This letter was originally written and sent to family & friends on Sunday 22 May, 2005. It seems only right & proper to revisit its contents at the current time....
Friday, my last day of work at Renewal House was also the day of our ultrasound. I purposefully scheduled it for that day, thinking it'd be a great way to blow it all out in high festive style....
As you may recall, I wasn't initially down with the idea of an ultrasound OR of finding out the babe's sex; after much consideration, discussion with my husband, our midwife and with a therapist I've been working with, I decided that it'd be best for all to learn as much as possible to properly prepare and bond. And I got very excited about the prospect of seeing our babe again, and learning more about who it was going to be, a process in which we will be engaged for the rest of our lives.
Thursday night, as with several nights in the weeks preceding, I curled up with my beloved on the couch to watch the basketball. Generally speaking, during basketball games this time of the year, E intently watches, laughs, cheers, answers all my many questions which range from actual sporting type questions ("These guys play less fluidly, right? That's a conference thing, right? Because they focus more on defense?") to things like, "Don't you think he looks angry? He's having a bad night, what do you think?" or "Now who's he married to again?" and "What do you think really happened with Kobe Bryant and that woman?".
This year: no different. Except that hot chicken gives me heartburn so we're doing that less and exist in that place between drowsing off and thumbing through a copy of Baby Bargains, asking E additional questions about gear preferences for this new being in our lives.
So Thursday night is like many another. We've eaten supper (various leftovers: fruit, cheese, crackers & soup for me; roasted chicken and other tidbits for E) casually camped out in the living room, our rickety coffee table serving as a dining surface (I vow we'll get rid of it as soon as the just right thing presents itself on one of our yard sale forays). The game is on, the dog is sprawled out on the floor, I'm nodding off. And then: movement. Movement such as I have been feeling in fits and starts since week fourteen of my pregnancy, the force of same growing stronger with each passing week. Here at almost 22 weeks, the movement is distinct, precise; a forcefully gentle pressing within my womb which feels like a foot or a fist stretching into the boundaries of its miraculously malleable home. When I tell E that Ziggy is getting active, he asks to feel, so I lay back into the arm of the sofa, feet in his lap, and place his hand low on my abdomen. E's face lights up and goes from knowing to a question mark. He has, it seems, been anticipating what looks in the movies to be kung fu kick strength with the need to draw back in great surprise, as opposed to this gentle prodding, saying: I am here.... do you feel me? Then Ziggy lets him have it. A good one. We are laughing and cozying in closer to this life and it seems appropriate that any child of my man would hang with Daddy during the ballgame, and punctuate such presence with a good push.
Later during the evening, I go to bed; E stays up late to watch the second game. Yet I am awake again in the wee hours of the morning, excitedly anticipating the coming day's events. I lay in bed and look at the constellations E has made for made for me on the ceiling, hand on belly, living the waking dream, the fuzzy snore of my husband, slumbering peacefully beside me, a soothing and familiar refrain.
Friday I dress for fun, tying my wild hair up in a long silk scarf, given me by my co-workers as a parting gift (along with a pair of baby booties in teal and purple handwoven Guatamalen fabric, and a fabulously generous gift certificate, all from my favorite global / artsy emporium near Vanderbilt's campus). It's E's one day off a week, but he's planning on going for part of the morning in to the shop to deal with his truck at Nashville's Table; it needs cleaning and to be dropped off for servicing. This, my last day working at the agency, will be a good one, I am determined. I've been feted the day previous with a potluck luncheon and the aforementioned gifts. I have completed, with grace and king fu heart, a potentially sticky exit interview, thanks to much preparation and never a moment's hesitation from the time I decided to leave. My priorities are clear, I feel very much in alignment of what is right and proper for me and mine. There is much to be done, but I know I am up to it, and in a few hours, I'll be meeting my man at the swanky imaging center to see our babe on the screen....
When I arrive fifteen minutes early for my appointment, pulling into the drive of the Crystal Terrace building, there is my husband, sitting and smiling on a garden wall in front of the main entry. He meets me in the garage by my car. We are grounded and happy and feeling exceptionally close. A family.
I tell E that I hardly recall walking into this building on our previous visit; I was in another world, having an out of body experience. Today: everything is different.
When we are called for our appointment, the technician introduces herself. It is only later that evening, once we are home all crumped up in the bed that E tells me he didn't like her, he found her cold. "Me, too!" I tell him. She was no Stephanie, our last and much appreciated technician. No matter. We are in charge here. This is our day. Our baby. Our taking on home, hope, hello in this act of bringing a new life into a greatly flawed and compromised world. We know we will do our best, and that one of the greatest things we can do in this life is love and be loved, and in so doing, raise up a being of mindful presence.
E ties my gown in the back and I climb onto the table feeling like a primitive and rounded goddess of fertility in this most contemporary setting. My bladder is near bursting, as I've drunk 24 oz. of water in the thirty minutes preceding my appointment, as per instruction. Yet the moment E takes my hand from his seat in the chair beside me, squeezes it and says, "Babe, that's SOME belly...." I forget all about my mad desire to urinate and focus on the computer screen perched above my right shoulder and on my husband's solid presence to my left.
The technician squirts a blob of warmed gel onto my belly. E comments that it's like mustard on a hotdog. The hand held doppler goes down onto my abdomen and onto the screen pops our little one, this morning curled up like a plump little butterbean, rump and legs curled over torso, ankles crossed. tootsies moving to the beat of his own drum, hand waving. We see every bone in one hand as it raises above the head and pulls focus, upstaging everything but still E suggests that the heartrate seems lower than when we heard the heartbeat at our midwife's office just two week's ago. The technician lets the waves run across the screen and pronounces that this wee being has a heart that's beating at 138 beats per minute, which is, in fact, down from our last Ziggy heartrate monitoring. The head, across the temple, we are told, measures roughly 2 1/2 inches. We see the heart, the placenta, the developing brain. We see the femur looking thick and strong, the mouth and eyes and nose. We see our baby and watch with amazement, until the technician seems to wind down, at which point I speak up, "We'd like to find out the babe's sex, if possible." "Oh," she says, squirts another blop of gel on my belly and begins to prod at me, saying she's trying to make the babe uncross his legs. We see the legs wiggle a bit and relinquish their tight cross ankled hold.
"Ah," says the technician, "looks like we've got a boy in here." A boy. I look at E. "I was right," I tell him, "it's a boy. A boy.... !" E nods and looks for all the world like a proud and slightly mind boggled Dad would in such an instance. The technician points out the babe's penis, which looks from this view like a white protrusion in exactly the right spot. I point at the screen and say, "There?" Wow. Our baby. Our son. Our Ziggy. Our boy.
Just before the technician shuts down all the machinery, I ask, "So you're sure it's a boy?" "Ohhhh, Yes!" she answers.
In the hours and days that have followed since, I say dozens of times, "We're having a BOY" and "Babe, we're having a SON."
I run into our upstairs neighbor and friend J.J. I tell her our news. Kindly, she tells me, "That's wonderful! You two will make such great parents and the world needs good men. Strong women raise good men. And Eric is so great.... "
We're having a boy. Already, we love him and welcome him wholly into our lives. We can hardly wait to share him with all of you.
p & e & z