Ever been fishin'?
No, not fishing, that thing you do with a cane pole and a cork and a worm while you sit on a dock and eat your b-o-l-o-g-n-a sandwich. I mean fishin': sittin' in a flat-bottomed jon boat, trollin' up the banks of a muddy river, drinkin' Busch and workin' hard to reach the next, deeper hue in your already red neck.
Now when you're fishin', you can't wait for the fish to come to you. The beer's only gonna stay cold for so long. So God and the Bass Pro Shop have given you a tactical advantage: sonar. So you cruise along, pingin' the hell out of the riverbed, markin' the depth and hopin' for that cloud of little black dashes that says: Here's a pile of crappie. Go get 'em, sport.
And so it was, one recent Monday morning, I found myself cruisin'. And pingin'. And markin'. And hopin'. But the jon boat was an examination room, the fish finder was a mouse-like probe, and the muddy river was my wife's burgeoning babyfied belly. And I didn't have a beer. But otherwise, it's a lot like fishin'. Fishin' for babies.
Welcome to Ultrasound Day, pregnancy's answer to the halftime show.
But before we get to the featured entertainment: these commercials. Except instead of commercials, we got "genetic counseling," a brief Q & A with a "genetic counselor" who warns you that there's a very slight chance that there could possibly maybe be some abnormalities, and would you like to be subject to an additional battery of tests which are, themselves, most often inconclusive or in error? In other words, here's our roulette wheel of prenatal science, and here's a little silver ball. Except the ball is really a large-bore needle in your wife's abdomen. Care to spin?
Thanks, no. We're here for baby pics, not icepicks.
So Kathy's on her back, and her naked belly (which now rivals my own) is getting gooey courtesy of Amy, our perky ultrasound technician, and a big tube of KY jelly. I've got the comfy chair, the 25 inch TV, and a bag of pretzels. Start the show!
And the show starts. Only the show is "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau."
Zis morning ve departed Calypso to explore zee murky depths of zee Caverns d'Uterines. Zhere ees no light from zee sun here, an' zee torchlights are weak. But zee progress ees quite astonishing, and ve have but zis last dark cave een zee back to explore. Vat creature may lurk een zis unseen world? Zat ees why ve are ... ze exploreurs!
Think of a lava lamp, where the lava is white and the oil is black. Then fill it with gravel. Shake it up and turn it on. That's what you see at an ultrasound, at least for the first few minutes. It's like someone put a scoop of Edy's Cookies & Cream over both of your eyes. But then, like a break in the clouds, like Playboy Channel through the scrambler ... you spot something.
Was that an arm? Yes. A hand. FINGERS! You can see every tiny little bone! Ultrasonic Amy points out a couple of things, and after that I've found my bearings. There's a half-grown, heart-beatin', thumb-suckin' baby in there! We get all Matrix-y on the little tyke, circling all around for measurements. The kid is practically posing for us. It waves. Kicks. Even - astonishingly - does the shy thing, using both hands to cover its crotch.
Amy is undeterred and flips to a different view. Faster than you can say "John Madden," she's got her telestrator out and ready, waiting for the kid's legs to spread. Kathy closes her eyes. She doesn't want to know. The wee bairn does a triple-lutz and gives us the payoff. Amy smiles, I nod, and then we put on our poker faces. Kathy opens her eyes and we look at the kid's smiling, toothless jawline.
The rest of the exam is quick. A resident obstetrician comes in to give everything her clinical opinion. When they're done, Kathy tries her best to towel off the jelly so she won't feel goopy the rest of the day. Amy comes back in and hands us a stack of still shots. She gives me a sealed envelope that says "Gender of Baby." I grab the pretzels, Kathy grabs her purse. Show's over.
The next day, Kathy's obstetrician's office calls. Everything's perfect. Perfect brain, perfect heart, perfect body. I thank the clinician and hang up. I reflect on the first 16 years of my life, a seemingly endless parade of doctors and specialists, tests and diagnoses, surgeries and treatments. How often I heard someone say that I was a miracle.
And then I think of the child growing inside my beautiful wife and think: aren't we all?
If the media is the eye on the world, Russ Carr is the finger in that eye. Tune in each month to see him dispersing the smoke and smashing the mirrors of modern mass communication. The world lost Russ on 2/7/12, but he lives on.
