Frequent readers of this column (a.k.a. "champions") are aware of my virility and dragon-slaying/lumberjack-like masculinity and understand if I feel like it I can grow a full Scottish bagpiper beard instantly. They are also aware that this sometimes leads to children, my second on the way.
Recently I attended the second ultrasound, because this allows me to pretend I'm Superman with X-ray vision. This process can sometimes be confusing for the uninitiated. Allow me to help those men who might be nervous for their first ultrasound go-around.
I look at ultrasounds the exact way I look at a piece of museum abstract art around attractive women - I fake it very well. You might as well stare at a lava lamp for an hour. But unfortunately you didn't create that bulbous entity (unless you work at a lava lamp manufacturer, in which case, hey, cool) so you have to go to the radiologist, and likely see a doctor while you're at it. It's a lot like going to a garage for an oil change but getting the tires rotated too; you're already there, so why not?
Not that I'm comparing pregnant ladies to cars! Haha!
When you get to the hospital, let your lady fill out the paperwork. After all, the baby is growing in HER uterus (you don't have a uterus). Hospitals don't care that your arm felt "itchy" this morning - even though you put it's a 9 out of 10 on the pain meter - or that your stomach hurts and won't "write you a prescription for a free cafeteria croissant sandwich."
So while she fills out her form, feel free to draw a picture of a dinosaur eating Hitler on the side to reassure the hospital secretaries your wife is in very capable hands.
A nurse will take you and your lady to get her weight checked to ensure her self-esteem is appropriately low (high self-esteem is apparently detrimental to fetal development). Whatever she tells you it is, DO NOT REACT. She could say, "I weigh nine kilograms" and you should remain motionless like she's the Tyrannosaurus Rex you drew on your hospital form and you'll be attacked if she senses movement. You should also wonder why she's talking metric, which might be a symptom that she's European. Might want to get that looked at. Unless you're also European. In which case, you probably can't be cured and you'll probably name your child "Nigel." Ugh. WHY?
If she demands a response to her weight shout, "Could've fooled me, tiny lady!"
The waiting room to see the doctor is an uncomfortable experience, with diagrams of lady parts seemingly everywhere you turn, which is disturbingly NOT sexy. You're not going to find a sports magazine anywhere, so you should use this time to express your excitement to your lady, ask how she's doing and if it'd be inappropriate to crack that beer you've been carrying.
Eventually the doctor will enter and ask her questions, essentially ignoring you and making you feel unnecessary.
"I'M fine," you'll say, waving, wondering when the doctor would get to you. "Not that anyone CARES."
You may have to get up in the stirrups before you're even acknowledged.
The doctor will ask your wife a series of ice-breaking questions before getting her pants off.
DO NOT PUNCH HIM.
I'd say just close your eyes though the whole thing but you'll just be picturing all of the diagrams and what the doctor may or may not be doing to your lady. My best advice is to stare unblinking at them while cracking your knuckles and talking about "that upcoming UFC fight I'm in."
Once you're in the ultrasound room your lady is given a paper gown to change into and you're just supposed to sit there and NOT play with the lubricating jelly or sit at the ultrasound machine and pretend you're piloting the USS Enterprise.
"You're not playing Star Wars with the machine again are you," your wife may ask from the bathroom if you're too loud.
Of course you won't be able to hear her over the sounds of all the photon torpedoes.
"Are you guys ready?" the nurse will ask.
"Phasers set to fun!" you reply, earning a look, likely of adoration by the ladies.
Be warned: the nurse will take more photos of the fetus than your wedding photographer did at your wedding, which hardly seems possible.
"Easy paparazzi," you might be tempted to say. "That's not a famous fetus."
Do not say this.
Unfortunately because you're not experienced in ultrasound reading you're unable to lead the presentation as I did.
"Right there, that's the pelvis," I said, pointing to the screen with the laser pointer I brought for the occasion. The nurse was clearly impressed with my knowledge of babyology as much as my fertility.
"We haven't started yet," she said, jealous my wife was the one I had conquered. "That's a screensaver of a baby at eight months. You're at 20 weeks."
My wife laughed, obviously the nervous laugh of a woman who might get double pregnant soon if she keeps staring into my manly eyes.
"Well, sometimes babies can grow a lot faster," I reasoned. "That's just science."
"That's not really possible."
"We'll just have to agree to disagree."
After the nurse squirts the ectoplasm on your lady's belly she'll get to the images. It's hard not to get eager if you think you see something.
"Right there, that's the" the nurse may begin.
"Ankle!" you'll chime in.
"Well, the ankle is the spine of the foot," you'll mumble.
Maybe you have to cross your eyes like you're looking at a Magic Eye picture.
Eventually you'll find the heart and as your eyes adjust, you will begin to see a tiny person. Try not to pass out. It's a surreal moment and one of the first when you realize your life is about to get a whole lot better.
Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via that tree right there! Oooh! You just missed him! He's very nimble. Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny or so help me he will sing.