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The gender-reveal cake is brought out from its hideaway. The pregnant mother stands expectantly, knife hovering over the cake, with the proud to-be-father grinning from ear to ear.

“C’mon!” shout the partygoers, “Let’s see if it’s a boy or a girl. Let’s see which of us wins the bet!”

The expectant mom and the expectant dad slice the cake, and out pour little chocolate buttons in pink or blue — pink for girls and blue for boys. There’s a loud hurrah from all.

Ever been to such a party? Does it sound like fun to you?

To me, and to most people of my generation, it sounds like another of life’s beautiful mysteries quashed to the ground. Do we really need to know the gender of the baby? Or do we have to announce it to the world, and not keep it just among family?

It appears not, judging by the popularity of these parties.

Science and technology have made such rapid advances that it is easy to not only tell the gender of the baby in the first trimester of pregnancy, but also give the exact age of the foetus.

Of course, this may be helpful in decorating a baby’s room, or buying clothes before the birth. But honestly, who cares if you buy pink for a boy and blue for a girl. Does the baby care? It’s just one of those brainless things that society thrusts on us. Babies can be dressed in any colour — pink, green, orange, white, yellow, even ultramarine.

A marketing opportunity

Clever marketers, seeing another opportunity to make mum or dad splurge on items for a new baby, have pushed this idea down our throats, so that we just have to decorate baby’s room or buy baby items according to the gender.

But going back to our topic, do we really need to know the sex of the child before birth? In my (not so humble) opinion, it was far more fun in the past when people would try to guess the sex. An encyclopedia of folklore and old wives’ tales have been fashioned around an expectant woman’s eating habits, looks and moods to determine the gender of the child.

Does she like sweet or savoury foods, has she become extra moody, is she carrying the baby high, does she have excessive nausea and morning sickness, and so on and so forth. And then, of course, there’s the famous ring test, where you tie a ring on a string and hang it over the pregnant belly; if it moves in a circular direction, it’s a girl, and if it moves from left to right, it’s a boy. I’m sure many of you reading this have been the victim of one of these old stories.

None of these stories have any basis in science. They may sound outdated to us, but believe you me, this is half the fun of a pregnancy.

more from the writer

It seems gender-reveal parties are the latest trend, and can be done in many fun ways. Sometimes, the parents-to-be learn the gender of their child along with the guests.

This is when the sonographer writes down the sex of the child and hands it over in a sealed envelope. Someone else takes charge of the gender-reveal moment, which can be through a neutral-coloured cake with the pink or blue revealed only upon cutting, a big balloon that is burst, with paper strings of the right colour pouring out, or even helium-gas balloons in a box, which pop out when opened in the presence of guests.

And as I’m writing this, I’m sure more creative ways are being devised.

Planning on a gender-reveal party, anyone? The choice is yours.

— Padmini B. Sankar is a Dubai-based freelance writer. Twitter: #paddersatdubai