You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
-Psalm 139: 13
From the time I saw those two lines I wanted more information. What did this mean? Really. I wanted an ultrasound so we could get to the bottom of what was really going on.
I didn't get one at my first appointment and waited impatiently for the second one. I didn't feel like I could really accept that I was going to have a baby until I actually saw that there was a legitimate baby growing inside me.
While I was relieved that this first sonogram would be performed by a highly skilled OB, I was nervous about the actual encounter. First of all, he is a man. I usually refrain from allowing men that kind of access. (Women too, actually, but I more easily make exceptions for female doctors.) Also, a couple of my friends already warned me about their bad experiences with this particular doctor. I had hoped I would be scheduled with someone else in the practice.
Not having my doctor of choice only added to my anxiety about this appointment. I was afraid my uterus would be empty, or implanted with something unable to grow into an actual baby. And what if it was a baby, but without a heartbeat? The midwife was sure there would be a heartbeat, but I wasn't.
Several of my friends tried to assure me that there are several legitimate reasons why a heartbeat couldn't be detected that early. Namely, if I wasn't as pregnant (as far along) as I thought I was. I tried not to get my hopes up about a heartbeat, but from everything I read and knew about the timing of everything, I knew there should be a heartbeat. (Although I conceded that my not-being-able-to-get-pregnant calculations were obviously wrong, so maybe I was just COMPLETELY wrong about everything going on inside my body.)
I tried to control my anxiety about everything as I waited for the appointment. I would just feel so much better if I knew, I thought. Johnie and I had planned a fun April Fools Day announcement to our friends and family. But I wanted to chicken out. Why not wait until after we see a heartbeat and make a less fun announcement?
But after I saw the heartbeat, then I'd worry about some other thing and want to wait until after that thing was resolved before telling people. I talked with Johnie and as we kept playing out the "wait until" scenario for telling, we got to the point at which I delivered the baby and thought we might as well just have some April Fools Day fun and pay whatever potential consequences the following day at the appointment.
It was a long day of waiting. I couldn't really find the energy to do anything but wait that day. (And think. And pray.) Finally it came close enough to an acceptable time to leave the house and we got in the car and headed toward Lexington.
At the doctor's office, I waited and waited. My nerves would get the best of me and I would start crying as I waited, playing out all the possible scenarios in my head. Then I would try to pull it together so I wouldn't be crying when they called me back. Then I would start crying again because they STILL hadn't called me back. Then I would straighten up again. And again. I worried maybe they missed my arrival or my appointment. Or that I would find out the doctor wasn't there or the ultrasound machine wasn't working... and I'd just have to wait another week.
Friends were texting me well wishes throughout this time, which calmed me... and also made me cry. And then I'd pull that together.
(It was only 45 minutes... I'm not so good with waiting.)
And then I finally got called back and had to do those enjoyable things like pee in a cup (I had been waiting for that too), and have my weight displayed and... while I was getting my blood pressure taken and trying to will it to be low, I was given the following information: "The doctor has a student shadowing him this week. Would it be okay if he is also with you for the ultrasound?"
Another boy?!? Blood pressure, stay down. Where would he stand? What would he do? Stay calm, blood pressure. Should I ask Johnie what he thinks? No, I need to make this decision myself. I really don't want anyone else in there. But am I being unreasonable? I mean, he's a student trying to learn. Should I just say its okay and get over it? Is this affecting my blood pressure? Why would they ask me this while taking my blood pressure?! Are they finished with my blood pressure reading yet? What happens if it's high? Will they be mad if I say the student can't come in? I'm just going to say it...
The nurse was really sweet and early in my mental acrobatics she added, "No pressure, and it's your decision." Currently she was trying really hard to focus on a chart and not make eye contact. In case maybe I might feel intimidated?
"I'd really prefer if he didn't, if that's okay."
And the blood pressure was normal. Whew.
Then I went into the ultrasound room and waited some more for the doctor to actually come in. I'd start my nervous cry again and then clear it up when I heard rustling, and then the tears would well up again when the door didn't open.
I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself of everyone who was praying. And of God who was with me in that room. And I still really wanted to see inside my uterus once and for all, but I felt more calm and peaceful.
After what was probably only 5 minutes or so, the doctor came in. And I immediately liked him. He was warm and friendly and shook our hands. He seemed grandfatherly and that only increased when he actually started talking about his grandkids within two minutes of meeting us.
The ultrasound got underway quickly.
I thought seeing my baby for the first time -- with a heartbeat, especially -- would cause some sort of maternal bubble to explode inside of me and I would immediately feel overwhelming, inexpressible love. I thought Johnie and I would instinctively grab one another and cry tears of joy.
But that little blob came up on the screen, and this is how it went down:
That's the baby! Okay, so I really am pregnant. I really am. That little flickering thing, that's the heartbeat. My baby has a heartbeat! It's little heart is beating!
"You're seeing the miracle of life," the doctor said. "See that flickering? That's the heart."
Okay, so I really am pregnant. And the heart is beating!
"Can you see the heartbeat, dad?"
I heard a muffled yes from behind me.
This is the weirdest thing. I have a baby inside my body. I really do. Look at that little heart beating! How can they even tell this is a baby? I wonder which end is the head? I wonder where the baby is at inside my uterus?
"Okay, now we're just going to check your ovaries."
Wait! Just let me watch the baby for a few minutes! My ovaries? That might be cool to see.
"Here's your right one. Looks normal. And over here... your left one. You got pregnant from your left ovary."
You can tell that?! That's where I had the pain! I do know what's going on with me. In your face doctors who didn't believe me!
The baby came back on screen.
Oh, it's the baby! I really am pregnant. I have a baby inside me. Right now. A real live baby. With a heartbeat and everything. God, I can't believe this. I really am pregnant. I really am. This is for real. This is a big deal. Like, major. I'm really pregnant.
It all felt way more clinical and detached than I thought it would. I couldn't believe we were looking inside my body.
Then the ultrasound was over and the doctor talked to us for a few minutes. He said some of the sweetest, most reassuring things, telling me I hadn't made any mistakes and that the Great Physician was in control. And he listened to me and confirmed what I thought about what was going on.
He had said a lot of things during the ultrasound that I didn't understand (dictating notes to the nurse). He never said anything was bad or sounded alarmed, but I wanted to make sure. "Was there anything that looked abnormal or raised any red flags?"
He assured me everything was normal.
I was left alone to clean up and get ready to see my normal midwife. I looked back at Johnie who was staring down at the baby pictures in tears. "I don't know why I'm so emotional," he said.
So my husband cried at the sight of our baby's heartbeat and I could only stare in shock.
I laughed. "I have some idea. You just saw your baby, and it's beating heart, for the first time. I think it's pretty normal. And sweet."
The midwife, knowing our situation, asked me if I had been able to come to terms with the pregnancy any more in the last week.
And then I teared up, "That's a hard question. I feel like I've only really known I'm pregnant for about five minutes."
They took multiple vials of blood from me that day to test for all sorts of lupus-related possible pregnancy issues and I was cleared to not come back for another month. I was thankful to not have to go back for several weeks, but did not settle in comfortably for another month of waiting.