02 July 2008

No pictures, please

I got an email from a fellow pregnant colleague who was quite enthusiastic about first scans. She’d only just had hers, and the experience was tear-inspiring for both her and her partner. I’m not really the tearing sort (I reserve that for anger and anxiety), so I wasn’t exactly expecting a punch-in-the-gut reaction to seeing my little alien on the small screen.

And a good thing too, because the nurses who herded us through that process were some of the most downtrodden, unenthusiastic and unintelligible people I have ever had the displeasure of being manhandled by. A less ironic pair of first-time parents-to-be could have been very disappointed, especially if they were under any illusions about healthcare in the UK.

The NHS system might offer people free healthcare, but if caring is what you’re after, well, that’s going to cost you.

Minutes after I arrived, in a dingy backroom at the Victorian hospital, the ultrasound gel unceremoniously plopped onto my stomach by the impassive Ms Muffin, Bruce and I were gruffly confronted with the first sighting of what will one day (biology willing) be our child.

Amidst the noncommittal grunts of our reluctant technician, we chattered quietly in awe and disbelief that right here, in the hidden cave of my being, lies something that looks very much like a tiny person. Not even the barely suppressed irritation of Ms Muffin could rob us of that very strange and intimate moment.

Afterwards, we were pinged between various departments in the antenatal unit until someone could riddle us what the hell we were supposed to do next. There was a new appointment to be made, a mystery appointment to make sense of, and the ever looming question of how one secures a midwife – none of which had easy answers. Not until we visited the midwives office - a bustling, cheerful hive of activity and – dare I say – caring.

Somewhere along the way, we lost our free first scan (next time you pay two pounds, and you need to bring change, muttered Ms Muffin on repeat – the closest she’d ever come to enthusiasm) but I don’t care: we saw it waving about, alive and well, and that image is indelibly burned into my mind now. Next time we’ll bring our two pounds and cross our fingers that Ms Muffin is on blood-letting duties.


pk said...

Ultrasound technicians are like that everywhere. I think they are mostly unemployed sub-postmistresses. Don't worry: you have decades of anger and anxiety ahead; might as well tear up now and get some practice in.
(You weren't being ironic about being ironic were you?)

Ariel said...

Are you telling me that they gave you the photo and then snatched it away because you didn't have 2 pounds on you? Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Ha! No, I see how you could have read it that way though. We thought the 'original' we were holding was the freebie but it turned out she was supposed to have given us another to take with us. The original had to be given to a different nurse and we never found out what happened with our copy.

And Mrs Slocombe: it's difficult to say this with any irony, but no, I wasn't being ironic. We're strictly unsentimental about the obvious things.