Friday, July 24, 2015

Small

My midwife is concerned that I haven't been gaining weight. I blame my lazy summer appetite, but she's afraid it might be something else and she's sending me in for a second ultrasound. I smile, swallowing the hot guilt as it wafts up from my gut. I try not to cry or vomit or...cry vomit.  

Before I am home, I stop for a steak salad with rice, beans and a side of guacamole. Then I eat an entire pint of coconut frozen yogurt.  

Late that night, Scott and I lie in bed laughing. I have propped myself up on three pillows to prevent the passage of tiny acid bubbles from popping against my esophagus, but I am burping coconut steak anyway. My fingers scan my broadened belly in anticipation for my daughter's nightly dance. I wait, but she's quiet as a wallflower. I am in a lighthouse, searching across the uninterrupted line of the horizon. I see no ships. My hands start to sweat as they shine their dim lights across the placid sea.  
Left. 
Right. 
Down. 
Up. 
Right. 
Up. 
Down. 
Left.

I sit up and hang my legs over the side of the bed, ready to run. I need her body to move inside of mine.  

Why isn't she moving? 
Move Baby. 
Move! 

Sobs suddenly drag me into a drowning ---a self-induced hyperventilation that punches the air from between my shaking lungs. 

My gluttony was too late. I have starved her. 

Scott presses one hand around her and I, while the other searches the Internet. Ten movements within two hours is enough, normal. He reads. Then he feels her move. She is awake and jostling. Perhaps the echo of my weeping reached into her dreams or maybe she was just in there intently listening to the laughter of her parents. I can't tell. I don't know. But I am grateful that she has nudged beneath the sky's blue curtain to poke the triangle of her boat into sight once again. I open my mouth and chase the train of my breath until it is caught and even the caboose is swallowed. I lie back down. 

The ultrasound is scheduled for Thursday. Scott has work. I go alone. In the small dim office, I lay on loud paper and lift my shirt. Warm gel is squirted and cloth is tucked in to protect my sweatpants. The wand skates across my skin and white pixels make moving pictures on the black screen. Click, click, clack, tap, tap, tap, the ultrasound tech types. She prints pictures of my baby's profile. She is practice breathing, I am told. There appears to be no problems with the umbilical cord or the fluid. She's on the small side, about 4 pounds 12 ounces, she estimates. But not in the dangerously small zone for my being 35 weeks pregnant. I thank her, take my pictures and place them into my purse. I am light with relief. 

On the small side. That's ok. She's not too small. Not scary small. 
            
However, the next day I get a call. They want me in for weekly ultrasounds. I will eat more! I am eating more! I want this to be enough. It isn't. Guilt returns to steal territory in my stomach, but I feed it ice cream, butter, bacon, and whole milk anyway. 

Two weeks later, I have gained seven pounds and my belly has stretched two centimeters. Keep eating. Three full meals and snacks.

"It's very important at this point that you eat a lot of protein." I'm told. 

I am trying. And baby rewards my efforts by dancing day and night. 

At my next ultrasound, the tech says to Scott and I, "For being on the small side, she's got some chubby cheeks!" 

"She gets that from you." My husband says pointing.

She does. She does get them from me!