Seeing is Believing

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

John 20: 24-25

This afternoon hubby and I made our first (and hopefully only) visit to the local hospital in order to have an ultrasound on young “Snaggy,” as we have been calling the creature inhabiting my body for the last 22 weeks or so (there is a story, but it isn’t worth repeating here).  While our birth center doesn’t require any fetal imaging for low risk pregnancies like mine, we decided we wanted to go through with the 20-week (or in our case, 22-week) fetal anatomy scan.  The point of the scan, essentially, is to confirm fetal age (and therefore also due date), as well as get as many photos as possible of things like the heart, kidneys, bladder, stomach, and extremities in order to confirm that things are going as they should.

The ultrasound took about an hour, and the tech was extremely nice to us both, pointing out the various elements of the scanning to us as well as commenting on our apparently quite active little critter.  An hour later, we left with copies of a couple of the ultrasound shots, and a healthy dose of information regarding el nino’s health and well-being.

All-in-all, it was an interesting process, but it also got me to thinking a little on the way home about the importance of seeing.  By all accounts, hubby and I have no reason to suspect that anything would be wrong with “snaggy”–we are both young and healthy, and the midwives at our birth center are confident of our baby’s health as well.  And yet, having someone show us that little critter flipping around inside of me, pointing out a healthy heart and kidneys and bladder, along with legs and arms that look as they ought, feels somehow like the proof we needed.

But it is more than that. It has been getting harder and harder to forget that I am pregnant these days (any tendency to forget is mediated by a growing belly, a slower run pace, and the jabs of this little one gaining its strength), but seeing it someone confirms the peculiar truth that there is a little person inside of me, a little critter with its own mind and heart that is growing and experiencing life even as we speak.  For hubby and I, to see its face for the first time was in some ways to realize its reality.

So what is it exactly about seeing something with one’s eyes that is peculiarly truth-affirming?  Why is it that we, like the disciple Thomas, find that seeing something makes believing it easier?  What is it about humanity that the eyes, easy to fool as they are, become a means toward accepting what often is there?  I must admit, there is a part of me that is uneasy with the need to see to believe.  Part of me wasn’t certain I wanted to do the ultrasound at all–I found myself wondering to what extent seeing this child might limit the possibilities that await us down the line.  While it is nice to see, there is something about seeing that has the potential to kill the mystery of a thing.  For when we see, our imaginations no longer fill in the blanks–whether it be God, a baby, or anything else.  And while some things indeed need to be seen, I find that I tend to prefer to sit with the mystery when given a chance.

Don’t get me wrong–I am happy that this baby is healthy, and it was amazing to see its little self flipping around within me.  But I also imagine that I would be just as happy to wait for the inevitable future in which it will be in my arms–because no matter what, this baby is gonna be a reality soon enough.


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