On December 23, 2008, John picked me up after work so that we could go to the ultrasound together. We had time to have some dinner together before heading the appointment, so we decided to stop at Panera Bread. As we tried to eat (though neither of us ate much since our nerves were on overload), we talked one last time about whether or not to find out the baby’s gender. I shared with John that I was leaning towards finding out, though I honestly still didn’t want to know. I shared with him my reasoning that I thought that if I waited until after the delivery, I was risking experiencing some level of “disappointment” right after the birth and I really didn’t want to experience that. While I had decided that finding out would probably be the “right decision,” it definitely wasn’t the decision I preferred. Secretly, I was praying that the baby’s legs would be crossed and that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to find out… at least then it wouldn’t have been my choice. John told me that he supported me no matter what I wanted to do, and if I wanted to change my mind at the last minute, that was perfectly okay with him. I told him that if we did find out, that I wanted to wait until Christmas to tell anyone else the baby’s gender. Christmas was just 2 days away and I thought it would be good for us to at least have a day or so to keep the information private. He agreed.
During the ultrasound, the technician asked us if we wanted to know the gender. I, somewhat reluctantly, told her “yes.” John asked me if I was sure… I said “yes.” What neither of them knew was that I was almost 100% sure I had already caught a glimpse during the ultrasound and was pretty certain I knew what the answer was going to be. What I didn’t know at the time was that John had seen the same thing that I saw. He was sitting there desperately hoping that I was going to say that I wanted to know the gender. He was almost certain he now knew and was terrified he was going to go through the rest of the pregnancy thinking he knew… but not being sure and at the same point, knowing he couldn’t tell me. Well, we were both right… we were having a baby boy. I experienced a sudden sinking feeling like someone had punched me in the stomach as I read the words “It’s a Boy” when the technician typed them on the screen. John and I just kind of looked at each other and nodded. I think she was almost caught off guard by our lack of reaction. We didn’t want to admit it, but we were disappointed. All of our thoughts and dreams about having a baby girl seemed to be vanquished in an instant.
Looking back on it now, I realize that the thing that disappointed me the most was not that we were having a boy, but that I wasn’t elated about it. What was wrong with me? Shouldn’t I be so happy that they were telling me that our baby appeared to be healthy? Wasn’t that what was most important? I felt guilty… incredibly guilty that I would feel any level of disappointment. I wished so much that no one had ever told me that they thought I was having a girl… I hated that I had built that expectation for myself somehow. I wondered if I had made the right choice in finding out the gender or if I had made a horrible mistake that was now turning me into an emotional mess.
The rest of the ultrasound is kind of blur for me. I tried to watch what was going on and kept trying to make sure that John was okay. He wasn’t… he looked like he was about to pass out at any moment. If he hadn’t been stressed out enough simply by the overwhelming nature of the ultrasound, this total change in expectation to know now that we were having a baby boy seemed to have pushed his anxiety level over the top. As long as he stayed seated, I felt like he’d be alright, but I knew that there wasn’t much I could do to help him at that point. As the shock of realizing we were having a boy was setting in for me, I kept telling myself that I’d feel better once I saw his precious little face. Surely then I would fall in love with him and it wouldn’t matter. My heart broke as the technician explained that due to the baby’s positioning, she could not see his face. He was tucked in half with his arms and his legs completely over his face… completely hiding the one thing I had been longing to see. I had dreamed of seeing that fuzzy black and white image of our baby’s profile and the thought that it might not be possible had never crossed my mind. I asked if there was any chance that the doctors would send me back for a follow up ultrasound since they hadn’t been able to get the profile images. The technician told me that it was possible, but not likely. She had gotten all of the other images she needed, so she didn’t suspect that we would be returning simply for the profile images. For the second time during the ultrasound, I felt a deep, sinking feeling in my stomach. I realized that I now would likely have to wait another 20 weeks until I’d finally catch a glimpse of my baby’s face and that thought devastated me.
We left the ultrasound appointment in near silence. I don’t think either one of us really knew what to say to each other. We were happy to hear that it sounded like our baby was healthy, but were still trying to absorb the fact that we were going to have a son and that we hadn’t even been able to see his face. When we got home, I retreated to our room where I cried until I fell asleep…