When I got home from our nuchal translucency screening, Julia greeted me at the door, breathless, jumping up and down, yelling: “Is it a boy or a girl, mama?! Is it a boy or a girl?!”
“Juje… whoa! It’s too early to tell yet, remember?”
“Oh,” Julia sighed, disappointed.
Later, she reiterated for about the 99th time, “Mama, I think we should have a girl.” And, I reminded her, for about the 100th time, “Julia, remember, you don’t get to pick what you’re having. You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.”
“I know, mama. But, what if you could pick what you’re getting? What if someone invented a way to pick? You would want to pick a girl then, right, mama?”
My daughter…the 5-year-old genetic engineer. It’s a scary thought. And yet, I have to admit, that it’s not a far stretch from the fact that I am dying to know the baby’s sex myself. We didn’t find out the sex of the baby when I was pregnant with Julia, and for me, the not knowing was like a slow form of torture. Will loved the surprise of hearing the doctor announce at the delivery: “It’s a Julia!” But, for me, having already convinced myself that we were having a boy, I spent the first few minutes of Julia’s life baffled by her very girlness. With Charlie, we had ultrasounds every two weeks to monitor his growth after I had a hemorrhage, so it was (virtually) impossible not to find out his gender. And somehow, the knowing made me feel more like I was really bonding with him. And for me, the real “surprise” when Charlie was born was how rapt I was seeing his face for the first time, looking into his eyes, and marveling at our new baby without any thought at all about his gender.
This time around, Will graciously agreed to find out the sex of the baby, even though I know he’d really prefer to wait for the surprise. I was giddy with anticipation, chomping at the bit during the days leading up to our 18-week ultrasound. That morning, in the shower, I rubbed my belly, thinking that it would be one of the last times that I would think of our baby as an anonymous, androgynous being—that soon, I would think of him or her as our son, or our daughter. I was about to be one step closer to knowing who this new little person would be—one step closer to meeting our baby.
Will had taken the morning off of work for the ultrasound, and we hired a babysitter to stay with Julia and Charlie while we went to the appointment. When we arrived at the ultrasound department, the receptionist scanned the appointments for the day, and said: “Nope, I don’t see you on here… you must be on the schedule at the 3rd floor ultrasound department.” We raced up to the 3rd floor, not wanting to miss our appointment, and the staff member there consulted her schedule, shook her head, and said: “Maybe you were scheduled at the hospital ultrasound department?” We raced across the parking lot to the hospital, waited our turn in the registration department, and were finally told: “Nope, we don’t have you on our schedule.” Several calls to our midwife’s office finally revealed that—yes, we were there on the right day and time—but, whoops!-—someone in the office had made a scheduling error, and no, they couldn’t just fit us in while we were already there.
All the happy anticipation drained out of me. We rebooked our ultrasound for the following Monday—an agonizing three day wait—and I walked away thinking that maybe we weren’t meant to find out this baby’s gender. Maybe we’d get a leg-crosser on Monday. And maybe Will was going to get his birthday “surprise” after all.
Join FitPregnancy.com's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she blogs about her third pregnancy.