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Why No Ultrasounds?

I have never had an ultrasound during a pregnancy. Happily, my babes have so far grown perfectly without any need to check and make sure that they are okay. I have nothing against someone else having an ultrasound for whatever reasons they deem fit, but they just aren’t for me.

I would have an ultrasound if the health and well-being of me or the baby were in question and I wouldn’t hesitate. I am fully in support of using the magic of technology and modern medicine to prevent problems and save lives. In this writing I am considering only the routine ultrasounds done throughout a pregnancy.

There are a number of questions surrounding routine ultrasound, and you can read about them in Mothering’s article here, if you are interested. I’m writing about why I don’t ultrasound my pregnancies.

My superficial hesitation – those ultrasound images are kind of creepy and alien. The images of the standard ultrasound are odd enough, but the newer 3-D images look to me like someone has tried to sculpt Winston Churchill out of pudding and failed…I don’t really want that to be a “first” visual of my baby.

Sister-Bug has a cuddle, hoping to be kicked in the head. 

I’ve been surprised at every pregnancy the amount of judgement extended to a family who chooses not to find out the baby’s gender. You, random stranger in the grocery store, need to know the gender of my baby for what reason? We should know the gender so we…know what to buy? Additional judgement is extended when it’s revealed that we don’t have any ultrasounds, with or without gender. It’s as though I am intentionally endangering my baby because of sheer pig-headedness, as though I’m a bad parent for not counting the baby’s fingers and toes before it joins my reality.
I marvel as my belly grows each time. I wonder if it’s a boy or girl…but even more I wonder what idiosyncrasies, what personality quirks and traits have manifested as this baby grows inside me. I wonder if it will have a secret dimple like it’s sister, or the funny ribs that Brother-Bug inherited from me. These things won’t be revealed by an ultrasound, and I wouldn’t want them to be.

We do use an ultrasound doppler with our midwife to hear the baby’s heartbeat, and without fail all three babies have, as soon as they were big enough, moved away from it’s waves, deeper into my cavities. They don’t like it (how I can tell they don’t like it is a topic for another post). The doppler is a very low-level wave, much lower than the wave needed to see the outlines of a baby. If my babies don’t like this little wave, if we can tell that they are distressed by it, how much more might they be distressed by the larger sonics of a visual ultrasound?

But ultimately what it comes down to is this: My body has made this dark and protected cave in which my baby takes its first movements, begins its heartbeats, and turns to the gentle stimuli that come through the layers of my skin and muscle. It is the quintessence of private and intimate. The idea of ultrasound penetrating this privacy just doesn’t work for me; it violates something sacred.

There are lots of people in the world for whom ultrasound is an important part of their journey through pregnancy, and I applaud their decision and ability to choose what is right for their body and baby. But it’s not a route I plan on taking – for a third time around.


A Question of Dignity

This is ridiculous. I generally try to keep the political off this blog, but since this is a blog about my life-choice to stay at home with my kids…

I don’t want the “dignity of work”, Mr. Romney. I do work – 12, 16, 18 hours a day. A lot if my job is undignified – scrubbing the toilet, begging and bribing a five-year old to clean up, or chasing a toddler around playing growling bear are not “dignified” activities.

I have made a choice for me and my family. This choice means I earn no Social Security, no 401k, I am reliant on my husband’s sick leave and health insurance. I have chosen to live at a lower income level, by a full-time adult salary, because I love my work and I believe that what I am doing is important.

This has nothing to do with access to day care. There are many wonderful and qualified and affordable day care options in my area. This has nothing to do with my ability to find work. I have a college degree, I am credentialed in a couple of fields, and would be willing to put my shoulder to the wheel.

I’m an educated, liberal, feminist. I’m not making this choice out of a religious or similar bias, though many women do and should be able to. I know many women like myself who believe deeply in having a parent at home. I know many employed women who envy my ability to stay home and who wish they could afford to “not work”. I know many working women who love their jobs and for whom staying home would cause frustration and boredom. I know many women who struggle daily to do what they believe is best for their families, regardless of their state of employment.

I don’t need “a job” and I don’t need the “dignity of work”. I love what I do and I have plenty of work, thank you Mr. Romney.

Mothers (parents) – those who stay home or those who work – need their lives and the choices they make in those lives to be supported. We do not need anyone, least of all some rich and smarmy politician, to treat our lives like they are not worth anything unless we are gainfully employed by the economic machine. That is an indignity, Mr. Romney. We do not need anyone pushing some “work requirement” upon us, making lives already difficult even more so. I do believe that I am living my life, celebrating my freedom, and pursuing that which makes me happy…and don’t you dare try to take that away from me. I’m not putting my two-year old in day care, even of you foot the bill. How dare you treat my life choice as something undignified?

I – and parents making hard choices every day, all over this country of ours – need the awesome work we do, raising and caring for the future voters of America, to be treated with dignity.


Update: I do realize that this quote is a snippet and lacks broader context. I also realize that Romney is not actually talking about me. He’s talking about poor women who utilize the welfare system. For the record, I don’t think that I am any different, better, or more deserving than any other woman who is also making tough decisions for her family. I believe that everyone deserves the dignity of choice – and that means not being forced to work OR forced to stay home. I believe that people should be treated equally and that an attack on a family on welfare is an attack on my family.