Friday, October 14, 2005

A Week before the Book Tour

A week before the book tour, we were in the small room with the doors at either end.
“Well,” said Dr K, setting up for the 12 week ultrasound, typing things into his machine, like the baby’s starting date. “Well, we got your blood test results and they –”
The door on the left burst open, and a happy woman leaned in and exclaimed, “What can we get you for lunch!”
Dr K. seemed shy about deciding on his lunch. Or else not shy, maybe he just didn’t know what he felt like. He shrugged helplessly, and they talked about sandwiches and salads. “Just a soup,” he said, a little depressed. “I don’t like any of their sandwiches.”
“Nothing else! Just a soup! But you’ll be hungry later on!”
But Dr K did not want anything else.
Eventually, she closed the door and Dr K repeated, “Well, we got your blood test results and they were fine. They were all fine.”
So now the room breathed a sigh of relief.
Next thing he had the panel on my stomach and there was a baby on the screen. It was a real baby, resting quietly, holding a hand up in the air.
We looked up at Dr K.
“Well,” he said, “that looks -”
The door on the right swung open and the same friendly woman said, “We’ve decided we’re getting you a salad as well!” There was something playful and mischievous about her tone, as if she knew she was being a bit forward with the teacher. “We’ve decided you’re going to be hungry! You can’t just have soup and nothing else!”
There was more talk about lunch while we stared at the baby on the screen.
I was realising you could see the baby’s spine. It was illuminated, a shining, white bone, like when you wear white under dance lights.
The door closed and the friendly woman was gone.
“Well,” said Dr K, “that all looks normal.”
He started doing measurements, spinning a ruler around on the screen. I thought: that does not look very precise. But there’s a certificate on the wall above the screen which says Dr K is certified.
He said, your baby’s about 5 cm long.
Then he switched on the sound and we got to hear the pounding heartbeat. It was powerful and filled up the room. Women like to hear that. Colin liked it too, he’s a man. His smile was filling the room.
Before we left, there were more blood tests down the hall, for genetic disorders. A large, friendly German woman took the blood. She liked my veins. She said, don’t worry, these results are always negative. You’ll only hear from us if something’s wrong.
Afterwards, I felt a rush of panic. The baby was only 5 cm long and it was showing everybody its spine. Such a tiny, fragile little backbone for everyone to see.


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