This afternoon Mike and I went to my 12-week appointment. The nurse took my blood pressure but she was obviously more engrossed in her conversation with my husband. She barely blinked my way as she chatted with Mike about teaching and the state of education in Washington. This is the territory that comes with being married to a man who can strike up a conversation with anyone, even if he has a sty in his right eye or if he’s at the front door in a t-shirt and boxers. People are drawn to him and suddenly, even at my own doctor’s appointment, I become a third wheel.
The two wrapped up their yapping and the nurse told me that the doctor would be in shortly. When she stepped out of the room, I noticed that she hadn’t left a gown or one of those table cloth sized paper mats they hand out, like it’s supposed to make me feel better that my vagina is getting examined if there’s a thin layer of fiber blanketing my legs.
“She didn’t leave me a gown!” I exclaimed to Mike. “Should I get a gown on?”
“I would.” He answered.
I found a gown and the paper sheet in one of the examining table drawers and changed clothing.
The doctor arrived and greeted us warmly. She was the same doctor I saw throughout my pregnancy with Nathan, so we updated her on how he was doing and how we were excited to see her again. She went through the requisite questioning about my current pregnancy, asking how I felt and if I was taking the vitamins, etc.
She then asked, “You had a physical at your last appointment, right? A breast exam, too, right?”
“Yeah,” I nodded.
“Hmmm,” she said quizzically. “Because I’m not sure why you’re undressed. We’re only going to hear the baby’s heartbeat today.”
I stammered, “I-I-I DON’T KNOW! I thought the nurse forgot to get me a gown! SHE KEPT TALKING TO MY HUSBAND!” I should have just said, “Because I like to get naked! That’s why I’m here! Because of my chronic nudity! IT’S AN ILLNESS!” or “I only like to feel breeze on one side of my body and this was the solution!”
Mike looked at me and shrugged like, “Yeah, I wasn’t sure why you listened to me. I don’t have a medical degree.”
This not the first time that I have had no idea what to do in a doctor’s office. The first time I had to give a urine sample, I didn’t know there was a small metal cabinet with doors on both sides that I was supposed to leave the cup so the nurse could pick it up on the other side of the wall. I cloaked it in my coat and walked back up to the receptionist like I was harboring good weed and whispered, “Where am I supposed to leave the cup?!?” The look she shot at me was the same one my doctor beamed my way when she wondered why I was naked for no good reason and there this receptionist was, wondering why people with a brain as small as mine are even allowed to have children. She directed me back to the bathroom and that’s where I left my pee and dignity.
But the doctor said it was fine and I didn’t need to leave because I got naked unnecessarily and we could listen to the baby. She smeared the cold goo on my stomach and moved the wand around until the room filled with the rhythmic woosh-woosh-woosh of my baby. MY BABY! The sounds I was afraid weren’t ever going to be found because I hadn’t gained weight and I have worried too much. For a few moments, we listened to those beautiful pacing womb echoes, my tiny little baby kicking, letting us all know that she is in fact very much here, very much alive. And this child is going to have to accept me as his/her mother as silly and dramatic I am. She will know that every layer of my body–from the hairs on my skin to the my cells in my blood–is already in love with this special little being.