Then there was the ultrasound. We hadn’t expected it to be part of the first doctor’s appointment, but exactly what about this situation did we expect? The whole appointment was a circus. We waited an hour at the East Bay Women’s Center before our doctor breezed in. She was cool, though. She wore dreads. She spoke in a low tone and we had to lean forward in order to hear her. She took my history, did a pelvic exam. Then she said: “Want to see the baby?”
Inside my mouth I could feel my tongue dry up, turn into a crumpled and atrophied thing. To say yes opened up so many possibilities I couldn’t and didn’t want to fathom. To say no just seemed rude. In the end I chose my own weird version of etiquette.
“Sure,” I said, and could almost hear Adam grit his teeth beside me. I ignored it. In that instant I realized that I wanted to see what – who – I was carrying. I needed to know what that creature looked like, to observe whatever features I might be able to make out. This was – for now, at least – my child.
My child. When exactly does one become a mother? Does it happen at the moment of conception, before the awareness even settles and is recognized? The first time you see the changes in your body, feel the creature move within you? When he or she finally emerges, goo-covered and screaming?
When does the universe christen you a parent?