ABOUT RUSS CARR
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
7.22.02 @ 9:36a
Congratulations Russ. Now, how long do you think that secret about the baby's gender is going to keep? I'll tell you that the gossip in the Ultrasound office usually makes it about a week before either the dad slips or the mother begs him to tell.
7.22.02 @ 10:27a
Crappie! Slice 'em up, dredge 'em in pancake mix, fry 'em up, and you gotcherself a meal, mister.
michelle von euw
7.22.02 @ 11:49a
I'm with Sarah -- I can't believe you know, and Kathy doesn't. Are you (and Amy) sworn to secrecy? Do people (like your moms) know that you know? You're in for a tough few months, if that's the case...
7.22.02 @ 12:38p
Yeah. 'Cause the minute Kathy says, "Let's decorate the baby's room," and you say, "What about this pink wallpaper?" the cat's (Kat's?) out of the bag.
7.22.02 @ 1:25p
And what are you going to do about a name? You'll be pouring over one gender's names the whole time. Kathy will be like, "Russ, what do you think of 'Willamena' for a girl?" And you'll be saying, "Oh sure Honey, whatever. As long as I get 'Ryan' for the boy's name."
7.22.02 @ 1:51p
Actually...a few other people know now. But not Kathy. She even said "I can look in the envelope and you won't know that I know." And I said, "Well what's the point of that?"
As for room decor...we've picked out John Lennon inspired crib linens, and nothing else so far. Regarding a name, the current leader is "Cameron" -- suitable for either sex.
7.22.02 @ 2:00p
Regarding a name, the current leader is "Cameron"
Please tell me it's not after the guy in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
7.22.02 @ 2:05p
It could be. Or after Cameron Crowe. Or Cameron Diaz. Or John Cameron Swayze.
7.22.02 @ 2:31p
Or John Cameron Mitchell.
7.22.02 @ 5:46p
Too true. I wasn't ragging on your choice of baby name, Russ, it was just the first Cameron that came into my head.
7.22.02 @ 6:13p
Let my Cameron go.
7.23.02 @ 12:15p
For the ice cream reference, I love the column already.
Russ, this whole knowing the baby thing. Elation? Trepidation? Gratification?
7.23.02 @ 12:16p
Just for the ice-cream visual, I love this column.
Russ, the whole knowing the sex of the baby thing. Elation? Gratification? Trepidation?
7.23.02 @ 12:17p
Sorry - the Butman Fish library in the mighty metropolis of Saginaw, MI has a funky computer.
7.23.02 @ 1:03p
I love the Butman Fish Library.
There's elation over the whole thing. Gratification? I didn't care too much either way. Trepidation...well, I can immediately start figuring out costs regarding one gender over another.
By the way...for the curious, there's a clue within the column which gives the secret away. If you figure it out, please have the common decency to not spill the beans here.
7.23.02 @ 2:09p
I got the clue, Russ. Not everyone will, though.
7.23.02 @ 4:23p
Now I want to know the damn clue. DAMN YOU!
7.23.02 @ 4:42p
Hint: It's not the "halftime show" link.
7.23.02 @ 4:43p
Never direct me to that link again.
7.23.02 @ 4:43p
Come to think of it, we could also consider "Sloan" for either a girl or a boy. But not Ferris.
7.23.02 @ 4:44p
How about Soda? Or Seven?
7.23.02 @ 4:47p
I could go for Seven, but not Six.
7.23.02 @ 4:50p
Don't feel bad, Mike. I don't think you'd ever get this clue anyway. Like I said, not everyone's in on it.
7.23.02 @ 4:50p
Blossom flashbacks? Was that the show with a girl named Six?
7.23.02 @ 4:51p
Matt, the clue is not without my realm of experience? Something specific that you've either encountered or not? Why do I care again? I don't even know what sex Russ is.
7.23.02 @ 4:55p
Actually, that was possibly the funniest thing ever said on "Blossom":
Blossom: Yeah, "Six" is kind of a strange name. How'd you get it?
Six: My dad says that's the number of beers it took.
