I cannot describe how impatient I was while counting down the days to our 20 Week anatomy scan. The excitement for it was similar to how I felt waiting for my wedding day. However, I felt no fear concerning my wedding day; there was fear involved in waiting for this appointment. Dreams of giving birth to a deformed baby started way back when I was a teenager. Now that I am pregnant, I have been even more worried that something would be medically or even cosmetically wrong. To clarify – I will love any child God gives me, and my husband feels the same way. But of course, I want my child to be healthy because I want the best for my child. And I worry about appearance because people can be so rude and so cruel.
We also decided we wanted to know the gender. Well, perhaps I should say I wanted to know the gender, and my easy-going husband went along with it. I have had a lot of trouble “connecting” with this baby – to the point where I don’t feel like I am “with child.” All the vomiting makes me feel like I have caught some terrible disease, especially back when I was literally bed-ridden with nausea. It’s hard to feel excited about anything when you’re terrified to take your next sip of fluids. However, many pregnant women who faced the same challenges felt much closer to their pre-born child when they knew their child’s gender. I believed this would help me, also. Referring to the baby as “he” or “she” rather than “it” or “he or she” would make this more personal for me. Also, after reading birth stories written by other moms with clinical depression/anxiety, some said they were so exhausted and overwhelmed and overstimulated at the birth, that they completely missed the gender announcement and had to ask to have it repeated. Knowing how well I handle anxiety and stimuli, I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened to me.
Some people have told me they are disappointed or even offended I’m not being more traditional or conservative by waiting until the birth for the gender reveal. Some things are better left unsaid. There is no right or wrong in choosing to know or to wait, and each couple’s decision should be respected.
The day finally came! My husband and I got to the clinic super early, but we were taken to the ultrasound room almost right away. I had the same excited/nervous feeling I get when I’m about to meet someone. After all, I was about to see my child’s face for the first time, learn the gender, and learn which of the two names we had picked would be the one! We chatted with the technician for a minute, and she asked us if we had names picked out. We told her our choice for a boy and our choice for a girl. Then the scan began. As soon as the technician touched the wand to my belly, that little face came right into view on the big screen, and my heart completely melted. I swear, I saw a smile!
The technician tried to determine the gender, but our baby was crossing his/her legs with one foot in the crotch, being completely modest. So the technician said she would keep trying between each anatomy scan. Next, she looked at the baby’s head. We could see the two hemispheres of the brain and the cerebellum. The tech measured each section. Everything was at the appropriate size, and the baby’s head was symmetrical. All those news stories of babies born with half a brain were washed away. Next, she looked at the baby’s face (pictured below). The triangle is the baby’s nose. At first, I was thinking Well that’s an unflattering picture, but then the tech said that this image ruled out cleft lip (although not cleft palate). She said Baby’s face was just perfect. At this news, I totally burst into tears. I was so happy and so relieved. (I think part of the reason I am so worried is because I had a terrible overbite that almost required surgery, and I was bullied relentlessly throughout grade school – including getting punched in the face by boys several years older than me. Like I said, people can be cruel.)
Next, the tech checked Baby’s heart. My husband and I could easily see all the chambers of the heart, and we could see them pumping. Baby’s heart rate was 153 beats per minute (normal), and we could see the heart rate in a second image below the first, scrolling by with every beat. We were just amazed by both the technology and the complexity of the heart itself. Then the tech blew us away when she told us the heart of a 20 week old pre-born baby is the size of an M&M!
The tech checked for gender again, but those little legs were still stubbornly crossed! So we moved on with the rest of the anatomy. We saw Baby’s arms, hands, and fingers. The Baby was moving his/her arms all around and even looked like he/she was waving.
Baby also has both feet and all 10 toes.
Then we got to see the legs. Oh, my goodness, those little legs! They were crossed at the ankles and just completely adorable. We could see the tibia and fibula in each leg. I could practically picture my baby lying on his/her back with his/her knees drawn up and bent and ankles crossed. Again, my heart just overflowed.
But oh, those crossed legs were stubborn! So then I started wiggling around, and the tech started poking me with the wand. Eventually, Baby got annoyed and moved. Those legs uncrossed and went over Baby’s head! The technician said, “Whew! You have a little gymnast!”
Although I could make out the bum, I had no idea about anything else, but the tech smiled and said, “Oooooh, I know!” *pause for effect* “You have a little Esther Grace!” The fact that she used the name we had told her at the beginning of the scan rather than saying the generic “It’s a girl!” made the experience completely personal and unique. I felt like I was being introduced to my child. (Although I’m sure this won’t even remotely compare with when Esther is born!) I was laughing and crying. My husband was a little shocked. He has three brothers, and many of his relatives had only sons. He didn’t realize it until that moment, but he was subconsciously expecting this baby to be a boy. He was happy, but surprised. Likewise, I would have been happy to have a boy. I wasn’t concerned about which gender the baby was; I just wanted the knowledge of it. I do, however, hope to have at least one daughter and one son someday.
I asked the technician how sure she was that we have a girl, and the tech said, “One hundred percent. Definitely.” I told her I know a few friends who ended up giving birth to the opposite gender they were told (even with the newer technology), and my tech said again, “Oh no, definitely a girl.” Then she explained the image to me and rotated it around for other views and angles. At that point, even the stubborn skeptic in me was convinced.
Our technician was so awesome, and she immediately went back to Esther’s face and let us watch her move around a little and interact with her. She started gulping down amniotic fluid – and I mean chugging it. We could see her little mouth open and close, and we could even see her tiny tongue working as she swallowed! Even the technician was amazed at how determined Esther was to drink as much as she could. The tech asked, “What did you eat before you came here?”
“A brownie,” I said.
“Esther loves brownies!” the tech said.
(Pre-born babies can taste flavors in the amniotic fluid based off what the mom eats. I’ve read research about this even back before I was pregnant for some of my Pro-Life activities, but it was amazing to actually see it!)
Then Esther started rubbing her face with her hands and then she was possibly sucking her thumb. She was also all squished into my right side, which wasn’t surprising to me, since I have only felt kicks on my right and in the front, middle.
The technician put all the images on a CD for us to take home. When we got home, we were thrilled to find video of Esther drinking!
After calling our parents and siblings, we made a FaceBook gender announcement:
I then spent the rest of the evening baking cupcakes, hollowing out the middle, filling it with strawberry frosting, recovering it, and topping it with white frosting and either a pink or blue question mark. The next morning, we brought the cupcakes to my husband’s Bible class on Genesis at church. I wrote on the board,
“Blue or Pink
What do you think?
Take a guess
Then look inside.
To know the rest
See where the answer hides.”
We told everyone to take a pink or blue cupcake, based on their guess. Once everyone was there and ready, we had them all bite into the cupcake. Everyone started shouting, “It’s a girl,” and “It’s pink!” with mouthfuls of cupcakes and frosting. It was so fun!
Next entry will be the story behind our choosing Esther Grace for a name. ❤