(Apologies to anyone looking for the previous post about the humor styles quiz. I had to remove it because it was wider than the text area of my site would allow, and with my new header above it really stood out as a mistake. If you still want to play with it, here it is. And if you want to see my results, they’re here.)
Alissa participated in the first of four or so non-stress tests yesterday (two a week for the next couple of weeks.) I say “participated” because really she doesn’t do much of anything in the test – it’s all up to baby. Essentially all it is is just a long doctor’s visit – the staff hook up a doppler monitor to Alissa’s belly and an ultrasound transducer above it, then we wait while a machine counts baby’s heartbeats and matches it to movements. The Unknown Johnson was apparently very sleepy yesterday, so the nurse brought in this microphone-shaped device that she placed right above the baby, pressed a button, and a loud buzz jolted the baby rudely awake as evidenced by a gigantic lurch outward of Alissa’s belly. It was pretty comical, to say the least. The doctors want to see a 15-20 beat increase in the baby’s heart and they sure got it. Amazingly enough, as a testiment to how lazy our little one may be, within minutes the heartbeat settled back down and it appeared that baby went right back to sleep. Ten or fifteen minutes later, the assistant came back in with the buzzer and shocked baby awake again, albeit a much lesser shock. The heartbeat shot back up again and slowly decelerated. Alissa, and baby, were done with that test, and it appeared they both passed with flying colors.
We were then sent upstairs to “medical imaging” where we would get an ultrasound, the first in 18 weeks (of at least three, one a week on Saturdays,) to determine the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the little Unknown. As is apt to happen when involving us, we followed the staff’s directions to where we were supposed to go and still managed to not be in the right place. A doctor approached through some double doors and we must have looked clearly lost, as he asked us right away if we needed any help. We told him we were looking for the ultrasound department and he led us somewhere else seemingly far away from where we were had been told to go. On the way, he joked that they’d recently redesigned this ward to make it as confusing as possible to outsiders. “Well,” I said, “they did a great job!”
Once inside, Alissa was up on the table and the technician began the scan. We had both wondered what we’d get to see – and hoped that we wouldn’t accidently see the sex. After waiting all this time to find out when baby emerged into the world, it would be such a shame to have it revealed only weeks before Alissa gave birth. Alissa made sure to inform the technician and he said it would be no problem – he wouldn’t be scanning in that area anyway.
And what would it be? Would it simply be a quick scan of just the amniotic fluid, or would the technician show us around our nearly-fully developed fetus? The answer came quick – the technician found his ultrasound wand right on top of the baby’s head, then swept it up toward Alissa’s chest. For a brief moment I saw parts I recognized – the unmistakable shape of a nose, cheeks, browline – and he briefly circled around until the whole face came into view. And what a view it was – it seems impossible to believe now, but there was our baby, entirely recognizable with unique features and shapes and rendered in a nearly perfectly clear picture. Baby could be clearly seen opening his or her mouth, and the technician said babies often practice breathing in the womb and that might have been what we were seeing. There was a tiny little nose that was, as Alissa said, like my tiny little nose, and some very big, chubby cheeks which, at this point, look an awful lot like my chubby cheeks . . . there were also eyes, fully open, blinking eyes that the technician pointed out when Alissa asked if the baby had its eyes closed. He pointed with his finger to the almond-shaped dark spots and told us that those were the eyes, wide open, and the spots Alissa could make out (I was too far away to see) were the irises. It was as if the baby was looking out at us from in there, through the ultrasound machine. We saw everything, and it was all perfect – a perfect neck and a perfect spine, perfect little hands that grasped and thrust at nothing, perfect tiny little feet kicking about. The final image we saw was another of the baby’s face, and the only unfortunate thing was that we weren’t offered a print of the image.
I stated way back in January that seeing the little circus-peanut shape bobbing about in Alissa on the much more primitive ultrasound screen was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen, but I think this takes it by far. This was undoubtedly our baby, and the face we saw there is the same face we’ll see in a few weeks, and we’ll actually recognize that face from what we saw yesterday. Regardless of whose features it takes on, it was perfect.