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My Sonogram Scares Me

Is it normal for babies to have a recessed chin and the appearance of an overbite? I am twenty-three weeks pregnant with my first baby boy and he appears to have both of these characteristics in the last two sonograms. I’m embarrassed to even ask this and feel guilty for doing so, but for some reason I’ve been obsessing over this since my last sonogram. My primary concern is the overbite that appears to be present. Is this normal or is the recessed chin making the overbite appear stronger?

One more silly question, the ultrasound technician commented (unsolicited) on how large and “prominent and sharp” the baby’s nose is. In the first picture, I don’t see it. But the second picture I can see where she would say that. Does his nose look uncommonly sharp and prominent to you? I couldn’t believe she actually commented on such a thing.

- Pretty on the Inside?

Dear Pretty,

Yours is a very common concern. In fact, it’s so common we have already answered a similar question.

As we discussed in that column, there’s no reason to believe that your son’s facial particularities will be extreme or unattractive later in life. He’s only twenty-three weeks! That little half-baked face will change as he grows, and it’s not going to expand exponentially at precisely the same angles.

Believe us, we know; we both had the exact same fears during our pregnancies. One of us spent months wondering whether her daughter was going to come out looking like one of the Simpsons. Okay, she might have made a pretty good Maggie early on, and we’re not expecting to escape without orthodontics. But the overbite we fretted about in utero has turned out to be part of what makes her cute. More so, it’s part of what makes her HER.

We don’t know what the ultrasound technician was thinking when she opted to comment on your son’s features. Maybe she thought she was complimenting him (one woman’s hawk is another woman’s aquiline). Maybe she has some deep subconscious resentment or envy of sharp noses leftover from her childhood. Who knows? Whatever was going on in her head, she probably should have kept her mouth shut. Every flicker of the eyeball on the face of an ultrasound technician can trigger waves of anxiety in the person on the table.

Ultrasound technology has lots of advantages - and sometimes makes people feel more bonded to their fetuses - but it can also freak us out. We’re looking through a tiny, blurry windowpane into a work in progress. A completely random comment can easily be interpreted as disastrous. There’s no reason to feel guilty. You, like every pregnant woman who’s come before you, are just hoping that things turn out okay for your kid. This episode has suddenly focused that well-intentioned desire entirely upon the possibly imperfect curvature of a prenatal nose. Do your best to put the technician’s loaded, but ultimately meaningless, words out of your head.

Perhaps you should do the same with those premature baby pictures. If they’re giving you anxiety, there’s no reason to scrutinize them or even look at them. We’ve come to think it’s important to see our babies’ images before birth, but is it really? Parents have been perfectly well attached to their babies for centuries before we started giving them those tiny blurry photocopies to hug and hold beforehand. This snapshot is a moment in time, at a time when your baby is far from fully developed. You’ve probably seen snapshots of yourself that highlight features you’d rather not focus on. Imagine if your appearance were being judged solely on one moment’s image, and a glowing negative skeletal silhouette at that?!

Babies are engineered for cuteness to ensure that the adults around them give them the care they need. Fetuses enjoy no such evolutionary benefits. Give him some time. Your baby may not be quite ready for his close up yet, but we’re betting that a few months down the line, the magic of twinkling eyes and baby fat will have you wondering . . . why you ever worried.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, that nose doesn’t look particularly prominent to us.

Have a question? Email beingpregnant@babble.com

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