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Mar 27 2012

Week 20: Ultrasound with a Capital U

By at 3:45 pm

ultrasound on baby beddingI haven’t ever been the best at self control. The other day I was trying to recall if there had ever been a piece of cake that had crossed my path unscathed. To be sure, I’m very good at talking up a storm about goals and the merit of restraint–I’m just not very good at putting my money where my mouth is. So when my husband and I went in for our ultrasound this week–the big 20 week Ultrasound with a capital U–I didn’t have the highest hopes for maintaining my resolve to not find out the sex of the baby.

We decided from the beginning that we wanted it to be a surprise. It seemed like there wasn’t much of a need to feed the desires of my brothers-in-law, who kept insisting it has to be a boy, or my mother-in-law, who desperately wants a girl after raising four sons. We’re also a bit on the superstitious side and have no plans to decorate a nursery or buy anything at all before this baby actually makes its way down the birth canal unscathed. So we said to ourselves, what’s the difference as long as it’s healthy, and that was that–until about a week before the ultrasound.

All of a sudden I started picturing myself lying down on that exam table and actually saying “no” when the ultrasound tech asked if we wanted to know the sex. I know all too well from my love of all things chocolate that once you start trying to imagine saying, “no,” it means you are very likely to actually say, “yes.” The temptation of being in the same room with someone who knows and not getting in on the secret seemed like it would definitely be too great. Also, how could I possibly allow a complete stranger to be the only person in the world who knows whether to call my baby he or she for the next four and a half months??

But we went in for the ultrasound and somehow, for possibly the first time in my life, I held my resolve. We saw the baby’s head, eyes, and nostrils, a little beating heart inside a rib cage, a very detailed spine, some little toes and fingers. We turned our heads away–well, my doctor husband turned his head away–when they took a look at the nether regions. I was pretty sure I would have no idea what I was looking at one way or the other, which turned out to be pretty true. (I did think I saw some evidence of a boy, but the hubs said it was probably the umbilical cord. Which made a lot more sense in retrospect–unless they zoomed in or our baby is incredibly well endowed…)

I think that at the end of the day two things helped me keep up our decision to be surprised. One was the shock of the ultrasound itself. The last time we had a visual ultrasound was at eight weeks and this was a completely and utterly different experience. I had somehow gotten the idea that we would be seeing a more or less clear picture of a little baby in my body, and forgotten the fact that the real point of the ultrasound is to check the baby’s organs and bones and make sure everything is in place as it should be. It was honestly quite a bit creepier than I anticipated, and looked more like an x-ray than a Gerber ad. Without seeing a clear image of a baby like I had imagined, I was a lot less tempted to complete the picture.

The second thing was the relief of listening to the tech check off one healthy and developing body part after another. Knowing that everything is moving along smoothly and on schedule reminded me of what I’ve been telling everyone all along–that we really didn’t care whether it was a boy or girl, as long as it comes out healthy. I know it’s trite, but that’s been my mantra for the past few months, and at that ultrasound I finally internalized it.

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