The first photos show a healthy Miller baby

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Husband-and-wife journalists Bob Miller and Callie Clark Miller share the same small house, work in the same office and somehow manage to cling to their sanity. Usually, the Southeast Missourian sweethearts offer their views on everyday issues, told from two different perspectives. This one was from Bob's point of view.

HE SAID: It may as well have been a bedroom.

The overhead light was turned off and a wall lamp gave a soft glow. Callie rested, laid back on a flat pillow. A computer screen flickered nearby.

But it wasn't a bedroom. This is the place where we will find out if we are having a boy or a girl.

I had just zoomed to the doctor's office from an electronics store where I picked up some CD-Rs so the ultrasound technician could download pictures of our baby.

This was a day Callie had been looking forward to for weeks, but we are both worried sick, multiple miscarriages still picking at our pessimistic minds.

The sex of our child is a secondary thought, but we made a big deal to everyone that we would find out the most basic identifying factor of our child to come. After this visit, we can identify "it" as a him or a her. If it is a girl, we can start calling her Maddox. If it is a boy, we'll have some more names to debate.

The technician gets right to work. First the clear goo, then the little hand-held sensor moving all around while the technician uses her other hand to click, click, tap, tap the keyboard. We've been through this drill many times before with some very bad outcomes.

I am sitting next to the wall, three feet or so away from my cute and talented wife, listening to the clicking, taking notes, but also watching Callie.

She is not comfortable. Her feet are hinged forward, hardly a relaxing posture. I mentally say a quick prayer for her.

It is hard thinking about the gender of our child while the Ultrasound Lady politely and professionally explains what she is eyeballing with her miracle machine.

We had been talking about wanting a girl. For me, it was about having a new experience. In a family surrounded by boys, I thought it might be neat to try something new, to have a little girl to spoil. Callie wanted a girl, too.

But I can't think about names and dresses when the good Ultrasound Lady starts clicking and measuring.

It doesn't take long for me to make out the shape of the head. I'll be darned, there is a live being growing inside my wife.

The technician measures the head. She types and clicks, measures the brain's circumference. She says everything looks normal.

I can't see Callie's face to see if she's crying, and I don't ask her. But I imagine she is. She won't take her eyes off that screen, not for a second.

The images swim on the screen, blurring in and out.

Then the technician stops the swimming image. She tells us there's the right arm. And then a hand. And all five fingers.

I hope the baby gets Callie's long fingers.

Baby's kidneys look good.

Callie is still looking at the screen, feet still hinged forward, legs tense.

Baby's legs are crossed. It's facing toward Callie's back, the Ultrasound Lady says.

With each report of normalcy, our minds ease some, and I start thinking about Barbie dolls or baseball bats.

Then the Ultrasound Lady announces that she's determined the sex of the child.

"Want to guess?" she asks.

"A girl," I say.

And that's where I end the story today. But I give you an invitation. Visit Callie's blog at semissourian.com or shethemagazine.com. There, you can see pictures and find out what we're having and join a discussion. Otherwise, you can find out next week in this space.

Thanks to everyone who has e-mailed and weighed in about names. The front runner for a girl is Kiele and for a boy it's Sawyer, but I think we've changed our minds again.

Thank you for all of your warm wishes and thoughts.

Bob Miller is the Southeast Missourian's managing editor. Callie Clark Miller has decided that learning Arabic would be easier than deciphering ultrasound images. Reach them at bmiller@semissourian.com or cmiller@semissourian.com.

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