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:
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.