“Always be in a state of expectancy, and see that you leave room for the Father to come in as He likes.” –Oswald Chambers
On the morning of January 10, 2009 my friend Danielle met Brad and me at our apartment before boarding the train bound for Beijing. We were on our way to our monthly OB/GYN appointment at Beijing United Family Hospital. Danielle is not only my friend, but she is also a biology student, so I knew she would love an adventure to an international hospital. On the way to the train station, Danielle showed me a list of words she’d translated, including “fetus,” “womb,” “uterus,” “embryo,” and “sonogram.” At the station we walked past a line of people extending out into the train station plaza, all hoping to buy tickets for the upcoming spring festival holiday. Relieved that we’d bought our tickets in advance, we had no trouble boarding our 10:15am train.
Our arrival in Beijing was rather rushed. When we scheduled our appointment a month ago, we scheduled it for 11:00am, figuring that we would take the 8:30 train from Langfang. Unfortunately, in the past month, Langfang eliminated all of the trains between 7:30am and 10:15am. When we tried to buy tickets for 7:30am train, we were told “don’t have,” so we had to buy the 10:15am tickets. I called and tried to reschedule the appointment, but the next available times were from 3:00-4:00pm, and we had to catch the 4:30pm train back to Langfang. The receptionist urged me to go ahead and try to get in to the hospital as soon as I could, and they would try to fit me in somewhere. After arriving in Beijing, buying our subway tickets and our return tickets to Langfang, we arrived at our appointment at 12:15pm, 1 hour and 15 minutes late. Each interaction with the nurses, doctor, and ultrasound technician began with an apology for our tardiness.
Because we were late, the nurse prepared us immediately for the doctor by weighing me, taking my blood pressure, and requesting a urine sample. Then she ushered Brad and me into the doctor’s office while Danielle waited in the hall. Dr. Chang Ling asked us some basic questions to begin, and then asked me to climb onto the examination table. She wrapped measuring tape around my belly, and then she measured vertically up to my belly button. She listened to the baby’s heartbeat again, and counted its beats. After the examination she again talked to us about the pregnancy. She asked if we wanted a blood test to check for chromosomal abnormalities, and she talked to us about a disease called “hemolysis” (Erythroblastosis Fetalis) that affects some couples when the mother has an O blood type and the father has A or B blood type (like us). The disease is very rare and most of the time is not severe, but they check for it anyway. She reminded me to keep taking my prenatal vitamins, and then talked about our next visit and how she’ll use the sonogram to see if the baby’s organs are all growing properly (and maybe see the sex of our child.) She left us with the nurse to have my blood drawn, and then we were off to the ultrasound room.
In the ultrasound room, we were immediately ushered into a curtained room where again I was asked to climb onto the examination table. The ultrasound assistant tucked cloth napkins around the top edge of my jeans, and then left the room. Brad and Danielle made use of the time by snapping multiple photos of me and of the room. The Chinese ultrasound technician chose that moment to pop her head through the curtain right between them, and after a glance at both shutterbugs, she quipped, “First baby?” We laughed, and she began her procedures, pouring cold jelly all over my belly and smearing it around with her magic wand.
In a few moments, we saw our little one, lounging in my womb as if in an oversized lazy-boy chair. She moved the wand to beneath the baby’s legs, but we could not see the sex of the child yet. Then, the baby began to move. It was amazing! It stretched, turned, rolled, crouched, flipped, kicked, pushed, and clenched and unclenched its fists. When I laughed we watched my womb gently bounce the baby. We could see its heart beating and how it breathed deeply in and out after the exertion. The technician pointed out its individual bones by name, and its spinal cord, stomach, and brain. She measured its cranium, and other points of reference, telling us that the baby is one week ahead of schedule in size. She remarked that it had a big head and big nose, and she said the big head must come from its father. We were laughing a lot and predicting what an active child it will be after such a lively dance routine. It still amazes me that I can’t feel a thing with a baby that energetic in my womb! It makes me think that I should be glad for any sleep I can get now, because once I start feeling those kicks I’ll be sleepless! Brad snapped photos (81 all together) constantly, and Danielle videotaped a large portion of it.
When we were finished, the technician printed us two copies of our sonogram. As I looked at them, I realized that this must be where people get their ideas for movies about aliens. The little transparent body looks both human and other-worldly inside its little cocoon. I handed Danielle my sonogram images while I put on my coat, and laughed when I later found her busily displaying them in bouquets of flower and on pregnancy magazine covers so that she could photograph them. Our lunch and ride home were full of excited chatter as we remembered the lively baby we had seen. I have never seen an ultrasound image of a baby in motion before, so I was entirely entranced by the entire thing. What a wondrous experience and what a miracle! Thanks be to our Father for the miracle of life! I am so thankful that I had the privilege of observing this miracle with my husband and our friend. What a great blessing! What a great Father!
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” –Lk 2:19