My younger sister's decision to go the surprise route last year drove me crazy. Every time I passed a darling ruffly little infant dress or a miniature sports jersey in a store, I grumbled internally about not being able to buy it for her and walked out empty-handed.
So when it was my turn to get pregnant, the countdown was ON. I couldn't wait for the 20-week ultrasound, when common wisdom held that we would be able to find out our baby's gender.
It was something of a surprise, then, when my obstetrician taunted playfully at only our 12-week ultrasound "Do you know what you're having? Because I do."
My eyebrows shot up and my husband Bryan leaned forward. "Tell us!"
"It's a boy," the doctor said. "I'm 95 per cent sure."
He proceeded to show us the, er, evidence. And while I can barely tell an elbow from a foot on those fuzzy ultrasound displays, I thought I could see it, too.
Bryan was on cloud nine. Visions of tossing a baseball in the backyard with our little boy were already dancing in his head. I pictured camping trips and sport and having a doting son who was my little "Mama's boy."
Side note: I like to think of myself as progressive. If I have a girl, she could play with GI Joe's and scramble up trees. If I have a boy, he could dance ballet. But I found that my parental daydreams leaned toward stereotypical gender-specific activities, like Hollywood adaptations of childhood.
Regardless, when we learned that a little fellow was on the way, I think that's when it really sank in for my husband and me that this pregnancy we'd been trying to achieve for several years was real. We could finally start to picture what our new life as a family of three might be like. We were beyond excited.
A few weeks later on Easter weekend, we found a special way to share the news with my family. My two sisters and their husbands, my two cousins, my parents, my aunt and uncle and my grandmother gathered in my mum's kitchen for the holiday.
I had baked a 'blue velvet' cake mix and slathered the thing with a thick layer of white icing. You couldn't see the colour of the cake underneath.
I let my mum cut into it (she knew a blue cake meant a boy; and a pink cake, a girl) while everyone watched expectantly. I pulled up Diana Ross's "I'm Coming Out" and blared it from my iPhone as a soundtrack to our celebration.
Everyone was excited. No one was surprised. The family had taken an unofficial boy/girl poll before cake-cutting, and it turned out that everyone suspected ours would be the first baby boy in the Simmons clan. My parents had three girls. My sister and her husband also had a girl.
Fast forward another two weeks, when I was driving home from an out of town meeting. Two hours into the four-hour trek, I got a call from my perinatologist's office. I had been referred there to take a blood screening test for two common chromosomal abnormalities, Down syndrome and Trisomy X. A nurse was calling to notify me that the test results came out fine.
And by the way, the baby has two X chromosomes. "It's a girl," the nurse declared cheerfully.
I burst out laughing, in kind of an off-kilter way. And when I could draw a breath, I explained that my obstetrician had given us an entirely different opinion. Was she sure?
There was no denying the DNA.
I hung up and burst into tears. Then I gulped and dialled my husband's office to break the news. He was busy at work and caught totally off-guard, and I was afraid he might try to appeal the decision.
This was all silly, of course. We would have been thrilled to find out we were having a girl, if we hadn't already spent the last few weeks dreaming of boy names and nursery themes.
I'll be honest. It took almost a month for our disappointment to wear off. For some reason, we just felt jilted or jolted, or both. At one point Bryan half-jokingly said he wanted to punch the obstetrician who got it wrong. I advised that he NOT join me at the next checkup.
But it didn't take long until our little mix-up turned into a running joke in the family. My sister quipped "so do we get another cake?"
And instead of the song "I'm Coming Out," I suggested that I should have been blaring Aerosmith's "Dude Looks Like a Lady" for the big gender reveal. And so on.
We did end up having that pink cake after all - a strawberry one that my mother-in-law baked for my husband's birthday in June. She hadn't intentionally chosen the colour as a replacement for our first gender reveal cake, but when she realised the irony, she snapped a picture of the two of us next to it.
Now that the news has sunk in, we're just as excited to meet our little dudette in November as we would've been to welcome a boy. I'm sure she'll have her daddy wrapped around her finger.
Our little one has already taught us one important lesson: the surprises are what make life interesting.