real life

Tuesday, feb. 3, 2009   |   0 comments

The evidence continues to mount that I have small something living and growing inside my lady parts.

When I got the first sonogram at week eleven, I wasn’t really convinced. I watched the doctor launch the probe up inside me, and on queue the familiar grainy baby-shaped visual appeared on the monitor, just as it had on every baby-having movie or televised drama I’ve ever seen. But it still felt fake somehow, like my own personal staged lunar landing.

this appears to still be happening?
See? What is that? It’s like a stamp carved out of a potato by a fourth grader. That could be anyone/thing!

I was lying very still — the instinctive response to being impaled on a seeing-eye pole — so the visual was completely, suspiciously static. “Is it alive?” I asked. The doctor laughed and pointed to the middle section of the baby shape and said, “See? There’s the heart.” I squinted and craned, and finally was able to see a teeny gnat flutter that I guess could pass as the first beginnings of a human heart, but it still had a very “low budget animation” feel, like when Conan does the thing with the talking-mouth video in the cutout of a static photo of a celebrity.

There was no evidence that this was my baby, inside my uterus. They could be flashing any old sonogram up there, what would I know?

But then! A couple weeks later they sent me to some other medical facility for the genetic counseling that they recommend for all dusty-wombed women over the age of 35. After chatting for a solid hour about the horrifically high chances of the baby having a number of different life-threatening and depressing defects, it was time to decide whether we wanted to move forward with the scary CVS test, a test which can rule out with 99% certainty a whole selection of sad outcomes, but which comes with its own not-great 1-in-600 risk of miscarriage. And really, is there anything more hilarious than trying to choose between two different statistical chances of various baby deaths and horrors? Also fun: the insane 5-inch needle they use to take the test, poking it right on through the stomach.

Ultimately, based on our need to not spend the rest of the pregnancy what-if-ing ourselves into a frenzy, Marco and I decided to go ahead with the test. Before the doctor arrived, a nice nurse with a pretty Russian accent set me up for the sonogram element of the procedure, which helps the doctor get a visual on what’s getting speared with the giant needle. The nurse forewent the dildo camera and instead lubed up the outsides of my belly and took a few swirling passes at me with a nubby massager looking thing. The familiar deep-sea image popped up on the monitor, and the baby already seemed much more developed, with actual individual fingers and everything. (Possibly the passage of time? Or maybe just a fancier monitor?) But, just like last time, the baby wasn’t doing much — just lying there, looking very “generic fetus everyman.”

The nurse left to go get the doctor, leaving the sonogram wand sitting in its holster…right there within easy reach of my curiosity fingers! Furtively I grabbed it and started massaging my belly, and again the monitor filled with baby-like shapes. I sat up a bit for a better look, and I could see the mild crunch squishing the baby’s living room. And in that instant the baby … squiggled, it’s little arms fluttering like flippers on a poked tadpole. I moved and it moved! Irrefutable evidence that what I was seeing was real and inside my me! I laughed and my stomach shook and it squiggled again.


I was just starting to process that huge thought when the doctor bustled in and quick like a quick thing I returned the wand to its home and turned to face the wall, my face innocent whistling mask of nothing to see here.

And then suddenly, just seconds after finally getting that this baby was maybe real, the whole needle thing was happening and the risks we were taking truly sunk in. I was horrified, and felt like fainting and barfing all at once, renaissance-style. But it was all over in a merciful few minutes, and there the doctor was, proudly showing me the vials of fluid and humanity that he’d managed to extract, whee. Then it was a mere matter of lying terrified and motionless on the couch for 24 hours, and then waiting another excruciating week-to-ten-days for the results. All very relaxing.

I was slip-sliding away at Sundance when the test-results woman finally called and very nicely came right out and trilled “Good news!” It seems that, to the best of science’s knowledge, the baby does not have any of the unhappy things (for example Downs Syndrome) that they are able to test for at this early stage.

I was of course hugely, gigantically relieved by the news, but there was also a new undercurrent of fear. This thing really is real. Mighty real. It turns out.

more words on: all knocked up


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