With pregnancy comes some irrational fear that everything is going to go wrong. When you know just how detailed and intricate the making of a baby is, it seems like something (even something minor) would mess up along the way. With two healthy pregnancies and two healthy babies ahead of me, I thought that this pregnancy, this third baby, would surely be the problematic one. Surely something would go wrong this time.
When I had my 20-week ultrasound, I was a nervous wreck. My palms were sweaty. My body was jittery. And instead of being a Chatty Cathy like I usually am, I laid there in silence, holding my husband’s hand. As the ultrasound technician rolled her wand over my belly, she pointed out all of the parts. Here’s the brain. Here’s the different sections of her brain. Here’s her eyes. Her nose. Her chest. Her heart. The 4 chambers of her heart… She went on and on and on, commenting on how perfect and “just fine” our little baby was.
“From what I can tell here, your baby is right on track, developing and healthy,” she said.
What a relief! I couldn’t believe it. All of my fears and worries were pointless. This little babe was doing well, just as she should. Before we left, my husband and I wanted to find out the sex of our baby. We found out with the other 2 and felt like we had to this time around, as well.
Since I have two daughters already, I had hoped and assumed that we’d be welcoming a baby boy into our family. If our odds alone weren’t enough, I kept reminding myself that in my family, there have been 7 girls born in the past 4 years. No boys. 7 girls. Surely the chances of a boy would be in our favor.
“It’s another little girl,” she said.
I was shocked! And quite honestly, a little bit relieved. Even though I thought I wanted a boy this time around, the thought of having 3 daughters sort of melted me. I had 2 daughters already and 1 more would make our family complete.
There’s nothing like becoming a mother and welcoming a new baby into your world. All at once you are filled with anxiety and hope beyond measure…
Image: Getty Images
I'm horrible at guessing the sex of people's babies. Including my own. If I tell you you're probably having a girl, run out and buy yourself a blue onesie. My first pregnancy I was convinced I was having a son until my 20-week anatomy scan when the doctor shocked and delighted my husband and me with news that we were having a little girl. Everything up to that point -- the way I was carrying, the way I looked and felt -- had led me to believe I was having a boy. But mainly, I think I had so desperately wanted a daughter, I convinced myself that I was having the opposite.
Until my mother died, a year-and-a-half before I got pregnant, I always thought I wanted a boy. I come from a family of girls and thought it would be nice to mix it up a bit. But after my mother's passing, I started to think more about having a daughter of my own, and it seemed, well, really fantastic. I'm sure a psychologist could give you an exact term, but I realized how close I really was with my mom after she was gone, and I wanted to, in some ways, have a similar relationship where I was the mother. I also, naturally, wanted to do some things differently than she did.
For most of my first trimester and half of my second, I pictured myself with a little boy in order to "prepare" myself for his arrival. I all but told people with certainty that I was, in fact, having a son before I ever found out the baby's sex. But when I was lying there in the warm glow of ultrasound light, belly full of goo, and found out I was having a girl, nothing ever seemed to make more sense in the world. I immediately felt a connection, and I already knew her name.
Like many parents of one, it's hard to imagine having a child of the opposite sex. Everything feels natural with my daughter. I "get" her more than I would a son, and let's be honest: Girl clothes are adorable.
When my doctor told my husband and me that we were having a son this time around, I was shocked. I was excited but dumbfounded. A boy? But ... I just assumed I was having another girl. After all, I already have a daughter. I have a sister. I'm a girl. Doesn't life always replicate itself around me?
It was hard to process my feelings that evening. I was happy and intrigued by the idea of a boy. I was glad my husband was getting a son and my daughter a brother, but it was just so ... strange. I know being the mom to a daughter. I'm pretty good at being the mom to a daughter.
Since I've had time to let things sink in, I couldn't be more thrilled that in a few months, I'll be cradling a gorgeous baby boy in my arms. This is the first of the million and one ways he'll surprise me in life, and if parenting has taught me one thing, it's to expect the unexpected. I feel a little guilty for feeling anything other than complete and utter bliss after learning his sex, but I hope someday, he'll find it in his heart to forgive me.
I love you so much already, little boy. You were always meant to be, and I know in a few months time, we'll be wondering how there ever was a world without you.
Now. If we could only come up with a name.
