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Week 18

May20

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pregnancy calendarYour Baby:

  • Is about the size of a baked potato — five-and-a-half inches long.
  • Has actual cute little ears and working ear bones and can hear sounds through the amniotic fluid — similar to how things sound to you underwater.
  • Is moving, moving, moving. The baby is still small enough that you may not feel every kick and punch yet, but the movements will start getting less “bubble-like” and more “holy crap, that was totally a foot” pretty soon, if they aren’t already.

You:

  • May notice some dizziness from time to time, especially if you stand up too quickly or go too many hours without a good snack. Try to stay hydrated and remember to eat every few hours — good stuff like yogurt, nuts, fruits, veggies and cheese. Empty calories like chips and junk food will just make the dizziness worse, not better.
  • Might be getting a little uncomfortable at night. The best sleeping position for pregnancy is on your side (when you lie on your back you compress the blood flow to your uterus), but as your pelvis changes and your abdomen gets heavier this can get awfully hard on your hips and legs. Try sleeping with a small pillow between your knees or lower thighs — I finally grabbed a small decorative pillow from our bed and found it made all the difference in the world without taking up too much room or making me feel too hot at night like regular pillows or those full-body maternity pillows did last time. (While very comfortable, trying to roll over with one of those big things was just a giant exercise in AWK-WARD.)
  • Oh, and let’s discuss our bladders too. You might soon find yourself at that lovely stage when you just can’t seem to fully empty your bladder in a single bathroom run. I don’t know whether there’s just something baby-related blocking the exit or what, but I pee and then stand up and realize that I STILL have to pee. I remember hitting this point last time and using a trick Heather Armstrong described at Dooce — lean allllll the way forward while peeing, with your torso as parallel to the floor as you can manage. It really works, and now every time I pee I wonder how any woman ever managed to make it through pregnancy without the Internet.

At some point between 18 and 20 weeks, you’ll probably have an ultrasound. While more and more of us are getting at least one first-trimester ultrasound these days, the big midway-point ultrasound is still the first glimpse a lot of women get of their babies. (Midway-point. Really. We’re practically there, oh. Mygod.)

There really are a slew of medical reasons for this ultrasound since the baby’s organs are clearly visible and many medical issues and potential problems can be spotted, but of course, the Big Reason many of us get super jazzed about the ultrasound is because of the Big Reveal of the baby’s sex.

(Side note to everybody everywhere who talks about this ever: Sex is biological, as in male and female and X and Y chromosomes. Gender is a social construct of what constitutes feminine vs. masculine behavior. Therefore, you are learning the baby’s sex, not its gender. Thank you. Love, Amy’s Explody Head.)

Of course, sometimes your baby doesn’t cooperate and remains tightly leg-crossed throughout the exam. And it seems like everybody knows somebody who was told one thing at the ultrasound and were completely surprised with the other at birth. (I don’t, personally. At least not first-hand, or even a reliable second-hand. While I don’t doubt for a second that it DOESN’T happen, most of the instances I was warned about while stocking up on blue last time had a bit of that “my cousin’s roommate’s best friends” vibe to them.)

If you aren’t 100% convinced, scan those photos and get thee to the Internet, where there is a huuuuge community of armchair ultrasound experts who would be more than happy to analyze and interpret your child’s bits. (And know that third-trimester ultrasounds are becoming more common as well, particularly if you’re over 35 or go past your due date, and you can always ask for confirmation then as well.) (I totally did this, because omg! Didn’t you hear what happened to my friend’s cousin’s roommate’s best friends?)

If you DON’T want to know, you can still have the ultrasound and even keep your eyes open the whole time — just tell the technician to keep that area off the screen as much as possible and to offer no hints or interpretations. I was POSITIVE Noah was a girl for most of our ultrasound as the tech merrily moved the wand from place to place, checking measurements and organs. I have NO idea what I was really looking at, but it sure as hell wasn’t what I thought it was, because once he asked us if we wanted to know the sex and moved the wand to the correct area…well, there was noooooo mistaking that we had ourselves a son. But until I was told what I was specifically looking at, the only thing I could accurately identify most of the time was his giant head, and even then I probably might have been looking at his butt.
So what if ONE of you wants to know and the other one doesn’t? Well, as the mother and principal gestater, I tend to say you should get your way and be allowed to make the final call. But I know it’s not always that easy. I don’t have any super-creative ideas or solutions, since we’ve always been more or less in agreement. Jason has never once wavered on his desire to know as soon as possible with both pregnancies, and while he pretended to indulge my harebrained idea to not find out this time, he knows me well enough to know that when push came to shove and that baby was on the ultrasound screen, I would cave and beg and plead for a peek between the legs. (We all took our best guesses at 12 weeks, but will be getting another look and hopefully a for-sure answer at 20.)

