Spoiler alert: in this post I discuss my three biggest pregnancy questions and reveal the gender of my baby!
Every Pregnancy… is different!
Before becoming pregnant I assumed pregnancy was pretty much the same thing for every woman. I couldn’t have been more wrong. If there is one pregnancy truth, it’s that every pregnancy is different.
If that sounds strange, try thinking of pregnancies as different as people are different. We are each unique in our choices, preferences and experiences, all of which impact many aspects of our lives; pregnancy included. So it makes sense that some women enjoy their pregnancies more than others, with no real hints who those women will be.
There is no objective criteria that determines whether you’ll prefer coffee over tea (or later change your mind). And likewise nothing that can predetermine whether you’ll get morning sickness or not, or choose a natural birth over an epidural.
However, since it’s not possible to discuss each and every individual case, you’ll have to allow me to make some generalisations. Such as, out of hundreds of thousands of questions and billions of pregnant women, these are, generally speaking, the three biggest pregnancy questions that top ‘most’ women’s lists.
One: Am I pregnant?
The first, biggest pregnancy question is the existential to be or not to be, am I or aren’t I? It is the affirmative that marks the beginning of a woman’s journey towards motherhood.
It may sound pretty obvious, but there are several cases of women without a clue until they found themselves suddenly giving birth. But we did say we wouldn’t focus on such exceptional cases…
The good news is that this question is answered as quickly as it takes for you to visit the pharmacy and pee on a stick. While a false negative is common, which is why sometimes it’s a good idea to pee on more than one, there is almost no such thing as a false positive. So if you see two lines, ya pregnant.
For most of us, finding out you are pregnant is really a life-changing moment. You can read my story about how I felt in my previous post: The Day the Stick Turned Blue.
Two: How Many Babies?
The next big pregnancy question is, how many? Because you never know, stranger things have happened. Actually, my paternal grandmother was a twin and since there have been none since her it really made me wonder…!
Fortunately, this question gets answered pretty soon at the first scan around 12 weeks where you get to see baby for the very first time. That’s how they call babies before they know the gender, baby. Not the baby or your baby or it, just Baby, like a name.
You’ll hear a lot of different stories about that magical moment. Streaming tears of joy, the overwhelming power of love and other such hyperboles. How seeing your baby for the first time (and not the new routine of vomit, burp, sleep, repeat) is what really brings it home that it’s real, that it’s happening.
The Dating Scan
In the UK it’s called the dating scan. At first I thought that was a very strange name because, well, I’m carrying a baby not dating a baby… But of course you’re not dating a baby, weirdo. The dating scan is when you find out exactly how many weeks old your baby is and calculate your due date. A prime example of what makes the English language so fun.
But for some reason, when most people try to picture it, that first scan moment, they romanticise the shit out of it. They picture the mum and dad to be, She, graciously lying down on a bed of white linens, He, standing by her side, head tilted empathetically to the right, holding and caressing her hand as the smiling radiologist, the one from the commercials looking like he hasn’t been here a thousand times before, gently squeezes KY-Jelly over her barely-there-bump and w-o-w, what’s that on the screen, swishing about in black and white? And queue the waterworks.
Ok, maybe that’s my imagination and not quite yours, I’ll accept that, but here’s how it really goes down.
The Real Dating Scan
After waiting for about an hour in a stereotypically bland public sector waiting room with a single white board that reads ‘for 12 week scans – keep your bladder FULL’, I finally heard my name called with just minutes to spare before the overwhelming urge to piss myself would define this story for the rest of my life.
Finally, a nurse lead us inside a dimly lit room, where a radiologist gave us a lukewarm hello and motioned for me to take up position on the bed while husband took a seat, no hands were held. I lifted up my shirt and rolled down the top of my pants to expose my abdomen. Cold jelly was squeezed and the ultrasound machine pressed on my bladder and there it was, just like that, in an ordinary room on an ordinary day, our baby.
No fireworks, no waterworks, just an overwhelming urge to giggle at the bean-shaped baby wriggling about on the screen. We continued to sit in silence as the radiologist performed her checks, holding our breath in a mix of disbelief and anticipation. After moving the probe sufficiently around, finally she spoke to say that we are expecting the one baby.
That’s when husband took my hand and made a couple of jokes, each laugh causing big waves on the screen as my stomach vibrated up and down. Next, the radiologist printed off some photographs of baby, our baby, for us to take home and off we went. Stunned, dazed, and with a million and one thoughts running through our heads.
Three: Boy or Girl?
Waiting for the answer to this third and final big pregnancy question feels like forever!! Normally, you find out the gender of your baby at the 20 week scan… However, it’s not always possible if the baby is in such a position that you can’t get a good look.
Of course, some people prefer not to know until the birth. But I could never wait that long. For me that’s like having the answer on Google but going, nah, that’s ok, I don’t need to know things.
Gender Prediction Methods
Although I’m not a superstitious person, I have to admit, I was up for trying it all when it came to predicting the gender of our baby.
I tried the chain method, where you hold a long chain over the palm of your hand. If it swings from side to side it’s a boy, whereas if it swings in a circle it’s a girl. After an initial swinging from left to right, the chain settled in a circular motion. Conclude what you like.
Next, I tried the Ancient Chinese Gender Prediction Method, which by the way, has a 50% accuracy rate! It said girl. I also consulted my Chinese friend who correctly predicted the gender of another baby recently. She too predicted girl.
I also tried examining my bump, which seemed to point more towards the left (girl) than the right (boy) – although it’s the opposite in China – hung higher (girl) than lower (boy), and was more pointy (boy) than spread out (girl). Other old wives tales I considered was the amount of sickness, of which I had a lot (girl) compared to none or just a little (boy).
The 20 Week Anomaly Scan
Finally, the long wait was over, as husband and I returned to the hospital for the moment of truth. Another name for the 20 week scan is the Anomaly scan. It’s purpose is to check for any abnormalities in baby’s development. They check everything in detail, bones, organs, heart rate and blood flow through the placenta. They may also perform a Down’s syndrome test by measuring the neural tube, etc.
Again, we sat in silence to allow the doctor to focus on her work, as she checked each part of baby one-by-one. First taking a screen shot, then making notes, before moving on to the next part. Meanwhile husband and I squinted our eyes, trying to make out whether there was anything between baby’s legs. Finally, she took another screen shot and, pointing to the screen, showed us a baby penis.
It’s Not a Girl!
Finding out our baby’s gender was an unexpectedly weird moment for us. Suddenly we realised that up until that point, it had kind of felt like we were having both a boy and a girl, because either one was possible. So when it was confirmed that it is a boy, it also meant that it is not a girl. In case you’re thinking, uhh yeah duh, I can also hear how it sounds, but trust me, this was big!
For us, both genders are wanted equally. But without realising it, we had spent the better part of 20 weeks growing attached to the idea of both. So initially, the feeling was to say goodbye to the girl we would not be having, before saying hello to the boy we are expecting!