How do you fall in love with a picture?
Back in week 15-16 we had the first of two major ultrasounds done. Going into it, we had already seen the ‘kid’ twice: once as a chulent bean in the beginning and once a few weeks back as something that might have come from a veterinary text book for all we knew.
But this major ultrasound – we had no idea what we were going in for, just that we’d ‘see’ (hear?) the size and shape of the fetus and make sure it has some of its vital parts.
Well, I got on the bed and jellied up (gross) and then we saw this creature: sleeping inside my body. Upside down. I stared mostly while the doctor remarked over and over how it was in a bad position for the check up. He couldn’t access all parts. He needed it to flip over, which apparently translated into literally pushing around my belly to try to get it to flip.
After about fifteen minutes of my child-to-be displaying incredibly stubborn tendencies (who does s/he get that from?) or just enjoying a really deep sleep (we know where it gets that from), the doctor ordered that I go take a 30 minute walk around the block and eat some sweets – in very non-medical terms, jump-start the flipping.
I ate some candy and we walked up and down the block and came back. Baby-creature was still on its stomach, curled up and looking more comfortable than I’ve felt in months (thanks a lot). We all kind of chuckled as the doctor worked to flip it over again but to no avail. After twenty minutes of nudging, he sent us off again to eat sweets, take walks, and drink coffee. Not my idea of nine o’clock on a week night, but hey, that’s the budding of maternal sacrifice.
After 40 minutes we returned to his office and I again laid down, waiting to see it, face up or face down. It was… face down. Still. Kid, I hope you sleep that well in 5 months is all I can say.
Worried that we’d never get the check up done (what exactly was s/he trying to hide, anyway?) the doctor again nudged and pleaded with the ultrasound feeler thing jabbing my stomach. After five minutes of that (and my own radiating brainwaves of Jewish maternal guilt sent towards the little one, which is what I think did it) the fetus flipped and settled – seemingly comfortabley – on its back.
I don’t know if it was this back-and-forth experience – the sort of silent communication with my unborn child – or it was watching as the doctor measured legs and arms, counted ten fingers, ten toes (remember when you had to wait to find that out?), highlighted the heart beat, blood flow, stomach, brain… Or maybe it was just a combination, but watching all that – not a fetus, but my little tiny unborn child – on this screen in front of me, knowing it was all there, inside my body…
Well, I fell in love right then. It was unlike anything, ever. Falling in love for real, knowing it at that moment it happened, love at first sonogram. All at once, I understand what love can be, more than I ever thought – bizarrely unconditional, completely overtaking… I guess in the past that first happened at the actual birth, but modern technology is what it is, and now I can pinpoint the moment I fell in love with my child, in picture form.
So the answer I have to my original question is: you fall in love with a picture by it being your unborn child, up there portrayed in front of you, simultaneously in your body and in front of your eyes, breathing, beating, living off/with/inside you.
And as soon as I was ‘disconnected’ from the machine, I missed it terribley.