Ultrasound Misconceptions

Many, many thanks for the congratulations from everyone. Erin and I really appreciate them.

A few things about the ultrasound, by the way. Erin and I, when we showed up for it, did so with a few misconceptions. For example:

  1. It wouldn’t take long.
  2. We would both be present for most of it.
  3. Erin could keep her clothes on.
  4. We would happily and giddily stare at the screen while SmallBow’s features showed up plain as day.

That’s the way it works on television, so why wouldn’t work that way in real life?

I know. I’m an idiot.

So, they take us into the radiologist’s office, sit me in the waiting room, and tell me to wait. Erin goes off to take off her clothes, don a paper sheet, and have the ultrasound done. The radiologist and his or her techs have to do some measurements first, and I’m not a part of that. Erin’s not a part of that either, really. The screen gets turned away from her while the techs do their job. It turns out that the techs, being med students, are so strenuously barred from giving diagnostic information during this process that I’m frankly surprised they don’t show up to work gagged.

My mother warned me about this, actually. She said: “be sure to watch the tech’s face as they perform the ultrasound. They’re not supposed to say anything to you, so you’ll have to go by their facial expressions for clues.” Like a non-commital “hmm” is good, but eyes goggling out on horror is bad, I suppose.

But they have me in the waiting room, forestalling that cunning plan. So, I sit and wait.

And wait.

Why are the Readers’ Digest on the waiting room tables always more than three years old?

This is taking longer than I thought.

About an hour in, I’m starting to get a little nervous. An hour and fifteen minutes in, and I’m certain that SmallBow has two heads, and the radiologist and the techs are rehearsing how to break the news to me by way of a skit featuring sock puppets. I can only imagine what it was like for Erin who, at forty-five minutes, said to the tech, “you really, really, really need to speak to me, now.”

Nothing was wrong with the baby. Quite the contrary, SmallBow showed herself to be quite healthy and active. Very, very active, in fact, kicking and struggling and moving out of the way of the ultrasound every time they tried to take a measurement. She really did not want to have her picture taken. Student tech called in nurse and nurse called in experienced radiologist before they managed to get some (not all) of the measurements they wanted. They weren’t even able to determine the sex of the baby at that point.

Finally, they give up and call me in for the “let’s show daddy” part of the presentation. And I’m not sure if this is some omen, or if Erin being calmed by my presence was what calmed SmallBow, but Smallbow calmed right down, and not only were we able to get you the pictures you saw yesterday, we were able to make a good guess of the sex of the child and to finish off the measurements.

Oh, and one other misconception about the ultrasound: that the techs simply glide the wand smoothly over your belly with the help of gel. The gel exists, but it turns out that, to get some of the pictures, radiologists don’t glide that wand over the belly so much as practically try to insert it. From various angles. Erin was a little sore.

But we got the pictures, and the evidence suggests a textbook pregnancy so far.

Oh, and speaking of ultrasound misconceptions, I have this funny story.

So, I’m working in The New Quarterly office, which learned early about Erin’s pregnancy. So as I leave for an early ultrasound appointment, I happen to say, “So, I’m off to the ultrasound appointment!” To which a friend, who hadn’t yet been given the news, turned to me and said “Oooo! What’s wrong with your knee?”

I grin and say, “the ultrasound isn’t for me.”

This takes about a second to sink in, at which point the friend gasps and says, “You’re pregnant?”

“Yes,” I say. “Yes, I am.”

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