K.Y. jelly smeared my stomach; it was a rink of lubricant over which the small handheld audio scanner skated. It Torvell-ed and Dean-ed in search of my baby's heartbeat alas to no avail, null points. The volume was raised - again to no avail.
I was attending my first appointment with the Consultant. Upon introduction, he appeared about as interested in me as I am in nuclear physics. With neither the grace nor charm to address me directly, he motioned me to sit, washed his hand over his face and eyes down began to flick through my notes. A young medical student sat behind him. I felt sorry for the boy.
I had no clue as to what might have happened in the last 24 hours or even years of this consultant's life but the atmosphere verged on the uncomfortable. Silence rattled between us. My presence seemed a waste of both his and my own time.
Urged to get up and leave, I did.
My motion acted as a prompt. It was as if he suddenly remembered he should do something and so he directed me over to the bed to assess my belly. Afterward he instructed I take a seat. He scribbled something in my notes. A couple of minutes passed and so I rose, again. This was when he suggested we have a listen to the heart.
So there we were, in search of an elusive beat. Fate is a cunning bitch and the idea that the Interloper could have given up flashed across my mind. A huge sadness swooped already I was goner for this unknown inside entity. Week fifteen and I loved that I was a 'we', a 'me two'. The Interloper and I were more than just physically attached, within seconds an army of tears prepared to storm my lids.
The medical student hurried out into the corridor to find a better scanner while the consultant continued his search. About to give up, he pressed the scanner lower, to the left, deep to the centre and then we heard it, a clip clop of a heartbeat, a distinct drumming. A smile lit upon the consultant's deadened face. He liked this sound. It was music to his ears. This was the first visible human response the man had shown.
He handed me a tissue to wipe my stomach and I sat again in the plastic chair by the door. He spoke into a Dictaphone, and then for a third time I rose. On this occasion, he rose too. We shook hands, 'Until week 28,' he said. Reassured I left with a skip in my step and a belly brim full of life potential.
Bar the highly contentious matter regarding the issue of circumcision... who'd have thought such a tiny piece of skin would cause such uproar, all was swell - ish. The Glam Rocker remained entrenched in the anti camp side and on the home front, the grand oul parents-to-be were squeaking. My mother lamented down the phone, 'I hope it's a girl or...'
'Or what?' I asked, cauterising any hint of emotional guilt tripping games.
'I just hope it's a girl. We need another girl in the family.'
I sat precariously on the fence. Knowing I would eventually have to fall one-way or the other. Meantime I agreed with my mother and hoped for a girl. In truth, I had no preference either way, just as long as the baby was healthy I did not care.
Many friends queried this, 'How quaint!' 'How old fashioned, but don't you want to know?'
'It will be a surprise.'
'But... but how will you know what colour to paint the nursery?'
It was my turn to sound perplexed.
'The baby's room!'
'Room...? As if!'
Practically, it suited me not to know the gender, the apartment's small, plus for the first year it would most probably be in with me. Also, and most conveniently if I didn't find out its gender then I wouldn't have to concern myself with the question of circumcision.
So from there on in, I put it on the long finger, made like an ostrich and buried my head in the sand.