“Alright you two, ready to hear your baby’s heartbeat?” Dr. Ulias asked them. She paused for a moment before turning on the volume on the machine. After a few tense minutes of silence, where Lynne and Huan held their collective breaths, the room was filled with a rapid whoosh-whoosh-whoosh sound. “Mom, dad, I would like to inform you that your baby’s heartbeat is strong and right on track with the 8 to 9 week development.”
As goosebumps appeared on her skin, Lynne felt a wave of positive emotion crash over her. True, she already knew she was pregnant. She had peed on the sticks, had the bloodwork done, and seen the initial ultrasound picture from the clinic all that confirmed her pregnancy. Being that it was so early in her pregnancy, the previous doctor hadn’t been able to pick up a heartbeat with the abdominal ultrasound. But she would never forget the first time she heard her child’s heartbeat, cementing the reality of her situation. “It’s got its own rhythm already,” she whispered to Huan. When she looked up at him, the pure joy that resonated from his face melted her insides into goo.
He had closed his eyes and was focusing on the sound of their child’s heartbeat. A smile as bright as the sun was spread wide across his face, causing his eyes to crinkle. When Lynne saw the tears escape the corners of his eyes, her heart felt like it would explode in her chest. This was all real. Even though this moment stems from the grandest misstep in their shared lives, Huan was as excited as she was at the prospect of the little life they had created. Sure, he had told her that they would get through everything together, but seeing this reaction on his face solidified it in her soul. They were really going to do this together.
Opening his eyes, Huan caught Lynne beaming up at him. Bending down, he brushed his lips across her forehead in a light kiss. Smiling, she caught his face in her hands and wiped the tears off his cheeks with her thumbs. Clearing his throat he turned his attention to Dr. Ulias. “Is it alright if I record this?”
“Sure. Lots of parents do that.” She turned the volume up a bit more so he could get a clearer recording on his phone.
When they were shown the ultrasound screen, Lynne couldn’t make out anything other than a small black and white blob that appeared slightly bigger than the one from her initial ultrasound. When Dr. Ulias threw out words like “fetal pole” and “gestational sac” while pointing at the screen, Lynne was at a loss. Huan was listening attentively and asking pertinent questions peppered with medical jargon. She knew he would fill her in later when they went over the notes he was taking.
Eventually, Dr. Ulias finished the ultrasound and instructed Lynne to get dressed so they could finish talking in her office. They were momentarily held up when Lynne was hit with a wave of nausea causing her to run into the bathroom to vomit. When Huan and Lynne finally walked into Dr. Ulias’s office, she was sitting behind her desk with her glasses perched on the end of her nose looking over Lynne’s paperwork. “Come on in and sit.” She pointed to the two burgundy cushioned chairs in front of her black and chrome desk. Huan held Lynne’s chair while she woozily sat down in it. “Oh, Lynne, you look several shades paler than you were a couple of minutes ago? Are you ok?” The doctor asked, pushing her glasses up on her nose.
Managing a slight smile, Lynne responded “I’m fine. I think the adrenaline from hearing the heartbeat has worn off and my body is back to its normal programming. Morning sickness is no joke.” Taking a peppermint candy out of her purse, she started to suck on it in an attempt to soothe her stomach.
“Don’t I know it; I’ve had five kids myself. I wish I could say it will get better, but every pregnancy is unique. I will urge you to make sure you stay properly hydrated and to start keeping track of your weight. We’ll circle back to your nutrition in a second. Let’s talk due dates. Since you are sure of your date of conception being August 29 and Lynne you wrote down that your cycle is usually 33 days long, your expected due date is June 10 of next year. I’ll let you know that only about 5% of babies actually are born on their due date. Pregnancies range from 38 to 42 weeks. Being that this is your first pregnancy you don’t have anything to relate to, but we recommend you be ready for a possible delivery once you hit your 36 week mark. Babies make their own decisions when they want to come. Some want out early and others enjoy their cushy-amniotic condos so much that they need to be manually evicted. All we can do is monitor you and make sure everything remains in safe range.
“As I was saying earlier, proper nutrition is the key to proper fetal development. Stay away from processed foods and opt for fresh vegetables and fruits. Keep up with a variety of these or the “rainbow approach” to your diet. The brighter the produce, especially on the inside, the better it is for you and baby. You cannot overdo it on either of those. As your tastes change you will figure out what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. Lean meats, poultry, fish, soy, and whole grains are all essential for your diet as well.
“I see from your file that your mother, paternal grandmother, and one of your sisters each contracted gestational diabetes when they were pregnant. Be mindful of your fruit and bread intake, especially the sugar content. You both also have a familial history of high blood pressure. I’m going to give you a dietary plan to best help you prevent these from becoming an issue. That along with an exercise regimen will give you the greatest odds at bringing a healthy baby into the world. Do you currently maintain an exercise routine?”
“I do morning yoga daily and go to a Zumba class three times a week.”
