Why do they only give you one pillow? My stomach is so large that laying down feels more like I’ve surrendered to gravity than true relaxation. I can’t see the monitor because this flimsy excuse of a pillow couldn’t possibly prop up anything and I can’t tuck my arm under my neck because I forgot to shave under my arms this morning. I lay here. The room is quiet and David and I make awkward conversation about the day, work, etc. Neither one of us wants to admit it but we’ve been both worried about this day. I’m 18 weeks pregnant and this is our first visit to the high-risk ultra-sound specialist. Today we find out if our child has any birth defects.
It is surprising how a miscarriage affects you. Prior to my failed pregnancy I never worried about any of the “risks” that were ever presented to me by my ob-gyn. But now, having experienced the disappointment and loss of a pregnancy, well it seems as if the possibility of something to go wrong is much greater and more acute. David and I have not purchased a single new item for this baby. We have had only non-commital discussions about names. There is this underlying feeling that if we plan we’ll lose this one too.
The doctor entered the room with purpose. He quickly cut the lights and sat down on the small stool in front of the monitor. Every action he took had the air of determination and experience, as if he had done this thousands of times and there was nothing even remotely high-risk or unusual about me. Without ceremony he turned on the ultra-sound monitor and there was the baby. No formal introductions or pre-cursors or fanfare. After two children and three pregnancies David and I no longer needed the guided tour, we instantly recognized the spine, fingers, toes, eyes, hands, nose, legs, arms and the quiet flutter of the heart. The doctor quickly moved around the womb snapping pictures and taking measurements. He unceremoniously announced that there were ten fingers, ten toes, normal brain development, average size, and no anatomical birth defects. Although it was early to say with absolute certainty that there was no Down’s Syndrome it appeared at this time that none of the usual markers were there. And by the way, it is a girl.
The whole appointment took less than twenty minutes and the doctor left as quickly as he had arrived. And yet in that twenty minutes my life has been forever changed. I’m having a baby. I’m having a little girl and she’s healthy. She has fingers and toes and she is growing like the miracle that she is. This pregnancy, this late surprise, this child that we never planned but always hoped would happen has altered me in a way that the other pregnancies have not. My time as a mother feels more temporary, fleeting and precious. This little girl – this angel that is growing inside of me – I hope she never leaves me.