I drove to the second of my NST (Non Stress Test) appointments this week with trepidation. No, it was not the appointment that worried me. It was the roads and the snow. Snow which fell in huge fat flakes and melted against my heated windshield. Gripping my steering, I made slow progress along the roads. Parking at the hospital, I heaved a sign of relief and stepped into a puddle of mushy snow. Salt and water caking the frayed edges of the maternity jean that I religiously wore to every single one of my excursions outside the home, I stepped into the blessed relief of the hospital innards. I looked at the time. I was a good fifteen minutes early.
I took a seat in their waiting room and looked around. Other women like me had escorts with them. Some were there for their first ultrasound. The excitement palpable in the air around them. Some like me looked huge and bored. Some were focused on their phones and barely looked up as their names were called. I positioned myself comfortably and stared out the window.
A week ago, I started my biweekly appointments, courtesy an errant placenta and my skewed metabolism. As I lay supine at each visit, monitors wrapped around my belly, I was alert and had my eyes glued to the numbers that flashed on the tiny screens in front of me. Numbers that tracked the baby’s heartbeat and my uterine contractions. Each time the baby fell off the monitor, I called out and the tech re-positioned the sensor and we started again. Half hour later, I walked out reassured that she was not coming out anytime soon.
With each passing visit, the place and the people get familiar. I now know their names, where they commute from and their penchant for donut holes and coffee in the mid meal hours. They know about Ammu and Pattu and how scared I am of driving in the snow. Each visit is an incremental step in this journey. One that is not just about the baby. With a good six weeks to go, I suspect I will soon feel like I am among friends when I am at the office. This baby will not be just a random image on the screen for the tech who is tracking measurements.
I trudge through the slush again back to the car. As I struggle to slide in, I realize the days are numbered. One day I will walk in perhaps to be admitted. Suddenly that feels very overwhelming.