Well, today was exciting.
No, still no baby. And no, I’m still not in labor. But today I had reason to get dressed and leave my house: an appointment with Herbal Tea. I had prepared myself for the usual 15 minute wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am appointment to which I’ve become accustomed. I decided that I was going to go and see Herbal Tea, go grocery shopping afterwards, and be home in time to cook a delicious lunch. Of course, by now I should have learned that as soon as I prepare myself for one thing something else happens.
To begin with, Herbal Tea seemed to be in an exceptionally good mood. She greeted me with a wide smile, and a reminder that today’s appointment was going to be featuring an internal exam. While I was glad that one of us was enthusiastic about this, I could think of about thirty things that I would rather be doing than getting up close and personal with Herbal Tea.
After reminding me about the internal exam, Herbal Tea left me in the warm hands of the student midwife. She had been tasked with instructing me in natural methods of labor induction, which meant trying to look comfortable as she suggested methods such as “making love” with Sea. I had read somewhere that sperm was a key ingredient in the effectiveness of this strategy (not heterosexism: biology/chemistry), which I asked her about. She stumbled through a response about how sperm was helpful but not the only useful component before moving on– with evident relief– to other strategies.
Herbal Tea reappeared just as we finished discussing spicy foods. The student midwife, followed by Herbal Tea, felt my stomach and listened to Bingo’s heartbeat from various points and angles. They looked at each other. “What?”, I asked. “The baby isn’t breech again, is it?” They paused. Herbal Tea smiled her widest, most reassuring smile. “I’m not sure. It’s hard to tell. Your baby may still just have a bony bum. Let’s see what we can feel from inside.”
Having just been told that Bingo might be breech, again, I was left to strip from the waist down. I lay on the exam table, oddly sandwiched between an absorbant medical pad and a purple cloth with a floral pattern that served as a drape. As Herbal Tea approached, snapping a rubber glove over her hand, her only words were, “Oh, baby.” (I believe she was talking to Bingo, but still.)
When I had been told that I would be having an internal exam, I imagined the variety that usually come with a pap test: a quick feel, nothing terrible. Instead, Herbal Tea seemed to be attempting to get her entire arm into my uterus. “Relax“, she told me, “I can tell that this is making you anxious”. The exam was actually not making me anxious. The thought that Bingo might be breech again, that we might be going headfirst (or, rather, butt-first) back into the world of inversions, inductions, c-sections, was making me nervous. The exam wasn’t making me nervous, it just hurt. The reason for this discomfort became clear as she removed her hand, saying in her permanently cheerful voice– the voice of a slightly overenthusiastic kindergarten teacher sharing a new book with the class– “I had a fingertip through your cervix! Look, you can see the bloody show!” I can’t actually convey how disturbing this moment was, but please trust that the image of Herbal Tea smilingly showing off the bloodied tips of her fingers may never escape me.
I should consider myself lucky, however: I only escaped a full stretch and sweep (which I’ve heard is about as pleasant as it sounds) because even after the internal exam, Herbal Tea wasn’t sure if what she was feeling was a head or a bum. She was nervous enough about this uncertainty that she– the least clinical of the midwives I’ve met– asked if I would be available for an ultrasound: immediately. Which is how I found myself back at the ultrasound clinic, torn away from my initial plans of a leisurely lunch. The ultrasound clinic at 11am on a Tuesday morning is a very different ultrasound clinic from the one I’m used to visiting after work hours. While the afternoon ultrasound clinic is filled with nervous pregnant people and their partners, the 11am one seemed to be exclusively visited by older Greek couples. Old men served as translators between their wives and the receptionists, pointing out where forms needed to be signed. A woman complained loudly on her cellphone about how waiting for a mammogram was a waste of time. And I sat uncomfortably among them, waiting to find out what our contortionist fetus/bumhead/Bingo was up to now.
I won’t leave you in suspense: Bingo is, thankfully, head down. It would appear that our fetus does, in fact, have a bony bum and is also determined to give both parents heart failure before being born. As for when Bingo will be born: who knows? Despite the excitement of today, Bingo is still firmly in-utero. Though 11-12-13 would have been an awesome birthday, I’m fine with Bingo staying put for now. If the kid can cause so much trouble now, just imagine what it will get up to with a little more time and space to roam.