Whistler, February 2009
We’re sitting in the corner of a steamy restaurant, the smell of oily yam fries and sticky beer rings swirling around us and we’re still pretty new into this. Our legs are touching under the table, my wine glass is a quarter full and my mind is overdosing on benign observations of the tapestry around us: everything is present in increased dimension at the budding stage of new love. I notice the small butterfly tattoo of the waitress at the table beside us, the unfamiliarity of the German words from behind us. I see a man at the doorway, waiting for a table, green ski pants two sizes too short.
I don’t remember the conversation that’s led up to this point, but I remember that he wore a striped black shirt and looked at the middle of my eyeballs when he talked to me.
“I thought you didn’t want kids,” I said, and I am surprised, because I thought I didn’t want any more kids either, because of the rawness and the risk to your heart and all the holy christ this is hard moments. The possibility that you will be doing it all alone, flailing.
“I didn’t think I did,” he said,”But I think I do. I would with you.”
And then I remember that my eyes filled, and I knew that another risk would be worth it.
North Vancouver, February 2014
The technician appears suddenly in the corridor at 4:27 pm.
“Kristine.” she says and I look up from my illegal phone.
“Yes! Oh. You’re early. Which is great. But my husband isn’t here yet.”
“He can come in when he gets here.” She is gruff. “I need to take measurements first. Room 6.”
I follow her down a long hallway, sloshing with all the water I’ve been guzzling.
“Take off your clothes and you can get on that table.”
She tells me to wedge closer, to straighten my knees, and she presses hard on my bladder with a circular wand that will tell her whether we should worry more than we already do. I think about dry deserts and salt and anything but how amazing it would feel to pee. Nolan and Corey enter ten minutes in and I press my finger over my lips to Nolan.
“You have to be totally silent so she can concentrate, OK? Then she will show you.”
She clicks and whirs and turns the screen carefully away and when I glance at Corey to start to tell him that the baby has just kicked me hard, she shushes me sternly. No talking.
She is concentrating and I smother a smile as the guy in the speakers behind us sings horribly about the baddest girl in the club, which apparently is more non-destructive to concentration than whispering.
20 minutes later, Moderately Angry Ultrasound Technician uses a kleenex to wipe jelly off my belly and suddenly becomes Motherly.
“Here is the heart,” she tells Nolan, beckoning him closer,”And the legs, and the feet right here. And it is drinking. Pee.”
Nolan makes a face.
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
It’s the question we’ve all been wondering: 88% sure that we were a house destined to be full of noxious gas and toy trucks and pee on the toilet seat.
She shakes her head sadly.
“New law. I cannot tell you that. I am not allowed.”
“New law? Since 2012?” I ask, thinking of the technician at my 20 week ultrasound for Jude, when she circled his boy bits on her screen and blew them up in a picture for us.
“Yes. New law.”
It’s hormones. And it’s the fact that I worked through lunch today, and I’m exhausted and these goddamned hormones and my feet stink, I think, and my feet shouldn’t stink, eff you pregnancy smells, and goddamned headaches and I told my family we’d know today, either way. The tears make me angry at myself, but I let them silently fall anyway.
Corey twitches and Nolan’s eyes widen and I can tell he’s going to start crying too and the technician looks at me with pity and turns the screen to Corey.
“I can’t tell you, but I can show you and you can take a guess for yourself.”
The screen is white and fuzzy and I can’t tell if I’m looking at a paper cut out of a raggedy ann or someone’s unfortunate toe.
She points to something that might be a bum, might be an electric apple.
“Well, I have no idea,”I say,”I can’t see anything there.”
“In here,”she points to an area in the middle of the apple.
“Do you see anything there?”
I look at Corey.
“I don’t see a penis.”
“Right. No penis.”
I am slow and mute and I’m not really grasping.
“It’s a girl.” Corey says and his face is twitching upward.
“I did not tell you that.” says the technician.
“It’s a girl?” I’m crying again, but this time it’s with a crazy hope.
“When your doctor tells you that, you act surprised.”
She shuts the door behind her and we are all a bit glassy eyed and the sensory overload is on again: the congealed jelly on the tube, the numbers on the scale, the flecks of green in Nolan’s eyes and Corey’s familiar eyeballs in mine, and I’ll never forget this moment either.
We are having a girl.