It's a girl - yellow tulips - the bump diaries week 21 Find out all about why colour denoting gender is crazy and how my family found out the gender

Week 21: It’s a girl – The Bump Diaries

So we know we are having a girl – now we just have to tell people!

Seeing our little girl last week at the ultrasound was amazing – everything from her little feet to finding out the gender. For BF the change from not wanting to even know until born to wanting to shout out the gender from the roof tops was incredible. I think for him it was even more real as he could finally picture a little baby girl in his arms or running around the house.

For me it was a very different situation – suddenly there was the task of telling people. It turns out that I am actually quite shy – all of the baby and engagement announcements had all been on Facebook or via presents so I could avoid actually telling people. When I had told people before the announcement it had felt really difficult too – I just felt uncomfortable with it.

The sudden realisation that I had to declare to the world something that wasn’t subtle and cute was difficult and attention seeking. It seems like me and BF had a change of positions of how open we wanted to be. Adding on top that having a little girl means the rain of pink was soon going to occur also scared me. I have never been a very pink girl and grew up with not having to wear it much as my mum found or made an array of crazy coloured outfits. It may have just been the era I was born or how much my mum went out her way to find clothes that weren’t pink, all I know is that I can hardly find many pictures of me wearing pink as a kid.

For months I have been going into the baby shops and falling in love with the cool and cute things that are about. We thought it would be a boy so unsurprisingly I cooed over the adorable dinosaur and star wars oufits – they appealed to my geeky side while being so cute so why would I not love them. Browsing the shops this week though with the new knowledge of us having a little girl everything was pink, floral and well anti-geeky in every way. I’m going to have an overly pink baby, toys and life it seems.

It's a girl - yellow tulips - the bump diaries week 21With my background in design, so a huge interest in the historical use of colour, it added more annoyance – pink traditionally is meant for boys. Going back any time before 150 years ago, even all the way to ancient Greek times, if you had a boy you would wrap and dress them in reds or pinks, while girls were in blue. Red and pink dyes were harder to create so showed the importance of “this is a boy”. The use of colour used to be a very important status symbol around the world – in England for instance anything purple was seen as royalty or extreme wealth as these types of dyes were rare and very expensive. In China only royals were allowed to wear silver and gold nail varnish – you could loose your life if you broke this very important colour related rule!

For thousands of years girls were dressed in blue – it is and was a sign of them being worth less than their male siblings. Knowing this makes you really think about the use of colour differently. This colour divide, other than for royals or the very rich, existed in clothes throughout life. It was only during Victoria’s reign that things concerning colour changed – there was a female on the throne after all.

During the Victoria era all kids were dressed in white similar outfits until they were about 4. Lots of parents would be able to reuse the clothes no matter what the gender so saved money. Shops decided that they wanted to encourage more sales to brought back the use of colour to denote the sex of a baby again – this time however for whatever reason they switched the colours. Now in society blue denotes boy and pinks denote girls.

For me then the use of colour either denotes the differences in perceived worth based on your gender or a tool for businesses to make more money. Having studied colour psychology at University, I know the positive and negative impact of coloured light or walls so the influence it can and does have. Pink, for instance has a calming effect on 90% of people but makes the other 10% more violent or aggressive, while blue increases the ability to focus and study. During my studies, a shocking revelation was that purple walls can increase suicidal thoughts but purple light has been found to help improve various health issues. It sounds very earth motherly but the more and more I studied colour the more that was backed up by lots of research, particularly by the marketing world, on how to influence people.

Knowing everything I do about colour, it makes me uneasy to feel any colour is going to be pushed upon my child due to modern social convention all because businesses wanted to make more money. Add with my shy nature of shouting from the rooftops about something I actually had no control over, telling people the gender, even family felt really uncomfortable. BF was very excited though so I was really open that he could tell any one and everyone but he was also the one who would tell my family.

My family knew the exact day that we were having the scan but had been warned to not ask. Almost a week after we knew it was a girl I was talking on Skype with my dad as I was in the kitchen cooking dinner – BF walks into the room realises I’m talking to my dad and asks if he wants to know the gender. Of course my dad says yes and BF announces the big news. After a minute or two them exchanging excitement, all while I carried on cooking, it was all over. My dad tried to continue the excited news with questions but I shyly changed the conversation. Once it was all over though it was a relief – he knew so now my partner only had to tell my mum. I told BF to message or call her with the news as it would also be nice for her to hear from him – he is the father to her grandchild after all.

