Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Body Is Cooking a Baby: Part 1

By Ellen Stumbo

At nineteen weeks gestation, I was having a 4D ultrasound. I was excited to actually see the baby. I was also anxious to hear my midwife confirm that my Placenta Previa was no longer an issue. When I started spotting a few weeks before, an ultrasound confirmed a Partial Placenta Previa, as well as the fact that we were having another baby girl.

My 13 year old sister, Luisa, came along to the appointment to help with my toddler. She made it clear she had no intentions of knowing her oldest sister in any special “pre-natal-test” kind of way. When the nurse gave me a cup, I smiled at her teasingly and said, "Got to go pee in the cup." Her eyes widened in disgust, "That is gross Ellen!"

I came back to the small examination room and stepped on the scale, hoping I had gained weight. Morning sickness, or in my particular case, my all day sickness, was finally easing up. When the nurse checked my baby's heart, Luisa and I exchanged a smiling glance as we listened to the thump-thump. "Listen to your sister's heart beat," Luise said as she continued to turn the pages of the book she read to Ellie, who sat quietly on her lap.

Kim, my midwife, came in and asked if I was still spotting. When I responded I was not, she suggested we waited another week for the 4D ultrasound until Andy, my husband, could be there. My sister offered a dramatic, disappointed face. I had been looking forward to the ultrasound myself and was planning on taping it for him. More important, ultrasound is the only way to officially rule out Placenta Previa and I was eager to put it out of my mind.

We walked into the ultrasound room, Luise and I giddy with anticipation. Me, especially thankful to have my sister help with Ellie. I lied on the bed and uncovered my round belly, sporting the faded stretch marks from my previous pregnancy. The gel felt warm on my skin as the technician started doing the scan. She measured and checked as she explained what body parts we were looking at. She then pushed a key on her computer and in seconds, we were looking at the alien baby. Luise and I looked at each other and commented about how skinny she was, how weird to see her face, and wondered if she looked like Ellie. As the technician snapped pictures for us to take home, she was able to capture one of a smiling baby. It was precious. The baby growing inside of me was happy.

The technician pushed another key and we were back to the black and white screen. She kept checking and measuring, confirming that I no longer had a Placenta Previa. As I lied on the bed I asked, "Is her heart okay?" The technician looked at me puzzled, and it took her a few seconds to respond, "Why do you ask?"

Why did I ask? The question surprised me too. There was an awkward silence.

"Well" she continued, "I can see four chambers here," she pointed at all four of them individually with the cursor, "And that is a good thing."

Somehow, her response was not what I expected. I wanted to hear, "Her heart is great," or, "It looks normal." I dismissed my negative thoughts. After all, I am a self-diagnosed borderline hypochondriac--- if there is such a thing--- and I was letting it affect the thoughts I had about my baby. I suppose some might just call me neurotic.

If you did not get a chance, read the "Prologue" to my story: Road Marker 321

My Body is Cooking a Baby: Part 2
My Body is Cooking a Baby: Part 3

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