Ultrasounds are a marvel of modern technology. They’re basically a window into your body, where you can actually see what your fetus is doing in your uterus. However, if you’re at all like me, while you very much look forward to your ultrasound visits, you simultaneously think that ultrasounds are the absolute worst.
Look, it's not that I'm not thankful for the capable of checking on my pregnancy and making sure all is well. It's just that, you know, you have to get out of your nice comfy maternity leggings and put on a weird paper gown thingy, and then someone is going to put a gooey wand on you (or worse, in you). That's not my idea of a good time, you guys. The higher-risk your pregnancy, the more of them you’re likely to have, and the more likely you are to be nervous during them. Furthermore, few things illustrate all that’s wrong with America’s healthcare system like an ultrasound visit. The waiting, the bureaucracy, the usually insufficient time to get all your questions answered, the way-too-frequent occurrence of time-consuming insurance billing mistakes. I mean, it's a mess.
Sadly, because pregnancy is supposed to be all unicorns and sunshine and magic, you’re supposed to be nothing but excited for these visits. No. You may never hear your other friends say it, or maybe you’re the first of your friends to have a baby and you have no one to commiserate with yet, but if you’re feeling like an alien for freaking out over ultrasound visits, please know you’re not alone. Here are just a few reasons why, while helpful, they're the absolute worst:
You Usually Spend More Time Getting There And Waiting, Than Actually Seeing A Doctor
If you don't live super close to your provider, or live in a high-traffic area, you'll probably have to spend a while traveling to the office. Then you have to sit in the waiting room, reading old magazines and brochures full of impossibly perfect families, who either give you false expectations for your own future family, or torment you if you've already had a kid and feel taunted by these perfect brochure babies, who lay perfectly still while nursing with their perfectly perfect latches, and who never twiddle their perfect moms’ totally un-sore, un-cracked nipples. Lies.
If you’re already an anxious person, or you’ve had pregnancy struggles in the past, or if you’re like me and check both of those boxes, you’ll spend the majority of the visit bracing yourself for bad news. Yay...
That, Um, Goo
It’s so slippery and weird, and no matter how many times you wipe afterwards, you can still feel it. If you’re lucky, they’ll at least have the warm goo to put on your belly. However, if you get stuck with the cold stuff? Ick. Just the total worst.
Awkward Small-Talk With The Ultrasound Technician
If I ever managed to rack up a few straight days with no one asking me awkward questions about myself, my family, or my pregnancy, my streaks would always end on ultrasound days. Once they ran out of things they could say about the fetus, they’d always start in with innocent but really annoying/unintentionally intrusive questions.
“So is this your first?”
Did I Mention It’s Nerve-Wracking?
Will they find a heartbeat? Will all of its parts be where they’re supposed to be? Measuring on schedule? What will I do if not? Are they going to ask me to come to the consultation room? I don’t want to have to go to that room. How quickly can they fit me in for follow-up tests if I need them? Can I afford to take off from work if I need to? How will I explain it to my other kid(s) if something is wrong? What if there's more than one baby? What if something crazy happens and I have to get induced, like, today? What if that lady in my mom group is right and ultrasounds are actually dangerous? Is this thing like, boiling my baby or something?
Your Baby Doesn’t Always Cooperate
Hoping to find out which gender stereotypes to foist on your kid at your twenty-week anatomy scan? Sorry, their legs are crossed. Haven’t decided if you want to find out in advance? Tough! Their legs are totally open, genitalia front and center the moment the tech puts the wand on your belly. Trying to get a specific measurement of a specific tiny body part? Too bad, this baby is flopping every which way.
You’re Already On A Hormotional Rollercoaster And This Is Not Helping
You already saw that commercial with Sarah McLachlan singing over abused puppies, your partner accidentally ate the one thing your stomach will let you consume without puking, and now you have an ultrasound appointment? That basically guarantees you’re going to to feel every feeling ever felt today, good and bad. That’s exhausting, and you’re already exhausted.
It’s Hard To Tell What Anything Means…
Especially during those early visits, when pretty much the only thing that makes sense is the heartbeat, the fast-throbbing part in the middle of your bean/seahorse/blob-thingy. Still, there are so many other things in the frame that you don’t see on ultrasounds in the movies, and any of them could mean something disastrous for your family. And, of course, you're worried you might be a bad person for even thinking that way.
...And The Tech Won’t Tell You Anything For Liability Reasons
Meanwhile, the person doing the scan could probably allay your fears by letting you know everything looks great, or could give you the heads up if they see something a little off so you can get a jump on the million questions you have for your totally insufficient time with the doctor. But no. If they’re even remotely professional, they’ll just say pleasant nothings until your OB can look at it, leaving you in mental limbo for who knows how long.
But Seriously, It’s Nerve-Wracking
Can we just skip to the part where I feel reassured and calm again? Better yet, just fast forward a few weeks to the day after my baby comes. Thanks.