Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Low-Tech Babies

As I sit down to write this, I am also intermittently texting back and forth on my phone with my good friend whose wife is actually giving birth right now. We have their two kids sleeping over at our house tonight, and I’m getting text updates on the progress of their third child’s entrance into the world. I’m currently receiving a blow-by-blow of the dilation. Fourteen minutes ago she was at 8 centimeters and feeling like she needed to push. Eight minutes ago she was already at 10cm, and I think we all know, 10cm is go time!

I’m not sure why I know the significance of 10cm dilation, because all three of my kids were C-section babies. As I sit here instant-messaging with a man in a hospital delivery room, and marveling at the miracle of my own children’s unconventional births, I can’t help but laugh at some of the disparities in our technological progress or lack thereof. On the one hand, as evidenced by how much instantaneous information about dilation progress I’m able to receive on my Blackberry, we have come a long, long way from the days of Caesar’s birth. On the other hand, in the midst of all these amazing gadgets and technology, whether it be a C-section or a natural birth, the endeavor of having a baby has stayed pretty much how it always has been. Low tech and messy.

By the way, they just had the baby. She showed up eight minutes after the last text message. A happy, healthy, 8-pound, 9-ounce beautiful little girl. I just got the first pictures of her and mom via Facebook. Hello, little Colette, welcome to the high-tech online party!

Colette’s parents “knew” they were having a girl, because, like most expecting couples in this high-tech world of ours, they had one or more ultrasounds during the pregnancy. The reason I say “knew” is that the modern ultrasound is one of the blends of high and low technology that I find so amusing. The proclamation of, “You’re having a girl” seems iffy.

We had ultrasounds during each of my wife’s three pregnancies. With each kid, we wanted to find out ahead of time if we were having a boy or a girl. I laughed out loud during the first ultrasound when I learned the method for identifying the sex of the baby. In the midst of all of the wonderful technology allowing the ultrasound technician to measure the baby’s size, organ development, heart rate, head size and general developmental progress, the only way they had to tell if it was a boy or a girl was to look for a penis on the little TV screen.

Really? You have this $200,000 machine at your disposal that can apparently measure my unborn child’s spleen density, and the only way you have to tell me if we should be buying pink or blue blankies is by scooting the gel-covered “whoosh-whoosh-whoosh” wand around on my wife’s stomach and squinting at the monitor?

It just really seems to me that there would be an easier, more high-tech method of boy/girl identification by now than a nice lady in surgical scrubs with her face really close to a tiny video screen saying, “That looks like a penis right there. I’m pretty sure it’s a boy… yep, he just rolled over. There it is!”

We had three boys, so ours were pretty definite answers from the ultrasounds. At least I think they were definite. They went three for three, but I’m not convinced they weren’t guessing. I mean, they’re obviously very well trained, but every picture we ever received as proof we were having a boy looked to me like a grainy black and white satellite photo of two potatoes in a dust storm.

“Hey, Bob, we’re having a boy! Look at the picture they gave us from the ultrasound.”
“What am I looking at, here?”
“That’s the head, and there’s a leg, and there’s the evidence… no, wait. I have it upside down. I think this is the head, and that is the… hmm. I forget what she told us.”

Now, keep in mind, I’m not speaking from experience here, but it just seems a little more wishy-washy to me for the ultrasound technician to say, “It’s a girl.” The old adage of “You can’t prove a negative” seems to come into play.

“I didn’t see a penis, so you’re having a girl.”
“You didn’t see one, or there isn’t one?”

I have witnessed a much more accurate system. Back when my middle sister was pregnant with her daughter, they had not found out if they were having a boy or a girl yet. While we were all together on vacation, a family friend offered to run a time-tested experiment that would yield the results. She put her wedding ring on a necklace and held it like a pendulum over the baby. The ring began to spin clockwise, so it was obvious that my sister was having a girl. Lo and behold, a few months later, out pops a girl. One hundred percent accuracy rate for the low-tech ring test!

Jewelry harbingers aside, there seems to be a glaring void of technology just screaming to be filled in the baby identification arena. What we need is to deploy the full force of the tech world and come up with an app. There is an app for everything else, so why not an app to figure out what you’re having? Get on that, will you guys? We can already find every coffee shop within 100 square miles in 0.23 seconds. Design something really useful for a change. I don’t even like coffee.

Anyway, welcome to the world, Colette. By the time you’re old enough to have a phone of your own, it will probably have a self-ultrasound app. But I’d better not hear about you needing to use it until after you’re married!!

See you soon,

Copyright © 2011 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. You always make me laugh out loud. This is my favorite
    “I didn’t see a penis, so you’re having a girl.”
    “You didn’t see one, or there isn’t one?”
    I totally agree with this entire post -- how do we know so much yet this as well as the exact when a baby is born, is a complete guessing game!!

  2. Thanks, Gabby! I agree that there should be an exact due date app as well. If we knew anything about app development, we'd be rich!
    Thanks for reading!