Erika Engle

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Having a womb with a view
is no longer an old joke

YOU can now see your baby's face before it's born, and the family can come along to see the show in a home-theater set-up at First Look Sonogram Hawaii Inc.

The 4D video or DVD of your pre-born baby, using ultrasound technology, will show his or her face, hands and movements in the womb.

The fourth dimension is "the addition of real-time movement," said Annette Clowes, who owns the business with Linda Kamaka O'Kalani-Orosco.

A traditional 2D sonogram "sends sound waves down to the actual bone and internal organs." The sound waves used in 3D bounce off the soft tissue, providing a picture of the baby, she said.

"The videos are great to help with bonding," especially for deployed dads or distant grandparents, said Clowes.

The two veteran obstetric nurses became licensees of California-based First Look Sonogram and opened shop last week at Ward Warehouse on the second floor above Cinnamon Girl. "There are escalators and elevators so the poor moms don't have to take the stairs," Clowes said in her English accent.

It's bad enough to see innovations in baby equipment that make you wonder, "why wasn't this around when my kids were babies?" but now they've gone too far.

Technology has rendered obsolete the precious black-and-white, skeletal-image-bearing pieces of thermal paper showing the first pictures of our children.

Such treasured slips of shiny paper provided the first glimpse of your columnist's daughter -- who currently sports about the same amount of hair she did then -- as well as the first pictures of the two heads, two rib cages and two sets of limbs that became your columnist's twin sons (Twins A and B, as they were officially known at the time). There was no medical reason to get a pre-partum picture of their eldest brother.

First Look offers customers two picture packages from 15-minute ultrasound sessions: $125 for two 3-by-5-inch photos, or $199 for a videotape to music and photos.

A DVD of the in utero music video costs an additional $35. Insurance does not cover any of the cost.

A doctor's clearance is required since the sonograms are not intended to replace the diagnostic 2D sonogram that is in wide use. "We need to know they're getting proper care," Clowes said. Appointments are also required.

A pregnancy should be between 28 and 33 weeks to get the souvenir sonogram, Clowes said. "Before 28 weeks, the picture is distorted because the baby's too small. After 33 weeks the baby starts heading down into the pelvis," making it difficult to get a good facial image.

The Web site shows comparisons of 2D, 3D and 4D images as well as before-and-after pictures of the fetuses-turned-babies.

Homeward bound

Hawaii Pacific University students won't be bringing home a Students in Free Enterprise, or SIFE competition award this time.

The so-called "Sensational 16" semifinalists were chosen yesterday at the national business competition in Kansas City, Mo., but neither HPU nor Brigham Young University-Hawaii was among them this time. HPU has been one of the 16 in two of the last three years, earning awards for student-conceived and -run businesses.

The entourage of 10 in HPU's team will stick around to find out who the overall winners are, according to Ken Schoolland, associate professor of economics.

HPU student projects submitted this time included Aloha Peace House, intended to bring Israeli and Palestinian youth together in Hawaii to focus on nonviolent communication, conflict resolution, teamwork and free enterprise.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at:


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