Originally published in the Miami News-Record on June 26, 2016.
My oldest daughter, as you know, is expecting a sweet, precious, little girl (who has decided this week to behave and stay put awhile longer, thank the Lord). She is very active, has crazy long legs, and likes to lie on her back with her arms over her head or across her face – just the way her momma sleeps. This has proven problematic for ultrasound pictures because the little stinker refuses to cooperate and smile for the camera. And now Abby is just absolutely convinced she needs a 3D ultrasound so she can see this baby girl’s face.
But I think “need” is a bit of a stretch.
Back in my day, you got ONE ultrasound. It was at 20 weeks. Period. You had to go in with a bladder full to approximately the size of a watermelon, knowing full well someone was going to squish around on it for about 30 minutes. All of your friends warned you and told you to expect to either cry or pee yourself. Or do one then the other. There was no such thing as 3D or 4D ultrasounds back then. No, your baby appeared on screen as a grainy, skeleton alien monster. If you were lucky enough to have a cooperative child with some exhibitionist tendencies, they could sometimes determine the gender of your child. Then the technician would describe the child’s genitals as either a “hot dog” (girl) or a “turtle” (boy). And most of them wouldn’t give you any more than a 60% chance they were correct. You didn’t WANT a face shot because frankly, your baby was a frightening creature that looked like an alien and you were secretly afraid it was going to grab hold of and eat your liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.
This glamorous ultrasound session was usually done by a surly technician who felt their time and talent was being wasted on such frivolous things as, oh you know, YOUR BABY. Twice I got a tech that sighed through the entire ultrasound. Apparently they were bitter that they hadn’t been made famous yet by discovering a new and previously unnoticed organ or something during a routine ultrasound.
The price of your child’s first photo shoot was included in the all-inclusive delivery fee you were informed of on your first visit. You know, the first visit where they confirm that yes indeedy, you are quite pregnant. As if the 50 positive pregnancy tests you peed on and the barfing 24/7 weren’t big enough clues. You were shuffled from the exam room to an office where “the girl who does the insurance” held court. There she asked for your insurance card, did some magical figuring on an adding machine (this was pre-internet, mind you), and made a declaration of what you had to pay the doctor every month when you visited so your baby would be paid in full by delivery. (During my last pregnancy I asked if they would repo a couple – the two who were at that moment in a full-on WWE match on her office floor) (She didn’t get my sense of humor. She said no.)
I get it, times change. My mom had nary an ultrasound with either of her pregnancies. Of course, my Nana also nearly had a stroke when she saw Mom hanging clothes on the line and running the vacuum while pregnant because both of those chores were 199% known to cause the cord to wrap around the baby’s neck. Daddies didn’t get to witness the birth of their children. Diapers were cloth, bottles were glass, carseats were virtually nonexistent.
So if my kiddo wants to pay for a glimpse of her baby’s face ahead of time, I suppose I won’t complain. I’m already so in love with this little blueberry that seeing her squishy little face early might cause me to go into happy spasms or an uncontrollable squealing fit, but I suppose I’ll adjust to the changing times. It’s what all the hip grandmas do.