If I had a mantra in life, it would probably be “better to be pleasantly surprised than horribly disappointed.” It causes me to think the worst possible outcome of any situation so when anything less severe than that happens, I’m happier than I would have been had I just assumed things were going to work out. That philosophy works fine if you assume the New York Giants are going to lose the Super Bowl and they win or if you assume you aren’t going to get that job you interviewed for and you don’t. It doesn’t work so well if your wife is expecting a baby.
As we got closer to our first ultrasound appointment, my nervousness kept growing. Cindy began exhibiting the symptoms of pregnancy and, in my mind, I felt like a back seat hypochondriac. Even though the pregnancy books I downloaded to my iPad would say what she was going through was normal, I would still find myself typing into Google, “Is this typical after ___ weeks?” I tried to keep my craziness to myself.
Every night, I continued to pray for us to be one of the lucky ones but the week of our appointment, I started making deals with God. I promised that I wouldn’t drink any alcohol until the baby was born1. I just wanted to hear a heartbeat. I know Cindy had a positive pregnancy test and had some of the symptoms but my ill-advised internet reads made me hold my guard up. I read somewhere that hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time is when everything starts to feel real. At first, it seemed silly to me but I get it now. Until you have your first appointment, all you really have is faith that your baby has a heartbeat. While I fantasized about life with Baby MC in those early weeks, I definitely held back knowing the more I thought about the future, the more devastating it would be if something was wrong.
I wore my lucky underwear2 and the same tshirt I wore the day we found out Cindy was pregnant to our appointment. . It felt like it took forever for us to finally see the doctor who was going to be our partner through this journey. A tall African-American woman with a large burnt orange afro came through the door. Somehow she seemed to be in a hurry yet not rushing us. She talked really fast and with a matter of fact tone that I’ve come to appreciate. We were peppered with a bunch of questions as she prepared to examine Cindy. The image came up on the ultrasound screen and then she said, “There’s your baby.” At this point, Baby MC looked like a tadpole and if she hadn’t pointed it out I would have missed it. Then she turned on sound and let us hear the heartbeat.
I was so relieved that I felt a little light-headed. I didn’t get teary-eyed or anything but I was filled with a lot of joy. I had questions for the doctor before the appointment but after I heard the heartbeat, I forgot them all.
I relaxed a little more after that appointment. Not just because I heard Baby MC’s heartbeat but I knew I wouldn’t be able to survive this pregnancy if I’m going to get stressed out about what can go wrong. I still wear my lucky underwear to appointments, I haven’t had an alcoholic drink since I made my “deal” with God and I still pray everyday but I’m less freaked out. There is only so much that we have control over and I just have to have faith everything will work out.
1 Cindy continues to make fun of me for giving up drinking.
2 Yes, I have lucky underwear. How lucky they are is up in the air as I wore them to a few job interviews and a lot of Yankees playoff games in the last few years but I did wear them the day I flew to Los Angeles with the hopes of wooing Cindy.