A few days pass and he’s been to Exeter for a meeting – as he his train is almost back in Brighton he puts out a message of “Almost home to my girls!” Having been over a week since we found out he thought it would be OK and that I would have told my mum despite having reminded him again and again that he needed to do that. 10 minutes after he walks in the door I get a message from my mum of “did BF let the gender slip!!!” – sure enough 3 minutes later the phone is ringing. During that time we had the lovely conversation of “I thought you would have told you mum as you have talked to her twice since we found out” to “nope remember we agreed you were telling people and was going to tell her”. I think this is the only time he’s said oops.We look at who is calling and both giggle. I pass the phone to him and let him have a whole conversation about it all. With my mum he did also include not to make a big fuss as I was feeling shy about it so when he passed the phone over it was just a lot calmer and about Sam’s trip home message being so cute than making a huge fuss.

So now my family know and while I’m super excited it has made me realise just how shy I am about announcing big news. Looking back it made me realise the cryptic baby announcement and getting BF to post about our engagment was so that I wasn’t making some big grand announcement – while being extrovert in a lot of ways when it comes to big news I’m actually really shy! It is interesting what we learn about ourselves when it comes to the whole pregnancy journey. It’s clear who will be making the announcement when she finally arrives… it won’t be me!

How did you tell your family and friends the gender? Did you make a big gender announcement or keep it a secret? How do you feel about colours denoting gender? I would love to hear about your thoughts, opinion and stories so leave a comment below!

Baby shoes - week 9 telling the family - the bump diaries

Telling the Family at Christmas – Week 9 – The Bump Diaries

In all of the baby books it says to tell people with caution before your second trimester – it does however also say that it is up to you. We decided when we would out that we would tell family at Christmas as it would be the end of week 9 when they found out.

Our family are split between London, Brighton, Bournemouth, Exeter and LA so it would have been hard to tell everyone at once, especially when my parents are divorced and hardly talking. Immediately it was easy to decide that key family members would get a present to inform about the good news – we did however have to decide what that would be.

We tried at first to try to sort out both sides of the family to get the same sort of thing. With BF’s immediate family in the US this was going to be hard so in the end I sorted out my family and he sorted out his.

For my family it was matching Baby picture frames filled with “Picture coming July 2016”. It was simple, cute and very clear about the fact that we were pregnant. They were only tiny but they would be able to keep it and remember when they found out. I love gifts like that.

Baby shoes telling the family bump diaries
BF loves chaos and confusion. His grandparents got baby shoes, while his parents got an adorable baby onesie. It was more a coded message than an outright message – this is his style often when it comes to presents, especially ones for key milestones.

Now if you have used Amazon before for sending gifts, you are, for a lot of items, given an option to have presents gift wrapped but what they don’t tell you is that they still label the boxes with what’s inside. As BF used Amazon for all his gifts his Mum and Grandmother both worked out before Christmas the news when they saw the word “baby” on the box. A week before Christmas we got a message from his Mum of “Is Annabelle pregnant?” followed by lots of congratulations and a few days later two extra gifts from her. It turns out they had got us Whiskey again this year and of course with a bump alcohol is a no-go so it was kind of good that she found out. While she had voiced her suspicions to her sons and husband before she got the definite news and request to keep our secret, she did keep the confirmation a secret until Christmas.

With BF’s Gran, he missed a call while we were out for a walk only to get a “Is there something you want to tell me” voicemail. As I popped into Co-op on the way back he called her back to a gleeful conversation as she found out. It was so lovely to hear the joy in her voice as the I returned at the end. It was wonderful and just confirmed that Christmas was going to be a fun day. We weren’t wrong but I wasn’t expecting flu, morning sickness and other surprises that would arise.

Baby shoes telling the family bump diariesSince I met BF, I knew I wanted to spend my life with him – we just clicked straight away. While I was aware of the impending Christmas baby news I wasn’t aware of BF’s long awaited plan to propose Christmas Eve through my advent calendar. Last year I had got a tree shaped drawer advent calendar as I always struggled to get one with white chocolate so this could be filled with different and fun things each year. Upon opening the final drawer on Christmas Eve, under a sweet sat a ring and beside me a grinning BF. Of course I shocked, cried and said yes. Not only did we have baby news but about his proposal. The only downfall – he had this planned all the way back in September before bump was about but now everyone will think they are connected.

While I was awake early from morning sickness at 3 in the morning on wards, BF was crashed out as he struggled with the flu. At 9am my mum obviously found out and tried to ring my phone while it sat on silent. I wanted BF to be there when she called so I waited until he stirred at 11 but by then she had danced off to the horses. When you can’t get hold of my mum the best way to find out where she is normally involves calling my grandparents. My mum cares for my Nan so they generally know where and when she will be places. What I hadn’t planned on is them already knowing. The call was full of congratulations and excitement before finding out my mum was indeed driving down to the horses.
30 minutes later I finally got the phone call from my mum and she had already told half the yard. For most people this wouldn’t be an issue; “oh your mum’s friends know big deal!” but as someone who used to be in the horsey world I had school friends and horsey friends that we weren’t planning to spread the news to yet at just 9 weeks along. She didn’t seem to understand when I asked her to keep this a secret and why I was a little nervous at her spreading this news so freely. I considered including a note about “keeping our secret” but she probably would have done the same thing. This is the thing I have found out about telling parents and grandparents – they can’t keep a secret so once they know everyone will. I guess this is why so many people keep it a secret from their parents until just before making it public. Apparently the whole yard, all her friends and any old stranger counts as family – finding out you’re going to be a grandmother can be very exciting but it just highlighted how it was a good idea to keep it a secret till we did.

