I pulled on the mismatched socks that I’ve worn to the last several ultrasounds and procedures. Diagonal stripes on one foot, hearts on the other, both brightly coloured. It was Friday morning, and graduation day from Clinic One.
Sea and I arrived ten minutes late, having both taken the day off work and having taken that opportunity to sleep in. In our eight months of Clinic One visits, this was only our second scheduled appointment. The other had been the very first visit, where we had sat for hours waiting to catch a glimpse of the elusive Dr. Text. During that first visit we had double checked the address, tried to remember which clipboards we were supposed to sign, and found our heads spinning after the first frenetic conversation with Dr. Text. This scheduled appointment, eight months later, felt very different. We walked into the waiting room without having to read the signs posted on the walls, signed the requisite clipboards with barely a pause, and sat down comfortably next to the familiar fishtank.
And then we kept sitting. It seems that Clinic One doesn’t do well with scheduled appointments: treating them more as a suggestion than a set visit time. We watched other people, mostly there for the twelve week screening from what we could tell, come and go. We passed time by trying to guess at the complicated relationships between these other patients (the group sitting in front of us seemed to consist of one surrogate and three ambiguously connected men). Finally Diana appeared, files in hand, and called a name that sounded slightly like my first name, slightly like my last name, but not entirely like either. I waited, wondering if somebody else would respond. She called the ambiguous hybrid name again. Sea and I stood up and followed her, deciding it was close enough.
In the ultrasound room Sea and I took up our familiar poses: she in the chair wedged next to the exam table, me lying prone and pantless on the table’s crinkling paper. Diana questioned me about how pregnant I was, then got to work. I asked her how things looked: “I’m only looking at your cervix right now.” “…Oh. Is it cute?” A couple of minutes later she moved to my uterus, flipped a switch, and turned the screen. There was Bingo. I had expected a grainy profile shot, like the ones that intermittently appear on my Facebook newsfeed. Instead, we saw Bingo in all three dimensions. The tiny head with its tinier ear, the small body, the thin arm… flung over Bingo’s face. That’s right: the first clear image and Bingo chooses to hide. Thanks, Bingo!
Too soon, Diana turned the screen away and removed the ultrasound wand. With barely a pause, she squirted the cold ultrasound gel across my stomach. 33 ultrasounds, and this was only the second external one. This one was business only: a set of measurements, part of a calculation of risk. I had been told to drink something sweet before my appointment so that Bingo would be moving around during the scan. Unfortunately, the effects of the oversweetened juice had worn off during the long wait, and Bingo was refusing to put on a show. “Cough!” Diana instructed, so I coughed. Bingo shifted slightly, probably annoyed, but didn’t change position. Then I laughed, and Bingo began to move. Diana perked up: “Your baby moves when you laugh! Keep laughing!” So I lay there, pants on the ground, ultrasound gel across my stomach, laughing at nothing at all. Bingo got into position. Soon the measurements were done. Diana smiled, declaring them good. As I wiped the gel off my stomach, Diana turned the screen to face us and showed us a front view of Bingo’s head, an eerie skull: “It looks like a little monkey!”, she said. And with that we were ushered out.
As we waited for Dr. Text, Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean played through the speakers: “But the kid is not my son. She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son.” and it occurred to me, not for the first time, that Clinic One should pay more attention to its musical selections.
Soon after we found ourselves in an office. Nostalgically, I looked at the scribbled diagram on the desk, drawn for some other patient and accidentally left behind. I would miss the scattered Dr. Text and his diagrams. Dr. Text ran through the numbers with us: good nuchal thickness, good heartrate, good size, just good. Then there wasn’t much left to say. He told us to visit with the baby and to not to wait too long for the second one. He asked if it would be Sea’s turn next: “Uh, no!”, she responded promptly. And then he sent us on our way. Walking us out into the waiting room, he hugged each of us goodbye before disappearing down another hallway. There were texts to send, no doubt, and patients to see. We just weren’t those patients anymore.
My favourite technician drew my blood, asking when I would start wearing maternity dresses (“Never.”), and Heterosexist Receptionist handed us our “graduation package”, a file of medical forms to pass on to the midwives. I was strangely sad to be leaving this familiar space with its strange cast of characters. I’ll be back to Clinic One for one final blood test at 16 weeks, but I won’t see Dr. Text. Sea won’t be back at all. We’re done. Graduated.
Today is the first day of the second trimester. On we go.
Total Ultrasound Count: 33