Monday, 03 January 2011
I have a terrible bedside manner. And I am an OB patient.
During my last ultrasound, I laid there motionless as my doctor pointed out the heartbeat, the cerebral cavity, and the wiggling hands and feet. She paused after each shot, waiting expectantly for my reaction. She even typed out “Hi Mom!!” on the ultrasound printout before handing it to me, obviously anticipating some kind of emotional response.
Receiving none, she finally asked me, with more than a hint of frustration, “Why do you look so speechless?”
Without meeting her glance, I answered in monotone. “This is just my face.”
And it’s true. I have absolutely no reaction at my OB visits, despite the weeks of worry that lead up to each one. The doctor could tell me I was having triplets, or show me a picture of a purple dragon, and I’d have the same outward response.
I don't mean to be rude. It’s not that I am apathetic towards the miracle of life inside me. (Bouts of projectile vomit tend to elicit feelings other than apathy). But I have no idea how to express my feelings.
It’s like opening a present. Not just any present, but the best present – beautifully gift-wrapped, exactly what you wanted – in front of the entire world, knowing that it is so perfect and so precious and yet can be taken from you at any moment.
How can I watch a tiny heart beating away inside me and not react? Because no reaction is good enough. There is nothing in my repertoire of emotions that encapsulates love, fear, anxiety, awe, shock, confusion, joy, and heartache in one smile, tear, or gasp.
They say white is the presence of all colors. And yet, to any observer, it appears… as nothing.
Are you equally dumbstruck by your ultrasounds? How do you respond?