“Right.” Christine tried to relax. This was supposed to be a happy occasion. She was having a baby, something she’d wanted her whole life long. She tried to put the donor lawsuit out of her mind.
“I’m sorry Marcus couldn’t be here.” Lauren puckered her lip, sympathetically.
“I know.” Christine had thought about texting him but hadn’t. He hadn’t texted or called her this morning, and she wondered how he was doing. She prayed they weren’t having a major rift. They’d been through so much, but this was a crisis. They had to get past this, somehow. She looked up at Lauren. “I’m glad you came, though.”
“Me, too. Honey, I know you’re worried, but you’re doing the right thing suing Homestead. You need to know who your donor is, whether it’s good news or bad.”
“I know. I’m better off prepared.”
They both looked up at the sound of a soft knock at the door, and Dr. Frazier entered. An African-American woman in her late fifties, she had a steely halo of gray hair that made a neat frame to her round face. Her dark eyes were soft behind rimless glasses, and she smiled sweetly.
“Sorry to keep you waiting, ladies. It’s all about emergencies today. I have somebody in labor at the hospital, so you’re my last appointment of the day.” Dr. Frazier squirted some sanitizer on her hands, then slid on purple latex gloves. “We don’t have to guess about your conception date. I checked your file, and your procedure was April 16, correct?”
“Yes.” Christine knew Dr. Frazier meant the IUI procedure, by which she was inseminated with Donor 3319’s sperm. Dr. Frazier knew that Christine had conceived using a donor, but nothing about the latest developments and the lawsuit. Christine briefly considered telling her, but decided against it. She wanted to keep this experience pure and untainted.
“So this is your first ultrasound, correct?”
“Yes.” Christine nodded. “Do I hear the heartbeat today?”
“That’s the plan,” Dr. Frazier answered, and Christine heard the caveat in her voice, in that not every ultrasound would confirm a heartbeat. She’d learned to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
“Okay, let’s get started.” Dr. Frazier sat on a rolling stool and rolled into position. “You’ll feel some pressure, but that’s it. Keep your eyes on the monitor. That’s the show.”
“Okay.” Christine turned to the boxy monitor on top of the ultrasound machine. Though the screen was black, she felt her heartbeat quicken. She’d seen this scene in movies and read about it in her books. She’d always wondered if she would ever be the pregnant lady on the examining table and now finally, she was. She hated that Marcus wasn’t here, but Lauren was, and girlfriends were forever.
“Ultrasound, as you may know, uses sound waves to show us an image of the baby.” Dr. Frazier spoke as the monitor screen blossomed into a grayish mess of static, and Christine felt some discomfort but was distracted by the image. She couldn’t tell what she was seeing though she felt vaguely nervous and thrilled, both at once.
“Is that the baby?”
“Not yet, stay tuned,” Dr. Frazier answered, then the image changed and shifted, gray and black, but still all static.
“It doesn’t hurt the baby to do this, does it?” Christine couldn’t tear her eyes from the monitor, watching the dark and light patches come in and out of view.
“No, this is perfectly safe.” Dr. Frazier started pressing buttons on the keyboard of the machine. The image enlarged once, then twice, and Christine felt tears come to her eyes, her heart recognizing the image before her brain did.
“That’s a heartbeat!” Christine cried out, joyful. “Isn’t that the heartbeat? That thing, like, fluttering?”
“Yes.” Dr. Frazier pressed more buttons. “So we can confirm this pregnancy, for sure.”
“Oh my God!” Christine yelped. “Look at that! That’s amazing! Lauren, look!”
“I know!” Lauren squeezed her hand. “Honey, you got yourself a baby.”
“I do!” Christine’s eyes brimmed. “I really do!”
“Let me explain what you’re seeing.” Dr. Frazier nodded toward the monitor. “See the circle, and the outer edges of the circle are grainy and gray? That’s the lining of your uterus.”
“Okay.” Christine wiped her eyes, trying to focus through her emotions.
“Inside of the grainy edges, it’s black, which is fluid, and in the middle of the fluid is the white spot, which is the baby. See how it looks like a figure eight? Or one circle attached to the other?”
Christine nodded, too overcome to speak.
“That’s because, at this point, the head and body are about the same size. Sometimes you can see arm stems, but that’s hard to see right now. And, as you said, the fluttering is the heart.”
“Wow.” Christine wiped her eyes again.
“Everything looks copacetic. You’re nine weeks along.” Dr. Frazier returned to the ultrasound machine and pressed more buttons. “I’m going to take some measurements, and we will be done in a few minutes.”
“Thanks.” Christine sniffled at the screen, riveted by the delicate white fluttering, like the most gorgeous of butterflies beating its wings, delicate but terribly fragile. She felt overwhelmed with a fierce protectiveness, as well as the greatest happiness she had ever known, suffusing her with the warmth, strength, and power of life itself.
“Hold on, for the finale.” Dr. Frazier hit a button on the machine, which made a few ticks and in the next moment, printed a photo, which she handed over. “Baby’s first picture.”
“This is amazing!” Christine brimmed with new tears as she accepted the photo, her fingers shaking. Holding the photo was almost like holding the baby in her hands, proof of a dream realized, before her eyes. She made a silent vow to love the baby, to take care of it, and to shield it from any and all harm. Because it wasn’t Rosemary’s Baby, it was her baby, and she was its mother.
In time, the ultrasound ended, and Christine dried her eyes, came out of her reverie, and got dressed. She and Lauren waited together at the billing desk while she paid her co-pay, then they walked to the car. They were talking the way they always did, bantering back and forth, exchanging views about the ultrasound, but Christine felt as if she were also in a world of her own, a world that now included only her and her child, inside her. She had never felt that way in her life, and it struck her, as she piled into Lauren’s Jetta and they drove off, past the pretty houses and tall trees toward the Clam Cottage, that she had never realized how incredible it was to be pregnant, that it truly was a miracle, and that this miracle had happened to her.