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.


  1. Well, yeah, that’s the way we used to do it! LOL! But we’re about hearing the 95% accurate prediction!
    Love You!

  2. Thanks for the comments! Boy or girl, we’re definitely just hoping for a happy healthy baby. And the comic was cute, thanks for sharing! :)

  3. Thanks for the link! There really are a lot of cute nursery ideas on that site — I’ll have to write up a blog post soon showcasing some of my favorite ones that I’ve found on there and on other sites recently. :)

  4. Yes, I know a couple that actually had that happen to them. Definitely have a back up plan in place! But as your mom-in-law said, the baby will be loved (and spoiled) by all of us no matter what! Although, I have to admit that I can’t wait to find out so I can start really looking at some clothes and such. ;) I am just so excited for both of you, and your father-in-law is just so excited about being a grandpa!

    We love you both!!!

  5. Thanks for the comment! It sounds like they do get it wrong often enough that it’s definitely wise to have a backup plan, but it’ll still be exciting to find out which gender it probably is. And I’m really looking forward to gearing up on the baby preparations — it’ll be nice to move into the new place and start putting the nursery together. :)

  6. You’ll have so much fun with your new home! Let us know when it happens, and make lots of pictures! And be prepared for lots of advice! Remember that you needn’t take any of it!

    Love You,

  7. Thanks! It seems like closing is still on schedule for next week (hopefully) but I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated. And definitely planning on taking lots of pictures! :)

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