Sitting in the doctor’s office that chilly, December afternoon, all I was thinking about was how pretty the decorations were. There were four or five trees in this one waiting room alone, and they were each adorned with sparkly lights and their own theme. One had a pinecone theme. Another was covered with the pink breast cancer ribbon. They were very festive, which fit with my happy, holiday mood.
This was my second visit to this OB-GYN office. I had been referred there by my regular doctor when a certain Monthly Event stopped showing up, despite the fact that I had been taking…ahem…preventative measures.
Now I’m nobody’s fool (although I do a strikingly good impression of it sometimes). This first month I went without this particular “Monthly Event,” I noticed. And when I say, “I noticed” I mean by day two of the no-show, I was going to the bathroom 20 times a day, hoping (wishing, praying, hoping some more) that it had finally shown up.
After waiting another 24 hours (still nothing), I couldn’t take it any longer. My stress level was too high and my patience was naturally on the thin side. I took an at-home pregnancy test. It came back negative. My stress level went back down.
Those results were further confirmed by my first trip to the OB-GYN. After performing an internal ultrasound (which is almost as comfortable as taking a ball point pen and shoving it up your nose as far as it will go), even the doctors didn’t find anything out of the ordinary. The words “endomentrial thickening” were thrown around, but they assured me that that probably meant my Monthly Event was on it’s way. My jittery nerved had been calm ever since then.
So on this second, follow-up visit to the OB-GYN — about one month after my last visit, and a full month and a half after that negative pregnancy test — I was not expecting anything surprising or out of the ordinary. Grandma M had come with me on her lunch break. I figured we’d go in, they’d run a few tests, throw some more medical jargon at me, and I’d be on my way. Maybe Grandma M and I would have time to have a quick lunch before she went back to work.
Eventually, they called my name and I went into the back. When we reached the ultrasound room, Grandma M stayed outside (it’s not something you want to witness, trust me) and I went in and got situated on the chair next to the ultrasound machine. The nurse performing the procedure angled the computer screen toward her (away from me) and began talking to me about holiday plans. We chatted happily about family, holiday traffic, Christmas presents, and other seasonally related things.
Then she asked me this: “So when did you take your last positive pregnancy test?”
Having had it confirmed twice that I was not pregnant, I let the “positive” keyword slip by. “Towards the beginning of November,” I answered, nonplussed. We began talking about how I was starting at a new university in January, while she pressed buttons, clicked the mouse and took still-shots of a screen I couldn’t see.
The next part went by in a blur. I’m constantly amazed that my entire life absolutely changed in less that 30 seconds. That’s all it took. It was one of those moments in life that happens in a flash and in slow motion at the same time. It went like this:
The nurse smiled and exclaimed, “Alright! Everything looks good. The heartbeat is strong.”
Heartbeat…heartbeat…heartbeat??? “Um, what?” I was totally confused. What had a heartbeat?
Next thing I knew, she was turning the screen toward me. “Would you like to see?” she asked me.
And then I saw this*:
It was you.
“What is that?” My heart rate sped up. I swear I could hear it accelerating.
“That’s your baby,” the nurse said, still smiling, but the first signs of confusion were visible in the creases of her forehead.
Silence. It was palpable. I didn’t know this until afterwards, but Grandma M (who had been listening to our chatter through the door, though she hadn’t been able to make out anything that was being said) thought the immediately discernible silence meant that they had found a symptom of ovarian cancer.
“I’m…pregnant? I’m pregnant?” I was frozen with shock. A tingly feeling was starting in the tips of my fingers and toes and was spreading steadily inward, and frozen though I felt, I realized I was shaking.
That poor nurse — she must have apologized to me a dozen times for “revealing” my pregnancy that way…she had no idea that I hadn’t known, and felt terrible that she had sprung it on me like that. I think I told her not to worry about it. By that point, I was so deeply in shock that I don’t remember what I said. But I remember that I told her I wanted to tell my mom. I remember that she printed off the still-shots she had taken of you (and labeled “baby,” you know, just in case anyone forgot) and said she would lead me to a private room so I could tell my mother.
I didn’t actually, verbally tell Grandma M. I just showed her your picture. She — overjoyed that I didn’t have ovarian cancer — wrapped me in a big, tight hug. And then I hyperventilated.
After reading about how shocked I was, I know this may be hard to believe, but I loved you from the second I saw my little black-and-white tadpole-baby and it’s tiny heartbeat. Oh, your heartbeat was the best. Hearing it became my favorite part of my OB-GYN visits later on. But I remember that day, December 22, 2009, I saw your heartbeat and I was amazed. I had helped to create life. I was no longer just me, I was me and someone else. I was going to have a baby. Better yet, I was going to have you.
No other Christmas present will ever top that one :)
————————*This is Little Man at 11 weeks, not the 8 weeks he was when I discovered him that day. His first ultrasound pictures had a fight with the scanner. They’re no longer on speaking terms.