Home » Parenting » Ultrasound: Facing the question

Ultrasound: Facing the question

I went to my twenty-week ultrasound full of nervous excitement. The odd flutterings I’d come to associate with fetal movement were joined by the average emotional butterflies. I was eager to get a glimpse of the tiny person growing inside of me, but also nervous. While I tended to think of the ultrasound as an opportunity to get a cute little snapshot of my offspring in progress, in the back of my mind I was aware of it as a diagnostic tool ready to report any deviations from “normal” development.

“Do you want to know the sex?” the ultrasound technician asked , pushing the sensor hard into my side.

Before my pregnancy, I swore I’d say no to this question. I liked the idea of a surprise, I wanted to resist the idea that knowing the genitalia of my future child somehow would let me know the child’s true essence, and I dreaded the influx of pink or blue baby gifts that such knowledge would inevitably inspire. Before an egg met a sperm in the winding halls of my fallopian tubes, Hassan and I had chosen the name Morgan–nicely gender neutral (although strange pregnancy superstitions had us calling the fetus Magnus until near the end of my third trimester).

But in the weeks leading up to this moment, I’d changed my mind.

“Yes,” I nodded. Partly the words of a pregnant coworker kept returning to me–“If someone else has information about my baby, I want to know it too.” It did indeed seem odd to ask the ultrasound technician to keep secrets from us. And even if I don’t want to buy into the Foucauldian notion of sex and truth, at that point I wanted to know every little insignificant thing about my baby.

But in the end, it came down to pronouns. We were tired of referring to Magnus as “it.” While I am generally in favor of “they” as a gender neutral singular, I didn’t want to let its plural connotations into my womb. One fetus was enough, thank you very much.

“It’s a boy”

I let one tear slide out of the corner of my eye before I smiled.

Sometimes I look down at my son sleeping in my lap and I fear the man he will grow up to be. Specifically I fear that he will grow up to be The Man, heteropatriarchal white capitalist oppressor extraordinaire. In my mind’s eye he has grown into a massive caricature of masculinity with biceps the size of my thighs


2 thoughts on “Ultrasound: Facing the question

  1. Ooh. I actually got here from the Feminist Reading Group on Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting on GoodReads. Adrienne Rich's 'Of Women Born' has a chapter on mothers and sons where she addresses exactly what you're talking about in the last paragraph. I don't have the book on hand but I think the chapter could be fairly stand-alone if you're busy!

  2. Of Woman Born is actually sitting in the pocket of my nursing chair waiting for me to start reading it! I will look forward to reading that chapter.

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