Ultrasounds are pretty fancy. Also, baby news.

Coming back online after hiatus.

My wife and I are expecting our first son in January! So that is why I've taken a bit of a break from writing of late.

Shortly after learning the news, things got a bit crazy. If you are interested in crazy, have yourself or your SO get pregnant relatively late in life as a pseudo-documented immigrant in a foreign country. Also, make sure that country's government has shut down certain services because of a global pandemic. Finally, limit your ability to speak the local language to a half year of 15 minute daily sessions of Duolingo each morning.

So that's what I've been doing. But I'm getting back to writing this week. So I figure I should write a few posts on some of my statistical modeling-related insights into the prenatal experience.

Ultra-precise ultrasounds

Whenever I've worked with domain experts using some measurement device, I've often found myself impressed with the device's precision. It's pretty amazing how much engineers can denoise a sensor reading over a few decades. But ultrasounds are something else altogether.

I was expecting to see something like an animated Rorschach test. But we saw the fetus in astonishing detail. The software could even assemble several 2D ultrasound images into a 3D image. I'm not sure what the use case for 3D fetal imaging is; perhaps it's good for indicating issues to the doctor. Though, for us as budding parents, it was more on the side of mildly creepy.

However, seeing and hearing the heartbeat for the first time was pretty earthshaking. The second time, not so much. During our third visit, I was expecting just to pop in and make sure there was still a baby in there. But seeing it (I'm not quite at "him" yet, not sure why) move around and try to suck its thumb was surreal.

On the other hand, there is no way to validate what we saw in the ultrasound. For all we know, their device broke the week before, and they're playing a recorded image.

That's my tech startup cynicism talking; I suspect every fancy tech demo might just be stage-managed vaporware.