When I went in for my first prenatal appointment at 8 weeks, I was asked to participate in a study for new moms to be; appropriately, it’s called the NuMoM2B study. It involves three appointments during which they ask questions and take samples to determine different environmental and physical factors that affect pregnancy outcomes. You get paid a small fee and travel reimbursement for your participation, but the big draw (at least for most people) is the free 3D ultrasound during the third trimester.
The 3D ultrasound didn’t appeal to me at all when I signed up way back in my first trimester. Arthur was interested in it, giving me another reason to sign up, but I’d always considered the waxy depiction of them to be, for lack of a better word, creepy. The prospect of seeing my baby’s face in melted form didn’t excite me until I knew it would be our last chance of seeing him before his birth. And after Roo started kicking more and more, I got increasingly anxious to catch a glimpse of this little boy.
I wish I could say that I was pleasantly surprised by the experience, but I walked away thinking, “You get what you pay for.” Arthur and I waited 40 minutes past our appointment time before we were seen. By then, the ultrasound tech clearly had better places to be, because she proceeded to quickly scan around my belly for the baby without telling us what we were looking at. (Maybe it makes me a bad mom, but I can’t definitively tell what’s what!) It wasn’t until we guessed or point-blank asked what body part was what that she helped us identify our son’s features. I was happy to learn where his arms and legs were in relation to where I had previously felt intense movements. It turns out Roo’s not only a strong kicker, but a scrappy boxer too!
Before the appointment, it was made clear that ultrasound technicians do the best they can get decent images of our baby, although they couldn’t promise how cooperative he would be. At this time, Roo was clearly trying to take a nap and had his arm tucked up close to his face, which prevented us from getting a clear mug shot. The tech attempted to move my son’s arm by repeatedly jabbing on my stomach with the ultrasound wand for a span of 60 seconds before snapping a photo and saying that was the best she would do. I offered to lie on my side for a while or do a hip swivel, which had worked with earlier ultrasounds, but she said if what she was doing didn’t work, nothing would. She printed out the single photo and sent us on our way. We were in and out within 15 minutes.
This experience was a stark contrast to my previous ultrasound appointments at which the tech took her time and let us have some breaks in order to get Roo in a cooperative position. When this ultrasound tech left, Arthur and I both stood there holding the single, distorted photo and looked at each other. We didn’t need to say anything; our disappointment filled the room.
Then the hormones then took over and convinced me that Roo’s nose was beaked. I felt both panicked and guilty. What kind of mother worries over whether her unborn child has a decent nose? Arthur repeatedly had to reassure me that the right-hand side of the photo was distorted and that his nose was fine. Other family members I sent the picture to insisted they could tell how handsome he was already. All I know is that as long as my son is healthy, I’ll be happy. One thing I could tell from that picture, though, is that Roo is content. That in and of itself makes the experience worth it (although I don’t think I’d go through it again).