On Thursday we went in for my 20 week ultrasound, a long gelatinous event during which a tech counts limbs and organs and leaves the genitalia reveal hanging until toward the end of the show. Every time a foot was paired with another foot, an arm with another arm, I squeezed Chuck's hand. But mostly it was a lot of staring at foggy shapes and swirls and wondering how the sum of these parts is a person who will someday paste a gummy crust of Goldfish crackers to my hair.
Meanwhile, the subject jumped and squirmed and refused to cooperate and I cheered inwardly about the makings of a wild-child. Would this be a story I would tell so often that it eventually became a family version of "A Christmas Carol"?
"We knew it would be like this," I saw myself confessing to an apathetic pack of 18 year olds. "Even in utero. Doctors and techs were always commenting on the constant movement."
(Eyes roll: "Yeah, yeah, yeah.")
Me: "They called her a Powerful Baby."
Now Teen Aged Powerful Baby: "Mom, god. Annoying. Everyone has heard this like a million times."
The tech told us she was looking for something that looked like a hamburger (girl) or turtle (boy). The verdict: Hamburger. A single tear rolled out of my eyeball and disappeared into my hair. A powerful baby girl. We had both -- not to mention friends and relatives -- always assumed it was a girl until the 12 week point when I, confusedly, tried to pin a new face to our person after a tech thought he saw a, well, turtle, I guess.
At one point the screen filled with what seemed to be a giant baby foot and we cackled.
At another point it looked like she was trying to kick into a headstand.
Then, beneath all the good cheer in the room, there was an undercurrent of a heightened something. Another tech came in, lubed my belly, cursed the PBG's unwillingness to sit still, and delivered the news: She only has one kidney. All of her other organs are fine and accounted for, but she's missing her left kidney.
Despite the shock of this news, everyone official seemed really nonplussed about it. Like "One kidney? Meh. No problem." Like "If you're going to have a missing organ, it's exactly the one you'd want to pick." The doctor didn't make sad eyes, though he did anticipate my need for a Kleenex. Later he checked her heartbeat and the metronome was interrupted by shuffled thunder bursts that sounded like a microphone being eaten. These, he explained, were kicks. After a particularly loud one, he gave me a look:
"Did you feel that?" he asked.
"No," I said.
He shook his head.
"Loud baby," he said.
Powerful (and loud) Baby Girl.
On Friday we met with a specialist who confirmed that, yes, there is only one kidney but that there are probably 100 people in Duluth right now who were born with one kidney. Then, for fun, they ultrasounded Chuck to count his kidneys. (2).
Between Thursday's appointment and Friday's appointment I learned that I have a cousin with just one kidney. He's in his mid-20s and just found out very recently. And since that appointment I've heard of dozens of stories of people who only have one kidney.
"Mostly this means she'll never be able to donate a kidney," the doctor said.
In conclusion: The past two days have been a pure, unfiltered concentration of emotions that have left me beaten and bruised. I seem to have emerged from the other side of it, though, and now I'm just giddy knowing that there is a Powerful Baby Girl in there.
"I don't know what to say," a friend said to me. "Like, do I still say congratulations?"
"Yes," I said.
Admittedly, until we met with that specialist I was having -- in regular intervals -- the most soul shattering, face ruining sob fests known to man. Wet pillows and mucous. Reaching out to grab on to the back of Chuck's shirt so I don't drown. But if the experts in such matters aren't sweating it, I'm not going to either. I don't know if you know doctors, but they really aren't the sort of people who blow sunshine up your ass. ("Purplish cyst? No big. It matches your eyes.") They tend to just tell you the truth the best they know it.
This post was going to be about how my mom plans to learn how to baptize babies and then she plans to do it to ours and how I was going to have to write out a script called "The Boundaries Episode." (Which is funny because I had told plenty of people that I had a vision of her stealing the baby and returning it in a white dress with a wet forehead. Turns out that vision is true).
This suddenly became super not important to me at all. And, in fact, a lot of stuff dropped several notches on the important scale. The only thing that feels super important right now is those little mini flutters in the lower-middle quadrant of my uterus. That and lying in bed while Chuck determines the probability that this PBG is going to be a ginger.
In other news, Chuck told me I look like the Venus of Willendorf.