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PRENATAL PHOTOGRAPHY: A womb with a view

BY JENNIFER BOTT
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

Excerpts from May 6, 2004

It's Annabel Bean's first portrait.

"That's a girl. Good girl, sweetie," coos the woman capturing the keepsake.

Annabel -- who has her mother's mouth and her brother's chin -- sleepily nudges her chubby hand under her equally fat cheek.

Mom Missy Bean beams: "Isn't she cute?"

Annabel is undeniably adorable -- and still nearly six weeks away from being born.

"I'm just even more excited to meet her now."

Thanks to some pricey, high-tech ultrasound machines, the world of children's photography has entered the womb.

As part of a growing trend that targets parents willing to spend, ultrasound imaging stores like Oh Baby in West Bloomfield are popping up in strip malls across the country.

The images produced with high-quality ink on photo-quality paper are amazingly clear and nothing like traditional two-dimensional, skeleton-like ultrasound snapshots that spit out of machines during routine medical check-ups.

Instead, with the 3-D and 4-D ultrasound versions, parents get a glimpse of a button nose or swirling hairline weeks before the due date.

At Oh Baby, portrait packages start at $180 for two 4-by-6 and 8 wallet-sized photos. For $400, customers get the deluxe package, which includes a compact disc of photos set to music.

For Missy Bean, 38, of Huntington Woods, the experience was not only exciting, but relieving. Seeing Annabel helped alleviate some of her typical third-trimester concerns, she said. It also helped Bean's two children bond with their yet-to-be-born sister.

"The coolest part is the CD," she said. "My husband, kids and I watch it every night."

Bean said she was completely comfortable getting her Oh Baby photos and she doesn't suspect seeing her daughter will take anything away from the big birth day in June.

"I still don't know the color of her eyes or her hair," she said, rubbing her ever-growing tummy.

"I'm just even more excited to meet her now."

JENNIFER BOTT
Photos by Patricia Beck/Detroit Free Press

Copyright 2004 Detroit Free Press Inc.

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