“Excuse me??” I say, but I think, “Sanford (not that I know your name because you introduced yourself–you didn’t), is this any way to talk to a woman you’ve just met?”
She presses the sonogram wand against my stomach with palpable annoyance.
“I said,” she began again in a more careful Russian-toned English, “that I THINK it’s a clitoris. But it’s really too early to say so I don’t want to say ‘Oh, it’s a clitoris’ for sure because when you come back next month you’ll be mad if it’s a penis instead.”
There were so many ways to respond. I could have said “Babies aren’t clitorises or penises, Sanford; they’re girls or boys.” I could have rewound our encounter completely, asking “Why didn’t you introduce yourself? Why didn’t you explain the procedure? Why did you furrow your brow and sigh a lot as you marked x’s on our baby’s image on the screen? Why didn’t you tell me what what we’re looking at here?”
Instead, I said, “I’d be equally happy with a clitoris or a penis.”
And then she said, “It’s breech. The butt is where the head should be. ” Long pause. “But don’t worry. They move around a lot.”
Seeing the image of the baby for the first time– its perfectly formed spine, so different from mine; its little fists pumping up and down; its rib cage; its head and feet and, well, whatever the organ is–was powerful, a word that hardly captures the feeling at all. But it made me leave the office full of gratitude– that and the thought “I will only eat spinach and broccoli and brussels sprouts for nine months if it means keeping you healthy.”