The Pregnant Life: Calamity Jane

P & Birdie
Twins! Don't they look alike??
Today was my bi-weekly ultrasound, and Dr. Cutie says I have an above-average cervix! I told him I always tested above average, but never backed it up when report cards came around, so we'd better keep an eye on things.

Anyway, my cervix is 2.75 centimeters long, which is apparently nice and hefty, cervix-wise. They even had me bear down, then pushed on my uterus, all the while watching carefully on the ultrasound. Birdie shook her head in irritation, but I held fast, like the walls of a fortress. So I've got that going for me, which is great.


This time, they also took measurements of the baby, and she's growing at a good clip – maybe a week bigger than they expect for the 22 weeks that she is, which is within normal range (and also, for all I know, could be more in line with my due date, since I'm not entirely sure when my last menstrual period actually started. I kept track of the damn thing with anal-retentive regularity since I was eleven, and this was the month I forgot to note it on the calendar. What are the chances?!).

Anyway, she looked great. In fact, when Marianne, the ultrasound tech, waved her wand across my tummy just to get the gel spread around, I caught a glimpse of Birdie and said, "Hey, lady!" This made Marianne jump to see who'd just walked in. Uh, nobody, I just can't keep my mouth shut when I see my baby wiggling around on the flat-screen TV. (Who can?)

As always, I assigned adorable gorgeousness to that grainy black-and-white image. But what's funny – and by "funny," of course I mean sick and demented – is that even though I could see Birdie moving … even though I could feel her flipping around inside me for most of last night and this morning … until I saw the heartbeat I couldn't quite believe she was still there and okay. I see it, pumping steadfastly away, and I get a rush of relief that I hadn't realized I'd been waiting for. Every. Time.

I had a dream, years ago, that I was pregnant (with kittens, but that's another story), and that I had a clear plastic uterus, like the Visible Woman, through which I could see the red placenta and little moving fetuses. I watched, fascinated. That, I told Marianne, would be my fondest wish: to be able to see the baby any ol' time and confirm that she's there. Which is nuts. Like I said, I can feel her. But they don't test you for cuckoo before they stick a baby in you, thank goodness.

You know, there's nothing a hypochondriac loves more than a legitimate health crisis. When Penelope was born early, it was as if, after years and years of my feeling like a total pain in the ass of the health-care industry, I finally felt affirmed. Like comedian Spike Milligan's gravestone: "I Told You I Was Ill." Let me tell you, when I went back to work after Penelope's birth, I wanted nothing more than to march into my boss's office and say, "Bet you wish you'd let me work from home two days a week, like my doctor ordered!" Ah, but I needed the job and had to act like I was grateful just to have a desk to return to. Fun times, fun corporate times.

Anyway, the point is: one disastrous, near-death experience later, I have the full attention of my health-care team, all of them ready to pounce at a moment's notice if I have the slightest twinge of pain. They encourage me to come in and get even more ultrasounds. My pregnancy is medicalized, and really, I couldn't be happier. I had my first kid in the most medical, chaotic, scary situation imaginable and it was still the most profound and joyful experience of my life. I trust my team to include me in the process. I'm not worried about the birth experience being taken from me. I only care that my kid's okay, and for the next couple days, I feel relatively reassured… till my mind takes another dip into horrible morbid worry, of course. Fun. Times!

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