The scariest thing about being a parent, so far, is making choices that will have a permanent and lasting impact on our kid. We’ve never even met him… how are we supposed to make these decisions for him? One of the downsides of our current world is an over abundance of information. There are strong supporters of completely opposite views for almost any choice we have to make in life. Parenting is no different. Already, my husband and I have had to make some significant choices for our son’s future. Some were easy to make. Some took us months to decide.
For the next five weeks, I will be publishing an extra post each Friday. This series of “bonus” posts will focus on our first five important parenting decisions. Each of these will reflect the personal choices that Kenny and I have made for our son and our family. They’re not all popular choices. In fact, one or both of our mothers disagrees with each one of these decisions. Many of you will have made the opposite decision. Whether you and I have made the same decision or not, we can agree that we love our children and only want what’s best for them based on our beliefs, research, and perspective. This is a five-part story, not about why our choices are “right,” but about the journey my husband and I have taken over the past six months or so to learn to make decisions as part of a parental unit.
Part 5 of 5- Decision: To Reveal or Not to Reveal Our Baby’s Gender and Name
For some people, the decision of whether or not to find out the baby’s gender is a big one. For us, it was a non-decision. We both wanted to know and didn’t care at all about the reasons other people told us we should let it be a surprise. I don’t think we even discussed it.
Likewise, the decision to tell other people our baby’s gender was a non-event. We never struggled with this decision at all. From the minute we found out, I was on my phone alerting the masses that we were going to have a boy. (More importantly, I informed the masses that I was right and Kenny was wrong- he thought we were having a girl).
Ok, so that was easy.
The decision to name our child prior to meeting him was also easy. Neither of us cared at all that some people thought we would change our minds or that we should wait until we met him to name him. We both wanted our son to have a name throughout the pregnancy- a real name, not a nickname for the time-being. We didn’t know what the name would be (more on that in another post!) but we knew we would choose it prior to his birth. Yay! Another easy parenting decision.
With all of these decisions being so easy, I was surprised to discover that Kenny and I disagreed entirely on our next choice- whether to share the baby’s name, either publicly or with a certain group (e.g. family only or family and friends). And when I say disagreed, I mean, really disagreed.
This may seem like a small choice and, I know, for many people, the decision to keep the baby’s name a secret is an obvious one. For us, this decision was and still is a major point of discussion. The truth is, Kenny and I still do not agree. We are not sharing the name of our son, generally. This is not a decision we made together. Kenny decided it must be a secret. Kenny also decides what exceptions there are to this general rule- he has handpicked a few people with whom the name is shared (our parents didn’t make the cut).
Like I said, we did not make this decision together.
Kenny wants to keep the name a secret because that is traditional and because he wants the moment when we reveal the name after our son is born to be an affair of sorts. The way I describe it is he wants a little drama surrounding our name reveal.
I want to share our son’s name. I don’t care about the drama of revealing the name at birth. I don’t give two hoots whether somebody might criticize our name or try to talk us out of it… why would I? Those people are being rude anyway, I don’t care what they think. All I care about is my little boy and his name.
In my mind, our son’s name is an integral part of his identity. In fact, besides his gender, it’s the only thing we know about him. There are so many times when I feel as though I’m the only one who has a relationship with our boy. To everybody else (Kenny excluded), our baby is a baby-to-be. He is a future baby, not one who is with us here and now. I have to give Kenny credit- he is a super involved “dad-to-be.” He knows everything about every second of my pregnancy and our birth plan and child birth. He has put in more than his fair share of dad hours already caring for our baby by caring for me while I’m pregnant. But there is a difference. That’s why I’ve always hated the phrase “we are pregnant.” No we ain’t! WE are going to have a baby but only one of us “is pregnant.” Kenny does SO much for me to help me with my pregnancy- making sure I put my feet up and massaging my swollen ankles and cooking and cleaning and running baths for me when my back gets sore, etc. In doing so, he is caring for both me and our baby. That’s great. But he isn’t pregnant.
He doesn’t personally have the sore muscles or the nerve pain or the swelling. He doesn’t get nauseous when he’s not even hungry because our baby needs more calories. He can take some time off from being a dad when he needs to.
I can literally never take time off. I can’t just take one night to wear my old skinny jeans and my high heels and have a glass of wine with friends. I can’t pass the baby off for one afternoon so that I can just sit outside on a park bench.
I am the one who wakes up when our baby moves, who monitors his movements to make sure he’s healthy, who is restricted in what I can put in and near my body because of our baby’s health. I’m the one who goes to the doctor several times a week to keep every part of my health in check. I’m the one who no longer has autonomy; everything I do requires me to consider our baby first.
For the record, I’m okay with that! And it is absolutely worth it. But the facts are the facts. I’m the pregnant one.
I feel very strongly that my pregnancy journey would be easier if I could use our son’s name; if he felt more like a little person because I could talk about him; if other people got used to calling him by his name as if he were real and present instead of “the baby” which really means “the baby-to-be.” Our baby is a real, living thing…. Not a “to-be.” At this point in particular, he is fully ready to be born; nothing separates him from a baby we can hold in our arms. He has a strong beating heart and lungs that can breathe (even if they don’t breathe yet). He has sleep patterns and patterns of moving around. I want to be able to talk about him like people talk about their children, but I can’t because he is nameless.
So how did we end up “making the decision” to keep the name a secret? We both felt strongly and we couldn’t compromise, so how? It was unspoken, but the logic in my head sort of went like this– Choosing my way was irreversible- the cat would be out of the bag. If I told people, I could never un-tell them. But if we kept it a secret instead, we could choose to tell people later. Maybe I would one day convince Kenny of my side of things. This was sort of an unofficial decision, but that’s how it was made. We basically decided to just put off really “deciding” anything until we could agree. Since we can’t agree, the “decision” came to be that the name is a secret.
I did insist, however, that I be able to tell one person so that I could at least use our son’s name on occasion. Fortunately, this particular friend is wonderful and texted me every day for weeks using our baby’s name to ask how he was doing.
So, all is well that ends well. Our little guy should be here in the next few weeks and then the world will know his name. I still don’t agree with the choice, but that’s the route we ended up taking. And no, this post isn’t going to tell you the name. Sorry. Kenny’s rules. Blame him. But I’ve got an entire explanation of his name and our process in choosing it typed up and ready to post as soon as he is born. Stay tuned!
Other Posts in This Series: