Part one is available here, in case you missed it and would like to start from the beginning.
Finally the day of the ultrasound came around. Tension ran high as they prepared to leave for the clinic in the morning. Conversation was sparse, short and sharp. “Where’d you put my bag?” “It’s on the dining room chair, where you left it.” “Are you almost ready?” “I’m ready when you are.” Then at the door, just before leaving, Laura put her arm around John in a half hug, “I’m sure it’s going to be alright. Just think, we’re going to hear the heartbeat today!” John planted a kiss on top of her head amidst her hair and murmured, “I hope so.” As they stepped outside and he locked the door he added, “Anyways, always good to see Dr. Vroom, such a friendly fellow.” She half-laughed. The joke was about Dr. Kawasaki – who’s name evoked motorcycles to John which caused him to apply the nickname, in part as a way to make things scary and unfamiliar seem less and more so respectively. Dr. Kawasaki was highly recommended, very professional, very knowledgeable and absolutely not personable. He wasn’t mean or really unpleasant, he was just gruff and almost never smiled.
When they arrived at the clinic it was bustling as usual. Laura checked in at the counter and they found a seat to wait in, watching the other couples, many of the women visibly pregnant. Normally Laura found the waiting room rather stressful, seeing all the expecting women while never managing to get pregnant herself. This time was different, still stressful, but no longer the stress of failure and jealousy. Instead she felt the stress of uncertainty and worry about all the things that could go wrong. After 10 nervy minutes a friendly nurse escorted them to a small room where they would do the ultrasound. She left them alone so Laura could undress from the waist down and settle in on the table to wait. John sat down in the straight back chair in the corner provided for that purpose. “So,” he broke the silence, “Will this be your first experience as Laura-on-a-stick?” She shook her head, “Hey, be a little gentle. There’s got to be a better euphemism than that!” “Sorry,” he grinned, “but have you…done this before?” “Nope, this’ll be a first. Anyways, it’ll be worth it to hear the heartbeat.”
Moments later Dr. Kawasaki walked in with nurse in tow. He sat down and got right down to business, “Ok, so you should be in week 5 now.” He flipped through her file while continuing, “So, we’re going to have a look on the ultrasound and see how things are progressing, ok?” Laura nodded, “Sure.” John found himself unconsciously squeezing his hands in his lap as the doctor inserted the ultrasound device and started the scan. “Ok,” Dr. Kawasaki narrated as he expertly operated the scanner, “So now we’re seeing the uterus…ok, there’s the pregnancy sack.” A cold feeling swept over John as he thought, “I don’t hear a heartbeat…there’s no heartbeat.” Instinctively he stood up and moved to stand near Laura, taking her hand. She gripped his tightly as she interrupted Dr. Kawasaki, “Is there…I don’t hear the heartbeat.” Dr. Kawasaki, “I don’t see it yet…let me turn up the volume a moment…hmm, seems like it’s not there yet. And you see here the pregnancy sack, which shows that you definitely are pregnant. Let me just take this out.”
Laura and John waited nervously again for him to remove the ultrasound wand and make a few notes. He put down her file and faced them, “Ok, so we’ve confirmed that you are definitely pregnant. We didn’t see or hear the heartbeat yet, so we’ll have you back to have another look next week.” “Isn’t it normal…I mean shouldn’t we be hearing the heartbeat now?” Dr. Kawasaki moved his head side-to-side slightly, “Well, normally yes, that’s why we’d like you back next week. However, there is no reason to get too concerned right now. We might be off on the timing a bit as well, so we’ll have a look in a week and see how things are developing. Ok? So we’ll see you next week then, goodbye.”
