Boy, Girl, or Surprise?

In a little over two weeks from now, Joe and I get to go to the next doctor’s appointment for another ultrasound — and since I’ll be at 20 weeks by then, we’ll have the opportunity to find out if the baby is a boy or a girl. We’re both pretty excited about this, and both 100% in favor of learning the baby’s gender.

I think our reasons for wanting to know are a combination of the emotional and the practical. On the emotional side, it’s a matter of satisfying curiosity, as well as gaining the ability to refer to the baby as either “he” or “she” instead of “he/she” or “it.” On the practical side, we think it’ll be at least 50% easier to settle on a name once we know which gender we have to focus on.

The other day, I became curious about this whole business of gender determination by ultrasound, and I started reading about it. What is the doctor or ultrasound tech actually looking at when they make these predictions? At first, deciphering gender from the blotchy, shadowy images seemed like incomprehensible voodoo magic to me, but the more I read and looked at, the more obvious it all became. I put together the following image for informational purposes:

Example ultrasounds, showing a boy (left) and a girl (right).
Images from here and here.

But although ultrasound technology has gotten progressively better over the past few decades, it doesn’t seem to be completely foolproof — according to this article, the gender predictions are wrong about 5% of the time. Most of the internet stories I’ve stumbled upon involve couples who were told they were going to have a girl, only to be completely surprised by the arrival of a little boy. (This mixup seems more common than the reverse, probably because it’s easier to jump to the conclusion that it’s a girl whenever no boy parts are readily visible.)

It seems like it’d be pretty unfortunate to stock up on frilly things and cover the nursery in pink wallpaper only to realize later on that the ultrasound was wrong. So I think there’s an important lesson here: we should probably stick with gender neutral furnishings and decorations, have a opposite-gender backup name in mind, and avoid removing the tags from any gender-specific baby clothes until after the baby’s arrival. You know, just in case.

Update: We’ve since learned the baby’s gender! You can read all about it and see various cute ultrasound pictures here.

First Trimester Recap

Since I was already well into the second trimester by the time I started this blog, I figured I would take this opportunity to step back and recount my experiences with the first trimester of pregnancy.

The journey began in late February, and it began in a pretty unremarkable way: with a grocery-store-bought pregnancy test. Perhaps I jumped the gun a little with it, since I was only a day late at that point, but the thought of waiting even a few more days to confirm or rule out the suspicion was too much suspense.

I’d actually never taken a home pregnancy test before in my life, so I was a little paranoid that I would screw up on the instructions somehow. I ended up carefully arranging everything and then using my cell phone’s stop watch to make sure I was following every step for exactly the right number of seconds. I was too nervous to even glance at the test as the numbers were counting down… but when the allotted number of seconds had finally passed, the result was pretty clear.

Pregnant or not pregnant? Not much room for misinterpretation here...

Since the test had conveniently printed the key right there next to the result, leaving no question as to what one line vs. two lines might mean, all I had to do to break the news to Joe was show him the positive test. (Which was lucky, since I was actually pretty speechless after just seeing it myself.)

The first pre-natal doctor’s appointment wasn’t until midway through March, though, and the span between that and the positive test result was kind of like limbo. I certainly didn’t feel pregnant, and I was reluctant to mention it to even close family… because if it turned out the test had been wrong for some reason, that would just be awkward.

But I made the recommended dietary changes right from the beginning — definitely no alcohol, limited my intake of seafood due to the mercury concerns, and went cold turkey on caffeine just to play safe. (There are a bunch of other little things, which I’ll probably compile into a big post about my experiences with diet and nutrition during pregnancy later on.)

When the first doctor’s appointment finally came, it was so exciting to see the tiny bean-looking thing in the first ultrasound pictures, and I couldn’t help but get a bit teary-eyed when I heard the thrum of its little hummingbird heartbeat for the first time. Every appointment since then has been something I’ve really looked forward to, especially the ones that involved ultrasounds — I just love looking at how much the little guy (or girl?) has grown from one shadowy image to the next.

From left to right: 7 week ultrasound, 9 week ultrasound, and 12 week ultrasound.

In other respects, the first trimester almost made me feel like I was cheating at the whole pregnancy thing. I had zero morning sickness, for instance — which made me feel especially lucky given that my mom had it really bad with both me and my siblings, to the point where she actually ended up losing weight in the first trimester.

Then there was all the guilt-free snacking. For a few weeks there, it seemed like I was constantly, ravenously hungry, so I would make sure to bring little things to work to munch on. At the time, a few of my co-workers were evidently trying to watch their eating in preparation for swimsuit season, so I hope there wasn’t too much resentment at the sight of me sitting at the next desk stuffing myself with everything from fruits and vegetables to chips and chocolate.

I suppose the worst thing I had to complain about was some generalized, usually childbirth and parenthood-related anxiety and moodiness, which I assume was caused and/or amplified by pregnancy hormones. Oh, and also some minor… shall we say, digestive malfeasance. But drinking a tall glass of lightly sweetened motor oil prune juice on two or three occasions was more than enough to set that right.

I did end up gaining weight at a pretty good clip, probably because I got constant insatiable hunger instead of morning sickness, but it was within a normal healthy range and the doctor wasn’t concerned. It made a noticeable difference, though, and even though it was too early to really look that visibly pregnant, by about week 12 or 13, those maternity pants with the stretchy waists were starting to look awfully appealing.

Anyway, I think all that about sums up my experiences with the first trimester of pregnancy — only two more to go! And to anyone reading this who’s gone through pregnancy, I’d love to hear any stories about your experiences with the early stages. Any similarities or differences with mine? Did it get better, or worse, in the second and third trimesters? By all means feel free to share in the comments!

Blog Introduction

Welcome to the latest domestic-themed blog to clutter the internet tubes! To give a bit of background, I was inspired to start this blog by two major life changes that happen to be hitting at around the same time:

  1. A baby on the way. It’s our first, and my husband and I are pretty excited about it. (In that nervous kind of way I suspect all soon-to-be parents are.) Since I’m still towards the beginning of the second trimester, there’s quite a ways to go, and lots of planning and preparation ahead of us.

    12 week ultrasound. The little pumpkin is due in early November.

  2. The purchase of our first home. This was largely motivated by Major Life Change #1, since for the past few years we’d been living in a small one-bedroom apartment that would be a little hard-pressed to accommodate a baby. The new house is a traditional Chicago bungalow, cozy and well-maintained but generally in need of some cosmetic updates.

    The new house. Closing is set for mid-June, if all goes well.

So given the timing of these two events, I thought it would be interesting to write a blog about this whole new “parenthood and homeownership” adventure, starting here at the very beginning. It’ll be a combination of my firsthand experiences as well as sharing what I learn and research along the way.

And as crazy as it may sound with everything going on, there’s so much I’m hoping to do in the next few months. Some potential topics for future blog posts include:

  • Nutrition and health during pregnancy
  • Reflections on the home buying process
  • Nursery design and baby budgeting
  • Gardening and landscaping within the confines of a narrow city lot
  • Separating the science from the myths on childbirth and SIDS
  • Updating a usable but tired and worn-out kitchen

And I’m sure all this only scratches the surface of subjects that are likely to crop up as the journey continues.

Anyway, stay tuned for some actual non-introductory content to be posted soon!