Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Eyes Remain, Hovering. Witnessing.

So, it's Wednesday, 16th April, 2008. Olivia is fifteen months old to the day. I have a dentist's appointment at midday, which I'm really not looking forward to. Nothing special going on otherwise.

Oh - unless you count the 12 week scan at the local hospital. Yeah, I should probably write about that.

We turned up in good time. I haven't been nervous. I've been very calm about the whole thing, but on the short drive down, the butterflies kicked in. Not big ones, but they were there.

The parking meter at the hospital is stupid. Or I am. It's completely counter-intuitive. I know how to get a parking ticket from the machine. You read the rates, insert the groats, hit the tit and wait for the ticket, right? You certainly do not read the instructions, but after a couple of goes, this is what I am forced to do. I know; my 'bloke rating' has plummeted.

You have to 'enter your car registration'. There is a numeric keypad. My registration contains alpha characters. The keypad does not, like a telephone keypad, also have numbers on it. I decide to try entering just the numerals. It seems to like them. I get a ticket. Normally, I would walk away moaning about the stupidity of the machine. Today, I throw my hands up as I walk back to K___, and mention it's stupid, but keep it to just that.

The maternity unit is the brick version of a Borg cube. Minus the scary hive-mind androids and super-advanced tech everywhere. Actually, it's just a rather featureless cuboid, but that doesn't sound as poetic. Inside, it's a pretty run-of-the-mill NHS hospital unit. Bland paint on the walls, lots of faintly terrifying health-related notifications and posters on the walls.

While signing in, a wonderfully quick process, it was pointed out to us that we would need to purchase a card from a machine on the wall to exchange for copies of the scans. Only problem? It takes five pounds in coins. I'm not having a good time with machines. We didn't have five pounds in coins, so I borrow a tenner from K___ and leg it to the other side of the building and up a fight of stairs, buy a packet of crisps purely for the change and run back.

Unlike the first time we did this, nearly two years ago now, luck decides to play nicely, and I'm back in time to buy the card and sit down for a couple of minutes getting my breath back before we get called into the scan room. K___ lies down on the couch and pulls her skirt below the bottom of the baby bump. Having done this before, she knows that an elasticated waistband is an essential. She's also had enough to drink to ensure the best picture - a three quarter's full bladder greatly increases the clarity. The scan operator, a surly human/potato hybrid with terrible highlights, squirts gel onto K___'s stomach and places the ultrasound on her belly.

Here we go...

Of course, there's a momentary pang of terror. What if the baby has no head or three legs or something? These things do happen, after all. The fear's stupid and statistically irrational and it's gone before you quite know what it is you're scared about, but it is there until the moment the scan goes sufficiently deeply inside K___'s belly for a baby to appear. It's lying louchly on it's back, facing left, arms waving theatrically. All of a sudden, I'm an expert. Everything is in it's right place. It's fine. I don't know this, but from the perspective of someone with fuck all training in reading an ultrasound scan, it is immediately apparent that everything is fine. Eventually, Mrs Potato-head will get around to confirming my obviously-correctly medical opinion by doing some measurements. She will sound entirely bored when she does indeed confirm my diagnosis. Everything is fine. We have a healthy baby, and an active one too, by the looks of things.

My eyes prick with tears.

After this, we have to sit for forty minutes waiting for a nurse to take a urine sample and some blood (not at the same time, don't be ridiculous!) from K___. We gaze at the grainy snaps before us and smile.

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