So, I was pretty nervous about the ultrasound.
We opted out of all genetic testing leading up to now (a decision I'm still happy we made), so this was the big important first ever examination our baby was going to have by the medical world. We'd already decided to wait to find out the gender until the birth, so I didn't have that excitement to distract me from the potential for discovering problems. I was so nervous about it that I didn't even consider what the experience of seeing my baby move around on the screen would be like for me.
Let me backtrack here and also share that I had been waiting to have an emotional attachment response to my baby. That sounds like a terrible thing to say, but I thought that when I found out I was pregnant, I would feel this huge sense of love for the child I'm carrying...and I didn't. It was more like "I'm carrying a child? Where is it? My body looks the same. I feel the same." And then when I did start to feel the physical effects of pregnancy, they were not good. They made me cranky, tired, doubting of my physical abilities to do my normal routine, and generally pretty sick.
So then I thought "when we hear the heartbeat at 11 weeks, then I'll fall in love." And again, I didn't. It was nice and reassuring to know the baby was still alive inside me. It was a cute sound and it made me happy. But I didn't fall in love that day, and I was really hoping I would.
I started to doubt that I would have any emotional attachment until the birth. It was odd and I felt a bit defective, because I hear other women talk about how they loved their unborn babies from the moment they found out they had conceived, and I always thought I would be like those women. I've always wanted to be pregnant and really looked forward to this whole process, but I was having a hard time really believing there was an actual living human inside me. It felt a lot more like a persistent stomach virus than a baby.
I hit a wall at 17 weeks and got sad and discouraged. I had expected morning sickness to end with the first trimester, and it didn't at all. With each day that I spent hunched over my vomit pail, missing out on seeing people and being social, completely bored with laying on my left side but unable to find comfort in any other position, I started to hate being pregnant and wondered why I signed up for this. This lasted for about 3 weeks.
On the night before the ultrasound, full of anxiety, I laid in bed and started praying. I have a lot of friends who are hurting right now, specifically because they or someone they love is really sick. I know that God's love for my baby and everyone else is not dependent on whether He keeps us from going through trials, and I confessed that I was scared of Him and what He might decide to put us through. It was a pretty honest and raw place I was in. I had no words articulated, except "Jesus, please..."
And then--right then--an answer that I needed but wasn't asking for at the moment came: "You do love this baby."
What? Yes! Of course I did! Here I was begging for mercy on behalf of my little one, wanting so badly for him or her to be born strong and healthy with every chance to achieve anything they want in life, and it was my own proof to myself that I cared. That I was starting to become a real mother with all the motherly feelings and deep, deep love for the tiniest details about my baby's life. It wasn't a promise that everything would be alright and we would get a good report on the baby's health the next day, but my growing confidence in myself to have the love I need to face any hardships that may come definitely helped me walk into the office the next day with more peace than I had the night before.
Our ultrasound tech was less than friendly. She was a bit gruff at the beginning of the appointment and I tried to soften her and win her over with complementing her ultrasound skills. "I can't believe you know what you're looking at!" It sort of worked?
"Your baby is breech."
Thanks. I'm sure the next 20 weeks will allow for plenty of time for the baby to flip around once or twice.
"Head circumference looks good."
"Really?! Because we have a family history of anencephaly so I was worried..."
"The head looks really good."
"Heart looks good."
Then, a perfect strand of pearls arched down the baby's back. Moving in line with the kicks I was feeling.
"Spine looks good."
We have a family history of spina bifida too. More worries erased.
Two feet, two hands. A little birdcage of tiny ribs. A stomach, a diaphragm, and two kidneys. We got to see a perfect little skeleton wiggling around on the screen. I squeezed Tim's hand with each new relief. The reality of this baby's physical body and presence in our lives finally hit me in the deepest way. I was so happy.