Babies

Like royal couple, some parents wait to learn baby's gender

July 22, 2013 at 3:42 PM ET

William Schultz was nervous. His wife, Alexis, was in labor with their first child and he was going to catch the baby as she pushed it out.

He didn’t want to drop his newborn child, of course, but he was also anxious about something else: the Schultzes didn’t know whether they were having a boy or a girl.

Alexis Schultz and baby
Courtesy Alexis Schultz
Alexis Schultz holds her baby son Weston immediately after birth.

After the last push, William caught the baby and immediately placed it on Alexis’ chest.

“Is it a boy or girl?” the doctor asked.

“I don’t know. I didn’t look. I was so nervous!” William said.

Finally, mom made the announcement: It’s a boy, Alexis said.

Just like Prince William and Duchess Kate, who decided not to learn the gender of their baby before it was born, some couples are also choosing not to find out whether the newest member of their family will be a boy or a girl.

When the Schultzes found out they were expecting, William suggested that they didn’t learn the sex. There were so few mysteries in life and he believed this would be a fun surprise.

“At first, I was totally freaked out and I actually wanted to know the gender,” admits Alexis, 30, a teacher in Fleetwood, Pa. “It created more of an experience for our family.”

Baby Weston is six months old and Alexis says if she and William, 29, have another child, they’ll stick to being surprised.

Dr. Rebecca Starck, the regional director of obstetrics and gynecology at the Cleveland Clinic, says during the recession more people seemed to want to know the sex of their babies, perhaps because they wanted to plan more. Now she estimates it’s “50-50.”

“More people than you’d think don’t want to find out,” she says, adding that for some “it’s like opening a Christmas gift.”

Melisa Whitman
Courtesy Melisa Whitman
Melisa Whitman decorated her nursery with antique toys so that it would remain gender neutral.

Many families agree that not knowing makes the pregnancy and birth more fun.

“You don’t get very many big surprises in your life,” says Melisa Whitman, 31, a stay-at-home mom in Pittsburgh, who had her first child, Henry, five months ago.

“I was very nervous about giving birth and everything that comes along with it. When you are pushing and [wondering] if it is going to be a boy or girl, [it] adds so much more excitement.”

While most couples who don’t learn the baby’s sex enjoy the adventurousness of it, they all agree that decorating the nursery and shopping for baby clothes pose a challenge.

“I have come to terms with yellow and green and gray,” says Megan Peterson, 26, an event planner in Pittsburgh, who is due the same day in August as TODAY’s Jenna Wolfe.

Another predicament: dealing with all the people who think you’re crazy for not learning the baby’s gender.

Megan Peterson
Courtesy Megan Peterson
Megan Peterson, who is due to give birth in a few weeks and doesn't know her baby's gender, says decorating the nursery and shopping for baby clothes are a challenge.

“They think you’re brave,” says Peterson, adding that most people tell her they couldn’t live without knowing if it’s a boy or a girl.

Andrea Brenneman, 34, who works in e-commerce in Cleveland and is 35 weeks pregnant, says she and her husband found out they were having a boy during her first pregnancy. This time, they decided not to learn the gender. While some people think they’re nuts, Brenneman’s coworkers are enjoying the surprise.

“One of my coworkers said that ‘it makes it more exciting for us,’” she says.

While Brenneman and her husband enjoy not knowing, she thinks it might be easier to prepare her 3-year-old son, Tyler, if she could tell him if he will have a baby brother or sister. Ultimately, she knows it doesn’t make a huge difference because Tyler is too young to understand -- he often asks if the baby will ride his bike.

No matter what a couple decides, Starck says she always sees joy in the delivery room: “Nothing can trump the experience of having a baby," she said.

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