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07/20/2004

Finger up the ass: no extra charge

At last week's scan, a strange thing happened. As I lay on the table being rubbed all over with exotic unguents having my belly gelled up, I realized I wasn't scared and I wasn't excited. I felt only quiet. Patient, almost; calm, certainly — and expectant in the greater sense of the word.

When the midwife had a hard time finding the fetus with the transducer, I wasn't worried, and I didn't panic. Instead I felt this enormous sense of acceptance settle over me. Whatever would be, would be, and I knew I'd somehow be okay with that. I knew that if we didn't see a heartbeat, I would be devastated, of course, but I'd manage. Somehow. Like I have so far. Like all my strong friends have. We don't die from disappointment, much though we might sometimes wish it.

I felt peaceful.

And then we did see the heartbeat, and movement, and I felt excited again, almost elated. That wore off a few days after the scan, but the feeling of peace persisted. It's strange and comforting, and I hope to God it continues. I'm not confident yet. I'm far from fearless. But I've felt weirdly serene in the knowledge that I can take what comes.

...

Today I am ordering my first installment of maternity clothes. Although at 11 weeks it's way too early for me to be showing, I am, thanks to the diabolical complicity of Messrs. Ben and Jerry. I am well aware that the widening of my waist is due entirely to joyous overeating, since the fetus is now a mere 1.8" long. But whatever the reason, my pants are too small, and they'll only get smaller from here.

Starting later this week, you can expect to find me swaddled in some delightful pastel-colored confection, probably topped with a festive satin bow.

Or, bigger jeans.

...

The obstetrician put a gloved hand (or several digits thereof) inside my vagina to look for her lost car keys. Not finding them there, she apparently decided my rectum was the next most likely spot. Only after repeatedly clenching my sphincter failed to produce a telltale jingling did she grudgingly admit she'd probably left them up someone else's ass by mistake.

...

Today the doctor tried to hear the heartbeat with the fetal Doppler, but could hear only my heartbeat. She tried to locate it with a transabdominal scan, but could find nothing. "We'll have to do this the other way," she said.

The other way. The good way.

Again, this feeling of calm. I knew we might have trouble hearing the heartbeat with the Doppler because my uterus is extravagantly retroverted. I wasn't surprised that we couldn't see much with the transabdominal transducer because the nurse had had me empty my bladder. I didn't assume the worst. I lay patiently, splayed, admiring my own serenity, while the doctor sheathed the probe with a lubricious-sounding snap.

And my patience was rewarded.

Heartbeat: strong. Face: one. Head to the left, legs to the right, feet on the end as expected.

I was moved, of course, and thrilled. But more than anything, I wanted to take my child's chin lovingly in my hand — look at me, please, when I'm talking to you — and, in a firm but gentle tone, ask the little bastard where he's put the hamster.

Come February, someone's going to have a hell of a lot of explaining to do.

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