When Dara Crouch fell pregnant, she was convinced that she would have a girl. No one in her family had given birth to a boy in 50 years. Then she went into labor, and her birth photographer got ready to catch Crouch’s incredible reaction on camera.
When parents find out they’re expecting, they have many decisions ahead of them. Whether they should learn the sex of the baby is one of the most important choices. There’s no right answer, since both routes have their advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, it all comes down to parental (or placental) preference.
Some people opt to find out their future baby’s gender so that they can plan ahead. It allows them to decide on a name for the new addition to their family. Not only that, but parents-to-be can inform curious friends and family what gender to expect too.
Furthermore, advanced knowledge of a newborn’s sex allows gifters to buy gender-assigned presents for the little one. Of course, in today’s ever-progressive society, not everyone wants to stick to blue or pink clothes and boy-girl toys. In fact, more modern families make the argument that opting for gender-neutral accouterments is preferable.
That’s because baby’s parents don’t want to encourage their child down any forced lifestyle path. There’s another reason though that knowing a child’s gender might be beneficial. It can help parents to imagine what their future newborn might look like. This is especially true of people who’ve seen baby’s ultrasound pictures.
Knowing that the little gray blob on the ultrasound has a gender can help strengthen bonds between parent and child. On the other hand, parents might embrace the surprise that not knowing baby’s gender brings.
Regardless, it’s not unusual for parents to have a preferred gender in mind when they find that they’re expecting. Perhaps they’re used to raising one sex over the other or want to experience nurturing a boy or a girl. Either way, there are lots of stories detailing methods for deciding what sex a future baby is.
For example, some sources state that eating certain minerals can help determine a child’s sex. Another describes how the method and position of lovemaking will favor boy or girl births. One story suggests odd or even days of the month influences your baby’s sex. However, none of these methods have been medically proven.
Chromosomes, broadly speaking, determine whether expecting mothers give birth to a son or daughter. Before they’re fertilized, a potential mother’s eggs already carry something called an X chromosome. A German cytologist called Hermann Henking first discovered the chromosome back in 1890. However, he wasn’t sure exactly what it was.
As a result, Henking named his discovery the X Element, with the letter signifying its mysterious nature. When experts later discovered it was a chromosome they renamed it, but kept its signature letter. These days, some people incorrectly believe it got its name because of its resemblance to the letter X.
Coincidentally, it does have a vague X shape when viewed under the microscope. All chromosomes do, bar one, with the other exception being when they’re dividing. But its true role in gender assignment wasn’t discovered until Henking’s peer, Clarence Erwin McClung, noticed it in 1901. He thought X chromosomes determined male gender, but it’s actually a different chromosome that does that.
Every sperm carries either an X or Y chromosome with it. When a sperm carrying its own X chromosome reaches the egg, the resulting baby is female. Contrarily, if a sperm with a male Y chromosome reaches the egg first, mommy conceives a baby boy. Studies suggest heredity might also play a part in sex, though.
Newcastle University’s Corry Gellatly researched centuries of family trees in an effort to spot a correlation. The findings, which Gellatly released on December 12, 2008, indicated a potential link with heredity in males. It suggests that the frequency of chromosomes may pass down through generations, from father to son.
Essentially, Gellatly’s study indicated that if a man has several brothers, the Y chromosome is more potent. Likewise, a father-to-be with lots of sisters has a higher chance of siring daughters. But research continues, and a modern theory suggests both parents might have a role in gender determination.
Speaking of research, future parents have a large library of information at their fingertips with the internet. The rise of social media has only increased this knowledge pool. More and more people are sharing their experiences online, which raises another debate: the trend of recorded births. Vlogger Gemma Vaughan is a good example.
Mother-of-three Vaughan put all her babies’ births online. But why would a family choose to share such an intimate moment of their lives with the world? Vaughan explained her reasons on a YouTube video. She said that it had begun as a pastime at first but had grown into something much more.
“I decided I wanted to keep a pregnancy and baby diary,” Vaughan said. “First as a hobby and second because there seemed to be such a supportive network of vloggers. None of my friends were having babies at the time, and I felt more at ease talking to a camera about my hopes and fears than I did talking to other people.”
In addition, Vaughan speaks openly about motherhood subjects that aren’t aired as much as they perhaps might be. Consequently, the vlogger’s uploads include honest discussions about her battle with postpartum depression. “I think mums going through similar experiences are grateful to see someone admitting all these problems,” Vaughan described.
Birth photography is another option for future parents, which some dismiss outright. They often think it will remind them too much of the graphic, painful side of childbirth. But professional birth photographer, Heather White, has a counterargument, which she expressed to Redbook on February 27, 2017.
“Sadly, it can sometimes seem like people have a knee-jerk reaction to birth photography,” White said. “[It’s] along the lines of ‘ew, gross, why would anyone want to document it?’ But they don’t understand that the photos I’m taking are not being their graphic nature.”
The photographer continued, “They’re about the celebration of new life coming into the world. I’m documenting the moment that two partners become a family.” Birth photography is certainly a growing trend in 2018. Dara Crouch is one of the women who chose to have a cameraperson present at her child’s birth.
