I finally have time to myself and this is what it looks like: me sitting in a cold exam room, waiting. Things are backed up and I’ve been in this small room for way too long and it is freezing. I watch the fish in the tank on the wall opposite from me. He must spend day after day swimming around his small tank with nothing but a single green and pink fake plant to hide behind, staring at these same beige walls that I’ve been looking at for close to an hour. What does he think about? Who feeds him? Does he even have a name? How does he not go crazy?
There’s a poster on one wall- a beach scene showing two palm trees with a hammock hung between them. The word “Relax” is written across the sand. A taunt. How can I relax with goose bumps running the length of my arms; with the cold dread that has formed in the pit of my stomach forcing it’s way upward and the hard plastic chair numbing my thighs?
For a moment I think maybe they’ve forgotten about me and I consider opening the door and peaking out, maybe walking up and checking in with the nurse. I hear someone outside the door mention restarting some system. I hear the door of the room next to me open and another patient is deposited in her own sterile, frozen pod, told that there are two people ahead of her and that someone will be in to get her just as soon as they are available. I hope I am one of the two.
I flip through all the magazines in the rack, Fit Pregnancy, American Pregnancy, Web MD. Nothing new- what to eat, buy, say and do while pregnant, after your baby is born. I have already prepared myself for our worst case scenario and have already stored our meeting with the genetic counselor in a back compartment of my mind. Nothing new there either. Nothing they can tell us until they take another look.
Finally, there’s a knock on the door and the exam room opens slowly, in case I was perhaps standing directly behind the door needing time to move out of the way. A friendly blonde introduces herself to me and I promptly forget her name. We make our way into ultrasound room 2 and make small talk, go over why I’m there and what they’ll be looking at today. Nothing I didn’t already know. Nothing new.
Up on the plush chair, warm goo spread across my protruding stomach and then there he is on the screen. A perfect arcing spine. Amazing that he is already so perfectly and fully formed. Feet and hands- all the tiny bones in each digit already fit together just as they should be. She points out his little boy parts, also clear and perfectly formed. He doesn’t stop moving the entire time. He is constantly twisting and turning and reaching out, arching his little back and kicking his tiny legs around. He’s dancing and grooving in there and I can see each movement at the same time that I can feel him slurping and squirming and bumping around inside me.
The doctor knocks and enters and now it’s all business. She pulls up the close ups of baby boy’s heart in grayscale. He looks at the screen. She adds color. He continues to stare. I try not to hold my breath and look at the screen, trying to see what he sees as he sees it. “I’m not seeing anything here. No mixing of the blood. I’m looking at a perfectly formed, working heart. You’ve got a healthy baby boy.”
My whole body lightens as a weight I didn’t realize I’d been carrying around is suddenly lifted away. He takes another look, “Everything looks fine. You can stop worrying.” He barely glances my way, although he is not cold in any respect. He pats my leg reassuringly, turns and leaves the room. The ultrasound tech spends a few more minutes simply letting my see my healthy baby boy, weighing in at 1 lb 5 oz, and then she turns the machine off and everything else is routine. The doctor comes back in- paperwork, a few questions, a quick signature, I’m checking out, reaching for my parking pass as I exit the garage and then entering into the bright sunlight, singing as I wind my way home.
Nothing new. Everything. In an instant life resumes as planned. Less than a minute of staring at a picture on a screen and a quick signature signing off and everything is back to normal.