“Yoga to maintain your flexibility and help with your peace of mind is wonderful. As your pregnancy progresses I recommend you modify some of your more complex positions by adding a yoga block. Zumba is great for getting your blood pumping, just make sure you stay properly hydrated and speak with your instructor once your belly becomes more prominent and can make some of those bends and twisting-moves complicated. You may want to check out Aqua Zumba, a water aerobics class, or even just a planned brisk walk in your neighborhood. Also, I recommend you add squats to your daily regimen. It’s good to get your thighs and pelvic muscles ready for labor.”
“While we are on the topic of exercising your body, I’d like to inform you that continuing to engage in healthy sexual activities is normal and encouraged. You’re going to be experiencing an increase in blood flow to your sexual organs in the next few months if you haven’t already. Indulging your sexual urges as long as it is not taxing on your body is fine. In the current stage of your pregnancy, you can do whatever positions you have been doing. As you get further along in the pregnancy, you will have to modify things as your belly gets larger. I recommend positions where you lie on your side at that stage.”
Lynne snuck a look at Huan to see if he was still taking notes. To her surprise, he was. Ok, why is he writing this down?
“I know this was a lot, but do you have any questions for me?” Dr. Ulias asked, lacing her fingers and placing them on the desk in front of her.
“I don’t, but I’m pretty sure he does. Huan?”
“I actually don’t. Throughout the course of this appointment they have all gradually been answered.”
“Well then, I’m writing you your prenatal vitamin prescription as well as an anti-nausea prescription. The receptionist will give you enough for today and tomorrow to tide you over until you can get it filled at your pharmacy. Here’s some literature for what to expect in the next few months as well as some detailing your birthing options. We aren’t going to focus on that until you hit the 20 week mark, but it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead. I’m going to schedule for your next appointment in four weeks. So that puts us in the week of Thanksgiving. I’ll see you guys right before Turkey Day.”
Standing up, Lynne stretched her hand out to Dr. Ulias. “Thank you so much for everything today, Dr. Ulias. It was wonderful to meet you.”
Shaking Lynne’s hand and then Huan’s she replied, “I’m glad you chose me to be your doctor. You two are a wonderful couple. I look forward to helping make your road to parenthood as easy as possible.” She escorted them back to reception and left with a small wave.
After getting the new ultrasound photos and Lynne’s prescription, they headed out of the office building onto the busy streets of midtown NYC. “I like her. I like her a lot. Please thank your colleague for recommending her. She eased a lot of my nerves with her bedside manner,” Lynne told him as they headed toward the subway. They were going back to Huan’s apartment, where she had left her car parked. Once they had an early dinner, she would head back home.
“I like her too.”
The two walked in a blissful quiet, Lynne sneaking glances at Huan while she played around with an idea in her head. “Can I ask you a question, Huan?”
“Why were you taking such copious notes when she was talking about sex? I mean, your hand was flying across the page at that point. It was almost as if you didn’t want to miss anything she said. Up till then you were taking relatively relaxed short-hand.” She teased him with a sly smirk on her face.
“Well, uhh. Umm. I uh.” He fiddled with the strap on his messenger bag as he stuttered, trying to come up with an answer. “Well, I know how you like to have all the information, so I was making sure you had all the facts. Ahh-choo! Sorry.”
“Bless you. That’s like your fifteenth sneeze today. Allergies?” She asked him, concerned as they ambled down the stairs to the station.
“You should take something for that.” She told him, concern on her face. “Circling back to the sex thing. Umm. I mean, would you be adverse to helping a girl out every now and then should the need arise of course? You know, like when I would visit you, since I’m not going to be getting any for the next nine months?”
His eyebrows shot up at her question. “Uuuhh. Sure. I don’t see why not. It sounds like a mutually beneficial deal.”
She nodded her head in agreement before moving on. “So what’s on your agenda for the rest of the week?”
Sliding his Metrocard through the turnstile and walking through, he waited for her to join him on the other side before answering. “Rest, work, Saturday Dinner with the family. And then back to work for Sunday through Tuesday.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“How about you?”
“Work through Friday, volunteering on Saturday, then communing with nature on Sunday in my backyard, before watching classic horror films to celebrate Halloween. It’s a shame we won’t be going to the parade this year. But in my current state, I don’t know if I could have made it through with all the smells. Alas, there’s always the prospect of next year.” They entered a half-full subway car and sat next to each other on two luckily empty seats.
“Plus we can start thinking of kick-ass family costumes.” Lynne was silent at his statement. “You ok, Lyndy?”
“We are going to be a family, aren’t we?”
Placing his arm around her shoulders and pulling her closer to his side, he looked down at her. “Well, I thought we already were family, but as they say, baby makes three.”
“Baby makes three,” she repeated. “Make sure you send me that recording from today,” she told him as she rested her head against his shoulder.
“You got it boss.” Taking his earbuds out of his pocket, he plugged them into his phone and put one in his ear and the other in Lynne’s. Pulling up the recording on his phone, he pushed play. The two of them spent the remainder of their subway ride engrossed in the calming whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of their child’s heartbeat on repeat.
A/N: How do we think Dinner with the Zhang family will go for Huan? Stick around and find out.
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