Ancient History

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And the beat goes on

I had ultrasound #4 this morning. This time, it was the big anatomy scan, which was scheduled for almost three weeks later than normal. Better for visualizing the brain and organs, I was told weeks and weeks ago.

Today arrived.

It didn’t matter that I could feel the baby kicking as I ate banana bread oatmeal for breakfast.

It didn’t calm me that I could feel him move during the drive to the doctor’s office.

His prods didn’t ease my worry as I sat in the waiting room, ignoring the piles of magazines.

The tech took me to a dark little room just as she was paged to take a phone call on line 1143. She picked up the line in the room. It was her daughter’s school. No, she isn’t allergic to eggs. She’s allergic to nuts. Peanuts. The epipen is for peanuts. No, not eggs. Never for eggs. She isn’t allergic to eggs. Thanks for checking. Bye

I listened, but pretended to look at the bulletin board which was papered in black, white, and sepia images of hands and feet, profiles and 3D chubby cheeks, triplet embyros and perfectly placed IUDs. The office had already delivered three of my six children. I wondered if any of them were on the board? It’s impossible to recognize your own child’s four chambered heart, even if he is riding around under yours.

She motioned for me to sit on the papered reclining table. I did, still worried. I laid back. He blossomed into view, my flesh parted by sound waves. He seemed still. Sleeping, perhaps.

The first thing she checked was his status as a boy. It remains. It seemed odd that was the first stop on our grand tour of baby #7’s anatomy, but I guess that is what most parents ask about first? I just wanted to see his heart. I wanted to make sure he had both kidneys and a brain and a mouth that opened and closed.

I was grateful he hadn’t died between barely-tasted breakfast and the drive I can’t really remember. Or between the drive and the waiting room. Or between the waiting room and the table. A heart has to stop beating at one given point, my worry hissed.

Easily traced: My first pregnancy loss, over 3.5 years ago, was a missed miscarriage discovered at an ultrasound. That means I walked around for two weeks with a dead baby inside my body. In the following days and weeks, I tortured myself by wondering what exact moment my baby slipped away. Was I sleeping? Eating pie? Watching Inspector Clouseau? Singing Happy Birthday to Ryley? What if I was being a bad mom at that moment and yelling at the kids, or being a good mom and tenderly kissing a microscopic paper cut? Did I feel different for a fraction of a millisecond?

I am not the same person I was before that day. I’ve said it many times.

That is why I cannot go into an ultrasound room without forcing my foot to rise off the commercial grade aubergine carpeting of an OB practice, step in front of the other foot, and so on. I cannot lie back on the table without telling the tech, “I’ve seen dead babies.”

She has, too. It’s her job to part flesh with waves and peek into the darkness. It’s a scary place to go, not knowing what you’ll find. I think that’s why she asked, very seriously, if the baby is moving well. If I had said no, she might have felt her feet grow heavy as she walked to her stool.

Today, she and I saw a healthy baby boy. He has all organs, a brain, a tongue, a placenta for his sky and my bladder for his green grass. He reclined on his back. At one point, he had both his arms behind his head.

Not a care in the world, the tech laughed.

She gave six pictures to me. Here are two. The first is the classic leg shot I always love. The second is the crowd-pleasing profile with a bonus Very Very Very Full Bladder. Feel free to pee, my boy.



(the small text next to “BUTTON NOSE” reads “Like Ryley and Joel?”)

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