I’m not the most patient or calm person in the world. I’m incredibly neurotic, and I love to plan and organize things. Even as a child, my favorite part of Halloween was the day after when I would steal my mom’s giant Rubbermaid container and a box of sandwich bags from the kitchen and organize all of my candy. My goal was always to keep tabs on how much of each kind I had to ensure that I didn’t run out of any specific candy too soon. It also helped keep me aware if my beloved father tried to steal my candy without asking.
Even in college I remember the time that Bethany tried to be really sweet and make my bed and help me with laundry after I missed a week of school due to being on an overseas mission trip. I was so stressed about getting my life back in order that I remade my bed and refolded all of my laundry after she already had done it because “she didn’t do it right.” Thankfully, I’ve relaxed a little bit since then and stopped being a jerk and redoing Bethany’s housework, but I still am a little bit crazy about planning.
My most current struggle has been planning for a baby with an unknown gender. I realize that until 30 years ago, women didn’t get routine ultrasounds, and the gender of every baby was a surprise, but Bethany and I are choosing to embrace technology and find out what parts our baby’s got down there.
I don’t know why science hasn’t yet found some way to incorporate a gender sensor into urine pregnancy tests. There has to be some sort of antibody or enzyme that’s released into a woman’s system when an embryo housing a Y chromosome implants into her uterus. An extra sensor will allow a little blue or pink symbol to appear on the test strip after the nerve wracked woman squats over the toilet and pees onto it.
Bethany is currently 19 weeks and 4 days, and I have been dying to know the sex of our baby since the day we found out she was pregnant. I realize that there are all those crazy people out there that want to be surprised, but isn’t there enough surprise and anxiety impregnated in the fact that there is soon going to be a newborn baby living in my house depending on me to keep it alive? We don’t need the added stress of trying to pick out two names and assemble all gender neutral baby items. Thankfully, Bethany and I have always agreed on this fact and have never planned on being surprised with the baby’s gender.
Since I have some extra resources in my line of work, I texted one of the doctors I work with who used to do a lot of OB and is skilled at prenatal ultrasounds and asked if she would give Bethany and me a sneak peak at Tommy(e) at 16 weeks. The genitalia should have been differentiated by this point, and the suspense of not knowing was driving me mad!
Bethany and I snuck into her office on a Monday afternoon a little bit nervous to see our baby again. I was again convinced that the baby had birth defects in spite of our negative screening tests so far. When Dr. Shuman began to rub the ultrasound probe over Bethany’s uterus, I automatically began searching around on the screen looking for the genitals. Did I see a little extra appendage floating around down there in the amniotic fluid?
No. What I saw was two crossed legs covered by two little hands directly over my baby’s bits. Tommy(e) knew exactly what we were looking for and was going to play no part in this little game of show and tell.
In spite of my baby laying the smack down on my neurotic planning, this has been one of the best parts of the pregnancy so far. Prior to this ultrasound, we’ve had two others. The first was at our initial prenatal visit when we first saw the heartbeat, and the second was at our next screening appointment when the nuchal translucency was measured to screen for Down’s Syndrome. At these visits, everything seemed a little bit nerve wracking and rushed, and I was automatically in doctor mode scanning the screen making sure everything was in order. At this visit, however, I finally felt like a dad just hanging out with Bethany and our baby. Shuman took her time scanning from all the different angles just letting us soak up this time with our baby. We watched the heartbeat and watched Tommy(e) bounce and jump. We lingered on the little legs and feet and hands.
I’ve heard stories from parents whose children are in the NICU connected to wires and tubes in their tiny incubators, and all the parents can do is sit next to the little encasements and whisper to the babies how much they love them when all they really want to do is pull that baby close and hold it tight.
This is kind of how I felt. I know that it’s good that the baby isn’t in the outside world yet because it would die, but at that moment all I wanted to do was reach inside, pull it out, and hold it tight to me.
Now, when I look at Bethany’s growing tummy, I see my little prudish baby with its hands covering its bits and its legs crossed begging me to leave it alone so it can go back to sleep.
We’ve had so many people tell us so far that they just know for sure that the baby is a boy or that the baby is a girl. While a part of me is still desperate to know because I want to plan, there is another part of me—a much bigger part—that doesn’t care. All I desperately want to do is hold it tight and snuggle it into my chest and whisper into its ear how much I love it and how I’m the luckiest guy in the world because it’s this little baby that’s made me a daddy.