The best solution for couples who disagree seems to be the “results in a sealed envelope” tactic. So if the hold-out changes his or her mind, you can choose to open the envelope together and ta-da! Hooray. Or you can send it through the paper shredder together and remove the temptation completely.

The thing is…you’ll be surprised at 18 weeks, or 20, or 40. If you love the mystery and the wait, then this is by far the biggest and most exciting mystery you’ll ever wait for. If you cannot stand not knowing as much as possible about this baby, knowing the sex can play a huge role in your prenatal bonding. I was hugely surprised last time at 19 weeks, and this time I’m feeling more and more like I’ll be getting another surprise at 20. Or maybe this baby will be modest and we’ll get our surprise at 40 weeks. There’s no real wrong answer here, provided that everything is healthy and fine and this little boy or girl stays put until he or she is fully cooked, amen.

Oh Yeah, This: The aforementioned bladder difficulties and the sudden importance of Kegel exercises. There is a certain baked-potato-sized human pummeling my bladder right now and every sneeze or burst of laughter or hell, just standing up to walk across the room is fraught with incontinent danger. AWESOME.

New This Time Around: Probably the biggest reason we’ve decided to find out the baby’s sex is because we’re clueless as to how to explain the baby to Noah without at least being able to describe it as a baby brother or sister. So far our attempts to talk with Noah about the baby in Mama’s belly have gone completely over his head — he might retain the vague notion that there’s a baby in there for a few minutes, but it’s not sinking in at all. We bought a “I’m a Big Brother!” book and I figure I’ll get him a toddler-sized baby doll and we’ll work on bottles and diapers and no, we don’t pick up babies by their eyeballs, honey, but beyond that, I’m still sensing he’ll be in for a HUGE WORLD-ROCKING SURPRISE in a few months, and I might as well be spending my time having deep telepathic conversations about babies with my dog.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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28 Responses to “Week 18”

  1. Sarah May 21 at 10:48 am Reply Reply

    so this can be less of the “cousin’s roommates best friends” variety (er…not that we know each other or anything, but)…my mom had 3 kids, 1 boy and 2 girls in that order. 3 different doctors told her she was having 1 girl and 2 boys…in that order. that was 27 – 20 years ago, but, there ya have it.

  2. hydrogeek May 21 at 12:26 pm Reply Reply

    About the peeing thing, leaning forward is good, but another thing I’ve found to help is to actually lift the belly up. My belly’s not even that big yet, but I remember discovering this towards the end of my last pregnancy, and viola, it works at 17 weeks just as well. The advantage is that after about 30 weeks there’s not so much ‘leaning forward’ anymore, ya know? Also, I dreamed last night about peeing on myself. Incontinence fears? Check.
    (Just a few more weeks until ultrasound time! SQUEEE!)

  3. Liesl May 21 at 12:47 pm Reply Reply

    I totally read that product coupon code as “Mo’ Meatloaf.”
    Not pregnant, just hungry.

  4. angela May 21 at 1:43 pm Reply Reply

    When we found out the sex we bought a doll for our son. He will pretend to feed the baby his juice and asks me to put the hat and blanket on. As far as being gentle he does OK, but he is only 18 months. When I ask him where Baby Isabella is he points to my belly button or lifts my shirt. I can ask him to give baby sister kisses and he gives my tummy kisses (more like raspberries). He just started saying baby when he sees a baby and he knows where Baby Isabella’s room is in the house. I am due in 3 weeks, so Noah will come around the more you talk about it. Your excitement will make him excited.

  5. Hanna May 24 at 1:03 am Reply Reply

    Hi Amy! I get so excited about the “telling the big brother about the new baby” stuff. We used the I’m a big brother book too (joanna cole?). But I also really loved having a copy of From Conception to Birth. My son, then 10-19 months, didn’t see all the pictures of course, but it helped him understand Mommy going to the hospital, etc. He loved to give my belly raspberries and “kiss the baby”. (2 more things, then I’ll shut up, promise!). We packed him a big brother bag with books and art supplies to bring to the hospital. He got to pick the bag and he colored a picture for his brother right after he got there. Lastly, Brit from Running Stitch has the cutest doll slings in her etsy shop that could go along with Noah’s doll.
    Thanks!

  6. LB Jul 08 at 11:09 am Reply Reply

    Hello! For those of you who want to get a great date night out of all of this, you can ask the sonogram technician to write down the baby’s sex and seal it in an envelope and then go out for a super-romantic dinner and open the envelope together then. Exciting and delicious!

