what should be a normal, exciting and celebrated experience has kind of terrified me for the past three and a half years. with two of my pregnancies i had an early initial ultrasound and saw the flashing heart. both times i called christian to say how crazy it was to see a heart. both of those times i returned weeks later for a routine appointment.
the first time i was alone. i had told christian not to leave work early. it seemed like it was the logical plan since this would just be a quick check in. my doctor put the jelly on my stomach and eagerly searched for the heart beat. the minutes that passed were long, and grew heavier with each minute. we were silent, but those minutes seemed to be screaming at me. i stared at the ceiling, telling myself that this was normal. it’s a tiny heart. obviously it’d take a minute to locate it. but i already knew something was wrong before her hushed, “i’m sorry.”
she left the room only to return moments later with a better ultrasound machine and another doctor. both women confirmed what those heavy minutes were telling me. they asked if my husband was in the waiting room. he was not. i held it together as long as i could. driving the short distance on madison from swedish to our apartment i remember hating that the radio was on as i squinted to see through my tears. with one look at my face christian hung up the phone. we only had minutes to digest what was happening before my sister came home.
that ultrasound was the death of my expectations and hopes for that first pregnancy. that ultrasound was also the death of me seeing ultrasounds as anything but terrifying. the grainy black and white pictures that pop up all over social media have haunted me. when another pregnancy progressed to the point of a 12 week ultrasound i made sure to have christian there for what i expected to be bad news. and it was.
so many ultrasounds have happened between here and there. ultrasounds to ensure that my body expelled everything after choosing the misoprostol option. ultrasounds to check my follicles. ultrasounds to check my uterus and lining. ultrasounds to show me other pregnancies that were not meant to be. and this year, ultrasounds to watch a baby.
my doctor agreed to show me the baby weekly. remembering the loneliness from years ago, my friends banded together and came with me to each appointment when christian could not. i would be anxious the entire week leading up to it. which is to say, i was always anxious. i would pray for the baby to grow, but i’d fear that it would not be there. i spoke in terms like, if the baby is still there or if everything is still okay.
the first ultrasound to slowly ease my fear came at a time when the baby looked more like an armless gummy bear, or an engorged lima bean. my doctor prodded it. and then the nondescript blob on the screen squirmed. it did a legitimate wiggle. it was the most bizarre thing i had ever seen. i couldn’t stop thinking about it. the next week the blob had grown little stubby beginnings to arms and legs.
despite all of this and the fact that i was further than i’d been before, i was nervous. it didn’t seem real. or i wasn’t letting it seem real. several people who were due when i was announced their pregnancies during this time. i envied their carefree embracing of their pregnancies. i envied the lack of heartache pregnancy caused them.
and then i had the ultrasound to trump all ultrasounds.
last friday i saw a baby, arms, legs, fingers, thumbs and all doing awesome dance moves. i couldn’t take my eyes off of it, of him. up until that very moment i doubted he was in there. and here he was. resting one hand behind his head while the other tried unsuccessfully to get his thumb in his mouth. all of this movement, this life, was going on inside me and i had no idea. i wished i could take the monitor with me and check in with him each day.
that night i was excited for the first time in 18 weeks, give or take a few years.
otherside; macklemore – (remix with ryan lewis feat. fences)