Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Sonogram.

Today I had the chance to monitor the progress of another project I've been involved in. I'm about half-way through this one, and the excitement is starting to build just a bit. M. and I went to a medical imaging facility, and looked at a sonogram of our future child. The particular anticipation associated with this visit arose from the possibility of finding out the fetus' gender. I know several other couples who are in the midst of working their ways through pregnancy, and the majority of them have chosen to find out whether to expect a boy or a girl. While I can understand how there might be some fun in keeping it a mystery, I couldn't think of any logical reason not to find out as early as possible. This way we can pester the folks who have already had kids with the same equipment. I personally have no problem with secondhand baby clothes.

The whole process of using ultrasound to peer into the womb is indeed fascinating. The prospective mother hops up on the table and the technician slathers some clear gel over her protruding belly. Then the tech rubs what appears to be a checkout scanner over the mound. There's no wait for processing- the images are immediately broadcast over the monitors. The tech has her own, and there is one mounted on the wall for the would-be parents. Of course the doctors who evaluate the health of the fetus need a series of shots from different angles, so the mother is instructed to turn over on each of her sides. The fetus then shifts to get comfortable.

I did have my patience tested by the procedure. Most of the close-ups are indientifiable to an untrained eye. In a soothing voice the technician explained what we were looking at. She pointed out different hemispheres of the brain, the umbilical cord, heart ventricles, kidneys, face, abdomen, and appendages. These parts are all labeled with text onscreen so the doctors don't have to guess. Measurements are collected and stills are recorded. Its technical nature makes it seem like something out of a sci-fi film. We waited, quiet and anxious, to hear the information we came for.

There is always the possibility (even at approximately 20 weeks) that the fetus will remain in a series of positions that obscure its developing genitals. Not so in our case. The little thing had no reservations about spreading its legs. "He" was not modest at all, and the tech got a kick out of his willingness to expose himself. It's been pretty easy to detach myself and vicariously experience M.'s pregnancy. The entire transformation is truly alien- the moods and the body transformation are striking. But for a brief moment I felt a pang of sentiment. It's a fact that the ultrasound images of the fetus are only really emotionally meaningful to those directly involved. I've been in the position of being made to watch someone else's fetus squirm around on home video, and I was largely unmoved. I felt like saying they could bring around the kid after they taught it a few tricks. maybe then I would be impressed. Obviously that wasn't the case here. Despite myself, I was a bit amazed.

The strangest part of the afternoon was the computerized monochromatic rendering of the fetus. It looks like a little extraterrestial trapped in the slimy walls of an intergalactic insect's lair. It is all tan and amorphously moist. It's assuredly not the type of thing any objective viewer would describe as "cute". But predictably I found the whole thing quite literally marvelous.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow,
Amazing read, congrats. Brings back my first expeireince some 23 years ago. An emotion that's hard to explain. Your venture helps me re-live mine.
Thanks.MP

2:21 PM  
Blogger Dagrims said...

Congratulations on continuing the tradition of male children in the family!

K and the kids will really enjoy hearing about this. I have a ton of good names for you to choose from.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

MP,

I'm glad I was able to elicit some fond memories.

dagrims,

haha

11:47 PM  

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