April 27, 2005
(Jason has all our Aruba photos on his laptop at work. I have requested a zip file or something several times and have not yet received them, and he's gone all idle on IM and something more important has come up and I can't do an Advice Smackdown because actually, I need some advice and also I need to calm down and BREATHE.)
I had a routine prenatal appointment this morning. I'm smack dab in the middle of week 18 or so, and I was expecting to get a referral slip or something for the big 20 week, midway-point ultrasound. (My insurance doesn't like paying for ultrasounds at the doctor's actual office, and will only refrain from giving me shit if I go to an outpatient imaging center instead.)
He didn't bring it up, so I mentioned it, all casual-like. "Soooooo, how 'bout them ultrasounds? Should be fixin' to git one of them soon, right?"
(My plan was actually to get the referral for a 20-week ultrasound, then speed-dial the imaging center from the parking lot and make an appointment for as soon as possible, because fuck that noise, plenty of people get them at 18 weeks.)
To my shock and horror and then more shock, my doctor told he wants to wait until 26 weeks.
Let me repeat that. TWENTY. SIX. WEEKS. That's two months from now. That's JUNE. That's a mere 13 weeks before my due date.
I pressed him as to why in sam hill I needed to wait so long when the Internet has CLEARLY done tole me that ultrasounds are typically done between 18 and 22 weeks, and he went on and on about picture quality and how six months is the ideal time and then he teased me a little about being over-anxious to find out the baby's sex.
And I, stupidly, agreed and pulled a pout and said I was dying to know and waaah, I didn't want to wait. Har har, silly pregnant lady, just be patient!
Oh, and then he complimented my shoes, which totally distracted me.
In the car on the way to work, my brain suddenly caught up with the conversation. HEY, WAIT A MINUTE THERE.
There are other reasons to get an ultrasound besides trying to catch a glimpse of your baby's privates. There's like, measurements? Head size? Making sure there's no vital organs growing where they shouldn't, like outside the body or something?
If, God forbid, something is wrong, a 26-week ultrasound doesn't give you a hell of a lot of time to prepare or cope or learn about the ailments your child is facing. Or, God further forbid, if something is really, REALLY wrong, and your child is doomed to a short, painful life or imminent death, a 26-week ultrasound means it's too late to make that heartbreaking, yet ultimately compassionate, choice.
(Yes, I am very upset that I am thinking in such morbid, absolute-worst-case--scenario terms, but there you have it. If my doctor had just given me the damn referral, I wouldn't be all crazy like this.)
And COME ON. The images are JUST FINE at 20 weeks, don't give me that bullshit.
In short, waiting until 26 weeks seems absolutely ridiculous to me on every level imaginable.
1) Call the office back and be a bitch about it. Cry. Quote the internet and talk about all the other pregnant women I know who got ultrasounds at 20 weeks and how I would also jump off a bridge if they did too. Drawbacks: Am terrible on the phone and get flustered and easily cowed.
2) Pay out-of-pocket for an ultrasound at one of those yuppie 4D imaging places, like we were planning to do in July anyway for our back-up gender check and to get the cool video and wallet-sized photos. (I already checked for regular ultrasound places around here that will take you without a doctor's referral. Negative.) Drawbacks: Cost lots of money. Non-medical ultrasound. Will satisfy the peek at the private parts part of the problem but not the oh-my-God-you're-carrying-the-elephant-man part.
3) Wait until my next prenatal appointment in four weeks and present my case again, in person, this time without letting him make it all about the gender question. Drawbacks: Four weeks? FOUR WEEKS?
4) Get someone who is good and pushy on the phone to pretend to be me argue with the office instead. Drawbacks: Lame. And possibly illegal.
5) Suck it up and wait another eight weeks for ultrasound. Drawbacks: Infinite.
Help me, oh good people of the Internet. What would you do? Why is my doctor insane? When did he become insane? Or is it just me?
UPDATE: Well, after it became clear that no one on the Internet was going to say, "Hey! I'm a freelance ultrasound technician! I'll wheel a machine to your house tonight!", I picked up the damn phone and called the office.
And great news! My doctor has left for the day! And for tomorrow! And Friday!
I did speak to the nurse, who is Nice, and who I like, but seeing as she really couldn't write a referral herself or openly go against the doctor's orders, it was mostly an unsatisfying conversation.
Basically: For the gender question, they wait until 26 weeks, period, and frankly, don't care that plenty of other people find out at 20 weeks just fine, la la la, they can't hear you.
For the elephant-man-baby question, she reminded me that I had blood drawn for the triple screen this morning, which will tell us a lot more than an ultrasound could at this point anyway. If any part of that comes back looking suspicious, they'll immediately send me for a 4D scan.
The doctor will call me on Monday with the results, and she's made a note of my ultrasound concerns. (The note probably reads: HYSTERICAL HARPY. CHART PERMANENTLY MARKED AS "DIFFICULT." HOPE KID DEVELOPS COLIC.) If I still "really want" an earlier ultrasound, she's sure the doctor will let me go "a little earlier", but in the meantime, please "relax", your baby is "just fine".
So I am much more relaxed now. Although now? I'm totally just back to the pouting and whining of BUT I WANT TO KNOW THE SEX SO I CAN BUY THINGS.
(A five-minute "gender determination" session at the walk-in 4D place costs $89. Ha! I spend more than that in five minutes at Sephora.)