Couples for decades have found creative ways to pop the big question or tell their parents they are going to be grandparents. Now couples who choose to find out the gender of their babies before they are born have come up with a new creative outlet: the "gender reveal."
My husband and I personally were what people now call Team Green. We waited until the moment of arrival to find out. The clothes, the nursery, everything for Sprout (our baby's in-utero nickname) was either yellow or green. Some relatives got a little too sure of themselves and purchased blue clothing. My daughter, it turned out, looked lovely in blue.
Some people find out the gender but don't disclose it. They like to keep everyone guessing until the birth, possibly to avoid the onslaught of gender stereotyping or just to make it fun.
In a 2007 Gallup poll of women of childbearing age, 47 percent said they'd find out the gender beforehand and 51 percent said they'd wait. I would wager the "gotta know" contingent has grown in the seven years since then.
But to keep that element of surprise, many of these couples are not finding out until their "gender reveal" party.
Jessica and Timothy Paul of Wheeling were Team Green for their second baby, but immediately following the birth staged a fun "reveal" for the family. In the hospital waiting room, Timothy presented their 3-year-old daughter Kelsie with the gift of a baby doll. If it was dressed in blue or pink, Kelsie - and subsequently all the relatives gathered around - would know the new baby's gender. The plan took an unexpected turn when Kelsie opened the bag, saw the baby doll in blue and declared: "It's not real. I don't want it!"
Pregnant with her third, Jessica is planning to invite the grandparents over and fill a pinata with either pink or blue candy for the big reveal.
"This is my last one and I want to make it fun!" she said.
Here is how three other local families went about the gender reveals:
Cassi and Kellen Bennett of Wheeling were convinced their first child was going to be a girl, although they secretly wanted a boy. They decided to find out together with their family members at Cassi's birthday party.
"We knew from the beginning that we wanted to find out the gender, and we really liked the idea of our family finding out with us," she said. "We had the ultrasound tech write down the sex of the baby in a sealed envelope. We then took the sealed envelope to Riesbeck's bakery. ... Absolutey no one knew the gender beforehand except the ultrasound tech and the bakery," Cassi said.
"Together we cut straight down the middle, revealing the blue icing. I remember saying 'No way!' I'm pretty sure my mouth touched the ground. I was in complete shock. And our families were saying, 'Well what is it? We can't see!'"
On Dec. 10, 2011 Maddox Dwane Myers was born. He was 7 weeks premature and weighed 4 pounds, 6 ounces and was 18 1/2 inches long. Today, "looking at him now you would never know that he was premature" and is in the 90th percentile for height, Cassi said.
Shaye and Alex Pentino of Wheeling were "beyond excited" to find out the gender of their first child who also was the first grandchild on Alex's side.
"We wanted to find out the gender to help us be better prepared, but we liked the element of surprise not finding out provided. So a gender reveal party seemed like a great fit, and we thought it would be a fun way to involve our friends and family," Shaye said.
They had cupcakes made by The Honey Hole, whom they had presented with the sealed envelope from the ultrasound tech.
"After dinner, which was catered by Figaretti's, my husband Alex and I stood in front of our family and friends and bit into the cupcakes to reveal our baby's gender. One of our friends videotaped it, and we can honestly say this is the most sincerely surprised we ever were in our entire life! We both thought it was girl, but were delighted to find out it was a boy. The Pentino name will live on!"
Davis Alexander Pentino was born Dec. 5, 2013, weighing 7 pounds, 3 ounces and 20 1/2 inches long.
Jessica and Michael Kisner of Paden City also had their ultrasound tech put the gender in a sealed envelope to be revealed only to Jessica's best friend.
"We decided to do a gender reveal party because my mom and my husband's mom could not make it to the ultrasound. Since it was our first child, we wanted to make it special for everyone."
They invited family and a few close friends to the party, to which Jessica's friend had brought a box filled with the appropriate colored balloons.
"Michael and I unwrapped the box in front of family and friends. It was a boy!"
Kale Steven Owens was born Nov. 15, 2013. He was 6 pounds, 2 ounces and 20 inches long.