7.23.02 @ 5:03p
The clue is not necessarily outside your realm of experience, Mike...but it's far from obvious. I relied on the fact that Intrepidites are, by nature, well versed across a multitude of media and retain useless information like nobody's business.
I'll further cloud the issue: there's another clue. If you you recognize it, you'll be better equipped to puzzle out the first one.
See, this is what I do to keep people interested long after the content itself is old.
7.23.02 @ 5:10p
Assuming I'm not completely wrong about Russ' clue, it's kind of an inside joke that I'm not sure you were in on.
I don't know what sex Russ is either, so don't feel bad about that.
7.23.02 @ 5:13p
I think you're wrong, Matt. Feel free to e-mail and ask.
7.23.02 @ 5:32p
I just found the inside joke, but I don't think it's about the baby. Ha haa.
7.23.02 @ 5:46p
Some jokes are deeper inside than others. And no, that one's not about the baby.
7.23.02 @ 6:02p
Matt, your e-mail's not accepting my reply, so the world gets to see: No, that has nothing to do with it.
7.23.02 @ 10:41p
Okay, the halftime show scared me.
And I'm partial to the names Robert or Roberta.
7.23.02 @ 10:44p
Russ, I'm touched...
7.23.02 @ 10:52p
In all seriousness, I HATED my name as a kid, being the only "Sloan" in school can really suck, especially being a girl with a "boys" name, but I now love the unique quality. And a bit of trivia, although some books say it's Gaelic and some say Celtic, the meaning remains the same: 'warrior'.
7.23.02 @ 11:39p
I always sort of assumed that Gaelic and Celtic were very related languages.
7.24.02 @ 1:13a
No, actually. Gaelic is more Irish, while Celtic can include Scottish and Irish.
Russ? Back me up here. Am I right?
Sloanie, answer your email from me, darling. Otherwise you are evil and must be destroyed.
Working on the clue - have, like 15 minutes of login time so it takes a few tries.
7.24.02 @ 9:01a
Trace, :( I'm not evil, I didn't get an e-mail from you. "Lil" Mom said she did, but none for me. Our computer is acting really crappy, but I don't think I'm missing any e-mails. I know I still owe you the info, I have it on Word, just need to send it. Peeese don't destroy me!!!!
7.24.02 @ 9:03a
Consider yourself backed up, Tracey. Celtic is a race, not a language. Gaelic is a root language with regional variations -- Scots Gaelic is different from Irish Gaelic, etc. It's not incorrect to say a name has Celtic origins...but it has a much broader meaning than saying it has Gaelic origins.
7.24.02 @ 9:05a
I'm sure my Corrigan ancestors would prefer I "know" my name is Gaelic, but that might offend my very English ancestors...
7.24.02 @ 9:06a
Either way, a cool name nonetheless.
7.24.02 @ 10:07a
Sloan, as absolutely no consolation, I always assumed you were a guy. Dunno why. No offense.
7.24.02 @ 11:04a
Before you step on another set of toes, Mike, if Craige Moore pops up again, she's a she.
Oh, and I'm a girl.
Apparently, up until last week, the president of the company didn't know that. When my name came up, he said, "Jael McHenry? He's fabulous!"
(Which makes me feel, um, sorta good and sorta not.)
7.24.02 @ 12:31p
None taken Mike, along with mispronounciations, and misspellings, misconceptions go with the territory mith my name. A lifetime of being used to it. Except perhaps when I got a letter from Uncle Sam wanting to know why I hadn't for the draft (not what they called it, I can't remember the official name).
Jael, if it's any consolation, I feel your pain, ha ha.
7.24.02 @ 6:31p
Sloanie - it was an information filled email, not a request for information email. :) I do that sometimes - you know, write you, for the hell of it.
Funny how Mike thought Sloan was a male, especially since I refer to my psuedo-sister often as "Sloanie" :)
7.24.02 @ 6:48p
Well, now I'm without the info. Funny how even reading your words I hear your voice and tempo rightfully scathing me :) I know, I absolutely suck at e-mail, but if it makes you feel any better your "favorite boy" sent you a little package today. His Mom is now following his lead. He liked seeing your picture on this site too. "that's MY Aunt Tay!!"
7.25.02 @ 10:31p
See what kids can do for your life? :>
Still working on the blasted clue. I WILL get it!