There is nothing like that first blurry image to endear you to that tiny life within your womb. I had an ultrasound this week. At 18 weeks so much can be seen. It told me things that I already knew from the early flutters: this baby is fond of action, movement, headstands, and head butting my bladder. That is from my husband. He still does an awesome cartwheel and headstand, has boundless energy (until 10 p.m. or so), and has trouble sitting still. I knew if we kept having children we would get one like him. He doesn’t head butt my bladder, by the way.
I learned things I did not know about this baby. It is due a week earlier that the due date calendar says. The baby looks healthy so far (a worry when you are not a spring chicken anymore). I learned things about myself, or at least the way i felt about the baby: The huge relief I felt at finding it healthy. It was a thought I refused to dwell on and so I was surprised at the weight that rolled off my shoulders.
My excitement over the gender surprised me, though I would have been happy either way, just for different reasons. And that got me thinking: why is it that the second question (after “when are you due?”) is always, “Do you know what you are having?”
There are a number of studies which demonstrate that seeing an ultrasound increases maternal bonding, reduces the likelihood of choosing abortion, reduces paternal stress and anxiety, and helps a woman mentally prepare for birth and motherhood. Summaries can be found on http://www.fetalfotosusa.com/publiceducation.aspx.
Why does it matter to everyone? If I truly can find reasons to be thrilled with either answer, does it matter to me? Why did I look forward to finding out? It matters to us whether we are male or female, so much so that such an identity crisis wreaks complete havoc in a questioner’s life. Our culture would love us to believe that gender is a simple matter of choice, but a look at the life of any questioner shows us that it is no picnic, but rather pain and trauma. If a gender confused were to be the only person left on earth, I dare say, what they were would still bother them.
That my baby is a boy or a girl has always mattered and is intrinsic to self-worth. It is part of them and allows me to get to know this new person just a little better. There are so many questions that everyone knows cannot be answered yet: what does the baby look like? Mom or Dad? Grandparents? Shy or outgoing? What are his or her talents and gifts? Dreamer or do-er? We all want to know the baby. So we start with the most basic of questions, one of the few that has a concrete answer right now: male or female? Amazingly, miraculously even, we are made in the image of our Creator, male and female. It takes both to complete that image and it is marvelous to know our part.
Twinkle, twinkle little star, next week we will tell the world which you are!
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