On Wednesday, I had my big 20-week ultrasound. It was a detailed anatomy scan of the baby's body - we would see the chambers of the heart, the spine, the arms and legs, and of course, that beautiful little face, looking more human than ever. I'd never been more excited for anything in my life. After all, this would be the last chance to see LOOL ("Love of Our Lives" - an appropriate nickname, since my husband and I rarely call each other anything besides LOML) before its birthday.
When we first got pregnant, we decided that we didn't want to know the sex, that we wanted to be surprised. This announcement elicited various responses from friends and family, ranging from incredulity to awed appreciation of our patience to downright frustration.
The curious types insisted that the surprise would be just as great at five months in the doctor's office as it would on the birthday. Perhaps this is true, but frankly, after endless hours of huffing, puffing, godawful pain and general labor-induced delirium, I'd say that finding out the sex of my child is a worthy reward. Driving to UCLA for my five-month midwife appointment can't exactly compare, even with the worst traffic.
Others thought it very inconvenient, and wondered aloud how I could possibly feel prepared without knowing the sex - How to decorate the nursery? What color onesies to buy? How fortunate that red, yellow and green are my favorite colors.
Several friends suggested that I might feel more connected to the baby if I were to find out. Though this is doubtlessly true for some, this is my baby - I sing to it, talk to it, read to it. I can't imagine feeling more connected to it until the moment I hold him or her in my arms.
Despite our steadfast decision to choose ignorance, as the weeks crept by, we found ourselves growing increasingly curious. What was this little person that I'd been talking to for weeks? Was LOOL a he or she? Even my husband, always the more resolute party in this decision, was waffling. On the morning of the ultrasound, I awoke to find him sitting in the living room, pondering pink or blue.
We decided to find a happy medium - we would look at the ultrasound, but we wouldn't allow the tech to tell us what the baby was. That way, we'd either have to be smart enough to figure it out on our own, or we'd live in blissful ignorance for the duration of the pregnancy. When we announced this decision to the ultrasound technician, she laughed. "I've never heard that one before!"
I lay back, waiting eagerly for her to visit "the area." Shapes blurred in and out of focus on the screen in front of us. That could be an elbow...or a knee...or?? Suddenly, we heard, "Okay - I just looked. I know what you're having."
Huh? We hadn't seen anything that was remotely discernible as genitalia. At that moment, I realized that I had assumed we'd know exactly what LOOL was immediately, that there would be no doubt once we left this appointment. Not so.
"Perhaps we should revisit that area," I suggested, unable to stop myself. She complied, and once again we were staring at a maze of fuzzy body parts. Nope.
"Oh well," I said, discomfited. "That's that - guess we'll just be surprised."
"Here - let's try this." Before I knew it, she had zoomed in. The area in question was enlarged before us, yet...still nothing.
"There's one leg, and here's another..." We cocked our heads, staring blankly at the screen. Was there something visible between those skinny legs? Or...not?
"How about I write it down for you?" Err...sure! Why not?
And that is how my husband and I ended up wandering out of the hospital carrying our baby's sex in our pocket. A folded, taped-up piece of green scratch paper holds the big secret. It's been three days, and we haven't looked.
Are we masochists? Possibly. Is this torture? Definitely.