I suppose I wasn’t much different from a lot of 22-year-olds: If asked whether I was pro-life or pro-choice, I opted for “anti-abortion.” I had never been involved with an abortion in any way, yet I was unwilling to make a reasonable — let alone bold — statement either for or against the practice.
Still, like a lot of 22-year-olds, I had an opinion of a subject I knew little about.
That all changed when I experienced my first ultrasound. My wife Wendy was 15 weeks pregnant with our daughter, yet-to-be-named Cynthia.
I expected to see images similar to those I’d seen in my high school and college health textbooks: a baby floating in its liquid surroundings, comatose, waiting for its birth day.
I expected a textbook. What I saw was a miracle.
The sonographer laid my wife on the table, poured some lubricating gel on her small-yet-growing belly, and began navigating the transducer — the wand-like device that sends and receives the ultrasound waves. Within moments, a black-and-white image appeared on the monitor.
My hand gripped Wendy’s, and she could tell that I was overwhelmed. Our daughter was not floating, she was swimming! She was not comatose or simply hovering, waiting for worth to be granted her at birth; she was doing flips, sucking her thumb, enjoying a dynamic existence within the confines of her mother’s womb. Though simple, her days were full of joy and uncomplicated adventure.
The sonographer pointed out the spine, which was the clearest object on the screen. Next she measured the skull, the beautiful head so much bigger than the rest of the body.
Cynthia’s legs were curled up, little arms tucked under her chin, her hands moving to and fro as she swam and floated. The ultrasound machine pounded beautifully as the transducer registered the healthy beat of her heart.
And then, just a few minutes after it began, it was over. The sonographer printed us a picture, giving me an exciting memento of my first ultrasound. Today, that picture hangs in a frame in our home. It’s Cynthia’s first portrait, 15 weeks old — a still-life in the womb.
I’d seen ultrasound images before, but before I witnessed the procedure for myself, I had the impression that I was looking at tissue, some sort of extra bodily organ that could be disposed of at the whim of the parent.
I didn’t realize these images were inadequate attempts to capture the personality of a living, developing child.
Today, we have pictures of Cynthia eating her first-year-birthday cake, taking her first steps, performing in a local theater, playing at a piano recital — all of them captured in still-life photos.
But to think that any of these visuals come close to the life, joy, growth and experience of these events is preposterous. They are all but brief moments in the constantly changing life of a child.
In the same way, the ultrasound images we see in print are not at all representative of what is actually going on. My first ultrasound — live and in action — made a pro-lifer out of me. What I knew was right in my mind was quickly confirmed in my heart.
As I watched my daughter rolling and kicking and basically enjoying herself, my eyes were opened to the significance and value of life. Cynthia is now 11 years old, and she, along with 1500 others gathered at Focus on the Family, recently had the opportunity to view a live ultrasound starring her little brother.
The image of her 21-week-old sibling was projected onto several large screens as a demonstration of Focus on the Family’s new Option Ultrasound program.
As Focus works to equip pregnancy resource centers around the country with their own ultrasound machines, thousands of women in crisis pregnancies — teenagers or twentysomethings who have only still-shot images in their minds of the fetus growing in their wombs — will have the opportunity to view, for themselves, through the technology of ultrasound, the active, moving, living worth of their babies.
You can view the same ultrasound Cynthia saw by clicking on one of the links in the table in the graphic to the right. And thanks to Option Ultrasound, abortion-minded women will soon see that the children growing inside them are not just blobs of tissue. Mothers will see those “blobs” leaping for joy in anticipation of the life they deserve.
Viewing a live ultrasound changed my mind. It is my hope, and the hope of Focus on the Family, that Option Ultrasound will change the hearts and minds of thousands more.
Copyright (c) 2002 by Chris Jeub