It was only my second ultrasound ever, and the first with any of my living children. My eyes were utterly untrained. I lay there looking at the screen while the nurse scanned my belly, but as body parts zoomed past I was largely lost. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to spot the gender on my own, especially if I wasn’t the one operating the scanner.
I was there as a model to provide practice and training for a new nurse so she started by labeling several anatomical landmarks on the screen: placenta, mother’s bladder, cervix, baby’s heart, etc. As she worked, she commented: “This is obviously your cervix. Of course that’s your bladder. You and I know this, but the doctor needs to know that I know.” Very little was obvious to me, but I tried to learn as I watched.
I also tried not to pass out. The bed was very short and my legs hung off the end, doing strange things to my blood pressure. I could have bent my knees and put my feet up on the end of the bed, but I was wearing a skirt and didn’t see a need to dispense with modesty just yet. I was also flat on my back, not the best position late in the second trimester. I may not have recognized my bladder on the screen, but I did know enough anatomy to realize that my heavy uterus was pressing on my vena cava, impeding circulation and causing my already low blood pressure to dip even further.
I refrained from complaining as long as I could, but finally realized I really and truly would pass out cold if I didn’t say something. “I need to sit up,” I gasped. “I’m really woozy.” The nurse and her assistant were instantly at attention. They brought me ice water and raised the head of the bed, watching me closely. I propped myself a little higher on one elbow and took a few deep breaths as I sipped. I was feeling better now, and knew the remaining lightheadedness would pass in a few minutes. I assured them I was fine, but I did need to stay more upright.
While they waited and debated how to make the rest of the scan more comfortable for me, the nurse tried scanning while I sat up. It worked! It probably wouldn’t have worked earlier in pregnancy, but I was out to here with baby, and everything was in plain sight, so to speak. Problem solved.
The training portion took a little while, but by the time they let Perry in the room, the work was done, and we were finally ready to start the fun.
Regina scanned my belly from side to side, showing us the baby’s face and limbs, laughing at the constant motion. “I’ve never scanned such an active baby!” she exclaimed. It was strange to feel kicks and thumps just a split second before seeing them on the screen in front of us. Perry and I chatted casually with each other and the nurse but kept our eyes locked on the screen. It was amazing to see this little person’s face already. I couldn’t help but laugh at the flailing arms – at one point it looked like the little hand was reaching out to play with toes. Regina paused to freeze the frame every now and then. Although I didn’t realize it at first, these frozen frames would be the photos that we took home with us.
Perry thought he had spotted the genitals, but I was locked on the baby’s face at every chance and had no clue. Finally, Regina paused. “Well,” she said, giving us a significant look. “If you were hoping to find out whether you were having a boy or a girl, that is where you’d be looking.” She moved the little white arrow on the screen to indicate what she was talking about. “Right there. See it? He’s making it easy for you.”
Perry laughed out loud. I knew in theory what I should be seeing, but wasn’t quite sure how it all came together. Then Regina froze the frame here:
OK, then. The baby’s head is on the left, then elbows, then knees on the right. And right in the center – it’s a boy!
Regina snapped a few more photos for us, and I asked her if she thought there could be a second baby hiding in there. I already knew the answer, but would have felt silly not to pose the question since that was why we came. She searched a bit for clues, and while she admitted that it’s always possible for a twin to hide she really didn’t think it was likely in our case.
We were finished. To my delight, Regina handed us a long strip of photos to take home with us. We thanked Regina and her assistant profusely, but they insisted that we had helped them by providing the training opportunity.
Now to choose a name…