I turned my attention to the monitor as the nurse started the exam and engaged my intended mother in marveling at her twin boys. I knew she was upset about what had just happened and I wanted to help get her mind off of it.
“Look, there he is, he’s as adorable as ever!” I said, while watching the tiny boy wiggle and squirm on the screen. I could vaguely feel the movements inside, but not to the degree that we could see them on the screen because a lot of the time the baby was kicking his brother and not me. His activity was good.
The nurse positioned the ultrasound wand to pick up the baby’s heartbeat. His heart came into view and we could see it beating away but instead of even, smooth, rhythmic contractions of his heart muscle, the beating was very irregular. Boom. Boom boom boom. Pause. Boom. Boom. Boom boom. Pause. There was no pattern to it whatsoever.
The nurse asked if the baby had had an irregular heartbeat before, and we said no, never. Everything, until today, had always looked and sounded perfectly normal.
She flipped a switch on the machine and the sound of Baby A’s heartbeat filled the room with swooshing. The result was the same – oddly staccato, very irregular swooshing. The technician looked concerned.
“I’m sure he’s fine,” I whispered to my intended mother, who was sitting close to my side. She nodded in silence, the rest of her body motionless, her eyes glued to the screen.