It’s fifteen minutes into the twenty week scan before the nerves settle and I breathe properly. Making it this far is a good sign, and the constant reinforcement from Reservoir Mum that the baby is kicking should be enough but the despair of the miscarriage lingers and the ultrasonographer, Sonia, sits silently as she waves her magic probe, peering inside the womb.
The screen shows semi-human shapes warping in and out of focus. A blob becomes a leg becomes a blob again. A chubby set of cheeks give way to hollow eye sockets. The claw-like ribcage becomes the soft curve of a belly. The pictures promise life and death, good memories and bad and still she sits there like Wild Bill Hickock at the poker table. The longer she stays silent the more convinced I am that she’s holding on to some bad news. She focuses in on the cranium and measures it from several different angles. She squints at the screen, purses her lips, sighs a little.
‘How’s it measuring up?’ I say, my guts tightening like a clamp.
‘It all looks great,’ she says, ‘Wonderful.’
The next thirty minutes that pass are joyous. Sonia is confident and fun. We share jokes while the four chambers of the heart fire as they should and the limbs measure out right and the skin at the back of the neck and the curve at the bottom of the spine and the flow of blood from one end of the body to the other is checked off as perfect. When we try for a 3D image of our baby’s profile it covers its face with both hands and tilts its head forward.
‘Oh that’s so cute,’ Sonia says.
I look to Reservoir Mum and when I smile one of my teeth glints and makes a ‘ting’ sound. ‘Rick Astley will make the baby perfect ,’ I whisper.
‘Do you guys want to know the sex?’ Sonia asks.
‘Of course,’ we say.
My jovial mood combines with my unltrasonography skills to create an almost perfect overreaction, ‘Oh my lord! It looks like a fricking submarine!’
‘That’s a thigh bone,’ Sonia says, before swiveling the probe a bit and saying, ‘That’s a penis… there.’
On the way home we’re buzzing, taking it in turns to suggest names and giving each other an immediate ‘no’ each time. My suggestions, as usual, get progressively more ridiculous. From Anthony, to Crom, to Frinklepod.
‘We’re in a lot of trouble this time,’ Reservoir Mum says. ‘It was hard enough settling on ‘Tyson’.’
‘Okay,’ I say, turning up Gold 104.3 FM for some inspiration, ‘I’m going to relax, go deep inside myself, connect with the great stream of human consciousness and find the perfect name. It will reveal itself to me. You ready? …Corinthians! Okay, I’ll try again…’
Reservoir Mum reaches for my hand. ‘I think that’ll do for now. Wow, we’re going to be a house full of willies. Five willies!’
I counter her conversation change with my own, ‘You shouldn’t be too concerned if you develop a heat rash under your breasts. It’s very common. You’re internal temp is a couple of degrees higher. That’s not insignificant. You’ll find you’ll be sweatier now…’
‘This is for the blog again isn’t it?’
‘I just want to be of service to others. That’s all.’
(Note – if you’re twenty weeks pregnant and find a rash under your breasts, armpits or in between your legs try sprinkling some Talcum powder over the affected area. I used to do this to prevent chafing when playing lunchtime sports in my High School pants. Worked a treat. Read more here.)
‘Look,’ I say, ‘How about we stop including me in ‘the willies’. I mean, I’m all grown up now. Surely mine deserves a name that suggests more substance… more weight.’
‘Like what?’ she says.
‘Oh I don’t know,’ I say, as I turn up the radio to listen to Celebration. ‘How about Wally?’
‘Wow, did you get that from the ‘great stream of human consciousness’?’
‘I did,’ I say, as I release the steering wheel and clap along with Kool And The Gang. ‘You know, Sonia said our baby’s cute.’
‘That’s just what they say…’ she says, taking the wheel.
‘Oh no, they don’t just say that about anyone. She really meant it,’ I say. I suddenly remember holding seconds-old Tyson in my arms – healthy and chubby and preparing to wail. I am ready to do that again. The joy settles for a moment and another feeling announces itself to me – relief. ‘This is a great day,’ I continue, ‘A celebration. Soon, we’ll be driving around the streets of Reservoir in a people-mover filled with all our cute kids. The windows will be down. The tunes will be up. Our shoulders will shimmy to the left and then to the right in unison. Passers-by will pause and turn to look at us in wonder. ‘
‘It’s all coming together,’ Reservoir Mum says. ‘But you should probably take the wheel now. It’s my turn to dance.’