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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