Rebecca Melia never got to tell her mom she was pregnant.
Melia, 30, was overjoyed to conceive, but just as she began to plan for the new life entering the world, another life was about to exit.
At six months pregnant, Melia went to the doctor for a routine ultrasound. That’s when the emotional roller coaster of the past few months really came to a head.
At first, the procedure was totally normal.
Technicians operated the equipment. They collected the images. Nurses were supposed to bring out the pictures, but there was some sort of delay. Melia started to get nervous.
“They had me there for a long time and I could tell they had seen something on the scan,” she told the Daily Mail. In fact, they had, but Melia could never have guessed what it was.
Melia was beginning to panic.
“I was convinced it was something wrong with my boy,” she said. After what seemed like an eternity, a nurse emerged from the back room.
She had a peculiar smile on her face.
Melia peered at the ultrasound image.
It showed her healthy baby boy, curled up just like he was supposed to be. It also showed something else, something mysterious and maybe even a bit spooky.
In the upper left corner of the image, as if peering down protectively on the infant, there was a human face. Melia immediately recognized her mother.
In a strange way, this ultrasound was an answer to Melia’s prayers.
She and her seven siblings all agreed that they felt their mother’s presence after she passed, but what Melia truly wanted was to see her mom’s face one more time.
Melia felt that her mother was looking down on her.
Now she had proof, of a sort.
“I have a little area in my room with pictures of my mum on and before I went for my scan I was talking to her, saying I wish she was coming with me,” Melia said. “This is her 14th grandchild and she has been there for every one.”
Melia wants to tell the world about her miraculous ultrasound.
“I wanted to share this story to bring comfort to others who have lost their loved ones and show this is proof that loved ones who have died may not be seen, but they are still here,” she said.
It’s a beautiful sentiment, and it’s hard to argue with photographic evidence. Still, there are those who view Melia’s story with skepticism.
The main argument that this image is not actually evidence of spiritual intercession but is, instead, purely psychological.
Skeptics point to a strange mental phenomenon called pareidolia, in which the human mind resolves unclear images into something familiar, usually a face.
Face-like objects spark deeply rooted cognitive processes, allowing people to recognize them instantly.
Melia’s ultrasound is actually just the latest in a long string of strange prenatal images.
In 2014, a London couple, Jon and Lindsay McHale, went for a 4D scan of their unborn daughter, Madison. They saw something in the scan that they immediately identified as a “guardian angel.”
“I like to think there is a relative watching over Madison, and we think the face looks a lot like my grandma Kathy,” Lindsay told the Mirror.
The McHales tried to recreate the miracle when Lindsay got pregnant again.
But this seems to have been a one-time event.
In fact, angels pop up in ultrasounds all the time, if the internet is to be believed.
Kelly Lewis, 26, shared a picture of her ultrasound in January 2016. She wanted to offer an uplifting response to an ultrasound image then making the rounds on Reddit, in which a demonic figure seems to stand over a reclining baby.
The ultrasound image shows Lewis’ baby in grainy black and white. Above the infant’s stomach, there’s the clear image of an angel, wings and all. Waves of energy seem to pass from the angel’s face toward the baby’s.
Lewis reached out to the Mirror to give the image some context.
“It looks just like an angel is leaning over my baby, with a cherub face as well hovering over the baby,” Lewis said.
“It’s so clear, no one could believe their eyes when they saw it.”
About that “demon” image, by the way…
In 2016, Imgur users were confronted with a much more disturbing picture.
Like the others, it showed a healthy infant. Instead of an angel, though, an image that some describe as “demonic” stands over the baby.
More than a few readers had a theory that would dispel the unpleasant association with an evil creature.
“That’s the Hindu god Ganesha,” wrote the-electric-monk.
“He’s a wisdom god, and remover of obstacles.”
Whether it’s pareidolia or magic, people are fascinated by the figures they perceive in ultrasounds.
Skeptics point to the powerful intersection of the mind’s tendency toward pareidolia and the emotional force of pregnancy to discount supernatural interpretations.
Strong emotions tend to strengthen the psychological processes behind pareidolia, skeptics argue.
When you care deeply for a certain being, whether that’s your unborn child or a religious figure, you’re more likely to look for hidden meanings and miracles surrounding your love object.