little j stopped moving some time between wednesday and thursday. after another 12 hours' steady hustlin' in the office on thursday evening, i realized i hadn't felt his predictable flops and thumps for quite some time. so i came home, inhaled some cold watermelon, laid around in various configurations, pressed and prodded my torso. i curled up next to ian, who trotted out the nursery anthology and read 'goodnight moon' and 'caps for sale' to my belly. his enthusiastic narration earned him a couple of sluggish kicks. they weren't anywhere near as exuberant as james' regularly scheduled movements, but enough to put our minds at ease.
friday morning, one of my physicians is unable to detect the fetal heartbeat via stethoscope. a couple of hours later, my ob's office calls me to confirm my monday follow-up. due to a low amniotic fluid index, dr. grisham has decided to up the frequency of my visits in order to monitor me weekly. he cautioned me if my fluid level dropped lower, he would need to see me twice a week. i mentally calculated the potential lost time away from my office and did not enjoy the equation. on the other hand, i would get to see dr. grisham's endless rotation of trendy glasses frames more frequently. he has a striking hexagonal pair that remind me of honeycomb.
i am particularly fond of my obstetrician. he's efficient and sparse in his mannerisms, and never resorts to a paternalistic bedside manner. i do not want to be coddled just because i'm pregnant.
(except by ian. i want ian to bring me pizza and pet me and tell me i'm pretty.)
"you need to come now," dr. grisham's medical assistant informs me swiftly when i mention that i haven't felt fetal movement recently. i know that everything is fine, but for the sake of peace of mind before the weekend, i gather up my purse and drive to the hospital.
true to form, dr. grisham does not placate me nor does he comment on the hypervigilant anxiety of first time mothers. he merely starts the ultrasound machine and begins to scrutinize little j.
after a few minutes, he remarks "typically, it takes about 20 minutes to do a biophysical profile, but he's immediately scoring so high across all the categories, we're done." james' first test, and he's already achieving top marks. some tiny, latent part of me that knows i'll be wearing a visor and a fanny pack regularly in three decades' time feels like a proud asian parent.
"i'm sorry, i feel silly that i mentioned it. i figured it's normal for them stop moving from time to time." as if to punctuate my sheepishness, james finally issues a kick so pronounced that dr. grisham's ultrasound wand is jolted. we both marvel at children's propensity to embarrass their parents, even before birth.
"it's fine," he reassures me. "it's always a good idea to come in and confirm if anything like this happens. but you look great."
i preen a little, even though i know he's talking about my uterus.
by friday night, james is fully awoken from his dormant state. as if indignant that he had been clinically diagnosed as a little lazybones, he proceeds to bop around ceaselessly to prove a point. his sharper movements catch me off-guard, his slower ones feel like something creepy is moving directly under the surface of my belly and straining to escape.
still, it is the best feeling in the world.