Ultrasounds weren't quite so detailed when were expecting our first child 23 years ago. There was a little tiny screen and the picture was sort of green and white. There was a pulsating bright spot -- the heart, I could tell that much... and little else.
But the woman reading it during the course of our last ultrasound appointment was pretty sure she could figure out the baby's gender.
"Do you want to know?" she asked my wife. But my wife didn't want to know and the exam continued.
I looked at the shifting, seemingly meaningless pattern on the teeny, tiny screen and offered what I was certain were helpful observations. "He sure is jumpin' around in there," I'd say. Or, "he sure is movin' today."
There was one thing Not Then Nearly As Long Suffering Spouse and I knew about this new baby: It would be a boy. All the first borns in our family were boys. I was a boy, for example. And my father -- he'd been a boy, too.
Actually, we didn't go back much farther than that.
But, still.... there was the little old lady test.
As you know, visibly pregnant women can be accosted by little old ladies in any public place. It's the law.
So if my wife was squeezing a cantaloupe in the grocery, a little old lady would feel free to come up to her and squeeze my wife's belly. In much the same way, I think.
"Oh, you're carrying a boy for sure," the old lady would say. "And that cantaloupe isn't ripe yet."
Things like this happened on a regular basis -- with different old ladies and not always with fruit -- and we became persuaded.
Besides, my wife's mother had a dream.
If you can't believe dreams what can you believe?
And, in my mother-in-law's dream, the baby was a boy.
So we knew. We knew.
The woman conducting the ultrasound respected our decision -- my wife's decision, actually, since, looking back, I'm pretty sure I was not consulted -- but after about the 15th or 50th of my helpful comments she did say, "I wouldn't get so used to saying 'he' if I were you."
Older Daughter is now 23.