Why find out?

After sharing my thoughts on the sex of this baby and finding out (Blue hair, ultrasound, 5 girls, and Sugarbaby) I had a lot of questions asking if we don’t care what the sex is, why find out?

I’ve talked before and openly about my pregnancies and having to deal with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) through out them.  To sum it up, HG is severe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, beyond the normal morning sickness levels, that usually results in a more than 10% weight loss for the mother, poor nutrition, dehydration, and other complications.  It’s like food poisoning that stretches on for months, for me personally it’s looked like vomiting 20-30 times a day and getting down to as low as 83 pounds.  Thanks to aggressive preventative care, this time I’ve only lost 16 pounds and with regular daily fluids through my PICC line, I’ve not dealt with severe dehydration.  At this point (over 20 weeks) I’m doing better than I ever have in one of my pregnancies and am down to vomiting 3-4 times a day and  for the most part I am able to function.

Still, it’s not easy and I have to admit to feeling more like I’m managing an illness than like I’m having a baby.  Because right now, that’s exactly what I’m most focused on, managing an illness.  Sugarbaby moves and kicks a lot and my belly is growing but I feel far more connected to my PICC line than I do the child growing inside of me.  I’ve even considered naming it, the line that is.  I have named my puke bucket in the past, so deep was the connection there.

There are reasons to be concerned about ultrasounds and like many in the natural birth community, I have my reservations about routine ultrasounds in pregnancy.  I’d share links to articles and research on the issue but I’m avoiding them right now since I’m about to go have one.  But do a search, there are plenty out there.

So why would I do an ultrasound if I have concern about their safety in pregnancy?  Aside from the fact that it’s only one ultrasound we plan on having during the entire pregnancy unless medically indicated otherwise, I have my reasons.  In my experience I have seen that a pregnant woman’s mind can greatly influence her pregnancy and her birth.  We have not had ultrasounds with each of our babies, with two we felt there was no medical reason to do so.  But then we discovered something: I struggled more with depression and feeling connected to my baby both during and immediately following the pregnancy when we didn’t find out than when we did.  There comes a point where I need something to help me start knowing the person I’m growing and connecting with them more than I’m connected to my IVs.  Knowing the sex of the individual growing inside of me is like a surge of power between me and my baby, energizing my connection and helping me get excited about having them.  That excitement helps make managing my HG this small challenge along the journey of getting this person.  The tiny potential risk of one ultrasound that gives us that connection as well as the peace of mind that the medications I’m on aren’t causing my baby to grow a second head means lower stress levels, higher endorphins, and begins the emotional journey from “I’m sick” to “we’re having a baby!”

With each of my pregnancies I find I worry more that something is wrong with my baby.  I used to think it was that I know more but now I think it’s not that complex.  We’ve had 5 healthy babies (Smunchie does have a minor heart defect and it was difficult and scary for a few months) and I start thinking there’s no way we’re going to have a 6th healthy baby.  Each time I imagine something worse.  Silly?  Probably.  Very real to me?  Yep.  And so, to help me sleep and to lower my anxiety, silly though it may be, we get the scan.  What if we do have a baby that is going to have special needs?  Well, things will proceed as already planned and we’ll start learning about navigating the world of parenting a child with special needs.  That’s not the problem for me, it’s the not knowing and the imagining that is.  Boy, girl, perfectly healthy, or special needs, this baby is ours and we love it very much, none of that’s going to change.

One more question that I’ve been asked frequently and I know goes unasked even more frequently: why keep having babies when you’re pregnancies are so rough?  The short, easy answer is because I’m crazy.  The longer, more complicated answer is that for me personally, I didn’t want HG to have the say in our family planning.  Our family didn’t feel complete.  We considered adoption and had actually planned on adopting but that didn’t work out.  So here we are.  It has been a difficult decision but one I don’t regret.  Getting through each pregnancy is hell, I won’t lie, and I hate the stress it puts on my family.  But we weren’t done, so we’ve walked through it.  I know it’s not for everyone and I grieve with my HG sisters that want more children but can’t make the HG journey again.  I feel incredibly blessed.

Please, if you or someone you know struggles with vomiting and nausea in pregnancy, please visit helpher.org for information on HG.  While care and treatment of HG is improving, it has long been misunderstood, left undiagnosed, and poorly treated.  Check this list to see if what you’re dealing with is normal morning sickness or HG.


  1. Love it. I’m only expecting my second (likely our last) but that worrying – I do it too. As much as I know I could decline u/s for personal reasons I can relax so much more knowing everything is okay — and if it’s not I can prepare for that too.

  2. As a fellow HG mom, I totally get this. I mourn not having a typical pregnancy and I won’t lie, I hate every minute until birth. But like you, I don’t let 9 months of hell deter me from having the family we desire.

  3. Oh my Mama! I also suffer from HG..we have 6 beautiful babies and are currently trying for another! 😉 We like you don’t want HG to be what determines our family size, AND we simply LOVE our babies!!! What is hard on me the most I think, is that NOT ONE of my family or friends understands what I am going through while pregnant. They think I need to get over it or that I am over exaggerating. Therefore, they don’t offer help. Hang in there Mama!! Sooo excited on your #6!

