It was supposed to be a totally different afternoon. While the surprise of this pregnancy was still fresh with us (still not sure how it happened), we’d been moving to embrace it with laughter and lightness. There was a temptation to brood about how this wasn’t part of our plans, but we also know that it involved a new member of our family who, once introduced, will quickly make us wonder how we ever imagine life without them. We were still chuckling at our totalitarian resolve about 6 months prior when we cleared the house of any and all baby gear and where that left us now—nary a onesie in the joint.
As part of our “embracing with laughter” approach, we met at the 25 week ultrasound appointment and Trish brought all the kids along. Coming from a sunny summer afternoon into the small air-conditioned, dimly lit room had an anesthetizing effect on the kids. They took turns on the one chair and otherwise went limp against the walls as they filled the room with the smells of a great summer day: chlorine, saltwater and sunscreen. The doctor came in and revved up the machine and started taking measurements, snapping pictures and quietly checking off items from a memorized list—looks good… looks good…looks good… As we were able, Trish and I gave a more kid-friendly, but certainly less-informed narration—Look, there’s a hand! Or a foot?! Wait, you missed it. Pay attention kids!
While the doctor quietly humored this display of 21st century parenting, I wonder if he longingly wondered about the way this same exam might have looked 30 yrs ago. If a dad even came, he probably stayed in the waiting room and certainly didn’t lead in the impromptu Science Camp field trip that the exam room was hosting now. While he seemed to speak up as he saw things, I wonder if his eye caught something troubling early on and then gave thought to whether he should clear the young bystanders before needing to get clinical. Not sure any amount of orchestration or reconvening in another office would have prepared us for the “Hmmmm. Something doesn’t look right here.”
While I did everything I could to match his matter-of-fact tone, I suddenly felt that the room could not be air conditioned enough. While trying to come up with intelligent questions and being introduced to a brand new vocabulary I’ve since grown to be fluent in (hypoplasts, ventricles), I broke out in sweat and began to see spots before my eyes. I remember Max looking up at me from the chair with a whimper and a furrowed brow. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to stand much longer and quickly told him it was my turn for the chair.