My mum’s call was full of excitement and details of due dates, working out I was preggers during her visit and a whole range of excited emotions along with reminders of “this is still a huge secret so tell no one.”

Next up was a call from BF’s grandparents – turns out his Gran thought Sam had lost the plot and his Grandad had to point out the baby shoes was a coded message. Excitement ensued of the news and exclaims of feeling too young to be a great-grandmother. It was clear there was two forms of reaction – wanting to tell the world or joking about being too young to be a grandparent, great grandparent or aunt.

Wrapped presents - telling the family - the bump diariesNow by this point it was half 2 and we thought that most of the family in the UK would have opened their gift so when my dad contacted me to talk on Skype, we thought they knew. My dad loves to play tricks so when he didn’t say anything straight away about the baby news we both thought he might be building up to it but after 5 minutes it was clear that in no way he knew. It I will admit was one of the weirdest Skype conversations I have had as we sat their uncomfortably as we thought we were going to face an onslaught of more excitement to just family politics instead. I was feeling very morning sick and BF had the flu, so we came across miserable and distance (something we found out later) as we tried to not let on about the pregnancy and silently communicate “Yeap they have no clue and my dad hasn’t opened his gift yet…”

During the whole call my cousin was making a huge and weird grin – turns out he knew. As I said, when you tell someone in the family they tell everyone. My cousins had both visited my grandparents in the morning who wouldn’t stop talking about but had no clue our parents were finding out through gifts so grinned in the background of the Skype call thinking we were telling people then. Nope.

Seconds after the Skype call ended I was messaged by my cousin with “Congratulations and why haven’t you told your dad!” Ensued messages of the cunning plan of parents finding out through presents and with him, his wife and his sister on board they convinced my dad into opening some presents before they had their late Christmas dinner. They all worked together in orchestrating that it would be my gift to him.

Less than 10 minutes later I had a text from my Dad asking to call – yeap he has finally opened his gift and found out. I was half right – he and my aunt/step mother had opened it.

Now if someone weeks before Christmas tells you “You must open this gift – everyone else will enjoy it but you and you alone must open it” don’t let your new wife open it with you. This year I only sent one gift and that was to my dad. Shortly after arriving I got a phone call of “Why hasn’t my wife got a present!” not caring about the rest of those there that day. I told him that everyone would love the gift but he had to open it but he ignored me. To me it will always taint how he found out – not anything else just this vain of selfishness. She has stolen a moment and experience that was just meant for my dad and to me I don’t know if I will forgive either of them. It sounds petty but there is a history of present related politics – for years she would punish my objection to her coming around one Christmas (just after my dad had left my mum when she accused him of having an affair with my aunt and now step mother). I got things everyone knew I hated or was allergic to and then sat there as my cousins and aunt was handed perfect (and highly expensive) gift after gift. To me my dad ignored an instruction he knew highly important to me and my aunt/step mother must have thrown a strop that she wasn’t having a gift so had to be involved.

Present giving to me is very personal – I find the best gift for that person and the moment is for you along. For whatever reason, she intruded on him finding out he is going to be a grandfather for the first time. As I said, for me it just brought up a lot of painful memories of being ignored when it came to presents and for such a pivotal moment and gift it will be tainted by those emotions.

All while trying to sort out our Christmas dinner I had 10 minutes of excited voices, recalling opening the present and being passed from person to person for congratulations. News their end had spread of how my cousin had tried to help speed up the process and reactions on finding out. Turns out the news had made my dad cry – something hard to manage.

The final call of the day was about 2 hours later – BF’s family in LA had finally woken up and opened their present of a little baby onesie. All crowded around a computer the other side of the world everyone was excited and still a little sleepy. Talk turned to morning sickness, how it was going, when they were flying over to meet little one once born and stories of what BF was like as a baby. It was clear though that while most of BF’s brothers were not too fussed after the initial few minutes, his parents were nothing but excited.

Despite being home, just the two of us, with all the calls and excitement coming through and the flu or morning sickness making us feel rubbish it was exhausting. By 5pm we were curled up in bed snoozing for an hour. Telling your family all in one day is very tiring – I guess this is why people spread it out!

So that was our Christmas baby announcement to our family. It was definitely an emotional day for lots of reasons and I know I’ll remember the day for a very long time.

How did you tell your family? What was your best reaction? What did you learn from telling your family? I’d love to hear your stories so leave a comment below!