at 20 weeks, i had a level two anatomy scan on wednesday with the perinatologist, dr. albert.
(it took all my self-restraint not to type we had our anatomy scan like a basic ass married weirdo consistently employing the royal "we" for everything like our bodies and experiences have fused into one indistinguishable product.)
ian came to this appointment; i had promised him a very cool, lengthy ultrasound. "so daddy's here for the show too," dr. albert remarked affably when i introduced my husband. "oh, he's not the father," i said cheerfully. i don't think anyone liked that joke.
"have you felt the baby move yet?" dr. albert quizzed me while squirting the entire contents of an ultrasound gel bottle onto my abdomen.
it has taken me a while to distinguish little j's somersaults from the general feeling of "idk maybe gas". when you are a revolting food monster like i am, you basically live with the omnipresent but innocuous sensation of ate too much bullshit- gas, bloating, mild gastrointestinal discomfort, general sleepiness, self-loathing. the movements are a bit different though. two weeks ago, while inhaling a handful of peanuts and simultaneously reading a dreary-ass babycenter thread about fetal movement, i felt something like an inexplicable, deep muscle twitch in my lower abdomen. a few hours later, deciding i'd be truly disgusting and load up on the free bread and jam situation at la madeleine (v cool pregnancy eating habits- completely indistinguishable from non-pregnancy ones), i was driving down preston rd when i felt another unmistakeable little thump.
at this point, the movements are not the butterfly flutters that these pregnancy websites have suggested, but more of a twitching or flopping movement that happens so quickly it wouldn't be difficult to miss. they are sporadic, but sometimes happen in a series. everyone keeps eagerly telling me about the late third trimester movements, which will be entirely visible as ripples and bulges under my my skin. this is like, a particularly gross phenomenon that is not having the intended heartwarming effect on me- am now staunchly planning a never-nude campaign this summer so i don't have to catch a glimpse of my belly wiggling like a terrifying alien incubator.
dr. albert whisked us through the measurements and visualizations, and once again i found myself straining to do that magic eye puzzle, to see the grainy, isolated outlines of my child through dense layers of muscle and scar tissue- a foot here, a spine there, a tiny nubbin that was deemed to be fully a penis. all four chambers of the heart developed, a good little brain ready to be filled up with ninja turtles lore and gossip girl plot points, no visible or discernible deformities. again, another moment of tremendous relief that extinguished fears i hadn't been able to express.
"12 ounces- right on schedule," dr. albert pointed out. it is nice to know that we're all putting on weight at the clinically appropriate pace. 12 ounces for baby, 10 pounds for me, 1000 pounds for ian (or so he complains but trust me y'all he has remained steadfastly fine and that body is still very banging despite the new job role he has bravely accepted- eating all the excess food from the times i order three dinners like an actual starving person but then immediately reject them because my appetite is oddly ambivalent).
my own body, however, went 0 to 100 real quick. last week, i wore the same low-rise size 4 jeans i've been living in for over a year (steady trying to ignore my love handles spilling over the edges like a tumped over bowl of pudding). three days later, a pregnancy belly fully emerged. it is not particularly cute- the front is still strangely flat, my surgically enhanced abs trying their hardest to remain in disciplined formation while the rest of me gives into the easy lure of laxity and bulging and bullshit. one day this rigid belly will fuse with my back fat and i will permanently become a donkey kong barrel.
but while pregnancy has been hard on my body image, it has been cooperating nicely with my professional and personal life. i've been working a lot recently- this week has been a stretch of 12 or 13 hour workdays, a mad dash to handle practice management and practice acquisition, while scrambling to finish an endless checklist of marketing and design work for an upcoming spine medicine conference. the workload is daunting but i've been remarkably cheerful about it. i am not a particularly talented professional, but maybe i should set up "masochism" as my top linkedin skill, because i genuinely enjoy the challenge of working under pressure and i've never failed to pull it off. sometimes, after a particularly long stretch of focus, i can feel the baby rolling around and issuing a series of small thumps. i imagine he's cheering me on while i'm over here trying to get it how i live.
better still, i couldn't ask for a more supportive, empathetic, and enthusiastic husband- ian is as patient and kind as ever, even after the 15th time of me madly rifling through my closet, sobbing into a sweater that is now too tight for my chest. during my late nights at the office, he fusses around the house and tidies up so that i come home to a beautifully arranged, clean home that smells like an anthropologie store. i feel like one day, when my son starts complaining about his relationships, i will be an unhelpful but cheerful broken record of stories about how amazing his father is to me.
"the worst thing your dad ever did to me during our relationship was wear this really horrible camo hat into public," i'll tell him. "and it was awful because nobody could tell he was wearing it ironically. you know, because he's white."
"mom stop talking to me you're embarrassing," he'll say as he floats off to join his friends at whatever high school the first moon colony establishes.