And the Winner Is....

Another two weeks passed and at long last we found ourselves at that magic time: The Twentieth Week. The week where the pregnancy is more than half over. But, more importantly, the week when it's finally possible to determine, using the ultrasound, the gender of your baby.
  This ultrasound is an important one. Besides ending the curiosity surrounding the sex of the baby--for those couples who choose not to wait until the child is born, anyway--at this ultrasound several important physical features of the baby are checked to make sure everything is going well and to head off any possible complications.
  So, as is only fitting for an event of such importance in our baby's prenatal life, I was late. Due to some misunderstanding and my general forgetfulness I ended up letting my weekly squash match with the baby's uncle--my wife's brother--run into overtime and Dawn and I had to rush to get to the doctor's office before the ultrasound woman went home for the night, with Dawn drinking the required 24 ounces of water and haranguing me all the way. I deserved it.
  We did make it in time and actually had to wait a bit, although not long enough for me to finish the article I was reading about how only higher primates recognize that the image in the mirror is really their own reflection. Now I will never know how the article ends.
  Ah, more cold goop on the belly. I think that's what I'll miss most after the baby is born--watching my wife do that little ``Wow that's cold'' jump before every ultrasound. I guess I can do the same thing at home every so often by sneaking up behind her with a chilled can of soda and placing it against her neck, but it just won't be the same. For one thing, she doesn't turn around and smack the ultrasound operator.
  The ultrasound woman was apparently determined to make us wait. She steadfastly refused to even look for the sex-determining characteristics of our child until after she had checked everything else. First, of course, she wanted to see what the ovarian cyst was doing. At first she couldn't find it at all, and we began to think that maybe it had at last gone away; but then she caught a glimpse of it. It was getting very difficult to visualize, as they say, because the growth of the womb had pushed it to the side and changed its shape somewhat.
[Baby's Profile]   The woman then let Dawn go to the bathroom. When Dawn returned and the gel was reapplied, the woman showed us some nice general pictures of the baby.
  ``See that?'' she enthused, ``there's your baby's profile--he's waving! Are you going to open your little legs for us?'' The baby wiggled. ``He says yes!''
  Then the ultrasound woman went carefully over the images of the baby measuring several key characteristics. She started with the diameter of the baby's head and then the diameter of the baby's body. In that image there was a small black spot near the middle.
  ``What's that black spot?'' Dawn asked.
  ``That,'' the woman explained, ``is the baby's stomach. The baby drinks the amniotic fluid and it fills the stomach. That tells me that the baby's digestive tract is working.''
  She continued checking and measuring. She found the baby's heart and made sure it had four chambers like it was supposed to and also measured the heart rate. It was still normal. She found the bladder, which was small.
  ``As the baby drinks the amniotic fluid,'' the woman told us, ``its bladder fills up. Since it's so small, that means the baby probably just emptied it when you emptied yours.'' (I figure this is where kids learn to do it in the pool.)
  She looked at the baby's spine--oh no, alien baby again!--and found and measured the baby's kidneys. She measured the femur length also, as well as the baby's overall length. In addition she checked the umbilical cord to make sure it had three vessels--one coming and two going. This all took quite a while. You might think, having waited five months to find out the gender of the baby, that another few minutes wouldn't make a difference. I was impatient anyway. ``Who cares about the baby's bladder?'' I wanted to say. ``We'll get one installed if it's missing! Is it a boy or a girl already?'' Not that I needed this knowledge that badly--but if I'm going to find out, I want to know.
  Finally our baby's parts were all measured and cataloged. It was the moment of truth, the moment we'd all been waiting for, the timeless instant where modern technology and ancient hopes and dreams come together, where inklings and old mothers' tales are put to the test.
  ``Do either of you have any feelings about the sex of the baby? Any ideas?'' the ultrasound woman asked.
  ``I think it's a boy,'' Dawn replied. The woman turned to me.
  ``I have no feelings at all,'' I answered. ``I think it's a baby.''
  The ultrasound woman then bent to her task like a Greek oracle, moving the ultrasound handset around on Dawn's stomach and squinting at the images on the monitor, mumbling and coaxing and continuing to point out features as she went.
  ``There's the feet,'' she said, almost under her breath. ``And the legs, and come on baby, we want to see, come on, there's a hand, come on baby,'' and so on and so forth, in the manner of the soothsayers of old reading tea leaves or sheep's entrails. After a while her mumblings slowed and then stopped as she slowed her movements of the handset, narrowing the area of her search. Finally she said, ``Okay, I think I know the sex of your baby.''
  Dawn and I moved closer to the monitor trying to make sense of the ghostly transmissions from Dawn's inner space. The image swam and spun, bright spots merging into dark spots too quickly to be recognized as anything. Then a well-defined foot would go by, or perhaps a roughly outlined leg. Back and forth the image went and then--
  ``There!'' she said, pointing to a spot on the screen. ``That's baby's pee-pee! It's a boy!''
  It certainly looked like a pee-pee to me. ``Are you sure?'' asked Dawn.
  ``Well,'' replied the ultrasound woman, ``that's a pee-pee and that's how we tell.''
  ``That's how I tell when I get up in the morning,'' I added.
  So there you go--it looks like our mothers were both right. We will never live this down. But then again, sex determination by ultrasound isn't the most reliable procedure, so there's still some hope.

Calling the baby William Alan and clutching our new sonograms--none of which were of the baby's pee-pee, unfortunately--we moved to the examining room to see Doctor Number Two. There the doctor went over the new information on Dawn's cyst and the baby's measurements and informed us that everything was going well. As she began to search for the baby's heartbeat herself--using the Doppler device and more chilly saline gel--Dawn mentioned the somewhat distant manner of Doctor Number Three at our previous visit.
  ``He's like that,'' Doctor Two explained. ``He's like--well, let me give you an idea. We always put, on each baby's chart, what sex we think it will be. And on this one woman's I had put that it would be a girl and he thought it would be a boy. He was certain it would be a boy. Well, that woman delivered a month early and the baby was a girl. So I told him I was right and he was wrong. `If the baby had been in there full term,' he said, `it would have been a boy.' So you see,'' she concluded, ``like all men, he's often mistaken but he's never wrong.''
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