January 9, 2012 by Leah
We’re going in for the 20-week ultrasound on Wednesday. When I was first pregnant, this was the only ultrasound I planned on getting (at the recommendation of my CNM). I ended up getting one around 12 weeks because my CNM couldn’t find a heartbeat with just the fetal Doppler thingy, and while it was kind of reassuring (okay, okay, I cried) to see that there was only one Sprocket and that it had two arms, two legs, and one head, the process seemed to take forever and was uncomfortable for me. And probably for Sprocket, who had been resting quietly until the mean doctor blasted it with a bunch of ultrasonic waves.
The reason I found particularly compelling for getting an ultrasound at 20 weeks was to determine the location of the placenta. There are some pregnancy complications for which a c-section actually is the safest option, like when the placenta is totally blocking the baby’s way out. Complications of that magnitude definitely seem like the sort of thing one would want to know about in advance. Well, we determined at 12 weeks that Sprocket’s and my placenta is attached high up and at the back, which is just where it should be, so I’m no longer worried about that particular problem.
Yesterday, Aaron asked, “What exactly is the point of this ultrasound?” And I said, “Um, to make sure the baby is growing properly, I think.” And he said, “What are they going to do if it’s not? Give you vitamins?”
Excellent point, honey.
At my last appointment, the CNM said my uterus was measuring tall and that the ultrasound would tell us whether or not we have anything to worry about; however, ultrasounds are not known for their accuracy in estimating fetal weight, and unless there’s some kind of major problem, I’m not sure what anyone could do about anything at this point anyway.
I’ve been eating well. I had too many holiday cookies and am trying to wean myself of a sparkling cider habit and have gained a few more pounds than I would like and feel like a balloon, but I’m still in a normal range for weight gain and my other health indicators are terrific. As of this week I’m cutting out the sugary crap and upping my exercise anyway, which is, I assume, what I would be told to do if the baby measures “too big” at this ultrasound or if I’ve gained too much weight. Or, if the baby measures too big, perhaps it will be the beginning of a horrible cycle of nasty comments about my eating habits coupled with threats of a scheduled c-section for suspected macrosomia (big baby). That happened to a friend of mine, who went on to have a healthy baby of less than 7 lbs. Oh wait, I specifically selected a care provider whom I trust not to do that to me.
Note that I’m not worried the baby will measure small. In fact, I’m not really worried about the baby at all. I eat nutrient-dense foods, take prenatal vitamins, get exercise and fresh air, and Aaron and I were both between 7 and 8 lb babies who grew into average-sized people. So… Why am I getting this ultrasound?
I have no idea. I suppose I could cancel it. My CNM did say that the 20-week ultrasound can diagnose problems like cleft palate, which would probably be good to know about in advance. That said, I have more than one friend who was notified of a scary potential problem thanks to the 20-week ultrasound, after which point the “problem” went on to resolve itself or turned out to have been nothing all along. We had the quad screen blood test done as it posed zero risk to Sprocket, and we know that Sprocket is about as low-risk as a baby can get when it comes to having any genetic abnormalities.
If I cancel my appointment, I can avoid the terrible experience of having to sit in a waiting room with a full bladder and then being manhandled by some stranger and kneaded like dough (still with a full bladder) to the point where I am sore for the rest of the day. (That’s how I felt after the last one, anyway.)
Also, if I cancel it, I lose the ability to agonize over whether or not I want to find out the sex. I really, really didn’t want to know for a long time. My mom is agitating for me to find out because she’s just one of those “need to know” people. I don’t want to be overwhelmed by a bunch of princess or baseball crap before Sprocket is even born, though. (Or ever, actually. And licensed characters make me shudder. I know, I know – good luck to me.) I don’t want Sprocket to have to deal with the ridiculous gendered stereotypes that people mistakenly think are a longstanding part of our culture, ever – particularly not before it is born. Which is funny, because Sprocket would be blissfully unaware of this for the duration of my pregnancy and at least the first year or so of life. Most sources say Sprocket won’t realize it’s a boy or a girl until it’s age two or three, after which it will take another few years to realize its sex is a fixed thing. (Unless it’s a outwardly a boy and identifies as a girl or vice versa, in which case we will love it anyway.) Aaron and I could not care less if people think our bald baby is a boy when it’s really a girl, or vice versa. It is, primarily, a baby, and as such, has no need for gender identity.
Of course, we won’t take things as far as that couple who refused to tell the world whether their kid was a boy or a girl. But I’ve already asked Aaron to make sure he teaches our daughters, if we have them, how to hunt, and you’d better believe our future sons will be helping me in the kitchen. (Oops, I guess I just revealed my plan to raise decent adults who can take care of themselves and who have a better-than-average chance of surviving in a post-apocalyptic world.) This may be a tad difficult since Aaron and I cleave pretty closely to traditional gender roles and the situation has just gotten worse since I became unemployed at the time of our marriage, but I think we will manage.
So, what all of this boils down to is: I think I’m going in for an unnecessary procedure (the ultrasound) in order to give myself two more days to hem and haw over whether or not I want to know the baby’s sex. If I do want to know, then I’m going in for the 20-week ultrasound purely because I lack patience and just have to know something that won’t even matter for years. Or because it makes choosing a name easier. If I don’t want to know, then I’m going in for the ultrasound because my CNM told me to, in which case Captain Wentworth would be justified in castigating me for the feebleness of my convictions. Oh, and Aaron says he really doesn’t care and is leaving this decision up to me. Thanks, honey.