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Area couples get creative when it comes to revealing babies' gender

FARGO - The chocolate and vanilla cupcakes contained a secret known only to an ultrasound technician and the baker who made them.

A dollop of blue or pink frosting filled the center of the cakes. This is how Matt and Amanda Johnson - and about 20 friends and family members - would find out if the expecting couple was going to have a boy or girl.

Amanda Johnson saw the idea for the cupcakes and gender-reveal party online, probably on a blog.

"I thought it would be fun. It's the first grandkid on Matt's parents' side," she says. "I thought it would be a fun way to include my daughter, too," referring to 7-year-old McKenna Reiser.

At her ultrasound appointment earlier this month, Amanda and Matt had the technician write down the gender and seal it in an envelope. Matt wasn't allowed to touch it, Amanda says. "He would have peeked," she says.

Amanda later handed the envelope to Carolina Finol, owner of The Baking Cup. Finol, an avid blogger, has also seen the idea online but never had a request like the Johnsons' before.

"I was like, oh my gosh, I'm holding a secret I cannot tell anybody," Finol says. "They trust me."

The next day, the Johnsons' friends and family filled the main floor of their Fargo home, dressed in blue or pink, depending on their gender hunch. Matt wore a blue "Star Wars" shirt. McKenna donned a pink tunic. A fuchsia shirt skimmed Amanda's slight baby bulge. The neckline of a teal-colored top peeked out from underneath.

Guests dropped baby-name suggestions in clear glass jars and pinned their guesses of boy or girl to a bee-themed bulletin board (14-7 in favor of boy). A few family members who couldn't be there were put on speakerphone or Skype.

Matt and Amanda handed out the little cakes. Amanda peeled the liner off McKenna's cupcake. And then, all at once, everyone took a big bite.

Mouths full, people started squealing. The centers were pink. It's a girl.

"I am surprised," Amanda says. "Everybody thought it was going to be a boy because Matt's family is all boys."

"I'm so outnumbered here," Matt says, thinking about life with a wife and two daughters once their baby arrives. She's due Dec. 1.

Parents-to-be commonly have the ultrasound technician write down the gender and seal it in an envelope, says Jill Beithon, manager of ultrasound services at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo.

"The couples have told us that, if it's near Christmas, they'll open it together Christmas morning, or on a birthday. They'll save it for a special event and open it together, or with family," Beithon says.

She's heard of couples framing the ultrasound picture in blue or pink or writing the gender on a blank puzzle kit to give to someone else. One pregnant woman brought both a blue and pink shirt to her ultrasound appointment and changed into the corresponding color to alert her co-workers, Beithon says.

Last year, John and Melissa Meyer of West Fargo revealed the gender of their daughter Emily, now 8 months old, with cupcakes at a family get-together. The couple knew their second baby would be a girl but hadn't told anyone. Then Melissa showed up at the party with a platter of pink-frosted cupcakes.

"It was neat that everyone found out at the same time when they thought we were keeping it a secret," she says.

Finol, the baker, has also read about couples choosing blue and pink clothing from a baby clothing store. The clerk looks at the ultrasound results and boxes up the appropriate outfit. The expecting couple unwraps the package in front of friends and family.

"I think it's just an excuse to get together with family, just to share that moment that is so, so special," Finol says of these gender-reveal ideas. "Instead of just being with the ultrasound tech, you can be more creative."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556