Why we waited till birth to know the sex of our child

A week after getting off birth control, Thabiso Sekhula, 31, fell pregnant with her second child. Thabiso shares her pregnancy journey and why she and her partner, Paul, chose to wait till birth to find out they were having a baby girl.

Please tell us about your pregnancy, was it planned?
Yes, it was. We had decided to take 2019 out of Joburg to have a baby. But we didn’t think I would fall pregnant a week after getting off birth control. Laughs

How and when did you find out?
About 5 weeks into my pregnancy, I threw up on my way to drop off the older kid at school and I never throw up unless I’m super drunk or pregnant. I wasn’t drunk so…

What was the first thing that came to mind when you found out?
Oh shit. So soon.

As parents, you decided to keep the sex of the baby unknown till birth. What influenced this decision?
To me, this was not even a thing. I didn’t even think about not knowing the gender when technology allows it. But baby daddy said he liked the mystery of not knowing so when he asked that we keep it a secret I wondered why he would do that but I agreed. He told me after we had our baby girl that it was because he knew how much I wanted a girl and he didn’t want me to be disappointed if it wasn’t. 

Did not knowing give you anxiety?
Not anxiety but I really wanted to know at first because I was crossing fingers for a girl and I was itching to start buying pink. Then as we got through the initial firsts of pregnancy, kicks, movements, heartbeat, I realised not knowing the gender was the last surprise of this journey and if we found out, there wouldn’t be anything else except waiting for the baby. So not knowing became the fun about the pregnancy. We even had jokes with the gynaecologist that when the baby comes, he must do a Lion King reveal as we would be recording it. (you know that moment when Rafiki holds Simba up to the rest of the animals at Pride rock). 

Were you (the parents) hoping for different sex? If so, who “won”?
The deal was if it’s a girl, no more kids but if it’s a boy then we will have another kid. We already have 2 boys between us so the girl completes the family.

How were you the day you gave birth?
Calm at first, thinking I know how this goes since I had done it 10 years earlier. My pains were mostly discomfort at first so I thought it would be easy-ish. Boy was I wrong.

What was your first reaction when the doctors said it was a girl?
Funny story. I didn’t hear the doctor say it’s a girl, labour pains and all. Then I asked baby daddy who was trying to be strong for me but traumatised, he hadn’t heard either. Then we asked the doctor to do our Lion King reveal. We just laughed at how wrong it all went. But I cried as soon as they put her on my chest.

How has the journey been so far?
At 6 weeks, I am typing this with her sleeping on my chest because wow motherhood is a lot. I don’t get much time to myself between keeping her alive and answering to her needs. To get time for myself, I must hold her in my arms so she sleeps, but I am in love. The best part has been seeing her dad be a dad, they have a beautiful relationship. Watching her sleep and her little smiles make the crying and hectic schedule worth it.

Your eldest child is a boy, do you plan on raising them differently?
Yes. My son was my first child so I was cautious and maybe restricting with him trying to keep him safe. I realised when he was around 4 that it might have made him fearful so it took some time to get him to be confident and not scared to try things even when they are challenging. He was a trial and error child if you can call it that. I will be less restricting with my daughter because kids only benefit from being exposed to new situations. Unless she is in danger, I will let her be free to explore the world without me holding her back.

What advice would you give to parents who’re also thinking of waiting till birth to find out? 
It’s not for everyone and like with us, you’re not guaranteed an Instagram perfect gender reveal on the day you give birth. It was worth it because we got the surprise and the gender we (read I) wanted, but we won’t forget it especially because it didn’t go Instagram perfectly. It was our unique baby and our unique moment and a perfect way to end our pregnancy.

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