In the beginning

I forgot about this until a few days ago, but when I was about two months pregnant and had my first ultrasound, and we told our parents the news, my mother suggested I write something about what I was feeling, and then post it on my blog when I was ready to tell everyone else. This is what I wrote on February 15:

Yesterday was my first doctor’s appointment for this pregnancy, which I found out about in mid-January, after taking a home pregnancy test in the bathroom here at the McDonough’s house. Although I knew the thing was going to be positive – I hadn’t gotten my period when I’d expected to and felt a little sick – standing there waiting those interminable three minutes was still enough to nearly kill me. Or, at least, I was a little shaky.

And then there were those telling two lines and that was that. I was a little shocked, to be honest. I shouldn’t have been because, hey, I’m an educated grownup and J and I hadn’t been using birth control for a few months, and that means you can get pregnant. But somehow, for some reason, I thought it would take a lot longer, that it would be harder. And while we were excited about the prospect of having a baby, the actual fact was much more, you know, actual.

After I told J that afternoon he nearly threw up, I think, then…then we got excited. And decided not to tell anyone for a while, at least until I’d gone to the doctor and we’d confirmed, more than a home pregnancy test can do, that there was something in there.

J came with me to the doctor yesterday because I’ve seen television and movies and I know that the husband gets to come for that initial visit, when the doctor does an ultrasound and you check out the baby for the first time.

I was excited about this. First of all, it was Valentine’s Day, and while we didn’t have any other romantic plans in the works, going to the ob-gyn to see a tiny little baby seemed a lovely, and slightly humorous, way to spend the day. I was pretty calm – I’ve never minded going to the doctor – but I sensed J’s nerves and decided it couldn’t hurt to get him going even more by asking him if he was “pumped about his first visit to the gynecologist?” Was he “ready to hang out in the waiting room with all the ladies?”

I was also anxious to show J that if he didn’t like going to the doctor he had NOTHING to complain about because see those stirrups? I’m going to have to get naked with just a paper vest up top and a think paper blanket covering the rest of me and put my feet in those. I have to do this every year, I explained to him.

Luckily, the nurse midwife we saw had a good sense of humor and the entire experience was a lot of fun. She told us that when her husband came to her first prenatal visit, his face turned white and she worried that if he couldn’t take that, how was he going to make it through the birth? I told her I’d instructed J to remain on the side of the room where my head was, not the side of the room with the stirrups, a request he dutifully, happily agreed to.

We went through the normal stuff. She asked me how I was feeling, and I told her I’d had nausea, definitely, but that it wasn’t that bad. That I was a tired a lot but was learning to deal with it pretty well, taking lots of naps and going to sleep early. When she gave me a pelvic exam and felt my uterus, telling us it felt like I was eight weeks along, I was reminded of another symptom I’d been having due to the pressure that action put on my bladder – constantly needing to pee.

We all joked around some more, she told me things looked good so far and left to retrieve the portable ultrasound machine. When she came back she had J plug the bulky contraption into the wall, turned the screen on, squirted cold jelly on my abdomen and rubbed a wand with a flat, rectangular end over the area. “Just like in the movies,” said J.

I had a few seconds to be just a little nervous before the picture appeared. What if the tests had been wrong and I wasn’t pregnant or what if everything wasn’t ok? But sooner than I was able to truly substantiate these fears, there was something on the screen and the midwife was smiling and explaining it to me and J, because there was no way we would have been able to make sense of it on our own.

There was the head, she explained, as she measured its little body from top to bottom – eight weeks along, like she’d thought – and there, she said, pointing to a pulsating flash of light, was its heartbeat.

I had a good view of J’s face from where I was lying and watched him smile for what seemed like ten minutes straight and remark upon how cool that was and how the “heartbeat is so fast!” Little things, explained the midwife, have rapid heartbeats.

I know people have babies like every second of every day, and that humans have been doing so for thousands of years, and so I know that that moment, as unique as it was to us, certainly wasn’t the first of its kind. That its resonance in our life was, of course, noteworthy, but that billions of others have experienced this and billions will continue to experience this in the future.

Plus, I’m not a big fan of all that “pregnancy is magical” nonsense. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I realize it’s an amazing thing and I’ve loved every second of it so far – I can barely contain my excitement – it’s just that people get a little, you know, sappy. Touchy- feely.

But looking at that tiny, rapidly beating heart on the screen there in the doctor’s office, I found I didn’t have to worry about getting overly dramatic or feeling more special or anything than I should. It was simply, as J said, so cool. Such a moment of utter reality after weeks of vague feelings of nausea and fatigue and wondering what, exactly, was going on in there until yesterday, there it was. And instead of feeling worried about taking care of such a great responsibility, because yes, now the evidence was overwhelming – I was pregnant – I just felt really happy. Such a tiny little thing, and yet, so overwhelmingly amazing.