Well it was 20 weeks of waiting lads but christ on a bike it was worth it and it was everything and more that I wanted out of a first scan. As I'm writing this, I'm emotional, excited, upset I can't do a scan everyday and I've a smile I can't seem to wipe from my face. The delivery guy must have thought I was very happy to see him.
If you've been following the blog, you'll know by now that I've not been able to attend the 8-week or 12-week scans in CUMH with my wife. This is obviously due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, which is understandable but still a complete pain in the hole. Kinda like that pain when someone kicks you right in the tailbone and ya can't sit right for hours.
The Anomaly & Anatomy scan is next week, which is an important scan. So, we booked a private scan with ReproScan, essentially so I could see the baby live on a screen ahead of that scan and to also put our minds at ease that everything is looking good.
Before The Scan
Leading up the scan, all day I was full of this nervous excitement. I was buzzing about the place excited about what I'm going to see later and nervous that everything is all sweet with the baby.
Thankfully I had work, had a dog to walk, a dinner to make and even did some work out in the shed to just not focus all my energy on the one thought. Or I'd end up thinking the worst before walking in there.
We jumped into the car and made are way in the driving rain to Ballincollig. Now I had mentioned before that I was sitting outside Subway in Wilton waiting for my wife after the 12-week scan. How apt that I find myself sitting outside another Subway as I wait to go in for the 20-week scan.
I was a bit anxious as we sat in the car. We were a few minutes early and you're messing about on your phone to busy yourself. It was like that nervous energy feeling you might have before a big game. Except instead of a coach screaming profanities at you to get your head right, you've a pregnant wife who's screaming profanities saying don't touch me, I've drank a load of water and orange juice for this scan and I'm about to burst.
It was so similar, I could nearly smell the grass on my football boots.
Oh, my wife heard that drinking Orange Juice before a scan can make the baby more active. Might work for some, it didn't for us. I'll get to that in a minute.
The Scan Itself
Right, time to sanitize the hands and find yet another little cut. "Ah the fucking pain! Every fucking time. Oh great... it's that weird slightly sticky sanitizing gel".
Then on with the face mask and the mandatory Bane from Batman impression.
Up the stairs we went, met the receptionist who was so lovely. We sat in the waiting room and filled out a little paperwork. Nothing major and we just waited for Aneta the sonographer to call us in.
The moment came and in we went. Aneta was just wonderful from the moment we met her. The room itself reminds me of a cross between a doctors surgery and dentist but the lighting in the room is much softer, warm and inviting. As my wife is lying on the bed, to her right is the sonography equipment, straight in front of her was a big screen so we could see the scan and images on a larger screen. And I'm sitting on her left.
My wife got on the bed and I sat next to her. Glued to the edge of my seat and staring at the big screen. Time to slap some gel on the belly and let's see what's happening in there.
Now, you are asked if you'd like to know the sex of the baby before you start the scan. It's personal choice obviously but we want to keep it a surprise. So, Aneta said to look away at the start, just in case we spot anything at the beginning, and she'll avoid that area.
I didn't want to know but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't keeping an eye out for any signs of it being a boy or girl.
We get the nod from Aneta to lift our heads and have a look.
I look up and just... WOW!
How fucking great is technology?!
And I can let ye know lads. He/she has two legs, two arms, nose, eyes, ears, finger and toes.
My eyes are so wide open at this point, that I think they may just fall out of my skull. My face is a mixture of a jaw drop and a smile. I have to actually remind myself that my wife is next to me, I'm so deeply engrossed in it, and to hold her hand. She's seen two scans already. I'm just looking at every little bit, trying to absorb everything I can, while I can. Oh I can see the spine, the skull, and ribs.
Then like something you'd see in a fighter jet in TopGun, when they lock onto another jet with a missile, comes up on the screen. Aneta locks in on the heart, then flicks up the little switch with her thumb, then fires.
I hear my baby's heartbeat!
I won't lie, it was direct hit to my heart and I was welling up. My vision was starting to blur as tears started to fill my eyes. I didn't burst out crying but I was so so close.
I felt each beat in my heart. Each beat pounding my chest. Every centimetre of my tiny ears listening to it. Even now thinking back on it, I'm getting emotional and I can feel tears coming now. Where is fucking kleenex?
What made this moment even more special. Is that this was the first time my wife had heard the heartbeat also. To share that with her and to be there for a "first" was just breathtaking. I had to take a few deep breaths just to get myself in order.
Now you might be asking why hadn't my wife heard the heartbeat before this. I think it was just kind of forgotten about at her 12-week scan after my wife had asked to record the scan on her phone so she could show it to me afterwards. She was told no and then they just went about checking everything else, got side tracked and the nurse just forgot to play it for her, my wife thinks... (My wife was able to see the heartbeat herself anyway).
Aneta then started to take some 2D & 3D pictures. Moving the gizmo about my wife's belly looking for the perfect angle to capture a glimpse of baby's face.
Now the baby was kicking like mad before the scan, but had gotten a little shy during the scan. Orange juice did nothing. So, Aneta suggested a little trick to help get baby into a better position. I'll say this beforehand. It's perfectly safe to do.
My wife does what's essentially a hip thrust on the bed. Then while her hips are up, she does her best impression of a belly dancer. Does that for a few seconds and back down she goes and we see if we can have a better look.
Aneta took a few more pictures but baby wasn't playing ball but we did get a great shot. We heard the heartbeat again... just wow again. We also saw his/her brain, their kidneys and the foot that's being using my wife's bladder as a football.
I was lost for words when we were all done. Shocking for me. But I was just taken back. I was in my own little world thinking about what I had just saw and experienced, standing in reception oblivious to it all, while my wife ran to the loo and the receptionist was asking me loads of questions that I was half answering. (If your reading, my bad).
After The First Scan
We went back to the car, had a quick rain shower on the way too and we sat looking at the photos. They email you all the pictures and a little video of the heart beating by the way. We sat for a few mins as couple taking it all in before sending a picture or two onto family.
We knew once we sent them we'd end up getting loads of phonecalls and messages back. Which is only natural. I was buzzing for the night and kept looking at the pictures throughout the night and right before I went to sleep.
I know it may seem daft, sounds almost daft when I say it. But in the last week feeling those kicks and seeing that scan I feel so much more connected to my baby. Even with all my other efforts to bond with the baby, this just took it up a notch.
I saw and felt my baby this week. Saw and felt!
If you bump into me doing the shopping, sure where else would I be going, and you're wondering why I'm smiling and skipping. This is the reason why.
My anxiety ahead of next week's Anomaly & Anatomy scan is definitely much better for this scan.
Finally, to all you Dads and couples out there. I got this scan as restrictions dictated I won't be allowed into CUMH until my wife is in labour more than likely. However, irrespective of that, I would still highly recommend booking a private scan to get 2D & 3D images. I think Reproscan do 4D also. It cost us €120 and was the best money I spent in a long time and you won't regret it. The environment and the staff just added to what was a wonderful and intimate experience.
If I could, I'd have a scan everyday. Chat away to the bump about whatever and see if I got a reaction.