Wednesday 15 September 2004


When we went to see the doctor, he pressed what looked like a wooden funnel against my belly and said he could hear a nice, strong heartbeat. Hurrah, we said. Out of curiousity, I looked this funnely thing up and discovered that it's called a Pinard stethoscope. I also discovered that apparently you can't hear squat with it before 24 weeks. So what on earth did the doctor hear? In a slight panic, I emailed a UK midwives group and asked if it was possible to hear a fetal heartbeat at 16 weeks with this Pinard stethoscope. Three women (two midwives, one I'm not sure about) claimed that this was impossible at 16 weeks. Grand. So the doctor either heard my heartbeat and thought it was the baby's or he completely made the whole thing up. I felt sick; like when you discover that someone you trusted has conned you. Luckily, I had made an appointment with a midwife (mine's on holiday) with the intention of asking her to listen to the heartbeat with a doppler.

The midwife was absolutely lovely; enthusiastic, friendly, and kind. She assured me that you can indeed hear the heartbeat with the Pinard, but that she would use the doppler so that we could hear the heartbeat ourselves. Really, I asked? Even at 16 weeks? She said that she could and I could have the choice if I wanted her to use the Pinard. We both said no very quickly and told her how we hadn't heard the heartbeat yet (unlike everyone else in the universe who apparently gets to do this at least a dozen times by this point). As she started to explain that she might not hear it at first because the baby might not be in a good position, she stopped herself and said "Oh! There it is! Found it right away." At first, we just heard swooshing and other ambient noise, then, loud and clear, galloping. I turned to Paul and stated the obvious (something like "It's our baby's heartbeat!"), tears welling up in my eyes as the midwife very kindly held the doppler to my abdomen for quite a while. "That is SO cool!" I kept saying, and indeed, it was. Dida thump dida thump dida thump dida thump dida thump, oops baby's moved away, dida thump dida thump dida thump dida thump, at around 150 beats per minute. It was a beautiful sound.

So at least now I know that the midwife will listen to the heartbeat every time I visit the surgery, and if I ever want to hear it, I just need to make an appointment. But right now, I can still hear Pip galloping around inside me and will cherish that sound for a very, very long time.

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