Archive for November 2012

November 16th, 2012

Real and Imagined

Here’s this from 10/2:

Yesterday was our second OB-GYN appointment. What they call the “long one.”

The first, or “confirmation,” appointment was not exactly what I expected. It was my understanding that we would find out that we were indeed pregnant from a bald, middle-aged, white, male doctor in a labcoat and tie, as he sat behind an oak desk in a spacious office with diplomas on the wall and leather-bound books on shelves everywhere. He would take his time, with nowhere else to be whatsoever, and tell us in a warm, grandfatherly way that suggested that he was almost as surprised and as happy as we were. Steph and I would somehow be dressed in Ralph Lauren/Ann Taylor-type clothing. I would faint comically when I heard the news. And then a horrible song from the ’90s would start playing in the background. This is what every movie trailer and sitcom in existence had prepared me for.

What happened instead was, well, just sort of a standard appointment with a nurse-practitioner. I went in expecting that this time and I was not let down.

First we delved into the bureaucracy, getting the rundown of what Steph’s insurance would cover during this process. The woman going over our details, who seemed wholly indifferent to the fact that we were all present as a new human life was fragilely evolving inside one of us, became astonished and overjoyed when she finished reading through the policies. She then told us “congratulations” for Steph having the level of coverage she did. Perhaps there is something to this “healthcare crisis” we are always hearing about?

On the medical side of things, we got to hear the heartbeat and boy was it beating. 142 beats per minute, which is normal at this stage (Pregnancy Surprise #4).

Then they did another transvaginal ultrasound. I moved the chair away from the foot of the examination table again, and this time it was absolutely the right thing to do. We had a different nurse/midwife who was way more loosey-goosey and I bet would have just had me hang out down at the business end the entire time.

Something about these ultrasounds that is sort of bothering me:

I have heard many, many men say that they were surprised by the strong emotional reactions they had when they saw their child on the ultrasound monitor. I’m presuming because it starts to make what’s happening feel like it really is happening.

Not so much for me, on either front. I’m not sure if I was just too uncomfortable at the doctor’s (a place that makes me seriously uneasy, no matter what). Or if it was the fact that, at this stage, I’m sorry, the ultrasound images don’t look like much of anything (granted this one looked more like a baby than the previous one, but that’s kind of like having seen my attempts to shoot hoops at age six and saying that I now play basketball more like Michael Jordan). Maybe it’s a little of both.

It would not be niggling at me if strong emotional reactions weren’t kind of my thing. I’ve been known to shed a tear at the wedding of a person who is a person my wife worked with at one point and I do not know beyond that, when I hear a story of people banding together to accomplish something for the greater good on NPR, and during many other events that are way less meaningful in the course of my life than this. And therefore, for both ultrasounds I’ve been ready to go. The nurse is flipping on the monitor on and I’m putting on my fuzzy bathrobe and breaking out my box of Puffs. And then: nothing. It just doesn’t touch me in the way I think it’s going to…or it should.

The ultrasound did clue me in, rationally, to the fact that I am going to have a child. And so, in a haze of pre-natal uncertainty, all it took was the car ride back to work for me to turn a lack of welling-up into: I don’t have what it takes to make a connection with my child and to be a good parent.

Of course I’m sure I’m this is just an unreasonable insecurity about my ability to care for my baby — what anyone who has had a kid has had at some point. I have joined your ranks, moms and dads! Kindly point me in the direction of the Dr. Spock books.

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November 9th, 2012

Firsts of the Firsts

This one was written on 9/12:

We had the first ultrasound yesterday.

With it came my very first “being in the room as a complete stranger interacted with my wife ‘transvaginally’.” I realize, of course, that this person was a healthcare practitioner and that this was not the first time Steph had had to endure something similar to that. But being in there—with the waist-down stripping and the gels and the stirrups—was still pretty strange. Also: women, we owe you one.

Then I got my first taste of having no idea what to do with myself, because—as important as it is for me to be there and experience these things—when it comes to the professional’s purely medical interest in the baby, I am just a hunk of tissue taking up space in the room. While waiting in the examination room for the nurse/midwife to see us, we got to the point where Steph was sitting up on the table covered only by a sheet, and then we could not even figure out where I needed to locate myself. There was an extra chair in the room where I had sat when they showed us in, but it was positioned very close to what was about to become “ground zero.” They had put it there, and I guessed that, therefore, that’s where they felt I should be for this thing. And why not? We’re a married couple, and we’re there ’cause we’re having a baby, and we all know how that happened, right? So, it’s not weird. Except that sitting right there for what was about to happen did seem pretty weird. I elected to move the chair as close to the upper half of Steph’s body as I could. The examination table was in the room at an angle, so this required me to back the chair in to a very tight corner where it was obviously not supposed to fit. Ridiculous, but the best solution we could come up with at the time.

After all that, the nurse/midwife came in, rearranged everything and then told me to stand and then told me precisely where to stand. I quite enjoyed this.

She also gave me—as I imagine it is standard OB-GYN procedure to do with the father—a completely arbitrary task. I was the “light man.” I stood next to the light switch and turned the lights off when the nurse said “ok, turn the lights off” and then back on when the nurse said “you can turn the lights back on now.” All of this while the nurse herself was about a foot-and-a-half away from the light switch. It seemed a lot like being a 5-year-old who had been given a “very special job to do.” I quite enjoyed this, as well.

Oh, and Pregnancy Surprise #3: During the first ultrasound anyway, they don’t just pull your baby up on that screen right away. They have to go looking for it, and it can take them some time to find it. How long did it take them to find ours? Eons. Or more accurately 20–30 seconds during which I thought about how every member of the staff that I had talked to up ’til then had called this our “confirmation” appointment with a tone that seemed to say “even though you got a ‘positive’ on a home test and you’re having the classic symptoms, the jury is out until we tell you differently.” Maybe they see a lot of false alarms. Maybe we’re one of them. Geez, what if we’re not having a baby like I’ve thought we were for every second of every day for the past three weeks? We probably aren’t. Is that sad? It’s not like we were even trying that hard for it. Do we start trying hard now, since we thought it was happening anyway? Let’s look on the bright side here: I can stop stressing about where I’m going to get the money for a new car. And now we won’t have to turn the room we use as our art studio into a second bedroom. And I won’t have to transform myself into a bastion of mental and emotional maturity in the next eight months. I mean, it’s not li…

The nurse found the baby around this point, calling our attention to a small white blob on the monitor. And so I had to reverse those more recent thoughts: I was going to have to redo our budget and move out of the studio and seriously attempt some self-improvement. And for the first time, even though I was facing those and countless other hardships, I felt positively relieved.

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