Good afternoon, little one. Our pregnancy bulletin says you’re reaching about 2¼ pounds, which doesn’t sound like much, but I’m sure your mother would love to disagree. You’ve already had your first case of hiccups and you’re blinking now, which is pretty amazing, really. The doctor is happy with your progress, and your little heart sounded great yesterday!

With all the planning going on around the baby showers, we’ve been doing a lot of explaining our decision to keep your gender a mystery until your birth. To be fair, we’ve gotten about an 80% approval rating from those people who’ve asked, and those are usually very supportive—which makes up for the 20% or so who have given us puzzled looks and even responses verging on hostility. I suppose it makes the process of buying gifts for you marginally harder, but hell, I’m a guy, I’ve purchased for baby showers before, and I’ve never had a problem finding something for a child of unspecified gender. They act as if we’re keeping this secret just to make their visit to Babies ‘R’ Us that much more difficult. (This reaction also seems to parallel a particular response to the idea of natural delivery: Birth is treated like a nose job). It’s not that we want to inconvenience anyone, really.

Maybe it’s the society we live in nowadays, where CNN shows us news from all over the world as it happens, the Internet is a repository of knowledge undreamed of ten short years ago, and medical procedures are broadcast on cable TV. People expect information immediately: What is this thing growing on my arm? Who is Jennifer Anniston dating today? What’s GM’s stock price right now? With three clicks on my phone, I can answer most of these questions and send you to WebMD to die of hypochondria overload. But do we need to know all this stuff? Just because they can tell us what you are doesn’t mean we want to know.

In the meantime, we’ve heard several of the wives’ tales about predicting the gender, which I’ll share with you here. Perhaps when you’re old enough we can all sit down over coffee, read this, and laugh.

The Chinese Birth Calendar.

Recommended to us by our accountant, who swore by its accuracy. We sat in her office before going over our financial records and looked up the table (pleasure before pain), which claimed we would have a boy. Jen did some looking online when we got home, and found other calendars, all of which claimed different results.

Net result: 50/50 odds.

Baby’s Position (where Mother is carrying).

Apparently, if the baby is way up high (directly under the chest), this means it will be a girl. When the baby is low, it’s a boy. Problem: How do we know what “high” is? Jen has been told it’s when the boobs are resting on the belly. I don’t think this is the case with you, although I think you’re riding high, personally—I’ve seen some women carrying kids down around their knees. Yee-ouch.

Net result: 50/50 odds.


Science says that the male carries the determining genetics for gender. Looking back through my family, we’re averaging about one girl for every three boys (save my Uncle Brian, who dents the curve with his output), and that carries through to my grandparents, where the ratio is slightly wider (1:4). My wife’s family is skewed the opposite way, and with twins to boot.

Net result: Boy.

Needle Reading.

I’ve heard of this, but we haven’t tried it. There are all kinds of variations on how to do this, some simply dangling a threaded needle over the wrist, belly, or wedding ring, and some sound like complicated forms of the Macarena. Whatever the case, an unscientific poll says that circles equal girls and lines equal boys. I’m going to leave it up the the pros at our family shower in a few weeks.

Net result: Undetermined.

Drano Method.

Apparently a few ounces of mother’s morning urine added to a jar of two tablespoons of crystal Drano will produce a chemical reaction (no duh) which will predict the gender: dark color==boy, light or no color==girl. This sounds like a method pioneered by poor Appalachian plumbers.

Net result: Gross. No way.

Baby’s Heart Rate.

This theory states that a heart rate above 140bpm means girl and below means boy. But Jen’s found places that say it’s the other way around. Again, with the myths it’s hard to get the straight dope. For the record, you’re averaging about 155.

Net result: 50/50 odds.

Morning Sickness.

The common wisdom says that if Mother had bad morning sickness in the first trimester, she will be having a girl. Your great-grandmother had terrible morning sickness, and she gave birth to your grandfather, so go figure. As for you, I’ll put it like this: For all your mother had to deal with during her first three months, you’d better be a Nobel-winning kung-fu champion movie star. No pressure.

Net result: Girl.

Baby Activity.

If the baby is very active, this means boy. But again, what is “very active?” Is it 24-hour frat party active, or 5-hour kegger? Is it drum lesson active or Zeppelin concert active? Your mother says you’ve been very active.

Net result: Boy.

Craving Salt.

If the mother craves salt, this means boy. But your mother had these cravings long before you were born, and there have been no plans to install a salt lick in the living room. I’d say her intake has stayed the same, although her craving for sugar has increased dramatically in the last few months. What does that mean?

Net result: Undetermined.

Cold Feet.

Supposedly, cold feet are the mark of the male gender. During the first trimester, your mother was cold all the time, but we live in a drafty old house. Now that July has rolled around, she’s been hotter than a two-dollar pistol.

Net result: Undetermined.

So what does all this mean? It means we have a new and interesting use for Drano, and we’re no closer to knowing what you’ll be than we were before. That’s alright, though—boy or girl, we’re taking you to kung-fu lessons and music classes, and I think you’ll be just as happy with jungle animals as you would with flowers or race cars. We love surprises, and you’ll be the best one of all.

Date posted: July 9, 2008 | Filed under finn | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to Dear Chinese Cabbage.

  1. ren says:

    Whichever flavor you have, the Cuke is going to be loved and spoiled (heh…sorry, but that’s auntie’s prerogative) and guided and protected and cheered on just the same. Whoever is on your case about not finding out the gender can go scratch…this surprise is most definitely the best one of all.

  2. molly says:

    I’ve heard a more reliable theory about the mother’s PH at the time of conception, which may account for my mother’s having all girls, as did I. My sister, however, had 4 boys.