  7. Tonya Sep 08 at 5:59 pm Reply Reply

    I am in my 18 week and have my next appointment (to hopefully find out the sex) on Sept. 23rd. Which is also my birthday. What an awesome birthday present. I have asked my mom if she would like to go to this appointment with us. I thought it would be cool for her to be there.
    P.S. I love this site!!!

  8. Expecting Two!! Sep 17 at 7:58 pm Reply Reply

    Tonya – I am (hopefully) going to find out on the 23rd as well! I will be 19 weeks…with TWINS!! Double prizes!! I hope there is no leg crossing on your birthday. What a great gift!
    By the way … I love this blog. My friend is 8 weeks behind me and I showed her this link and she too loves this site. We get some good laughs and fun info.

  9. Olivia Oct 20 at 9:12 am Reply Reply

    I just want to say I totally agree with you on the use of sex vs. gender. It bugs me to no end when a medical-type book or website uses gender instead of sex correctly.
    My ultra sound is next week and I’m hoping baby spreads ‘em wide!

  10. Sarah Mar 18 at 6:50 pm Reply Reply

    Don’t know if anyone can answer me but…
    I am 18w3d with twins! I felt them a bunch this weekend, but less the past few days- is this normal?

  11. Maria Apr 20 at 11:45 am Reply Reply

    Gender only refers to a social construct if you subscribe to a certain agenda regarding human sexuality. There are still a lot of us who believe it’s ingrained. Thanks, Maria’s Explody Head.

    • E. Jan 04 at 1:38 pm Reply Reply

      Do you also “believe” the earth is flat? FYI – you’re wrong about that too. This is not a matter of opinion.

    • Elizabeth Apr 18 at 1:02 am Reply Reply

      I am all for respecting other’s opinions, but referring to it as an “agenda” is disrespectful. I bet you don’t think of your beliefs as an agenda.

  12. Candace May 26 at 2:34 pm Reply Reply

    So my good friend was told at her 18 week ultrasound she was having a girl, and she got so excited she and her husband painted the nursery pink, like that weekend,…..only to find out 4 weeks later, you guessed it, it was a little boy. And I must say that little boy is quite delicious. But she was disappointed, then was feeling guilty for her disappointment, then pissed she bought pink paint and wasted a weekend painting a room with it. But they moved into a bigger house with a nursery pre-decorated, and by then she was so exhausted with a toddler and an infant, that kid moved right into that pre-decorated nursery and all was well. It was yellow (with blue accents) :)
    So do we think I learned from this and thought, let’s wait to buy paint until we have a second confirmation? Hell no! I was at Home Depot this weekend looking at different blues and greens, because I was told I was having a boy, and I have to say, he spread eagled and it was OBVIOUSLY a twig and berries, so I believe I am having a little precious baby boy. Besides I can make light blue work even with a little girl. Pink is pretty hard to make masculine, sorry Ralph Lauren.
    So I learn nothing from my first hand story of what’s baby’s sex confusion and instead choose to believe my sono tech’s prediciton made at 17 weeks (Odd timing I know, I have an odd work schedule….)
    It’s a boy! Yay! I still haven’t felt him move though….boo….but its my first so I am waiting! Still not quite sure what it will feel like, but definitely waiting!
    Ps. LOVE this calendar. Best thing on the internet, next to your blog Amalah :)

  13. Amy Jun 14 at 8:23 pm Reply Reply

    I’m pregnant w/ my second baby, and this time around I don’t want to know the sex. My husband does. So I am not finding out, but letting him name the baby. Everyone thinks I’ve lost my mind, but that was the deal.
    Unfortunately, the Star Trek movie came out recently, and now I’m getting nervous.

  14. Sarah Aug 17 at 9:19 am Reply Reply

    I can’t wait to feel the baby move! I’ve felt a few possible nudges but nothing I know for sure is the baby because I don’t know what it really feels like.
    We had an u/s last week at 17wks (follow up because of a thick nuchal translucency) and they confirmed it’s a boy – or a girl! We don’t want to know, so they just told us when to look away and made sure everything looked healthy and appropriate for one or the other.

  15. Cheryl Feb 11 at 3:41 pm Reply Reply

    I am 18 weeks pregnant with my second child. We did not find out the sex for my first. When my mother in law yelled, “It’s a boy!” as my son was born, I thought my heart would explode with joy.
    (Yes, my mother in law watched me push out a baby. No, that wasn’t the plan. Unfortunately, I went into labor 3 weeks early, and my out of state mother didn’t make it in time.)
    However, we wanted a boy, and, my husband being of Asian descent, his mother really wanted a boy, too (her first grandson). It was absolutely the best surprise I’ve ever had, and such a joyful moment.
    That said, we will be finding out the sex of this baby in two weeks, and I can hardly wait. We are hoping for a girl, so I can get the tubes all snipped and tied and be done with this baby business. (I’m 35 and Hubby is 40.)
    However, I suspect the excitement and surprise will be just as sweet in two weeks as it would be in July. I just need to know if we need to repaint my (step)daughter’s old room, or leave it pink!