Were you surprised when you found out the sex of your baby?
My daughter tried to tell me the other day that she remembers being in the womb and that it was dark and wet. I know, easy guess. But I swore something was up when she flashed what was either the heavy metal or hook 'em horns sign on her very first sonogram. (As a University of Texas alum and lover of all hair bands in the 1980s, I was quite pleased.) Gang signs aside, it does seem that those babies are up to something in there, and it's kind of amazing.
It turns out, babies are doing all kinds of things before they even show up out of the womb. One of the most fascinating is developing those facial expressions and seeing that those womb babies are actually smiling and crying. Crying, I'm guessing, because you skipped the chocolate milkshake that day.
So when does all this business start happening, so you can take a much closer look at those pictures of your belly?
Those 4D sonogram machines have come in handy, as researchers used them to measure fetal facial movements. Between your 24th week and 36th week, your baby's facial expressions start becoming much more advanced and complex. Your little swimmer at 24 weeks can open her mouth and stretch her lips. By 35 weeks those kiddos can furrow the brow, lower a brow, and give you the hairy eyeball. Just kidding on the last one. Unless your fetus is particularly emotionally advanced.
All of this is to say, I guess those creepy 4D images are useful for more than just freaking out new moms. Seriously, I thought I had an alien inside of me after looking at one of those. Turns out, it was a smiling, frowning, crying alien.Did your baby smile in his sonogram?
Is it safe to have an X-ray during pregnancy?
Yes — having an X-ray during pregnancy is generally considered safe. It's highly unlikely that a diagnostic X-ray during pregnancy will harm a developing baby.
Most X-ray exams — including those of the arms, legs, head, teeth or chest — won't expose your reproductive organs to radiation, and a leaded apron and collar can be worn to block any scattered radiation. The exception is abdominal X-rays, which expose your abdomen — and your baby — to radiation. High doses of radiation can cause changes in a baby's rapidly growing cells. In turn, it's possible that these changes could slightly increase a baby's risk of birth defects or certain cancers, such as leukemia, later in life. Remember, however, that the typical dose of radiation associated with a diagnostic X-ray — even one of the abdomen or pelvis — doesn't pose this risk.
Before having an X-ray, tell your health care provider if you are or might be pregnant. Depending on the circumstances, it might be possible to do an imaging study that doesn't involve radiation — such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging. In addition, if you have a child who needs an X-ray, don't hold your child during the exam if you are or might be pregnant. Instead, ask another person to take your place.
If you had a diagnostic X-ray before you knew you were pregnant, remember that any potential risk is exceedingly remote. If you had radiation treatment for a medical condition, the risks might be more significant. Share any concerns about radiation exposure with your health care provider. He or she might consult a medical radiation physicist to calculate your baby's radiation exposure.
There's nothing like a look at her baby to get a pregnant woman all ferklempt.
Offer her an ultrasound, and she's running for another peek.
But a new pregnancy spa offering ultrasounds begs the question: how many ultrasounds does one pregnant woman really need?
Not that many.
In fact, maybe not any.
Or at least not more than one in most pregnancies.
There are the high-risk pregnancies where women are subjected -- on doctor's orders -- to repeated ultrasounds for medical reasons. Ask one, and she'll probably tell you she's had enough.
She'd had them all over in exchange for a low-risk, less-worry pregnancy.
So why are all the rest of the ladies clamoring for another look-see inside the womb?
Because they apparently aren't listening to their doctor. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests moms limit their exposure as much as possible, advising against the 'keepsake' ultrasound:
'Not much is known about the effects of repeated exposure to ultrasound. It seems to be safe, but it is possible that problems could be found in the future.
'Moreover, the workers at these centers often are not trained to interpret the images for you. Based on the ultrasound, you may be falsely reassured that your baby is doing well, when in fact there may be a problem. Or, you may be alarmed that the image shows an abnormality and, because these centers are not medical facilities, you will be left without any professional help. Obstetric ultrasound is best obtained through standard prenatal car.'
I had two ultrasounds -- the first to check for fetal defects, a standard use approved by the ACOG, the second because of a fetal complication.
My husband hoped for more because our baby crossed her legs during sonogram number one -- keeping us from figuring out her gender. But my doctor didn't see a need, and I took that as a sign.