Doctor Visit 1


I woke up with a headache again and fought the urge to sleep through the alarm. I’d waited too long for this appointment and wasn’t likely to get another anytime soon.

This is the thing about being pregnant in New York City. It’s not like being pregnant in, say, Wichita or Butte (but what do I know about either of these places?). How was I supposed to know that you basically need to have your initial appointment set up before you even get pregnant?

I should start a list: Things I don’t know about pregnancy and motherhood. But it’s getting so long, it’s scary.

I trudged to the subway, having forgotten what it’s like to be on the train during rush hour; even the first car is full. I held onto a pole, closed my eyes, held my bag close, and just moved along with the train, grateful to finally surface at 57th and 7th into the morning air.

At the office: forms. Lab forms. Insurance forms. Diet forms: what did you eat yesterday? Is this what you normally eat? I fill them out and then toss them in the chair next to me as I run to the bathroom to hurl. A very pregnant woman whose water has burst is sitting serenly, her face truly glowing, across from me, and she’s so beautiful but I feel so bad and I keep thinking, “Someone, please, please tell me this is all worth it.”

With the midwife: Medical history. So much I don’t know; I’m adopted. This  is problematic. This means we should do more tests. Genetics. She names diseases, conditions. More tests, of course, mean more money, more appointments. I’ve already waited too long for this one, she doesn’t say but implies. I’ve got to get to the hospital as soon as possible for a sonogram… I call afterward; the first appointment is April 8. And I’m healthy, so healthy, but the back surgery in 1994, or was it 1995? I don’t really know…also problematic. We need old x-rays, old records, we need to know, above all, if anesthesia is even possible if, in fact, it becomes necessary.

I weigh. I pee. I put on one of those ridiculous gowns I’ve never really understood. I hurl again. And again. I put my head on the cool vinyl of the examination table while I wait for her to check on the broken water woman. I spin the pregnancy wheel as we try to figure out the due date– I’ve never been good at keeping track of my period. This is also problematic. I feel ashamed, almost.

Everything is unexpected and I feel–unlike almost any other time in my life, except math classes–dumb, utterly dumb. I don’t know how to say this to anyone, or who I’d even say it to.  My head is still pounding when I leave the office and walk into the sun, noticing the first signs of spring- the crocus and daffodils on the doctor’s little lawn, the fat chested robins singing as if all our lives depended on it. It’s what I’ve been waiting for, like hearing the baby’s heartbeat for the first time today–the hummingbird-fast flutter–but whether it’s this headache or for some reason I don’t entirely understand, I’m not quite sure how to enjoy it.


7 responses »

  1. Ufff Julie!! Te entiendo taaanto…Me sentí igual la primera vez que volví de la doctora en Boulder.
    En lugar de ser un contacto cálido con una mujer sabia que me iba a ayudar a dar a luz, me encontré con lo que te encontraste vos: forms, frío, fffff…
    Los médicos son “asustadores” profesionales…de eso viven.
    Nosotros hicimos todos los tests, toooodos. Uno porque soy caucásica, otro porque David es judío, otro porque paso los 35…Para qué? Algo iba a cambiar si sabíamos que nuestra hija no era “perfecta”?
    No te preocupes, amiga. Confiá en vos, en tu cuerpo, en tu intuición, y disfrutá de este día único en el que escuchaste el corazón de tu bebé. No es hermoso?
    Un abrazo,
    Laura, David y Layla

  2. Julie,

    Your next appointment will go better. What is your actual due date or you won’t know for certain until your ultrasound? I am thinking of you!

  3. Hang in there–it’s harder than I expected, too–even knowing that, yeah, of course it’ll be worth it, when this little person you haven’t even met yet is making you feel like crap all the time so you can barely function, and every five minutes someone’s telling you what you’re doing wrong…

    Though I gotta say, you made me glad I’m in Mexico. I got a doctor recommendation from a student. Called up, the doctor answered the phone herself. I did a whole song and dance about I don’t know if you’re even taking new patients now but I’d really appreciate…and she says, “Puedes pasar manana, corazon?” And I show up early anticipating paperwork, but there’s none…and at the end of the appointment she forgot to charge me and I forgot to pay, and no big deal. I was amazed the entire time–like walking into Medical Never-Never Land.

  4. Man, you’re scaring me now 🙂

    You know its going to be totally worth it.

    My friends just had a baby and they told me all the pain, everything, was so worth it when they stared into their baby’s eyes for the first time.

    I can’t wait to feel all this myself. Definitely thinking 1.5-2 years out before we try.

    • Lola- We’ve got to keep our kids in a 5 year spread–we need to populate the next generation with traveling ambassadors–transcontinental babies! 😉

  5. Alli & Suz– Thanks! As moms who’ve already passed through this particular phase, I’m going to trust you on this one! 🙂

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