It was a long trip home. Both of them were a bit shell-shocked by the results. They had hoped for their stress to be released, but instead found it compounded exponentially. When they arrived at their apartment Laura headed to the bed to lie down with John close on her heels. They spooned in silence for several minutes. She started, “What…do you think? I mean, pretty worrisome, right?” He slipped his hand in hers and agreed, “Yeah. Extremely worrisome. I just really wonder what’s wrong. Why was there no heartbeat?” “Well,” Laura rationalized, “I guess we shouldn’t get too carried away in a panic yet either. As Dr. Vroom said, maybe our dates are off a bit, or maybe things are just a bit behind the normal schedule.” “I don’t know, I mean you keep that calendar of yours. With all the information you’re tracking all the time, I don’t really see how we could have the dates very wrong.” She pushed on, “Right, so then hopefully we’ll be able to hear it next week. I’ve read quite a bit online and not everybody hears the heartbeat at this stage, you know. If there’s nothing next week…well, that will be more concerning. Don’t get me wrong, I completely share your feelings of stress and worry. Probably unavoidable, but I’m just saying that we probably don’t have grounds to panic just yet.” John sighed deeply, “Maybe not. Man I wish…well, anyways, let’s hope for the best next week. Just seems like nothing ever goes the easy way.” She gave his hand a squeeze, “I guess we’ll just have to get through the hard way.”
A few days later it was John’s turn to support her. As they sat down for dinner she said, “I’m really worried now. My nausea isn’t bothering me much at all anymore.” He crinkled his brow, “Shouldn’t that be a good thing?” She shook her head, “No! I’m worried that means that the baby isn’t developing, or…might have serious problems. Or worse.” “I don’t really think that’s connected, you know. From what I’ve heard or read, it seems really tough to judge anything from morning sickness. I mean I’ve heard my cousins talk about having almost no problems at times and being really under the weather other times, with no connection to the health of their babies.” There was a beat before she picked it up again, “Maybe. But what if there’s a serious problem? What if the baby just…stopped? Like stopped developing?” John reached across the table to touch her hand, “I know, I struggle with the “what-ifs” as well, but the truth is right now we probably just don’t know, one way or the other. It sucks, but we’ve just got to wait ‘til the next ultrasound and hope for the best.” She gave a weak half-smile, “And pray.”
The rest of the week seemed to crawl. Although Laura’s lack of nausea continued John kicked his efforts into high gear, trying to baby her every step of the way. It was as though he thought that if she could just lie on the bed or the sofa all the time and not exert herself in any way her body could focus on taking care of the baby. With stress high, he managed on a few occasions to raise Laura’s ire. “Enough already,” she snapped at him once, “If you don’t stop mothering me you’re going to have your own health problems to worry about.” He opened his mouth to respond, thought better of it, and slunk away quietly to entrench himself behind his Kindle on the sofa for the rest of the evening.
Laura joined him around an hour later, curling up and sliding her head onto his lap under his Kindle. He put it aside and gave her a tentative smile. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt your reading,” she said. “No problem,” he replied, “how are you doing?” She sighed, “Ok, I guess. Sorry for biting your head off earlier.” He shook his head in protest but she pushed on, not allowing him time to counter her apology, “I know you’re trying to help and all, but I’m so on edge right now that I feel like I need to keep busy. Whenever I sit down for a quiet moment my mind goes right to the worst case scenario.” John nodded, “Yeah, I’m with you there. And no need to apologize, I understand this sucks.” She took his hand in both of hers, “But it sucks for you too.”
After a moment’s silence he leaned over toward her stomach, “Come on, Eunice. You can do it! Keep on keeping on in there. I know you’re probably just trying to scare us so we’ll buy you more stuff once you’re born, but we’re probably gonna spoil the crap out of you anyways, so how about letting us off the hook?” Laura tried a weak smile, “You are a weird guy, you know that?” “Don’t listen to her, Eunice. We both know I’m the cool parent. If you need some beer for your parties, we can talk about that.” Laura’s smile became genuine, “What? Before you said she couldn’t even date and now you’re going to buy her beer to be the cool parent? That didn’t take long.” “Hey,” he clarified with faux seriousness, “I maintain my stance on the no-boys-allowed policy. Beer, ok, boys, not so much.” “Great, you’re going to turn our baby into an alcoholic spinster.” “At this point I just hope everything goes well with the pregnancy so that we get the opportunity to screw her up,” John said. “Amen,” Laura agreed with feeling.