20 week scan
20 week scan
“Are you hoping for a girl this time?” the question everybody asks and the question I didn’t like answering. Nobody who asks that kind of question thinks about it that much but for the person asked it can feel differently. I’m sure I’m guilty of asking the exact same question many times but this time it was me who had to answer it over and over.
The truth was that I’ve always been convinced I would have a girl, it just seemed a given and I was dearly hoping it would come true. It felt wrong to say this out loud, in fact I hadn’t even admitted to myself that I really hoped my third baby to be a girl. I was ashamed of my feelings, it just didn’t seem fair on the unborn baby in my womb to set it up to potentially disappoint me despite being entirely innocent of doing anything wrong. Since the true answer was not an easy one I would resort to platitudes or just act overly casual about it. “Of course with two boys it would be fun with a girl, but then we have a house full of boy things so it would be so much easier with another boy!”
“Oh so exciting, good luck!”
Does luck come into it!? I can’t quite decide. Of course the moment where I would have needed luck in order to have a girl would have been 20 weeks back, when I conceived..
The exciting thing about the 20-week scan for a lot of parents is of course the fact that you can find out the sex of the baby if you like. But more importantly this scan is there to see that the baby in the womb develops healthily, focusing on the heart, organs and the brain. The doctors checks the face and spine and measure the fetus’ head, abdomen and thighbone. Besides the baby they also have a good look at the placenta’s vessels and position to ensure the baby is getting a good supply of all it needs and the placenta is not going to be an obstruction during birth. All these checks are vital, they can show up conditions that can be life threatening to the unborn fetus, some can be treated but sadly others can’t. Not every condition is as likely to be spotted at the scan, for example it is easier for the Sonographer conducting the scan to see a problem like like Spina Bifida (defect of the spinal cord) whilst others are more difficult to detect. There is about a 50% chance that a major heart problem should there be one present, is picked up on the 20 week scan, despite thorough checking.
We decided to take 4 year old Henry and two year old Chris to the scan to let them be part of everything as much as possible. I had arranged it with Henry’s school, so Graham and I bundled Chris into the car and picked up Henry slightly early and drove to the hospital together. It was a short drive, but I got very nervous all the sudden, quite anxious even. What if something was wrong? We had been blessed with two healthy children, but this didn’t guarantee anything. Who cares if it was a boy or a girl as long as it only was healthy! Graham, with his voice of reason calmed me down; of course everything would be perfectly fine. By the time we arrived in the maternity ward and sat in the waiting room I had relaxed somewhat, not feeling scared about the health of the baby anymore. Instead I was distracted trying to push the unwelcome ‘hope it is a girl’ thoughts to the back of my mind. The kids were neither excited nor anxious; I doubt they understood what we were there for nor did they care much as long as there were toys in the waiting room. Henry did know we were going to see the baby but what could a four year old possibly make of that.
When we got called in the nurse and doctor were very friendly and did not mind at all that the entire family piled into the room. Graham sat on the only available chair with Henry and Chris on his lap, trying to channel their attention onto the screen and explaining what they were looking.
There was no harrowing disclaimer talk before it started. Instead of having been told to empty my bladder this time I had specifically been informed ahead of the appointment to not go to the toilet so the bladder would be nice and full and effectively lifting the fetus up a bit in order to make it easier to get the scan results they need. Despite it all being different in some ways from my first two scans, which both took place in Germany, it was still all very familiar. It certainly felt like a deja vue when the doctor exclaimed that the baby was a ‘good size’. I could already predict the next statement before she said it:
“And it’s a boy! A big boy.”
Much delight was had by Henry and Chris who struggled to follow any of it but this at least Henry knew what it meant, they were having a baby brother. ‘Yes! A brother, just what I wanted!’ he shouted excitedly and Chris was quick to join in and copy him. Graham grabbed my hand and squeezed it. ‘You ok?’ ‘Yes of course, I’m happy!’ I answered managing to sound more convinced then I was. My head was doing a doube take. Another boy. Another big boy. Not a girl. Not this time either. It can’t be a boy, it was meant to be a girl now. Despite having told my self all the time that I was expecting it to be another boy it dawned on my now that I had held huge hopes for a girl. I realised how convinced I must have been that this time it would finally be a girl; the girl I was alway going to have. My girl!
The doctor finished her scan, cheerfully informing us that baby had hands and feet and all seemed well and it was a healthy boy. Helpfully she added that in her whole career so far only once had she made a mistake in determining the sex of the baby and ‘the willy had fallen off before birth’ as she called it. Only a silly comment, but in my head it manifested itself as maybe a possibility that she was wrong, only because it just didn’t seem right to me. I knew full well I t wasn’t likely that she got it wrong, and of course I was relieved that the baby was healthy. Also she had printed out two really gorgeous pictures of the baby, he was absolutely perfect. Scan prints can be a bit tricky as they can make the baby look rather like a little alien or frog, but these were more like the cute ones you see in maternity books or magazines.
It’s a HE, and HE is perfect. HE is my beautiful perfect baby boy. My brain was working hard to rewire and accept that it was a boy. It was not a mistake. It was not meant to be a girl. It was always meant to be my perfect little boy.