  16. Emily Mar 25 at 8:13 am Reply Reply

    Belly lifting is very effective, I agree. I told my husband that a not quite empty bladder + stress incontinence + seasonal allergies = profit for Always.

  17. Courtney Apr 05 at 8:41 pm Reply Reply

    OMG, you just got such mad props for your gender vs. sex talk in this post. I have kind of given up explaining this to people. Except for when people are all, “Are you going to find out the gender?” And we’re like, “No, we’ll let the baby determine it’s own gender, thankyouverymuch!” 

  18. Stephanie Apr 15 at 1:40 pm Reply Reply

    If you’ve never heard a first hand account of mistaken sex from an ultrasound, here it is. Me! My mother had 2 ultrasounds and was told it was absolutely a boy. Well, I’m a girl, and I was nameless for three days because my patents never considered any girl names. There it is. Your firsthand account.

  19. Veronica May 10 at 10:03 pm Reply Reply

    I’m with Stephanie. All of my mom’s ultrasounds said I was a boy and when I was born, the doctor was completely shocked I was a girl. 

  20. Chloe May 22 at 9:20 pm Reply Reply

    A friend told me the other day that they planned on having more than one kid, and she wanted to know the gender and her husband didn’t, so he offered her a deal: she could either find out the gender for the first one, but then not the subsequent babies, or wait for the first one, and find out for those to follow. They wanted a big family, so she went with the latter option for better numbers.

  21. Ashley Jul 02 at 5:10 pm Reply Reply

    So my daughter’s father wanted to know and I didn’t. I left the room, she showed and told him. He let me believe it she was a bit the rest of the time. 

    I told him if I found out from him or anyone he told I was going to make him get waxed from the neck down. I never did find out, and was a little upset (at first) she was a girl when the doctor moved her umbilical cord to show me. 

  22. Kristina rose Davis Jul 04 at 5:13 pm Reply Reply

    i was born in 1979 and my mom never had ultrasounds, but the drs swore to my mom that i was a boy.  my parents named me timothy david and when i was born a girl, i went 3 days without a name.  they finally decided on Kristina Rose.  i think most of the stories that people hear are from days before ultrasounds were used.

  23. Bridget M. Jul 12 at 2:41 pm Reply Reply

    I just wanted to say thanks for making a point to differentiate between sex and gender. It’s one of my pet peeves that people use gender and sex interchangeably. I have my anatomy scan next Wednesday and we’ll learn the sex! 

    I have started to feel the baby over the past week (I’m 18 weeks today) and I have to say, it kind of feels like muscle twitches. You might say, “well they are probably muscle twitches…’ I don’t think so, they have been happening way to often and didn’t start until last week.
     

  24. Gabi Jul 12 at 6:56 pm Reply Reply

    I was working for cousins when one of their relatives had a baby, about 5 years ago.  They were told they were having a boy, and the baby was pronounced a boy at birth.  However, they had to take the baby back to the hospital a few days after going home because it wasn’t doing well.  Turns out that the baby had a serious condition and one of the side effects was that the genitals were massively swollen.  Instead of the boy they thought they had, the baby was actually a girl.  So, it’s not just old stories, or ones that come from uncertain readings of an ultrasound picture.

  25. Maree Nov 15 at 12:01 am Reply Reply

    Hi, I agree that a lot of the ‘wrong sex’ stories are probably old ones from when u/sound was less sophisticated. My kids’ godfather was told that his second was a girl but she was a ‘he’. Sadly his wife desperately wanted a girl and cried for days after the birth.

    Also the moments after my daughters birth when I didn’t know if she was a boy or a girl were lovely – definately worth the hassle of not knowing. My intuition has been wrong 3 times btw.

  26. NR Nov 20 at 5:25 pm Reply Reply

    So it’s not first hand like “it happened to me” but my first cousin was pregnant with what she was told was a little girl during her first pregnancy about 9 years ago. She had the pink nursery and all the girly clothing ready for the baby upon arrival. Well, baby comes out and it was a boy! Needless to say that the next 2 babies were surprises until they were born! 

    I’m pregnant with my 2nd and have been feeling the baby move for about a week! Yayy!! I have my ultrasound next week but I also had one done at 16 weeks (dr couldn’t find baby’s heartbeat and I almost had a panic attack from it) which showed we are having a boy. Hopefully that hasn’t changed since I’ve already bought baby bedding!! Lol

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