  4. I can’t imagine going through the Hell that HG puts you through. I’m pregnant with #2 and was so, so relieved when the ms let up 6 weeks on the nose from when it started. I feel for you! I so wish you could sit back and enjoy the feeling of growing another human being. Good luck with your ultrasound today! I hope you get what you want…a healthy, growing baby 🙂

  5. Big hugs to you honey! You are strong and confident and that’s what your family needs;

  6. I understand finding out for the connection reasons. I probably would have found out anyway but I felt it was important for me during this pregnancy especially. My husband left me shortly after finding out we werepregnant with our second. It was a very emotionally rough pregnancy for me and found it very hard to connect. There was even a point we weren’t sure the pregnancy would survive (at only 5 weeks) and I wished that it wouldn’t. I feel horrible admitting this… but it was a very dark time. I needed to do everything I could to try and be connected to this baby. Thankfully now at 2 weeks old im totally in love with him. Couldn’t see my life without him. But connecting during the pregnancy was very difficult and I didn’t get that with my first.

  7. I love the stronger connection you feel once you see that little body on that screen. It allays so many fears and makes everything wonderfully real. Enjoy the ultrasound 🙂

  8. What an honest and interesting post on the “big reveal” of the 20-week ultrasound. While I don’t have HG (and my heart breaks for you; it really does), I do continue to have N/V throughout my pregnancies up until the bitter end. I miss eating real food, I miss enjoying the smell of something baking in the oven… I, too, don’t enjoy a typical pregnancy. So I’m curious about having a third child — what we’ve ultimately deemed to be our final — somewhere down the road and how I’ll feel about keeping its sex a surprise, which is what we’ve always said we’d do (we found out with the first two). I wonder if I’ll feel similarly about bonding with the baby since I’m ultimately managing an illness (something that’s been much, much worse with this, my second pregnancy). Thanks for this, and all the best to you for a happy, healthy second half of your pregnancy.

  9. I don’t blame you.

    I actually feel really, very guilty because I had to have so many ultrasounds done during my pregnancy because they suspected that my little boy had cystic fibrosis. They said at first that one of his kidneys looked bad, and then when I went for the follow up, he had echogenic (I think the word is) bowels.

    I tested negative for the most common strains of CF, but it still worries the piss out of me. They never asked to test my partner, for whatever reason.

    But, after the ultrasound to determine if they thought it was CF or not, I did feel a lot better… so I can totally relate to you on that. I just really hope that the extra ultrasounds that were medically necessary don’t do irreparable harm. Gah. 🙁

    Good luck!

  10. As a fellow HG mamas (i’m a veteran now since giving birth in March), I completely understand where you are coming from. My 20 wk ultrasound was definitely reassuring that our Roo wasn’t growing 3 arms or a tail. I also had a PICC line and was loaded up on meds and even given terbutaline to stop my labor at 21 weeks. It’s scary but you are right, the low risk of an ultrasound is definitely worth it.

    Hugs and hang in there! There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

    & I don’t know how you have done it… I am very afraid to have another child due to HG. I honestly don’t think I could do it again.

  11. Jennifer Adams says

    I understand loving the u/s. I had 4 during my pregnancy d/t a medication that I take to prevent migraines has a chance of having the baby be smaller. My OB does one around 11 weeks just for placement, HR, etc. The 21 week anatomy u/s then we did a 31 week growth check and we got to do a 41 week fluid check. We had no growth restriction as little man was 9lb 9oz or if we did Thank God! b/c who know what we would have gotten. I have debated if we have another one if I will do u/s at all. I think my DH will want to know but the suprise appeals to me as well.
    Congrats on your new LO and I’m sure that this one wil be a blessing whoever they turn out to become!

  12. I head in for my 20 week scan this week.I was diagnosed officially with hyperemesis in pregnsncy at 16 weeks after a particularly horrific vomiting jag. I was very sick with my son( now 2) but never diagnosed and I improved sooner. I lived in denial for ten weeks this pregnancy subconsciously not counting how much I actually got sick. I lost 17 pounds from week 5 to week 16. I am not vomiting daily anymore but am so nauseous I can’t eat/ drink normally. I don’t know how I would do without iv fluids three times a week and zofran. I don’t want to stop either cold turkey to find out! Anyway this article summed up much of how I feel going for the us this week… I need something to remind me I’m pregnant not just battling an illness( that so few understand)

  13. I’m a borderline HG sufferer (everything but the vomiting – severe nausea almost through the second trimester, inability to eat without curling into a ball of misery, extreme weightloss) along with moderate to severe symphysis pubis dysfunction sufferer and you have my utmost respect for not letting it stop you from having the family you want. I totally understand the feeling that you are just managing an illness rather than bonding with a baby. With both of mine I have been completely unable to think of them as anything other than “that thing that I want to take care of because I know it’s my baby but right now it’s just the parasite making me the most miserable I have ever been in my life until I hold them for the first time. For me that has been the magical moment when it goes from being this source of pain that I am supposed to feel connected to to my precious precious sweet baby that I never want to let go. I can understand how the U/S could do that for people too, but for me it was never enough to break through the misery.

    We are struggling with the how many more can I make myself do this decision. I know we will have one more, I can’t bear the thought that this is my last baby, but although I always wanted a big family I just don’t know how many more times I can put myself through that hell. The SPD is also a factor since there is a small risk of increasing severity to the point of life long disability with each subsequent pregnancy. Right now we are thinking 3-5 total, we’ll see.