No girls (or boys) allowed

Earlier this week, Chris and I headed to one of our local hospitals for a long awaited ultrasound fetal anatomy scan. This is a routine ultrasound typically done around the 20th week of pregnancy. It is often especially looked forward to because this is usually when people find out the gender of their baby.

Well, people not in India anyway.

As the sign clearly states, they will, under no circumstances, tell you the gender of your baby. Chris, of course, being Chris, asked the ultrasound technician about this in no uncertain terms. She verified that no, she would not disclose the baby’s gender and that it was a punishable offense.

Since the late 1970’s, when many new fetal gender determination technologies became widely available in India, the gender gap (ratio of male to female babies) has been increasing. In a country the size of India, based on the 2011 census data, this gender gap amounts to approximately 600,000 “missing” baby girls this year. I am choosing not going to get into the theoretical causes or implications of this problem, but I think that we can all agree that it is absolutely astonishing.

Of more immediate importance to me is my surprise at how disappointed I felt when I was not able to find out the baby’s gender. Chris, on the other hand, did not seem to care one bit. We both went into the experience saying that it was good to have a surprise, but I’m starting to change my mind. How is he not more curious?

Before heading into the ultrasound room, I was extremely interested to see what the equipment would look like. At our local hospital, it can be a mixed bag. There are some areas, mostly non-technical ones such as patient waiting areas, that are in serious need of renovation. From what I have seen technology-wise though, this hospital seems to be totally up to date.

They offered both the standard and 3D ultrasound technology, which Chris got to witness first hand. I was very disappointed that they positioned me such that I could not see the screen at all. Chris got to sit near the ultrasound technician and see the whole show. Before hand, I had him study “boy” and “girl” 21 week ultrasounds in hopes that he might be able to shed some light on the mystery, but no dice. He claims that he is not an ultrasound interpretation expert. Clearly he wasn’t trying hard enough!

I considered posting some of the 3D pictures on here, but decided against it. Looking at other people’s ultrasound pictures is kind of creepy.

I feel like I am finally starting to get a grip on the processes and procedures involved with visiting the doctor in India. I remember on my first visit that I was completely and utterly confused the entire time. My most recent visit was much more efficient, in large part because I am starting to understand how to navigate the hospital’s process.

All in all, it was a good experience. We were told that we have what appears to be a normal baby, although it is quite large for its age by Indian standards. Before this week, I was not aware that typical baby weight varies by race. Based on these norms, one would expect that I will ultimately have a baby approximately 9 oz heavier than a typical Indian baby. That’s quite a big difference!

Maybe we will have another ultrasound opportunity. If so, I will be sure to make Chris study harder beforehand!

  1. Jena said:

    Aw, I am sad for you…and me bc I’m nosy and want to know what you are having. That is really sad that there are so many missing girl babies..unbelievable really. How do they expect to pro-create, and keep their race alive if so many go “missing?”

    I’m going to ask the Dr. I work for about this. He is from India.. He has a son, but he was born in the states, and he just had another baby about a month ago, but they knew that he was a boy before he was born.

    I am so irrational I would be looking at the next flight home so that I could find out if I was having a boy or girl… That is really interesting.

    What experiences you are having in India!!

    • Brit said:

      I really want to know, I considered trying to find out next time I leave India. The only catch is that Chris made me promise that he could be there if/when we find out, so I need to go somewhere with him where it is cheap/easy enough for me to get an ultrasound. Would you believe that my ultrasond here was $29.87?!?!

      • Congrats on a great scan! I’d be going over those U/S images with a magnifying glass if I were in your position. You must be dying with the suspense.

        $29.87? It’s crazy what a mark-up they place on medical procedures and tests here.

        Each new blog post fascinates me more and more.

  2. Dana said:

    FOR REAL?!?!? that is amazing that it’s illegal to find out the sex of the baby, but I guess it’s just another part of your “adventures in living in India”. I admire that even though you were newly pregnant you still decided to just pick up and go – I don’t think I could ever do it.

    • Brit said:

      I considered not going, but I decided that if I really didn’t want to be here for some reason, Chris is the one that has to stay, not me. I can go home any time.

  3. Being told you can’t know is probably killing you more than not knowing would!

    My (totally made up) opinion is that the reason it’s not killing him is because he’s already got to wait to find out a lot of things about the baby, whereas you have this amazing connection with the baby and just don’t know this one thing. It’s like if you were dating someone for 3 months and had never learned their name.

    • Brit said:

      I think both of those things may be true. Chris also tends to be more patient about knowing secrets than I am. If I know that he has a secret, it drives me crazy until he tells me, whereas he is content not knowing and waiting for it.

  4. shelby said:

    Damn, I kind of wanted to know what you were having, too! Did they intentionally position you so that you couldn’t see?

    Those statistics are pretty sad. I can see why they have that law.

    • Brit said:

      I don’t think they intentionally positioned me so that I couldn’t see because they let Chris watch the whole thing. The problem was that they didn’t have dual screens. The ultrasound tech needed to be sitting where she was to do it and she needed to see the screen to do her job. It made sense, it just stinks. I totally would have been looking for “boy” and “girl” parts!

      The law seems totally necessary, as frustrating as it is for me. Based on my cursory research on the topic, the saddest part is that the problem seems to be with the more affluent families who can afford high tech prenatal care.

      • Lisa said:

        That definitely is pretty sad. 😦 Guess I’m lucky to have parents that still wanted me even though I was the 4th girl…

  5. Lori said:

    Aw man I was all excited to find out what you were having! And holy crap, you’re 21 weeks already?!?!

    • Brit said:

      I can’t believe it either. More than halfway! Is it bad that I’m kind of ready to get it over with already!? I don’t feel bad or anything, but I am ready to have completely unrestricted activity and (hopefully) not look so chubby anymore. I don’t look pregnant yet, I just look like I have a beer gut. I’m hoping I feel better about it when it is more obvious. Right now it is definitely a self esteem challenge.

  6. Lisa said:

    I didn’t realize you were so far along already either! Thanks for sharing all this; it’s such an interesting post.

    My heart breaks for all the “missing” girl babies, so I definitely understand the need for the law. I always say I want to be surprised about the gender when we do have kids anyhow. But, who knows. Maybe I will feel differently when the time comes?

    • Brit said:

      I always wanted to know, but when we found out that going to India would interfere with that, I made the decision to go anyway and that it was ok not knowing. I mean plenty of people go without knowing, why couldn’t I? Except that I don’t like secrets to be kept from me.

  7. Oh wow. It sucks you won’t be able to find out but the reason is just plain scary! Glad you are figuring out the system over there! Hopefully things stay on track with my massive baby! 😉

  8. Kierstan said:

    You should totally scan your US images and email them to your doc. in the US and see if she will tell you the sex of the baby! 🙂

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