Crouch, a 29-year-old resident of Columbus, Georgia, is no stranger to childbirth. In fact, she has seven years of experience working as a delivery nurse for St. Francis Hospital. She’s also been through the birthing process herself – Crouch already had a three-year-old daughter called Nayland when she fell pregnant with her second child.
This time round, neither Crouch nor her 30-year-old husband Eric decided to confirm her baby’s gender. Indeed, Crouch had no doubt what its sex was. “I just knew I was having a girl,” she told Today on June 16, 2017. And she had a very good reason to believe this was true.
There had been no male births in Crouch’s family for 50 years. Nevertheless, the labor nurse looked forward to welcoming her baby so much that she wanted to preserve the moment forever. With this in mind, she hired a fellow Georgian birth photographer called Neely Ker-Fox. As it happens, she was also a friend of the Crouch family.
Crouch gave birth at St. Francis Hospital on April 25, 2017, and Ker-Fox was ready with her camera. But her photos captured more than she expected when doctors revealed the sex of Crouch’s baby: it was a boy. The photographer’s shots of mommy’s genuine surprise subsequently spread across the web, wowing the internet with their candor.
Crouch explained the reason for her surprise to ABC News on June 20, 2017. “The last boy that we know was born on my side of the family is 50 years ago,” she reiterated. “But quite honestly, it has little to do with the shock in the picture.”
Crouch told HuffPost on June 15, 2017, that she had “really thought” that her baby would be a girl. “I was really attached to my daughter’s clothes, and knew I could reuse them because their birthdays are only three weeks apart,” she said. “I just always saw us with girls.”
“I’ve seen surprises, but Dara had by far the most genuine reaction,” Ker-Fox revealed to Today. “Five minutes before it was time to start pushing, the couple again started thinking about the possibility of a boy.” She described Crouch’s mood during her labor as a “sweet, motherly apprehension.”
Four hours into her labor, Crouch’s midwife told her she had a boy, and Ker-Fox’s photos captured her reaction. The photographer said that mommy was overwhelmed with excitement. “Oh my gosh, it’s a boy,” Crouch exclaimed. “I can’t believe it’s a boy!” But it wasn’t just the family who experienced baby euphoria.
Ker-Fox informed ABC News that the birth overjoyed everyone present, herself and St. Francis staff included. And their responses are immortalized in the photographer’s pictures. “All of our reactions were genuine that she thought it was a girl,” Ker-Fox reported. Remarkably, the news of a baby boy took her completely by surprise.
But the photographer said it was the mother’s pure joy that moved the room to tears. “We all saw that very vulnerable moment and we started crying when we heard it was a boy.” Crouch named her son Liam, and he weighed a healthy 7 pounds, 15 ounces when he arrived.
On June 20, 2017, Ker-Fox told Inside Edition that this particular moment was unique for her. Over her six-year career and across in excess of 100 birth shoots, Crouch’s was among the most memorable. “Her reaction initially was a genuine surprise that it was a boy,” the photographer recounted.
“What made her so different for me was that she looked directly at my camera,” Ker-Fox said of Crouch as a photography subject. “It’s just a very raw human experience that you can relate to birth, how authentic and real and relatable it is. We were all personally invested in her.”
That Crouch didn’t officially know what the sex of her baby was added to the photographer’s enjoyment. On June 19, 2017, Ker-Fox told news website A Plus that those birth moments were always a joy to capture. “Admittedly, I love shooting births when the gender is unknown,” she said.
The photgrapher clarified, “Every mother is filled with anticipation to meet their baby, no matter what. But the parents who don’t know and wait until the moment of birth, there’s really nothing else like it. That’s when you get moments like this captured.” And timing is everything in Ker-Fox’s line of work.
“I immediately knew it was an amazing shot the moment I took it,” the camerawoman described. “But birth, the moments leading up to it and just after, go so quickly. Things are very fluid. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that, as the room quieted down, I was able to show everyone the back of the camera to see the shot.”
And people who are unsure whether they want a birth photographer present may take comfort from learning that Crouch was pleased that she did. She told ABC News exactly that during her interview. “I look kind of crazy in them, but I think they’re great,” the second-time mommy said. “We have something to look back on.”
“Had we not have a photographer in the room,” Crouch continued, “We would’ve never seen that.” She also said it’s something Liam will be able to enjoy when he’s older. “He’ll know how excited we were, and how shocked I was.” That feeling can now be revisited whenever Crouch wishes by looking at the photos.
“It’s raw emotion caught on camera,” Crouch told HuffPost. “Moments like that are why we hired Neely. You can never get those moments back, but through the pictures you can always cherish them.” The birth photographer couldn’t agree more; it’s why she chose to go down her career path.
“People sometimes don’t ‘get’ birth photography,” Ker-Fox explained. “But one day, her son will see this photo, and the others that I took that day. And [he’ll] see the love and excitement that welcomed him into this world. It doesn’t get much better than that.”