[Paleopsych] NYT: Will It Be a Boy or a Girl? You Could Check the Receipt
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Fri May 13 15:49:54 UTC 2005
Will It Be a Boy or a Girl? You Could Check the Receipt
By LINDA SASLOW
When Rochelle Ludwig became pregnant last year, she and her husband,
David, debated whether to find out the sex of their baby early.
Knowing that a routine sonogram at 20 weeks would most likely provide
that information, they ultimately resisted the urge to look.
Laura and Lloyd Rosenbaum also thought it was important to be
surprised. "When we thought about the excitement when the baby is born
and you hear, 'It's a girl!' or 'It's a boy!' - we didn't want to give
up that moment," she said.
But the Ludwigs and Rosenbaums wanted someone to know, behind the
counter at the baby store.
Maybe it is another example of big city neuroticism. Or maybe it is
the ultimate in practicality. But the Ludwigs and the Rosenbaums are
among a growing number of Manhattan parents-to-be who do not learn the
sex of their baby early, but still want the nursery decorated when
baby arrives. So they choose two sets of furniture, clothing and
bedding, then ask the store owners to call their obstetrician to find
out whether to submit the order in pink or blue.
"It's a New York mentality," said Dr. Ricky Friedman, an obstetrician
on the Upper East Side. "With the new technology at our disposal, just
about anyone who wants to know the sex of their baby can. But for
about half of our patients, who want to be surprised, they still want
to be fully prepared, and everything still has to be planned
Susan Johnson, co-owner of Blue Bench, in TriBeCa, has kept the secret
for a dozen customers. But the service is starting to get more
attention in places like New York magazine.
"The first time a customer asked me to call her doctor, I was so
nervous and afraid that I'd blow the surprise," she said. "After we
had spent hours together picking out two sets of furniture, bedding
and curtains, once I knew what she was having, I told her not to call
me again during her pregnancy."
Keeping the secret is especially hard for store owners when family
members come snooping around.
"There have been several occasions," said Pat Meyerson, co-owner of La
Layette, on the Upper East Side, "when a sister or mother-in-law has
called and asked us to share the secret, but we never tell. Once we
know the sex of the baby, we write it down on a sheet of paper and put
it away - so we can try to forget that we know."
Ms. Johnson said one pregnant customer asked her to share the secret
only with her mother.
"She wanted to have the nursery painted, carpeted and decorated in
time for the baby, but didn't want to know herself," she said. "So
every day when she went to work, her mom came to her apartment and
worked on the room, then padlocked the door before leaving. For
months, she lived with a padlocked nursery."
Not knowing can be excruciating, the expectant parents say.
After the Rosenbaums' sonogram, the technician wrote the sex of their
baby on a slip of paper, folded it into a sealed envelope and handed
it to them. "We made it for one block, then ripped up the envelope and
threw the pieces into a garbage pail," Ms. Rosenbaum said.
But a month later, she returned for another sonogram, "and this time
brought it to my doctor's office, so the stores could know." (It was a
Some parents look for clues, said Pamela Scurry, owner of Wicker
Garden, on the Upper East Side. One customer, she said, had ordered
two sets of layettes, but came back with her mother to choose
alternatives when some items were unavailable.
"When the saleswoman spent a lot of time with them choosing a new pink
blanket, they were smiling at each other, certain we knew it was a
girl," Ms. Scurry said. When they chose an outfit for a bris, the
circumcision ceremony, in case it was a boy, "and the saleswoman spent
even longer helping them, they looked at each other again, now
convinced that it was a boy. They were so busy trying to figure it
out, without really wanting to know." (It was a girl.)
Temptation sat in Ms. Ludwig's home for weeks. After she had ordered
two sets of bedding and two gliders, one with pink fabric, the other
with blue, she told the store to ship the order to the home of her
husband's family. But three weeks before her due date, the glider was
mistakenly shipped to her apartment.
"For three long weeks, it sat in our nursery, in a huge box marked 'Do
not open,' " Ms. Ludwig said. "It was torture." (The glider came in
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