Wednesday, January 30, 2013

With 99% Certainty

Last week we had an appointment with my Frauenarzt (Gynecologist in German) for a routine checkup concerning Little Inside Baby, hereafter referred to as L.I.B. All looked well on the doctor’s grainy ultrasound monitor and she asked us—my husband and son were present—if we knew the gender of the baby. I had told her the gender in our appointment four weeks ago. We even had a conversation about how the health of the baby is what’s important, which seems to be the common condolence when I tell people I’m having another boy. No matter. She’s a busy doctor with many patients. She’s likely to forget a conversation that took place a month ago. I told her that the Perinatal Specialist had said we were having a boy. She started to shift her ultrasound wand back and forth on my belly, trying to get a better view of the baby’s undercarriage. “Is it still a boy?” I asked. She said that she just couldn’t get the baby in the right position to check for sure. It was of no consequence, really. I felt I was having a boy. I had committed, happily, to being the mother of boys.

Yesterday, we had our follow-up visit with our Perinatal Specialist. We chose to see a Specialist because of my “advanced maternal age.” Lovely. Lennon came for the visit this time and ran around wildly, playing with the nurse. Unlike my pregnancy with Lennon, I am much more calm this time. When the Specialist told us in November that our baby was healthy and had no signs of genetic defect, I imprinted that information in my heart and let it give me peace. With Lennon, I second-guessed every diagnosis. I think my calm this time also comes from the knowing that whatever child I am blessed with, I am just that: blessed—something I didn’t realize before giving birth to Lennon.

As I reclined on the exam table, five feet in front of me was the Specialist’s enormous flat screen TV where I could see the 3-D ultrasound of L.I.B. captured by his fancy, state of the art equipment. He started to verbally check off all of the baby’s features, with comments like “perfect” and “normal.” He then asked if we knew the gender already.

“Yes, a boy.” I said.
“Who told you that?” he said.
“Your nurse, when we called in December.” I answered.

He then told us unequivocally that we, in fact, had a girl! He was concerned that we had not been told that the gender results from the eleven-week ultrasound were not meant to be 100% accurate. I reassured him that, indeed, the nurse clearly stated that the certainty was only 99%. The Specialist apologized more than was needed, really, and stated that today’s gender results were now upgraded to 100%. We would be having a baby girl. My husband and I were in a state of thrilled shock. I believe I still am.

Afterward, the Specialist looked once more at November’s ultrasound picture, from which L.I.B.’s gender had been given that early determination. He said that in looking again at that eleven-week picture, he would still say it was a boy. Apparently, the little gender determining parts just look so darn similar at that point in the pregnancy and what with how the baby was positioned…that’s why he makes his early determinations at less than 100% certainty. He wanted to make sure we understood, however, that all the other factors he checked at the early ultrasound—the bridge of the baby’s nose, the Nuchal fold, the heart—were absolutely accurate. We had a healthy baby. He didn’t need to say this, but I’m glad he did.

On the way home, I felt a little guilty being so giddy about now having a girl, as if I was betraying the little boy I thought I was going to have. Silly, right? It’s still the same baby. Over the past six weeks, I had reconciled any disappointment in not having a girl and had really fallen in love with the baby boy I thought was growing inside me. What I learning now is how little gender really does matter. Boy or girl, I fell in love with this child’s unique soul.


Early on in the pregnancy, weeks before we saw the Perinatal Specialist, my husband and I performed the “thread and needle” gender test. The test is about as accurate as any old wives’ tale, but the needle that hung from the pink thread spun around in circles when dangled above my newly pregnant belly. We performed the test several times to confirm the result. I performed it again on myself the following day. Each time, it made gentle circles above my belly.

Circles for a girl, back and forth for a boy.


  1. yay for old wives! yay for all of you! many congratulations on the healthy and growing family.