Kate and I went

Kate and I went to our 20-week ultrasound appointment today (Kate’s actually 21 weeks along.) The ultrasound machine looks like a cross between a Xerox copier and a dentist’s drill, with an Amiga computer and a closed-circuit camera kind of smashed together in a big, beige, plastic agglutination.

The ultrasound technician uses the wand with her right hand and runs the keypad with her left. There are buttons all over the place. The button that controls the onscreen caliper (used to measure the fetus’ spine, etc.) is actually under the screen, where the brightness would be on a television. The trackball is way over on the right, and the big button used to take a picture is actually from a separate device, kind of taped to the side of the machine. It’s a user-interface designer’s worst nightmare (or fondest wish, I suppose.)

Anyhow, terrible interface notwithstanding, it was really fascinating to watch the screen. Though completely mystifying at the same time. It all looks very… anatomical, in a blinky gray sort of way. There’s no telling what the heck you’re looking at until OH MY GOD WAS THAT A HAND? and you’re grinning from ear to ear like an expectant dad. Look, it’s waving!

In the car before we went in, we agreed to just casually mention to the technician that, if they happen to see the baby’s sex, we’d be interested to know. We did this because Kate is pretty sure that if you get too enthusiastic about anything in front of a doctor, they will be sure to give you a lecture about it. “We’re excited to know if the baby’s a boy or a girl!” “You know, the important thing is to know if the baby is healthy, you bad parents you.” She’s absolutely right, too. Kate, that is: so far, we’ve gotten two lectures from two obstetricians which made me feel like beaning them with a hardback copy of The Birth of the Clinic. “Hey, my insurance premiums pay for your Audi TT, buddy! Make with the bedside manner!”

Okay, enough shilly-shallying. We, like, casually mentioned to the ultrasound technician that we wouldn’t be uninterested to know the baby’s sex, and she responded by grilling me if I had thought of some names. Had I thought of names for both a boy and a girl? Really? What are they? Satisfied, I suppose, that I wouldn’t start screaming and throwing things if the news wasn’t what I was expecting, she picked up the wand again.

The baby had its legs crossed and one hand in front of its crotch, but thanks to the omniscient gaze of modern science, we have a pretty good idea of what the baby is. Want to know whether the baby is a boy or a girl? Click here!

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