Before we knew we were having twins, we seriously considered waiting until the birth to discover the sex of the baby. We loved the idea of the grand surprise as well as finding out as millions of others have throughout history. But once we discovered they were twins, that idea was dropped faster than a particularly offensive diaper.
The immense amount of prep work and planning for twins did not allow my Type A brain to consider the option of getting double of everything in green and yellow. An ambiguous twin nursery? No, and no. Apart from that, the sheer desire of wanting to know who they were tipped us right over the edge, and we decided to find out the genders at the first opportunity.
It wasn’t long before we came up with the idea of a “gender reveal party.” These are a relatively new social gathering, where the results of the gender-revealing ultrasound are shared in front of family and friends in a creative way — cutting into a cake to see blue frosting, opening a gift to reveal a pink onsie, you get the idea.
We chose to do balloons being released out of a two large boxes, because balloons are a sign of celebration, and they are highly visible to a large crowd as they float up into the air.
We went to our ultrasound at nearly 21 weeks and the technician was totally supportive of keeping the genders a secret from us during our appointment. She helped by having us look away when the screen was going to show the babies’ delicates. She then filled in a piece of paper I had brought along, which said:
Baby A is a: GIRL BOY
Baby B is a: GIRL BOY
There were check-boxes next to the girl and boy options, which she checked and then highlighted with the corresponding pink or blue highlighter, and then stuffed it in an envelope we’d brought. It was deliciously difficult to walk out of the office with that information in our hot little hands, but the promise of the surprise was all the motivation we needed.
Many people asked us over the previous months what we wanted. I never really answered that question aloud, because I was a thousand times more excited about having twins than I was about having one gender or the other. I knew in my heart I’d be thrilled with any combination. If I had to say which made me slightly unsettled, it was two boys, because I grew up with only sisters and didn’t have any idea what raising boys would be like, but I actually really wanted a son. I’ve also always hoped that I would one day have a daughter, due mostly to the fact that I have such a great relationship with my mother. Mike felt the same way, but the opposite — he would be thrilled no matter what, but he’d love to have a boy in the mix because he’s always wanted a son. But really, we spent countless hours talking about how wonderful each combo would be, and how especially fabulous one of each would be because we’d get to experience raising a son and a daughter at the same time.
The next morning Mike went to QFC and asked the lady at the balloon counter to fill the boxes he’d brought along according to what was in the envelope he was about to hand her. This made no sense to the balloon lady.
“You want them to be pink and blue?”
“No, I want you to read the envelope, and then fill the boxes based on what it says.”
“Do you want me to tell you what the envelope says?”
“No — again, this is surprise to me; you will know, and I will not.”
(ten more minutes of explaining)
“Oh! I get it! How exciting. But it’s my break time so I’ll be back in twenty minutes.”
(Mike stifles rage)
Several people asked why we would trust the revealing of our genders to an hourly-wage QFC employee, but we knew we had the envelope with the results, along with ultrasound photos the technician included, so we could verify that the balloons matched the genders once it was all over. Incredibly, the balloon lady managed to complete the task, and we headed to my parents’ house for the party.
My sisters were enormously, crucially helpful in planning the creative aspects of the party. They were all over Pinterest getting great ideas and then we had a sisters’ sleepover to craft everything the night before.
It totally paid off.
We created a board for people to cast their votes of which gender they thought they babies were, and then they wore pins to signify their choices. Pink bows for girls, black mustaches for boys.
We posted signs around the room of fun facts about twins.
And of course the food was blue and pink themed. I mean, how many chances in life for this, people?
About an hour into the party we took photos of the guests showing their votes.
And then it was time for the big reveal.
Mike and I, along with our parents, were bundles of nerves. Honestly, how many times in your life are you aware that the next five minutes will literally change the entire rest of your life? It’s too enormous to comprehend.
Mike and I went into another room to collect ourselves, remind ourselves of what was really happening, and say a prayer of gratitude for the babies, no matter what sexes they turned out to be. Then we joined the crowd of about 30 friends and family for the opening of the boxes.
One of the most incredible things about this party was the people who weren’t physically there — we had relatives and friends on Skype and Face Time staring at us live as we opened the boxes. It was an insane Jetsons’ moment to look into a crowd and see our siblings and best friends staring back at us on iPads, ready to see the big reveal live. We were so, so moved that they would attend from, in some cases, 3,000 miles away.
We chose to have the grandparents be the ones to open the boxes, to honor them and their role in our children’s lives. We let my parents go first because they would be first-time grandparents through the twins.
Here is a video of the big moment.
When those pink balloons slipped into the air, my heart absolutely exploded with joy. I felt an immense rush of love and gratitude, which I could only process with tears that filled my eyes and closed my throat. I kept saying “I have a daughter, I have a daughter” which was something I’ve wanted my entire life.
I will also fully admit that my immediate second thought was: oh praise the Lord who knows me enough not to give me two boys! Amen, and amen.
I love the hug that my mom and I shared in that moment, because she wanted a granddaughter as intensely as I wanted a daughter (and, as a mother of three girls, she wanted it not to be two boys more than anyone can comprehend).
Even as we turned to open the second box, my mind couldn’t move past the fact that I was having a daughter. I kept saying it over and over — the shock was palpable. I felt so full of joy that my anxiety for box #2 really melted away. I kept thinking how amazing it would be for the next balloons to be blue because my dad would have a grandson, my mom would have to learn how little boys operate, and my in-loves would have another grandson (they currently have one and three granddaughters).
Mike’s nervousness had not melted away. He was thrilled to have a daughter, and had talked about wanting a girl for weeks, but he really also wanted a son. So once the girl balloons were opened, the pressure was on. He was visibly nervous as Glenn and Colleen began to unwrap the second box.
Here is a video of the big moment.
I remember two things about those blue balloons floating out of the box:
1. My soul rocketing out of my body as I realized we were going to have one of each — the feeling was like fireworks going off in every corner of my mind. The gratitude and joy were measureless.
2. Suddenly coming out of my own shock in time to see my husband three feet above me, screaming at the top of his lungs in way I have never heard him scream. He leapt across the room with such abandonment, he later said it was an out of body experience — he simply couldn’t react any other way. I was so thrilled to see his joy, his excitement, his unstoppable ecstasy. It was one of the greatest moments of our lives.