Why did I not know that an ultrasound requires that I take off my underwear?

Or that I would be asked to drink 32 ounces of water and not pee an hour before the appointment?

Or that I would want somebody to squeal with me when I saw my baby for the first time?

I arrived early this morning, simply because I knew I was going to have to let go of some of that 32 ounces very soon into my appointment. The receptionist was sympathetic: “Are you full?” she asked meaningfully. When I nodded mutely and squeezed my legs together more tightly, she reassured me, “Don’t worry, you only need a full bladder for the first ten minutes of the ultrasound.” She failed to mention that those ten minutes would involve somebody pressing on my bladder in every direction possible with the ultrasound probe. (The next 20 minutes of the exam involved an internal probe, and the technician, saying things like, “Oh, looks like your bladder’s filling up again, why don’t we take a quick break so you can empty it [again].”)

In any case, “T”, the radiology tech, led me down a well-decorated hallway to another waiting room with four small dressing rooms. She gave me my hospital robe and asked me to take everything off from my waist down and to lock up my goods. No, she didn’t actually say “goods,” but I did have to lock up my possessions in a full-length wooden locker. The dressing room was nice; it had matching keys and wristbands, a little bench, hooks, and even a full-length mirror. I swear, the best part about moving to Orange County is that even a visit to a medical laboratory feels like a visit to a spa.

Then we got down to business. I was on my back with the stereotypical goo being smeared all over my belly and I couldn’t see the monitor at all. I lay there admiring the artwork – and I wondered if the baby was even alive inside me. This has been my greatest fear. I have felt great and very pregnant, which logically leads me to believe that the pregnancy is viable, but the point of all these tests has been to verify my pregnancy’s viability, and I have secretly been worried that I was carrying a dead fetus. So, after a few minutes passed, I asked if “T” could see a heart beat. She made an indeterminate sound in her throat. And then clarified that as she is not a doctor there are many, many things she is not allowed to discuss with me, including whether everything looks normal.

Finally, she got to the point in her speech where she wrapped it up with, “At the end, I can show you the fetus on the monitor and tell you how long it measures and your expected due date.”

So, I waited. And concentrated on not peeing.

And this is not to say that “T” was rude in any way, on the contrary, she was very pleasant. I imagine that she did not suspect my darkest thoughts, and so did not know to reassure me.

And then, she turned the monitor to me and pointed, “This is the fetus.”

I gaped.

What I saw on the monitor was wiggling and turning and kicking like a squirmy little baby! Alive! And moving! There was a head! Arms! Legs! and I could even see the small spot on its chest that pixelated regularly on the screen; that was the heart beat. The spine too; I could see the spine.
I have not spoken to the midwife about any of my test results yet, but I have seen with my own eyes that the baby is properly inside my uterus, alive and kicking.

The baby is 5.5 cm long, which means that I am not 6-8 weeks pregnant, but 12 weeks gone. The estimated due date is June 3, 2008.

Sorry, no ultrasound pics; the machine was new and the printer hadn’t been hooked up yet, but you can see pics of somebody else’s 12-week old fetus here.

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