Shayne Ward on surprise of welcoming a son after expecting baby girl for nine months
Shayne Ward has opened up about the moment he and his fiancee Sophie Austin (very happily, but surprisingly) welcomed a baby boy after being told they were expecting a girl.
Introducing the new addition to their family as Reign Thomas Austin Ward in an exclusive interview with Hello!, the singer and actor, 37, recalled the experience.
"For nine months you believe you are having a girl," the ex-Coronation Street star said, a result of what the couple had been told at a scan.
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"Your initial reaction is 'Excuse me?!' but more than anything I just wanted the baby to be okay. And he absolutely was."
"A healthy baby is a healthy baby," he added, happy to be welcoming a child regardless of their sex.
Fellow soap star Austin, previously in Hollyoaks, 38, echoed her husband's experience, actually feeling "relief" that something wasn't wrong.
"He came out and Shayne first clocked it," she said. "Then the doctors came over and said, 'We've got some news.'
"I was thinking the worst, that something awful had happened, but they said, 'You've got a baby boy!' So I felt more relief than anything else."
Reign was born on June 11 at Wythenshawe Hospital. Ward and Austin's first child and now big sister, Willow, five, has reportedly already formed a close bond with him.
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After preparing some girls' names for the birth, the pair had to quickly come up with some new ones. "There was one name I had heard that I had liked, which was Reign, and Shayne loves anything medieval," said Austin.
"As soon she suggested it, I thought it was nice," added Ward, with Thomas his middle name and Austin being after his father-in-law.
Reign was conceived naturally following unsuccessful attempts of IVF. "I can't believe we have got one of each! We are so blessed with this journey that we've been on – after we did IVF, this all happened naturally.
"I wasn't fussed if it was a boy or girl, I just knew I had to have another child. I was over the moon that I was a dad again."
A few days after Reign's birth, Ward shared an image of the family of four's hands overlapping each other, with the caption, "And then there were Four! 11/06/22 we had a HUGE surprise! Not a baby girl we were expecting but a beautiful baby Boy. We are so overjoyed and blessed that sir baby Ward has arrived."
But what is the process of finding out the sex like and what are the chances it can be wrong?
Finding out the sex of your baby is not offered as part of the national screening programme, the NHS advises, but in reality many expectant mothers do.
The website clarifies, "If you want to find out the sex of your baby, you can usually do so during the 20-week mid-pregnancy scan but this depends on the policy of your hospital. Tell the sonographer (healthcare professional doing the scan) at the start of the scan that you'd like to know your baby's sex."
"Be aware, though," it adds, "that it's not possible for the sonographer to be 100% certain about your baby's sex. For example, if your baby is lying in an awkward position, it may be difficult or impossible to tell."
Some hospitals have a policy of not telling patients the sex of their baby, and you should speak to your sonographer or midwife to find out more.
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One previous study of the accuracy of 2D ultrasound sex determination before birth found that all females were accurately detected sonographically as females but two males were wrongly reported as females, meaning there was 100% sensitivity for females and 98.2% for males.
It found that "most of the women were happy even when the sex differed from that which they desired."
But for women whose children's sex were wrongly identified, some did mention the "psychological shock" and a "wastage of scarce resources" due to feeling like they had to shop again for items like clothes.
"For most, I would say any human being would have that first shock of disappointment," says Angela Karanja, psychologist and founder of Raising Remarkable Teenagers. "When our expectations are dashed it’s natural to feel disappointed because the image you held in your mind is not what you are now experiencing in reality."
Another study concluded that, "Sonographers need to make women aware that errors occur with early predictions, particularly those made prior to 12 weeks, and that predictions cannot always be made."
Karanja adds, "This initial disappointment [of an error in a scan] can turn toxic if as a parent you are not able to accept the new reality and let go of 'what could have been'. It may feel like dashed dreams but it’s important to accept and recalibrate."
But for those who do struggle to bond with their newborns, "this can lead to a serious attachment problem and this condition should not be underestimated".
"Parents shouldn’t feel shame seeking help for this. It's better to seek support and salvage the relationship with your baby and your overall wellness, than pretend everything's fine while you suffer in silence," adds Karanja, highlighting that this can lead to resentment and blame.
She emphasises the importance of positive language about the child, also pointing out the benefits of being thrown a 'curveball' so early. "Why? because that’s the journey as a parent you are about to embark on. One curveball after another. You are quickly learning to be flexible."
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It's also important to distinguish between sex and gender. As defined by Stonewall, sex is, "Assigned to a person on the basis of primary sex characteristics (genitalia) and reproductive functions. Sometimes the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are interchanged to mean ‘male’ or ‘female’."
Meanwhile gender is, "Often expressed in terms of masculinity and femininity, gender is largely culturally determined and is assumed from the sex assigned at birth."
As gender is seen as more and more fluid, with someone's sex at birth not necessarily reflecting the gender they identify with, some parents are also less interested in finding out the sex at scans, or celebrating with 'gender reveal' parties.
Karanja agrees. "I would say more parents are moving that way as we all realise a human being is a human being."
If you need support, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123.