You want my NCAA picks right? A lengthy ode to the first day of the tournament? 3500 words about how March is a perfect metaphor for life? Wait, you’d rather hear about our trip to the doctor yesterday? OK, OK, I’ll find away to not think about basketball for a few minutes.

As many of you know, we went in for the 20 week ultrasound yesterday. I’ve seen plenty of still shots from ultrasounds, and seen video of scans on TV before, but it’s a whole different thing being in the room. The resolution of the picture is astounding. There are moments when the picture is a little vague; you’re not sure if that’s an arm, a spine, or just a crease in the skin. But for the most part, it’s a really freaky view into the womb. Our fetus was curled up, lying sideways across S’s body. The nurse scanned the head, took some measurements, showed us elements of the brain that could be distinguished and let us know that each showed normal development. (I guess nurses/techs didn’t used to be able to tell you what they saw. They would do the scan silently, and then have the physician come in and tell you what was found. How unnerving would that be? “Hmmm…” “What?” “Oh, nothing, the doctor will be in momentarily.”) She checked the spine, which obviously shows up quite well. There’s the stomach and bladder, which appear to have fluid in them and be functioning properly. Two hands, ten fingers. Lower legs both with two bones each. Two feet.

She moved around for the gender check portion of our program. At first, I didn’t think we’d be able to tell since Fetus was keeping its legs tightly tucked. Despite its late morning nap, it did move around a little and I didn’t see anything picking up the sound waves. The nurse pointed out three spots of light (turns out they’re skin creases) and said “You have a little girl” as she typed GIRL into the screen. First, for the record, I have no real preference on sex. I’m not going to love a girl any more or less than a boy, or raise her differently. She’s still going to sit with daddy on the couch while he yells “Grab the fucking ball!” at Michael Lee next year. Expect it will be “Grab the freaking ball!” But I noticed there’s an odd, almost subliminal let down when it’s a girl. You’re looking for something when it’s a boy. If it’s not there, there’s this flicker of disappointment. “Oh, sorry there’s nothing there. But guess what, you have a girl!” Like I said, not true disappointment, but it’s a strange game your brain plays on you.

The nurse continued scanning and taking measurements. There had only been slight movement so far, so seeing the little heart pumping away, and hearing the heartbeat was confirmation all was well in the womb. For all the old wives out there, fetal heartbeat was 166, and has been above 160 at each measurement. So much for the belief that a rate higher than 160 means boy. Not sure if this is a related note, but I got a call from the Purdue women’s basketball coach asking if I’ve thought about a summer camp for our little girl yet.

“Let’s see if we can get a look at her face.” Some gentle prodding of the stomach, some manipulation of the scanner, and finally she turned her head up a little. Again, totally bizarre. There’s just enough detail so you know exactly what you’re looking at, but still a vague enough image that there’s a phantasm like quality to the image. Is this really a baby girl in my wife’s stomach, or is that a ghost that some special effects house has conjured up for a movie? Are ultrasounds just a diabolical government conspiracy, like Capricorn One? These are the things I think about. “And look, there’s her mouth. Oh! She just stuck her tongue out at us!” That was pretty funny and perfectly appropriate. It’s a shame we didn’t get a frame that showed that moment. It would go perfectly with all the pictures my parents took of me when I was a kid, sleeping on the floor or a couch, glaring at the camera when they tried to wake me up. The nurse’s encouragement did the trick, though. She started moving her hands around more, her legs would come up and down. Head wriggled from side to side. I asked Sanne if she could tie the sensations on the screen to what she felt inside her. She couldn’t at this point, but I’m sure that would be different if we did another ultrasound at 24 weeks. We were checking out the feet and toes again when the little hands came down and grabbed them. Looks like grabbing your toes is the most fun game you can play in the womb. And I can tell our girl already grabs her toes better than 99% of the other babies in the womb! After about 15 minutes, the scan ended with the nurse telling us all the measurements were right where they should be, no signs of trouble, and we had a little, 12 oz. girl who looked like she would show up the first week of August. Our visit with the doctor confirmed all is well. Since we’re delivering at the hospital where Sanne works, she took me down to the nursery and delivery area. We checked out the birthing rooms and family rooms where we’ll spend a couple nights (hopefully that’s all).

So we’re having a girl! I can start becoming a defensive, overbearing father! I can play Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” when it’s bath time. Honestly, it’s a bigger relief to know that so far everything is going well than knowing what we’re going to have. I would want to know anyway, but with Sanne being able to determine sex I figured we might as well let daddy in on the news too. As the father, since I don’t feel the movements, the discomfort, the hormonal changes, there’s this constant worry that everything is really going well. Just this week, Sanne has started to show a little. Her belly button is getting shallower by the day. Her is stomach sticking out a little more each day. Suddenly she’s not sleeping on her back. But without those visual cues, there’s no way for an outsider to be sure that the things that are supposed to be happening are.

I was thinking the other day that the 20 week mark is a strange time. Technically, we’re halfway to a full term baby. Time should fly, right? Then I realized we didn’t know for the first four weeks and kept it a secret for another seven weeks. We’ve only acted like Sanne is pregnant for nine weeks, not 20. Add in the lack of visual evidence, and it’s almost like the first 20 weeks don’t count. August seems a long, long way away! That’s also a lot more updates for you all, so bear with me over the next five months.