The Twenty Week Ultrasound
Our little boo saying hi.
It’s our fourth visit to the hospital, a big, multi-building Baptist complex on the West side of St. Louis. I’ve just learned that St. Louisans call it MO-BAP, which is short for Missouri Baptist. Great, another acronym for me to remember. Sounds more like a verse in a rap song; Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems; Mo’ Babies, Mo’ BAP!!!
As we get off highway 64, we miss the first entrance but weave our way around towards the back; fourth time appears to be the charm. We park in the parking garage and head in. Kendahl checks in, and we sit in the waiting room where HGTV is perpetually showing. I remember the first time we came in Desert Flippers was playing and I was enthralled; I remember being confused because I thought it was “dessert,” and was fully prepared to engage with a show about a pastry chef who made deliciously exotic crepes, but then realized it was a show about people who flip houses in California. The more you know.
I immediately recognize the Ultrasound technician as she calls us back; we haven’t seen her since our 8-week appointment, but it’s tough to forget the face of the person who formally introduces you to your child in picture form. I remember seeing the blinking heart beat on the screen, being surprised that it was so fast, and hearing her say the baby was measuring normally. Aside from that and Desert Flippers, that whole day is a blur.
She winds us around a corner and into room 8, a small room with a couple of chairs and screens for the ultrasound. The place looks like Command Center of the Millennium Falcon; there’s a tray with lots of buttons next to the flat screen, a tray she sits down next to and begins slapping with ease as if she’s Neil Peart.
With a surprising calmness, she asks us if we know the gender, and we say no.
Do you want to know?
My heart begins to race, thinking this is the moment. She puts the goop on Kendahl’s belly and Kendahl says it feels warm, which surprises both of us but probably her more since she was physically experiencing it. After a few minutes I realize we’re not going to find out right away. We’re seeing the head, the spine, the spine again, then the feet, the hands, the brain… our tech is measuring everything, nonchalantly taking pictures like she’s on a road trip. As I grow impatient, I think about that scene from Juno where Allison Janney yells at the ultrasound tech:
SIDE NOTE: That movie has been out for 11 years, and perhaps the technology has improved a lot since then. Or maybe Janney was simply preparing for her Oscar-winning role as the crazy mother in I, Tonya. Either way, I understand that the ultrasound tech job is NOT easy.
Every silent moment that passes feels nerve wracking, like each moment that something isn’t said is a moment that could present danger. For some reason I’m pretty calm today though, and I almost get bored as we continue to go through pictures. The baby is moving a lot, rolling over and making it difficult for the tech to capture certain images. I apologize to Kendahl, knowing this is definitely my kid.
Finally we get to the part where the gender reveal happens. She shows us a screen and asks us, “well, what do you think?” Before I can say anything, she’s typing on the screen in small, green capital letters:
“It’s. a. girl!!!”
(Full stops mine.)
Again, my mind is actually pretty calm. I’m pretty sure I’ve known this for a long time, known I’d have a girl. Then, after a minute, tears begin to well up in my eyes and I can’t stop them. We’re having a little girl. Everything in our lives has been leading to this moment, to St. Louis, Room 8, MO-BAAAAP. She’s going to be our little kiddo, and then one day grow up, and it’s going to be such a joy to watch. The ultrasound tech starts calling the baby “her” and “she” when describing her, which is so sweet. We now know a little more about our baby, and it’s amazing.
We go to Pickles café in the Central West End, a neighborhood we had never been to. We sip lobster bisque and talk about how we want to raise our daughter. The neighborhood, the city, the news – it’s all new, exciting, unknown. We take it in for a moment and thank God for the gifts he’s given us.