Last month I had my first "official" doctor's visit for Peanut. This visit also happened to coincide with the first time I've ever met my doctor. Usually I meet with her head assistant for my annual check-ups, as the doctor is obvi too busy to perform routine pelvic exams.
I invited J to come along to this first visit so that we could both meet the woman who was going to be delivering our baby and to get a feel for whether we felt comfortable with her. When she walked in to our room, I grew a little worried. Not because I got a bad vibe from her or that she was unprofessional or that I felt slightly embarrassed sitting on a table in a partially open Pepto Bismol pink hospital gown. No, it was just that she seemed so...old. Like on-the-cusp-of-retirement old. Which is fine, I mean the woman went to Yale and has delivered 6,000 babies during her career, so she knows what she's doing. But when she hobbled around looking for a wastebasket for her tissue and almost tripped over her little wheeled doctor's chair, or when she had five minutes worth of awkward problems with my speculum (don't worry, I won't go into all the gory details), I wondered if maybe her place in the world in 2012 wasn't sitting in this office prodding me with a speculum, but instead poolside in some Palm Springs resort waiting for her tee time.
The worst part (or the most humorous part, if you're sick and twisted like me), is that she had no warmth or empathy about her. In fact, I don't know if she was even capable of smiling. She very much reminded me of one of those cold, technical German doctors from a black-and-white film. Because of this, from here on out she shall be known as Fraulein Margaret. She'd clearly been through the whole having-a-baby drill a billion times, was good at it, and purely cared about the medical aspect of the whole procedure. Her inspecting my nether-regions was like a mechanic examining an old Volkswagen engine. Been there, done that.
So the last half of my appointment was getting my first ultrasound. For that Fraulein Margaret asked J to stand over by my right shoulder as she took a front-seat to my hoo-hoo and used her probe to get a good look at Peanut. But no, she didn't just do that quietly. She had to announce every. single. thing. she was doing down there.
"I'm examining your labia right now," she declared.
I don't know what it is, but just the word "labia" makes me laugh hysterically. It's such an ugly little word for a weird part of the human body. And if you think about it, the term rarely ever gets used in passing, making it even funnier when it is said aloud.
I tried not to look at J since I knew we'd both burst out laughing if we locked eyes after her little announcement. Out of my periphery, I saw him standing near my shoulder, his hands in his suit pant pockets, looking away at the ceiling as though there was something phenomenally interesting up near the fluorescent lighting. Meanwhile, the silence in the room was deafening. But then, it happened again....
"I am still working around your labia," she said.
This time I couldn't handle it. I tried scrunching my mouth closed like an angry muppet, successfully muting any giggle trying to escape, but then I made the mistake of looking up and locking eyes with J. The look on his face was priceless, one of helpless amusement desperately hidden under a semi-straight face. I tried, I really did, to not laugh, because really, we're almost 30 years old and it's SO immature to laugh at a stupid little clinical term like labia, but I couldn't help myself. I ended up trying to muffle my laugh, which came out sounding like a giant repressed sneeze cutting the silence in the room. Luckily. Fraulein Margaret, seated on her wheely chair below my line of vision, didn't seem to notice the sound or that at this point J was basically almost entirely turned around with his back to her, hands still in pockets. She just kept on keeping on, examining my Volkswagen engine.
The rest of the exam went splendidly, and we got to see Peanut for the very first time on the ultrasound monitor. His/her little heart was beating like a tiny hummingbird's, and we could just barely make out where his/her little face was starting to form. I admit, I did get teary-eyed when I saw it on the screen because all of a sudden, it was a reality that I was pregnant. I'm not currently showing at all, so sometimes it's hard to imagine that there's something growing inside of me and that my life is going to change from here on out. But that day the blurred image on that medical screen was all the proof we needed that we were actually going to be parents. It was one of the best reality checks of my life.
Am I selling books or cornflakes? - Lynn Michell
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