I was in a downward dog yoga pose wiggling back and forth, trying to shift the position of my daughter Macklyn in utero. She was being stubborn, refusing to cooperate, making it seemingly impossible to see her on the monitor in front of us.
It was my 20-week anatomy scan. A doctor and nurse had just pushed on my belly tirelessly as they attempted to get my baby in just the right position to evaluate her visually. Yet, she was not having it.
Nope, not today, I imagined my daughter whispering as she cozily burrowed herself further from our view.
This was par for the course. It seemed as if every ultrasound we had, my daughter was adamant about remaining unseen. This would make sense later on.
“If we cannot get her to move, you may have to come back,” the doctor proclaimed as he left me in the room to walk around and try to get her to change positions. Enter the downward-facing dog.
I felt impatient, even though I had meditated before my appointment. I did not want to come back and have to battle these labile emotions all over again.
More than anything, I wanted to see my daughter. I wanted to connect with her.
At 20 weeks, almost all women anxiously await this ultrasound. It is the monumental scan of pregnancy. During this test, baby’s sex is revealed, measurements are taken, and a full-body scan is conducted from head-to-toe to ensure your baby is developing as expected.
From the spine to the kidneys to facial features, doctors assess and diagnose potential health concerns and develop a plan of care should any problems arise. Yet so far for us – one hour in and one downward dog later- we had only confirmed that my daughter had all ten fingers and toes.
I shifted my body back further into my downward dog.
Come on, Mack, move, I commanded in my head. She kicked my full bladder, clearly refusing to have any part in making this easy.
I could feel my anxiety kicking in, worried we would not get to see what we needed to see. Or what if we did, and something was wrong? We still needed to look at her kidneys and her brain and her face. My thoughts raced as the restlessness began to build.
As we waited for the doctor to come back into the room, I meditated on the word patience. I closed my eyes as I inhaled my breath slowly. With each exhale, I tried to release the anxiety that came with the fear of the unknown.
I reflected on the moments that had led me to my third trimester. I had impatiently waited three years to get pregnant. Restlessly tapping my foot during each appointment- starting to worry about the next test instead of embracing the beautiful moments as they unfolded in front of me.
I closed my eyes as I felt my body relax on the table.
Take your time, baby, we can wait, I thought as I inhaled patience.
I felt her shift her body. I did not know it yet, but my daughter was already teaching me to calm my unsettled thoughts.
“Okay, Rachel. Let’s see if we can get what we need,” the doctor confidently exclaimed as he glided the wand over my belly. My husband gently placed his hand on my leg to signal me to stop tapping my foot.
“Got it,” he said as if he had just won the lottery. My daughter moved her head just right, allowing him to evaluate her anatomy. I sighed in relief as he confirmed that everything looked healthy even though I was unable to decipher what I was looking at on the monitor in front of us.
He handed us our ultrasound pictures, and I laughed. There was nothing that even resembled a baby in these sonogram photos as far as I was concerned. She had tucked herself just right, making it impossible to visualize anything in the picture.
We had a picture of what seemed to be feet and another of something resembling an arm. Or was that a leg?
My thoughts battled one another as I walked through the lobby. I had a healthy baby girl, and I was forever grateful. Still, I have to admit that I was disappointed. I wanted to see my growing girl. Did she have my nose or her daddy’s? My daughter felt distant- unfamiliar almost.
That evening, I placed my hand on my stomach while I was walking through a mindful meditation about connecting with my baby. The anxiety faded away with each breath as I was met with patience and presence.
As I moved through my practice, I started to feel the physical boundaries between myself and my growing daughter melt away.
I imagined her hand pressing gently against my belly, meeting my hand on the other side. Even though I could not see her, she suddenly became so familiar.
The first time I would see my daughter’s face would be precisely 20 weeks and 3 days later as she was laid on my chest following delivery. As our hearts joined in synchrony, I realized I already knew her fully and completely.