It doesn’t matter if it is your first or 4th first ultrasound; it is a miraculous moment in the life of a parent that is so surreal and moving it is almost difficult to wrap your mind around it. It is often the first real sign of life; weeks after gestation that confirms your wildest dreams come true. For so many mothers it is difficult to even believe they are pregnant in the beginning and seeing the heartbeat and the little ‘tadpole’ move around can make it ever so realistic.
The first ultrasound for most women is done around the 17 week mark. There are millions of other first ultrasounds that occur earlier and these can be somewhat disappointing. As great as it is to see the heartbeat; before the 15 week mark the fetus just doesn’t look very baby like. At around 10 weeks you will see a fetal pole with small stubby protruding stumps for arms and legs and of course the heartbeat…but not much else. Miraculously around the 17-19 week mark an ultrasound will show you a life like picture that includes facial features, fingers, toes and of course all the pertinent internal organs. Even if you can’t feel the baby move at this point; you will certainly be able to see it moving in the womb. Sometimes they curl and stretch, kick and hiccup for the camera and the experience is breathtaking.
Most parents have gone into the first ultrasound with a mixed sense of excitement and anxiety. You are excited to see your baby and of course worried and hoping that everything is okay. There are tons of horror stories about women going to their first ultrasound and finding out that there is a health concern with their baby. Keep in mind that most of the concerns turn out to be nothing. The first ultrasound is also the time that you can find out the gender of your child. For every parent who can’t wait to start decorating in pink or blue there is another who wants to keep it as a surprise. Depending on the outcome knowing the gender can also be stressful. Many moms worry that having a girl will disappoint their husbands while others had their heart set on one sex and end up with the other. The best thing to do is realize that a higher power knows what is best for you and your family.
Probably the worst thing about the first ultrasound is the fact that the doctors require you to have a full bladder. There is nothing worse than being pregnant, drinking 64 ounces of fluid, being told to hold it and then having some person press on your belly. Somehow, this seems as a metaphoric rite of passage into motherhood. Finally after 15 years the techs have at least begun to use warmed up gel to lather on your belly before performing the procedure.
If you are looking forward to or headed to your first ultrasound then there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. The first is; prepare to be amazed. There is a moment that is almost confusing, when you see your baby and know it is inside you but feel like you can’t wait another moment to hold it. The second thing to keep in mind that it is normal for the radiologists doing your procedure to not speak to you. In many cases, even if you ask questions they won’t answer. Lying there on the table that can feel alarming but has more to do with their protocol then a concern about your pregnancy. Another thing to keep in mind is that you really should bring someone with you. Whether it is the dad or your mom or sis or even a best friend; having someone to experience it with is calming. Ask before hand if you are able to take video tapes or DVD’s that will allow you to save a copy for home watching and always ask to get as many pictures as they are willing to give. Down the road when you feel miserable, achy and tired you will be able to look at it and realize that it all has a purpose and you will make it through.
For every person there are certain moments in life that will live in the memory forever. The first ultrasound is definitely one of them. There is something magical about the technology that allows us to see our baby in the womb with a beating heart and sometimes even sucking their thumb that can make whatever you might be going through seem okay. Pregnancy is always a mixed bag of emotions for people and every woman looks at it differently. There really is no right way. But seeing the first ultrasound makes one thing crystal clear; you are a mother! As you see your baby and begin developing dreams, ideas and hopes for the future based on the little tiny person you actually see…you will be transforming and falling in love like you never have before.