After eight months of semi-regular appointments at the fertility clinic, you would think I’d be able to comprehend an ultrasound screen.
But as I sit on the orange stool where countless men just like me have likely sat, I stare dumbfounded at the screen. The various shades of black and grey and white flicker and flux.
“Look at that! Your uterine lining is perfect!” the doctor gushes when he enters the darkened procedure room. Nicole lies on her back, on a bed in the middle of the room, with the ultrasound machine beside her like a bouncer. One of the nurses holds the ultrasound wand over her exposed belly.
I furrow my brow and lean in closer. All I see is a wide swath of grey below a large black bubble that had been identified as my wife’s bladder.
The doctor, a gentle and kind man whom has journeyed with us these past eight months, sits down in his stool and gets to work inserting the catheter that will serve as the transportation device for our microscopic embryo being readied in the embryology lab next door.
Despite taking an anti-anxiety pill to help mellow her out, Nicole remains anxious about the potential pain from the catheter. She’s had some bad experiences in similar situations.
I lean in and whisper in her ear that it is going to be OK and that I love her.
The doctor and nurses speak, as does Nicole. But it is difficult to decipher everyone’s words thanks to the steady hum of some machine up against the wall that looks — and likely is — expensive.
On the ultrasound screen, I see a thin white line appear inside the great swath of grey that is my wife’s uterus. The catheter is in, much to Nicole’s surprise and relief. She didn’t even feel it.
“And we’re ready,” says the doctor, as one of the nurses knocks on a small window. It opens and the embryologist passes through the syringe loaded with our would-be baby.
Earlier, the nurse told us when the doctor implants the embryo, we would see a small white dot appear on the ultrasound screen. This dot is an air bubble representing the approximate location of the embryo, which, since it is microscopic, would be too small to be seen.
But I don’t hold the distinction in my mind as I watch the tiny white dot push through the catheter and float across the screen to settle in the middle of Nicole’s uterus. Seeing the embryo enter the womb is like watching a miracle in action, like sneaking a glimpse of something holy.
“And that’s it,” says the doctor. “We’ve finally done it!”
While the nurses prep to roll Nicole out of the procedure room, the doctor hands me a printout of two black and white photos from the ultrasound machine. There in the middle of the grey mass that is Nicole’s uterus: a white dot. The tiny beginnings of our would-be baby.
Later, with Nicole still lying down waiting to be discharged, I sit beside her, gripping the pictures in my hand. I stare at that white dot for several moments, my mind aswirl with what it might mean. Then I show it to Nicole.
And we both begin to cry.