You don't have to be a royal to know that the first months of any pregnancy is all about keeping things secret. Many people wait until after the first trimester to announce it, since then the risk of a miscarriage decreases to around 3%. Of course, not everyone feels the need to be candid about the gestation period. My wife Anna and I had friends tell us the same week of getting knocked up all about their birth plans, chosen hospital and preferred names for either sex. Even though we already had two successful births, we decided to play it safe and wait the 12 weeks to announce. After that, we made the requisite phone calls, spread the news through our kids' preschool, and even posted a belly shot on Facebook, "Part three of our trilogy; due out in April." But our insatiable public wanted more: the gender, they needed to know! For this we had some cover, it wouldn't be until 20 weeks in until the ultrasound technician would be able to spot something or the lack of something dangling off our floating potato. We had to wait for the gender reveal, and so our friends and family would have to wait as well.
Given there's a slew of truly unpleasant occurrences which transpire during the course of a pregnancy (mostly for Anna), finding out the gender stands out as being one, if not THE ONLY, fun part of the whole process. And though Anna and I have changed our minds on how and when we wanted to find out, we've been consistent on the decision not to have that moment spent in the sterilized florescent light bulb glow of a doctor's office.
So first time at bat, we had the technician stash the classified information in an envelope. We then drove out to a beautiful waterfall, ripped open the seal and found out a little princess would soon be joining our family. Second time: old school, we waited it out and I was the one who did the reveal after laying eyes on our little one for the first time. "It's a girl!" For our third and last reveal (we hope), we decided to mix it up again and throw a party.
What is a gender reveal party? Well, truth is, I had no idea either until Anna read about it on the web. It's basically a gathering of friends where you pull the virtual pants down on your unborn child and say "Look! This is what he/she is!" There are a couple of ways of orchestrating the reveal. One is where you already know the gender and then you spring it on your pals in some novel way like sticking a blue or pink hat on a jack-in-the-box and asking for a volunteer to turn the crank. You can also opt to be in the dark as well. This involves getting a co-conspirator and in our case Jenny, our local baker, was happy to oblige. Here's how it worked:
The ultra-sound technician slipped Anna the sealed envelope. Anna in turn handed it off to Jenny, who then proceeded to make a layered cake. The outside was coated in delicious white butter cream; the inside was filled with frosting she dyed pink or blue depending on what that little note said.
Ont he morning of our party, I met up with Jenny for the hand-off and she did her best to act nonchalant about the whole thing, not wanting to spoil the fun. I set the cake down on the kitchen counter. It solemnly stared down our guests as they started trickling in for a light brunch. The time neared. Family was Skyped in for the occasion. Our guests readied their cameras.
I have had only few big cake cutting moments in my life. The first being my bar mitzvah cake, which I was too self-conscious about an acne outbreak and cracking voice to properly appreciate. The second was our wedding cake, (actually a wedding cupcake), which was fun but a little silly to cut through. The third was this butter-creamed beauty with the words "It's a..." written on the top of it. At first, I thought this whole reveal shindig would feel somewhat artificial. We had created a stage for an event that until recently I hadn't even consider needed one. But then I turned and saw Anna slowly walking into the dining room holding our sugary oracle. I instantly felt a pang in my gut. This was real.
I scooped up my youngest daughter and held her on my hip using one arm. Anna then reached over and grabbed two cake knives. Our eldest daughter came right up the front to watch. Anna handed me a knife and kept one for herself. It sounds stupid to say I really hadn't thought about the gender of our baby-to-be until just then, because I had, but the truth is I hadn't really processed the finality of what we were about to do. I love my daughters more than anything, but I also knew another lass would mean a lot of things I'd miss out on, sage advice I'd just have to keep to myself. I finally let myself admit it, I really wanted a boy! I tried not to think about it. Deep breath. It was slice time.
Somebody at the party thought it would be good to start a countdown as if this was a rocket launch or something. I steadied my hand and slowly brought the knife to the top of the confection so the blade rested gently on the soft gooey icing. Anna did the same with hers so we formed a V formation. "...four, three, two, one!" I look up at Anna and gave her one of those silent, eyes-wide-open nods like the ones you see in those buddy cop movies right before they bust through the door of an unsuspecting drug dealer.
As we sliced through two things became immediately apparent. First, the portion we made was way too big for one person to consume. The other was that we were going to have a son. My eyes welled up with tears, Anna had them too. A big cheer went up. Piece of cake.