Monday Morning Wood: week 16

Posted by Wood | Monday, August 27, 2007 |

My friend's husband is an obstetric surgeon at a local hospital, and once a month he has to stay at the hospital all night, on call, just in case something happens that the residents can't handle. He has a cot and he tries to sleep a little, but I imagine the nights are lonely.

A few months ago my friend told me she was pregnant. I know some people worry that ultrasounds are invasive or even harmful. I'm not sure if I agree or disagree, but I do find it kind of romantic that when my friend's husband has to spend the night on a cot instead of next to her in their bed, my friend drives to his hospital and they steal away to an ultrasound room and sneak a peek at their unborn daughter. The flicker of the baby's heartbeat comforts them, and they both marvel at the way her arms and legs dart all over the screen.

On Saturday night, my friend stopped to pick me up on her way to the hospital. She'd invited me to come that month so that her husband could try to determine the sex of the baby. We pulled up to the hospital and her husband met us downstairs. It was nearly ten o'clock at night and even the labor and delivery floor of the hospital was quiet. I heard a small newborn cry from a darkened room, but as far as I know, there were no women laboring on the floor. It was practically silent.

When people ask, as my friend's husband did as he smeared ultrasound gel on my stomach, if we're hoping to have a girl or a boy, I'm not sure what to say. Of course we'll be happy either way. Of course we're just hoping for a healthy baby. If I'm honest, I say I'm torn: I want Juniper to have a sister, but I would love to have a son. The other day Dutch tried to engage me in speculation about what color hair this baby will have or whether it will look like Juniper, or him, or me. I told him I don't care, all I really want from this one is sleep. I'm also secretly hoping for an easygoing nature -- I feel outnumbered and outflanked at our house by the stubborness and intensity that my husband and daughter share.

During the ultrasound, my friend's husband kept apologizing for the quality of the machine he was using. He couldn't get a clear picture, and the details were scant. The heartbeat was there, but other than that, it was hard to tell what we were seeing. For a second, he was sure he saw the third leg he was looking for, and then I caught a glimpse of it, and then it was gone. He started calling the baby a "he," though he warned that the results were highly inconclusive, and he could just as easily end up being a girl.

Dutch was at home with our sleeping baby. I contemplated how to tell him this exciting but inadequate news. Then I started thinking for the first time about the possibility of having a boy. I realized that I'd been assuming for the last few months that this one would be a girl. It felt strange. I couldn't imagine a little penis growing inside me. But then I got excited. Maybe he will cry when I go away on business when he's nine. Maybe he'll have hair like mine. Maybe he will sleep.

But then again, maybe he's still a she.