5. The First Glimpse
Despite hearing a heartbeat, seeing a scan and shedding a lot of emotional tears, after two years of trying, mum-to-be Rosalind Sack still can’t quite believe this is actually happening.
Perhaps it's because my bump is still relatively small, or maybe it's because I can't feel any movement in there yet, but it's still difficult to comprehend that this is actually happening, that this isn't a hypothetical situation any more, a 'one day it might happen to us' longing.
Yet the fact that there is a living thing, moving and growing and swallowing in my tummy, still BLOWS MY MIND!
Yesterday I heard my baby's heartbeat for the first time. It was my second appointment with my lovely midwife Sally, which I thought would simply be a routine session of questions, clambering onto the weighing scales and multiple blood tests – honestly, midwives are worse than vampires. What I wasn't banking on was being able to listen to a thumping heartbeat coming from deep within the depths of my tummy, racing away disconcertingly fast and unsteady.
In fact it was such an unexpected joy that I lay on the paper towel-covered couch in the consulting room with a demented grin on my face throughout. Then, as a little muffle came over the monitoring machine, which Sally explained was the baby moving, my eyes filled with tears.
My ridiculously regular waterworks will no doubt become a common thread through these blogs – I just can’t stop! In fact, it was a good job I had to dash off to the loo straight afterwards to pee in a cup, so I could have a little weep without letting on what an emotional cry baby I really am. I'm sure Sally has seen it a thousand times before, but I felt I needed to maintain some illusion of composure!
Since then I've stared at my slightly rounded tummy, felt it, even tried to listen to it (ever tried getting your ear near your navel?) but it still feels utterly bizarre that the heartbeat I heard so clearly yesterday was coming from my baby, in my tummy.
Every day I obsessively check a pregnancy app to discover which fruit or veg the baby is supposed to be the size of – a sweet potato now, apparently – and every day I look at my tummy and think, 'How is that possible?'
Then there was the 12-week scan, which was quite simply amazing – definitely the most incredible moment of pregnancy so far. Yet, it still seemed a little like Ed and I were peering at an image of someone else's baby on the screen.
We were expecting to see just a fuzzy blob as the ultrasound technician slid the scanner around on my lubricated tummy, but the clarity of the baby’s features were staggering. As she moved the scanner around, giving us a good look, and explaining what the baby was doing – 'That was the baby swallowing', 'Look there, its legs are crossed' – we were dumbstruck, silenced by a mixture of pure joy and the utter bewilderment that we had made this incredible little thing.
“I can't talk or I'll cry,” I whispered to Ed as I wiped the jelly from my midriff and rearranged my jeans. We walked out of the ultrasound room in a daze and returned to the main desk to pay our token few quid for a print-out of the scan image.
Reaching 12 weeks and being told that everything was developing as it should felt like a milestone, and we knew that now we could start to let down the emotional barriers we'd put up to shield ourselves, should the worst happen. While we knew that nothing was certain and things could still go wrong, as we drove home from the hospital together, and caught each other's eye with a silly grin, we finally felt cautiously optimistic.
I often find myself staring at that ultrasound image feeling strangely detached. Despite my name and date of birth printed on the top, it still feels unreal that it is a picture of our baby. Besides, let's be honest – they all look pretty similar in glorious monochrome at 12 weeks, don't they? But as the weeks pass, my bump grows and I start to feel the baby stretching and kicking inside me, as we creep closer to D-day, I've no doubt it will start to feel more tangible. Otherwise, those mountains of filthy nappies and crippling sleepless nights are going to be a rather harsh jolt back to reality.