This week I went for my 12-week checkup. (By the way, I AM PREGNANT.) This is the checkup where they measure the baby's neck and nose, then ask if you want to do the bloodwork to check for chance of genetic disorders like Down Syndrome. When I left my last checkup, the doctor made sure I understood how important it was that I come in at 12 weeks.
Yes, I understand. It's important. After 12 weeks, you'll only have a few weeks left to legally terminate the pregnancy if something doesn't look right.
So I went. I went at 12 weeks. For 6 weeks I had been showing around my first ultrasound picture, which was basically a little blob, or maybe a bean. It wasn't much to look at, but what that picture didn't show was the heartbeat. In the same week that I got a positive pregnancy test, I also heard the baby's heartbeat. My doctor showed me how the little bean was sort of moving, and explained how that movement was actually the heart beating, then turned up the volume so I could hear.
I went home and cried. I had one heart beating in my chest and one in my belly.
For the next six weeks, when I looked at the black and white image of my little bean-child, I could still hear the thump-thump-thump that meant it was alive.
I knew the baby was growing and developing, but I don't think I was prepared for that 12-week checkup. I watched the screen as the doctor measured the neck and showed me the nose. I looked at the head and belly that had formed out of that first bean shape. I saw little feet kicking around. I heard the heartbeat again.
And then, with kindness and respect, my doctor asked me a question she already knew the answer to: "Of course you'll keep it no matter what, right? I know how you all think, that you always keep it."
Of course I'll keep it.
She's had enough patients of my kind to know that we keep miracles. We keep wiggly feet. We keep heartbeats. We keep life.
I assured her that I still wanted to comply with every test and every recommendation she had for mine and the baby's health, but with the understanding that regardless of any outcome, I will keep it. She assured me that everything looks good, that all the measurements are normal, and that she understands. She knows that we always choose to keep the baby.
I looked back at the screen and tried to process the reality that, if I'd chosen, if something hadn't been "normal," I could've terminated. I could've stopped the feet from wiggling. I could've stopped my second heart from beating.
But how could I?
I have two heartbeats now, and I could no more willingly stop one than the other.