When I learned I would need extra doctors’ appointments and monitoring due to my gestational diabetes diagnosis, most everyone, including those same doctors, rolled their eyes or scrunched their noses, saying what a nuisance they would be. I need periodic appointments with the diabetes nurses and dieticians, not to mention twice-weekly phone calls to discuss my glucose numbers. I need weekly ultrasounds, a check-in with my OB, and twice-weekly non-stress tests. Inconvenient? Maybe, especially since three of these appointments happen every Monday, which prevent me from keeping my standing babysitting gig for my niece—I miss her. But a nuisance? Well, not exactly.
First of all, I get those weekly ultrasounds, including lots of new pictures and even some bonus 3-D ones. Which, as an aside, are just so awesome, aren’t they? Apparently, Baby Boy has lots of hair on his head! Not many other moms get weekly views of their babies, especially at a time when he a) looks so much like a real human, and b) is rapidly growing and I can track his progress through photographs. I’ll take those views of my baby any day of the week over a day off filled with laundry and errands. But, the appointment I enjoy the most is the non-stress test.
At the non-stress test, I lie on a bed for anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes, with two monitors strapped around my belly—one to monitor me, the other for Baby Boy. I’m given a clicker, which I simply need to press every time I feel him move. I get to hear his heartbeat thump away during that time, but what I really enjoy is watching him move.
Baby Boy’s movements are not new to me. He’s been crazy-active for weeks now and, just recently the movements have progressed from mere sharp jabs to prolonged stretching of arms and legs and rolling from side to side. In fact, as I write this, Baby Boy is doing what I can only imagine as simultaneously kicking me in the ribs and punching me in the bladder. Excuse me while I get up to pee…
…Okay, much better, thank you. So, why is the non-stress test my favorite appointment of all of my new ones? Well, up until this point, viewing Baby Boy’s movements has happened really only under a bunch of clothing. I mean, we’ve had some cold days this November, and I’m usually bundled up under layers of clothing and blankets. Mostly, we have been feeling his movements, but every now and then I peel back a few layers so we, especially my hubby, can see his son move. Seeing Baby Boy’s movements under a bare belly during the non-stress test was a brand new and amazing experience, though. Seeing my skin jump, or roll, or undulate—no hand or footprints yet, though—fascinated me! I realized it was just me and my baby, skin-to-skin. Even though this happens every time he moves, seeing it without the barrier of clothing really affected me. I felt bonded with him in a new way, perhaps akin to what it will be like to hold him against my bare skin for the first time, moments after he is born.
For this reason, I look forward to these tests twice each week. I still may glance up at the in-room TV they provide from time to time, but my focus is trained mostly on my jumping belly. Sometimes I poke back, just to see what he does next. I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything, actually. This appointment is not a nuisance for me. It’s bonding time alone with my baby. My Baby Boy.