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Waiting to love my child

The technician pushed the plastic wand onto my belly, and there on the TV screen were white blobs and filaments in a black cone.

“There's the cervix,” she said, as though I'd driven two hours to get the inside scoop on my cervix. “And there's the placenta.” She ran a computer curser over a fuzzy white mass.

But I wanted a profile or a full-body shot, some image that would tell my brain, Yes, there's a person in there, which would tell my heart, Yes, you can risk loving this person.

Right now it was still an it, and I still called it “Baby X.” Right now I still imagined a giant mathematical variable in my pelvis, offering a host of faceless unknowns.

But the tech held off on the print-worthy images and dwelled instead on organs. A flapping, four-chambered heart. A black marble of a spleen. Look, there's the brain: two hemispheres inside a globe.

Finally, the face. “There,” she said.

Except it was not the usual ultrasound profile of sloping forehead, dainty nose, and chin. It was a square shot, and I saw deep and ghostly eyeball cavities. The angular bone structure of the cheeks. A black opening for a mouth, gaping wide. It was a skull in my uterus. A Halloween icon floating in my womb.

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