Scans are weird things, aren’t they? You go for one, see a vaguely alien-shaped floating blob, answer some practical and matter-of-fact questions and are than asked how many pictures you want. “Err.. one?” I ventured last time, only for the sonographer’s excited face to drop as ten pictures churned enthusiastically out the printer. “You can give them as presents,” she said warmly, pressing them into my hand. She really was the loveliest sonographer I’ve come across; I really couldn’t tell her they were destined to reside on my desk, next to (and eventually underneath) half-full mugs of tea and my record of unpaid invoices.
Because, really, I can’t find the reality of a baby in a picture that was already familiar to me, years before I had kids, from TV programmes and Facebook pregnancy announcements. The thought that this magical abnormally sized head and really indisputably cute fingers and toes belong to your soon-to-be son or daughter is too hard to compute, and you quickly accept this, in the gloomy scan room, because what else can you do? Mind-numbing terror that something will be terribly wrong turns to overwhelming relief, to happiness, to oh-my-god-there’s-really-going-to-be-a-baby, to normal mundanity in the space of about 1.4 seconds. And then you get on with it. You let your friends humour you as they aww over the picture (thank-you friends!), you call your family, and you tell yourself you’ll start really doing something productive for this new baby in a few months. Until then, it gets filed in the mental To Do.
Except, it doesn’t. When you least expect it, you’ll feel the baby move, or you’ll lay awake all night imagining a sleepy newborn’s head on your shoulder. And you’ll know that one day – and only if you’re lucky enough for everything to go well – this beautiful little blob will be spitting out porridge as it sits at the table with its siblings, it will be tantrumming on the tube, it will say only Peppa for months, it will be affectionally whacking the dog and it will be trying on its school uniform for the first time. It’s all there, in one picture, and I can’t wait to do it all over again.