It had been five weeks since my last medical intervention.
After being cut loose from Clinic One at 12 weeks, I found myself anxious in the absence of regular blood draws and ultrasounds. It’s true that I had my blood drawn twice during those five long weeks, but these tests were swift wam-bam-thank-you-ma’am blood lettings requisitioned by Clinic One and the midwife, Diet Coke. Nothing more. I was feeling a little twitchy.
So it was with some relief that I met up with Sea to head to the third visit with Diet Coke at the midwifery clinic last week. Due to a hectic schedule, this was the first visit that Sea was able to attend. She was nervous both about what the clinic would be like, and my ability to find my way there. I scoffed in the face of her fear. This was my third visit: I was an expert.
I should mention that it was pouring rain. Cold, miserable, unrelenting rain that immediately broke through the feeble protection of our umbrellas when we stepped off the bus.
Fifteen minutes late.
At the wrong stop.
To be fair, I was sure that it was the right stop. It looked familiar, and I was certain that the clinic was a mere 20 feet behind us. But then I looked at the map open on my phone, and saw that we were actually a twenty minute walk from the address. So we waited for the next bus, still in the rain. “This is the scenic route?” I suggested. Sea glared at me, wet hair falling into her face, as we stood waiting on a fairly desolate street across from a gas station. The bus came.
The second bus dropped us off at the address I had programmed into my phone. Relief! We would soon be inside! Inside is dry! My moment of jubilation was crushed when I realized that this address didn’t look at all familiar. It was the wrong building. I pulled out the clinic’s business card. I had entered the wrong address. The clinic had, in fact, been a mere 20 feet behind us at the first bus stop. We were now half an hour late.
We ran for a bus in the opposite direction. We missed it. My umbrella turned inside out. Sea’s pants were soaked up to the knees. Handing the umbrella to Sea, I waved my arms desperately trying to flag down a cab. The cab driver looked nothing like the picture on the requisite ID card posted on the dashboard. He also had no idea where we were going, and immediately took a wrong turn. I tried to show him the map on my phone: he didn’t have his reading glasses. Finally, he pulled on to the side of the road that we had been heading down, in the wrong direction. He used GPS to find a new route (inexplicably able to read the GPS without his glasses, but not my phone), and a few minutes later we pulled up in front of the clinic. My umbrella was broken by this point, and wouldn’t close. The hem of Sea’s pants had come undone and she was stepping on the soaked, dirty fabric. Which is all to say, we were total messes by the time we stepped into the clinic, where the midwife was waiting near the entrance. 45 minutes late.
Luckily, midwifery seems to be a profession where patience is a key skill. Diet Coke agreed to see us, despite the fact that we were arriving—soaking wet and out of breath— so late that our scheduled appointment would have already finished. She explained that she was willing to forgive this unfashionably late arrival based on the fact that we didn’t seem like people who made a habit of being late. Sea and I nodded in agreement, trying our best to look like the responsible people Diet Coke was describing. She took in our bedraggled appearances with less judgement than I would have imagined possible, quickly introduced herself to Sea, and handed me a cup to pee in. I began to like Diet Coke the midwife a lot more.
From there on, the appointment proceeded with impressive speed. She quickly reviewed the results of my blood tests: the series of tests she had requisitioned and the integrated prenatal screening that I had done through Clinic One. My results were described as “awesome”, “A+”, and “stellar”. As she rattled off these adjectives, combined with the low odds of Bingo having Down’s Syndrome or Spina Bifida, I decided that I liked Diet Coke very much. Even my blood pressure was good: shocking, given the circumstances of our arrival at the clinic that afternoon. The only results deemed less than stellar were my iron levels and a previously unidentified lack of immunity to rubella. She instructed me to eat iron-rich foods (Cream of Wheat, apparently) and to avoid small children. Done and done. Sea and I high fived (come on, our fetus is awesome!), prompting Diet Coke to comment that we must have been together for quite some time based on our “shared sense of humour”. Why yes, yes we have.
I had been a little worried about this appointment, truth be told. I spend a fair amount of time Googling, and a good portion of this time looking at strangers’ rounded bellies. I’m learning that comparing other people’s perfect bumps to my own slightly-fatter-than-before belly, is an exercise as futile as comparing my body to that of a swimsuit model’s: it’s bound to result in feelings of inadequacy. In the time it takes to click through a slideshow labelled “17 week baby bump gallery”, I can convince myself that I’m not nearly pregnant enough and that Bingo’s growth is clearly stunted. It’s true that I’ve been feeling slight twitches and flutters since 17 weeks– twitches and flutters that I’m pretty sure are Bingo– but they’re small and infrequent enough for me to dismiss them as imagined. So I was afraid. Diet Coke expertly felt my belly and assured me that my uterus was in the right place. She pulled out a measuring tape: it was the right height, too. And finally, most reassuringly, she pulled out the Doppler. After a brief moment: whoosh, whoosh, whoosh… there was Bingo’s heartbeat.
That moment was awesome. So was the moment afterwards, when our anti-social fetus moved away from the Doppler and had to be found again. After 17 weeks of pregnancy and four ultrasound views of Bingo, this was the first time hearing the heartbeat. And that steady whoosh, whoosh, whoosh made the long trip to get there totally worth it.