have about gender paired with an even greater respect for the fact that life is precious, fragile, and valuable—period.  

Karla and her husband Brian have called Fort Worth home for six years. Originally from New Mexico, she also spent several years in California, Washington D.C., and Latin America. Karla treasures being a mama to daughters Olivia and Anna. As a bonus, she can’t wait to meet Baby #3 this October! She copes with life in a hectic world by baking too many fruit pies, reading creative non-fiction, and listening to Americana music. Read more about her appreciation for hot New Mexico chile, the Texas outdoors, and adventures in homeschooling on her blog,


  1. As a mother of both a boy and a girl, I always find myself cringing when strangers congratulate me on the gender variety of my kids. I’m blessed by my son and daughter, but I would be blessed by them if they were both boys or both girls. The wisdom strangers feel the need to depart on pregnant women is quite astounding.

  2. I’ll never forget the our gender reveal sono with our first (we were 30) v our gender reveal sono with our twins at 35. For the twins, gender was by far the LEAST of our concerns, whereas for the first, that’s all we cared about. We were the first to have kids in our family and group of friends, therefore we had no idea (truthfully) of all that could go wrong. We just didn’t know. Now we do. And yes, the miracle of our healthy (4) children is continually on our hearts and minds. And we are infinitely grateful.
    However, maybe I’m the exception, but questions from strangers rarely bother me (unless I’m in a crabby mood). I think at the end of the day, most people are seeking relationship, and strangers who talk with people about their pregnant bellies (and children) are doing just that. Reaching out. I had a checker once tell me I needed to leave my watermelon at the store when my belly was swelling with twins. I had no idea what she was talking about until she gestured toward my stomach.
    While we are unbelievably blessed by both our girls and our boy, I still ask people all the time what they are having because it is important and it does affect family dynamic. I was never (still am not) phased when people said stuff like “oh your husband finally gets his boy.” (In reality, he was so used to be a girl-daddy that he was a little thrown off by his boy initially). With 2 big kids and twins, the questions never ever ever stop. Even the awkward ones. Que sera sera.


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