Where once we were used to a monthly routine of trying to conceive, which came with its own arc of emotions, we’ve had regular prenatal visits with the good doctor here in Walla Walla. The good news is, she’s more than competent, a fixture in the city for newborn delivery, and there are no more fingers crossed visits in which we plunk down a lot of money and spend down our reserves of hope that we get knocked up. As folks know, we are happy to have a fetus in formation.
The bad news is, the doctor looks like Sarah Palin. Okay, she doesn’t look exactly like the former part-term Governor of Alaska-turned-political lightning rod. She doesn’t wear wire-rimmed glasses, for example, or even glasses at all. I suppose there could be some kind of lens correction going on with her, but I haven’t gotten that close to examining her corneas, because really, that’s a little creepy. Besides, I wouldn’t be able to tell if she’d had laser surgery or…
But I digress. Okay, she has that Sarah Palin look about her—dark brown hair and square jaw, and I bet there’s some hockey gear in the back of her family car. And I don’t even know if she has a family; she could live in the cupboards under the sink in exam room 3 for all I know. But there are hockey pucks under there, I betcha.
Good thing, she never says “You betcha!” I understand that she is not Sarah Palin, but seriously, she looks a lot like Sarah Palin! So much so that I keep expecting she’s going to double back on some instruction, or go on a rant about the lamestream media, or or or. . . something. Instead she checks Susanne’s belly, asks if we have any questions, and does other doctorly things. As she should.
This Sarah Palin is also very level-headed. When she couldn’t get the baby’s heartbeat on the monitor, it didn’t even occur to me that there might be some problem. This being our first child and all, and with me not keeping up with our Mayo Clinic baby guide as well as I should, neither of us realized that she’s looking for evidence of distress or wellness on the part of this future offspring with each checkup. She wasn’t going to let us go without hearing a rhythm or visualizing some movement. Susanne just lied back and I did my husbandly duty by holding all of her external clothing layers while Sarah Palin moved the sensor all over searching for a heartbeat. La de da, and then she said she was going to fetch the ultrasound machine from the hall.
This baby is deep and apparently wants its space. With the new sensor pressing into Susanne’s midsection, we finally spied the little thing, something slightly larger than a half pound now. It waved its left arm at us, in a swimming version of a roundhouse punch. This was not a royal wave, this was more of a “stop pushing on me and go away” wave. I joked that this was the precursor to when the child is 13 and we will suddenly be super uncool, or whatever lingo the kids will be using by then. On the monitor, 5 silvery thin fingers, splayed out, waving through fluid. In my recent memory my mind played the sound of the blood flow: flutterflutterflutterflutter, like a stream of butterflies.
Sarah Palin was kind enough to linger on the little one as I held Susanne’s hand. She explained that this was an older machine, snagged from another physician who had just traded up for a brand new, cutting edge machine. I didn’t care. Sarah Palin doesn’t need to justify herself to me.