The Bean-Shaped Baby

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Pacifiers, Ottawa, September 2012

The day a WalMart-bought pee-soaked First Response pregnancy test informed me I was pregnant, I spent a good ten minutes crying for no reason. Then we hugged. We told each other we were going to be okay.

“So, are you sure you are pregnant?” Feng gently asked after I was done crying.

Yes, I was sure. It explained why I couldn’t look at my favourite foods without gagging. It explained why I had felt so tired. But it was a valid question—after all, the earlier pregnancy test was negative.

I needed to see a doctor. Problem was, I don’t really have one—blame the Canadian healthcare system, finding a GP is hellish.

I called the University of Ottawa Health Services, where I had a checkup done a year earlier. I was immediately put on hold and I could hear Madonna’s  “Like a Virgin” playing in the background.

“For Christ’s sake,” I muttered impatiently, “is there a more inappropriate song given the circumstances?”

Then I started laughing. The pregnancy hormones kicking in, no doubt.

After holding the line for about twenty minutes and listening to “Papa Don’t Preach” and other meaningful classics, a receptionist picked up the phone.

“I think I’m pregnant,” I started explaining, “and I’d like to make an appointment with a doctor.”

“Tomorrow 10 a.m. See you there!”

Wow. And I had been trying to get a Canadian doctor to pay attention to me for the past ten years. I should have known the password was “pregnant”!

The following day, I showed up at the doctor office. I was asked for my health card, a urine sample and to take a seat—in that order. I did as instructed, and the doctor arrived.

“I think I’m pregnant,” I explained.

“How do you know?”

Seriously?

“I took a pregnancy test.”

“Was it positive?”

“Uh… yes.”

“Okay, so you are pregnant.”

The doctor made a note on a computer. I’m pretty sure it read “stupid patient doesn’t trust pregnancy tests.”

“Date of last period?”

“Well, I’m not sure,” I said. “But I believe I’m about six weeks pregnant.”

“How do you know?”

“Uh… I was there?”

I don’t keep track of everything but I think I know roughly when we conceived—don’t most people?

“Uh uh,” said the doctor. “You can only know the date if you had an in-vitro fertilization.” I begged to differ, but she added: “You will do a dating ultrasound anyway.”

Without adding a word, she turned to her computer and printed out paperwork.

“Okay. Here is what you need: an ultrasound now for dating, another one as part of the triple screening—if you want it, you may want to discuss this with your partner, there is a pamphlet in here too so make sure you read it—three blood tests, again one now and two as part of the screening. Oh, and go buy some vitamins.”

My head was spinning. “Which ones?”

“Any prenatal vitamins. You can buy them over the counter.”

“But do I really need vitamins?”

“You do now.”

She rushed out of the room to the next patient. The appointment has lasted about ten minutes. I looked at the paperwork I was holding. Apparently, I was due for my first blood test.

I headed to the lab downstairs. The nurse commented on my nice veins and drew enough blood to fill five collection tubes. Good thing I don’t have a problem with needles or blood tests. Yet I must have looked weak because another nurse, a big black guy, gently held my hand until my head stopped spinning.

A week later, Feng and I went for the dating ultrasound. I had been in limbo since seeing the doctor. I still felt exhausted but I wasn’t so nauseous anymore.

The receptionist at the ultrasound clinic was a real bitch. I know working in healthcare is stressful and that patients (like customers I guess) can be idiot, but some empathy would have been nice. And hey, you are working in a women’s ultrasound clinic, lighten up!

I walked in and went straight to the receptionist office. She sighed heavily because I didn’t have my health card ready, and then snapped at me because I was “just standing there.” How was I supposed to know that she was done with me? I always feel awkward at the doctor’s office here in Canada. There are many unspoken rules, and you often feel like healthcare practitioners are doing you a big favour by agreeing to see you. That’s not right.

Fortunately, the technician was much nicer. She led us into the semi-darkness of the room and I lay on the bed. She quickly squirted some cold gel on my flat belly, put the device onto my skin and turned the computer screen towards us. “Here it is!” she said.

Feng squeezed my hand. I couldn’t see much, really—let’s face it, my eyes haven’t been trained to play “spot something new in your uterus.” But there was something in there, something bean-shaped.

The technician took some measurements. “So you are seven weeks pregnant,” she asserted.

The only part of the sentence I heard was “pregnant.” So I was. For real.

She printed out the picture of the bean-shaped baby and glued it onto a cheesy generic “Shush… Baby is sleeping” paper frame.

We stepped out of the ultrasound clinic slightly dazed. The appointment had only lasted about twenty minutes but now we knew for sure: I was indeed pregnant with a bean-shaped baby.

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

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