Before the ultrasound, Pete and I had discussed whether or not we should peek at the sex of our baby. I think I wrote about this before: I want to wait this time, and he'd like to know. A couple of days before our appointment, Pete said to me, "I have a great idea!"
"At the ultrasound, we can ask the technician to write "boy" or "girl" on a slip of paper, and then seal it in an envelope. That way, we keep our options open."
I rolled my eyes at him and changed the subject. I had assumed, since he hadn't brought it up lately, that he was becoming okay about waiting.
Over the next two days, I thought about this. If he wanted to do this, it meant he really wanted to know. I pictured whether or not I could resist opening The Envelope. I wondered if Charon would change her mind, and thought it might be nice to be able to tell her if it suddenly became an issue to her. I dreamt of those last few weeks of pregnancy, when a little boost like this could be just the thing to fuel me until the end.
The day of the appointment, when I was explaining to Charon what would happen at the ultrasound, I decided to ask her one more time.
"Are you interested in finding out whether the baby is a girl or a boy, or do you want to wait until Penguin is born, around Halloweentime, to find out?"
She replied immediately: "Let's wait until Penguin's born." My little tie-breaker was still on my "let's wait" side.
After the forgotten order form fiasco, on our drive home, Charon must have gotten tired of my ranting about the staff's over-confidence in a pregnant woman's memory capabilities. She suddenly piped up from the back seat, "I want to know if it's a sister or a brother."
"You do?" Pete and I looked at each other and I couldn't help but break into a huge smile. "Well, let's talk about it before our appointment next week, okay?"
I also talked to Pete after that, pointing out that he must not need to know too badly if he was willing to forego the ultrasound opportunity. (He had suggested we just forget it and not make a new appointment.) "Oh, no," he replied. "I don't need to know, I just want to know." I smiled at him.
The day of our (successful) appointment, I talked to her about the ultrasound again. I made sure to phrase the question using the terms she had used. "You're going to be Penguin's big sister. Do you want to find out if the baby will be your little brother or little sister?"
"No, let's wait until Penguin is born." Again, not one moment of hesitation.
I told Pete we should go with the envelope idea. When we got into the examining room, I settled onto the table. Charon laughed at the blue gooey gel that covered my big belly. The technician found the baby, and started to tell us what she was seeing on the screen, making sure to explain it carefully so that Charon could understand. "You can see the head there, and there's the baby's body, see?"
Charon immediately asked, "Is it a boy or a girl?"
Pete and I just started laughing. The technician smiled and asked us if we'd like to find out today, and I explained that we weren't sure yet, and told her about our envelope idea. We explained to Charon that we might not be able to find out right away, but that we would see.
After ten minutes or so, Charon got restless, so Pete took her out of the room for a walk. I took that opportunity to tell the technician that at this point, Charon said she'd be fine with having either a little brother or a sister, and hadn't expressed any preference. I added that I didn't want to tell Charon about the sex if we were not sure about it. "Put down on the paper how sure you are," I requested. "Oh yes, that would not be good to tell her one thing and have her picturing that, and then have something else happen!" she agreed.
Pete and Charon stayed out of the room, so I began to open up to her a bit more. At one point, after I got over my fear of discovering something very difficult via this ultrasound, I told her about my miscarriage, and how I didn't know about it until I had the ultrasound at 13 weeks. "So this is really good for me, seeing a sweet little baby there now."
At the end of the exam, I noticed she was looking between the baby's legs, so I quickly turned my head away from the screen. After about ten seconds, she said, "Well, I have a guess, but it's not a very good one." She looked for a piece of paper to write on, and then stopped and looked at me. "You know, I don't think I should even write it down. It's really not a very good guess." I wondered if she had picked up on my desire to keep it a secret. I know she also wanted to do what was right for Charon.
I gave her a big smile and told her I thought that was a good plan. We would wait! She printed off eight pictures and handed them to me. "I usually don't do so many pictures for people," she explained. She had taken most of them near the end, whenever I oohed or aahed at a particular angle. She told me what to do to keep them safe from sun and moisture.
"Thank you so much," I said. "I love these, and I will treasure them."
I'll always remember walking out into the waiting room to tell Pete and Charon of another wait they'd definitely have. We'll find out at the birth whether Penguin is a boy or a girl.