This week we went to get an ultrasound. I wanted my regular doctor to do it, the doctor who congratulated me on choosing a home birth and said she’d like to do the same one day, but it turns out that she is pregnant herself and on bed rest, so I made the appointment with another doctor at her practice. He seemed less cheerful about the prospect of a home birth, but wasn’t hostile as I feared many doctors would be. I have a hard time dealing with hostility, and I’m not very good at confronting authority figures, so I’d rather not deal with that, if I can help it.
We didn’t find out the sex of the baby. I struggled with this choice this time, it was so easy when I was pregnant with Elijah. This time I have pressure from new sources (and when I say pressure, it’s more that I can tell some people want me to find out but respect my choice not to, but I still feel a little guilty somehow), and also I have a strong feeling I know what the baby’s sex is. An ultrasound could either confirm my suspicion (girl), or give me time to readjust my thinking before the baby is born. But when I really thought about it, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that finding out now would be like opening my presents before Christmas. I might feel a little let down and disappointed in the long run.
Also, there’s a part of me that fears that knowing too much about the baby prompts me to start making up a personality for this child before I get the opportunity to actually get to know it. Knowing a baby’s sex is really a trivial thing that tells you very little about who the child is. It won’t tell you it’s temperament, it’s interests, it’s strengths and weaknesses, it won’t even tell you it’s gender (sex and gender are two different things, after all). And yet in our society we place so much importance on knowing a person’s sex, and make a lot of personality assumptions based on it that maybe we shouldn’t. Especially not for a child. I know that I could reasonably start making personality assumptions about my baby after it’s born when I do know the sex, but I think it’s harder to impose personality traits that may or may not exist on a real person who you’re actually in the process of getting to know. Also, when you’ve spent nine months acknowledging that the person inside of you is a complete mystery, you’re expecting to encounter an unfolding mystery when it comes out. You’re not expecting some imaginary little girl or boy you came up with based on what an ultrasound could tell you (which was only what kind of genitalia your child is going to be born with), so there’s less room for disappointment for you, or feelings of inadequacy on the part of your child. You’re ready for your baby to show you who he or she is.
There is the issue of whether or not I’m going to be disappointed if this baby turns out not to be the baby girl I have a strange feeling it’s going to be. My mother has asked several times if I’m going to be disappointed if it’s a boy and I have always brushed it off as a silly question. Of course I won’t be. I love my son! Boys are so much fun! But then I really sat down and took the question seriously. What if this child is a boy? Will I be disappointed? Will I feel a sense of sadness, followed by an overwhelming sense of guilt for being disappointed, like I did after Elijah? I sat down and really tried to visualize giving birth to another baby boy. Taking another baby boy to my breast. Snuggling another baby boy as he sleeps. The vision made my heart melt, like my memories of Elijah as a baby still do. Of course I won’t be disappointed. I would love another baby boy. The only thing I’ll be disappointed in if I have a boy is my lousy sense of intuition, and I will have learned not to listen to it in the future, at least where baby sex prediction is concerned.
I am acknowledging that while I have a feeling it’s a girl, I could be wrong. I have known people who make predictions and refuse to acknowledge that their prediction might be wrong. Then it’s this huge blow when they are wrong. So at least I’m being realistic. I say “I have a feeling this one is a girl, but you never know, it could be another boy”. Elijah wants it to be a boy pretty badly. Jeremy wants a girl slightly more than a boy, but would be happy with a boy as well. I honestly can’t say I’d prefer one over the other. There are times I find myself hoping for girl, and times I find myself hoping for boy. I have always wanted a daughter, but then, boys are so familiar to me now. I’m comfortable with boys. I have a lot of boy clothes already.
So, if we didn’t learn the sex, what did we discover in the ultrasound? Baby is healthy, first and foremost. Everything seems to be progressing typically. The doctor dates me a little earlier along than my last menstrual period places me, at what would have been 18 weeks and 1 day by LMP, he placed me at 17 weeks 4 days, giving us an estimated due date of August 12. Not that due dates matter much to me, and they certainly don’t matter to babies at all. Babies come when they are ready. When people ask me my due date, I say early to mid August and leave it at that. Babies also come in all sizes, and I know that the later an ultrasound is performed the less accurate it gets because of so many variables in fetal growth and development at later stages of gestation. But whatever, if the midwife wants to push my due date back based on the ultrasound info she’s welcome to. That gives me a few more days before the medical establishment starts breathing down everyone’s necks if I go post dates.
Also, apparently I have a HUGE placenta. The doctor just kept gushing about how big it was, and on the ultrasound it did look impressively large. I’d like to take credit for that massive placenta, but I learned in my Biology of Women class that placenta growth is actually caused by information contained in the sperm, rather than the egg (the egg has nothing to do with the placenta, apparently), so that’s all Jeremy. What can I say? The guy does have a talent for building things.
I am a little disappointed, however, that this giant placenta is on the anterior wall of my uterus. Great. So how long will it be before anyone can feel baby’s kicks from the outside? It’s also sitting a little low but should raise up as my uterus expands.
At one point during the ultrasound the baby gave us a very clear thumbs up. We were all laughing about it, but I knew in my heart that the baby had probably actually just pulled it’s thumb out of it’s mouth. I may have a thumb sucker on my hands. Well, at least we won’t have to fret over the pacifier decision again. Could I really get lucky enough to have another baby who makes the pacifier choice for me? We’ll see.
Unfortunately, we did not get a picture of that adorable little thumbs up. Our ultrasound photos are actually quite boring. Clearly the doctor was not a photographer. Pft. We got a bunch of baby’s spine, a few of the top of it’s head, and a few others that are really difficult to determine the point of. We got a bunch, way more than I ever got of Elijah, but the ones I got of Elijah were so nice. Little foot prints and facial profiles, that ultrasound technician was an artist. This doctor, not so much. But for a $25 co-pay I guess I can’t complain.
Guess my baby stats!
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