So last week I had my first OB/GYN appointment– technically, the first one I’ve ever had in my life, because the gal who delivered Maren was actually a family practice doctor, and then she was actually a first year resident (nothing against residents, but you should really tell your high-risk first time moms that you may or may not be able to actually be present at the BIG EVENT because of a very nasty rotation schedule. Just sayin).
Anyway– I’ve been having lots of anxiety about this whole process because of my terrible labor and birth experience last time. Usually, in this kind of situation I armor myself with research and get my book-learnin’ on and walk in guns blazing. But, for some reason, this time I’ve chosen the head-in-the-sand approach. I don’t even want to think about what’s about to happen to my body– and probably it’s because last time I did all the research and had the birth plan typed up, and my doctors were all “Oh, now isn’t that just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?” While reaching for the epidural, forceps, and scalpel.
So at this first appointment, I told my doctor all of this. I told her that I was absolutely terrified for many reasons— my terrible experience last time, PLUS the fact that I have no idea when I got pregnant this time… so who knows what I could have been exposing the little nugget too. Those mistletoe martinis I greatly enjoyed over Christmas will now always be tainted by green shades of guilt.
She was very nice, very understanding, and did all kinds of checking and clucking and reassuring. She asked me about my tattoos, which is always nice from a doctor, and was interested in hearing Maren’s entire birth story start to finish– which is great because I like telling it and it’s four days long.
Then we did the exam, and I did a lot of staring at the ceiling and pretending that the lower half of my body belonged to someone else and the top half of my body was reclining on a beach. The ‘little pinch’ always makes me wonder if these doctors have ever had these exams themselves. Because if I pinched my husband like that, like, say, because he wasn’t wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day– especially DOWN THERE– I’m pretty sure I’d be in time out for a long time. And St. Patrick’s Day would be banished from our household. And possibly also the month of March.
Anyway– as she was feeling around down there, she told me that everything looked great, but that she was thinking I was probably only about eight weeks along.
I stared at her like she was speaking Klingon.
“But I had a positive pregnancy test more than eight weeks ago.” I said.
“Well, there’s a couple options here– and the most likely one is that I’m wrong.” She said straight out, which I really, really liked– there is no type of person on the planet that I detest more than someone who can’t admit that they have the propensity for wrongness.
We scheduled an ultrasound for the next week, and I went home to stew.
I figured that there were three real possibilities here. One, as she said, was that she was wrong. Second, maybe I WAS pregnant, miscarried, and then immediately got pregnant again– because that is TOTALLY something that would happen to me.
OR….. of course….. maybe this baby had stopped growing. So maybe I was about to get very bad news.
Part of Minnesota Adrienne’s new job is to be brave. I just read a book where the mom told the little boy that “Scared is what you’re feeling, but brave is what you’re doing.” And so the little boy started trying to be ‘scave.’ That is my new job now, because Mitch’s new job is a lot more demanding than his old one. It’s harder for him to come to appointments then it used to be, and it’s not as easy for him to come home early if I need him too. So I went to this appointment alone, trying to stay calm, and knowing that I might have to go home to my toddler and hide my sad and scaredness for the rest of the night till Mitch got home.
I laid down on the table and the Chatty Cathy ultrasound tech put the wand on me and pressed some buttons on her machine. Then she froze the screen and said, “Okay, you can get up and pee.”
I couldn’t look at her. If any of you have had an ultrasound before, you know how awful that sounded to me– I thought the ultrasound was over, they were letting me excuse myself for a moment and calling my doctor, and that was it.
I looked back at the screen and said, shakily, “Is….. is that heartbeat?” And pointed at the little flicker of beautiful in the middle of my baby’s chest.
“Oh, God, yes, I’m sorry!” She said. “Yes, their heart is beating just fine, beautifully! I just see that your bladder is very full, and you’re far enough along that we don’t need it to be that full, if you want to be more comfortable.”
I wonder sometimes what it is like to have this kind of job– where you have to deal with emotional crazy women all day long. Women who know that if it’s BAD news, you can’t say anything. I’ll bet that if that was my job, all I would do is find happy good things to say and I would chatter away the whole time.
And I cried, just like with Maren. The heartbeat was winking at me, a little miracle that biology has never been able to make plain to me. Mitch and I had a good night a few months ago and now there is a HEART BEATING.
I went to the bathroom, fought the urge to call Mitch, and went back and laid down. She put her wand on my tummy and I knew that I was looking at legs. And parts.
Because I’ve had a daughter, and because I’m an avid reader of STFU, Parents, I am familiar with ultrasounds– not that I’m an expert– but I can kind of reason things out. I must have had a look of dawning comprehension on my face, because the ultrasound tech said, very quickly,
“Um… if we can determine the gender, do you want to know?”
And I knew.
“Is that…. that’s a boy.” I said, and she laughed, and said:
“Your little girl is going to have a brother.”
And he moved, and turned his little face so it was facing the wand, and I could see the mask of my husband’s face staring back at me. Maren had it too, and when she was born she looked so much like her Dad that I used to put them next to each other all the time just so I could look at them. I wanted to put my hands around my belly and tell him– I see you….
Mitch is thrilled. I’m thrilled. Maren’s thrilled, even though we’re pretty sure she doesn’t know what it really means. Every other thought I have these days contains the words, “My son” in them. I close my eyes and picture my husband as a little boy– bright blond hair, huge rosy cheeks, and a huge gap toothed grin. So, basically how he looks now. Only slightly smaller. I keep thinking about my own brother, who was my best friend growing up, and my hero today. I am building that for Maren right now.
Obviously, what ended up being was that my doctor and I were both wrong. As it turns out, I’m more like 15-16 weeks along, further than either my doctor or I thought. I’m trying not to worry about any sushi or alcohol consumed before I knew I was pregnant, and trying instead to focus on the fact that almost half my second pregnancy is over. This is real life.
My official due date is August 25th.