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Hands
This column originally appeared in The Tampa Tribune on May 6, 1986. I recently found it and, in honor of Mother’s Day, decided to share it with you!


When my husband and I learned that we were expecting our second child, we were thrilled. But time and technology have marched on since our daughter was born four years ago.
And even we old hands at parenting were totally unprepared for the response that greets my changing profile today.
“Do you know what you’re having?” is the universal question that bursts from the mouths of friends and acquaintances alike.
Yes, it’s a baby. We hope one with 10 fingers and 10 toes. But, beyond that, the other bits and pieces don’t really matter to us – blue eyes or brown, boy or girl.
However, this child’s gender seems to matter to everyone else.
Oh, I suppose the knowledge might help me better decorate the nursery in a more masculine or feminine motif. Or even monogram baby’s little linens in plenty of time for his or her arrival.
But I doubt that it could compare with the exhilaration we felt in the delivery room when, after a long and tedious labor, the doctor beamed at us above his surgical mask and said, “You have a little girl.”
Some things are worth waiting for.
Granted, the advances in prenatal medicine have been great: Sonograms can help detect abnormalities in an unborn child, but they won’t help you determine its sex unless he or she is positioned just right.
And the risks of amniocentesis (withdrawing amniotic fluid from the abdomen with a needle) for a healthy woman under 30 make it a ridiculous procedure simply to determine whether to engrave the birth announcements with pink or blue ink.
But these procedures were readily available four years ago – so why didn’t people quiz me back then? I suppose it has taken that long for technology to destroy yet another of life’s old-fashioned pleasures: discovering your child for the very first time.
It’s worse than discovering that Nabisco really does make a better cookie than your mom with “Almost Home,” even if they do need “lecithin and an added emulsifier” to do it. Or making Haagen-Dazs ice cream in a computerized plant in New Jersey instead of some Scandinavian kitchen.
Years from now, obstetricians may hand expectant mothers a complete dossier on their unborn child, including the sex, height, weight and mealtime preferences. That certainly would save us antiquated parents from wasting a lot of time in getting to know the little one.
Until then, our daughter, Kathryn, has requested a baby sister and I told her I’d keep that in mind.
As for myself, I like the suspense of not knowing whether the tiny feet that kick me now and then belong to a boy or a girl.

Tribune Architecture Critic Renee Garrison will complete her current “construction project” in September.

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