“Hmm…” Herbal Tea nodded, head tilted slightly to one side.
Jeans still pulled uncomfortably low around my waist from the fundal height measurement, I sat across from her and thought, “I know that hmm…” That exhale of breath through closed lips, the head tilt, the non-committal nodding: they form the exact expression that I utilize in my work on a regular basis to express non-judgement, most often at the times when I am judging somebody the most.
Despite connecting with Herbal Tea over lesbian prison drama during our last meeting, this appointment was not going well. Herbal Tea had begun by pointedly noting that Sea wasn’t there, commenting that she “must be very busy with work”. She had then asked if I had spoken to my mother about my birth, or my sibling’s birth. I had answered honestly and unthinkingly, telling her that my mother had told me stories, but that I didn’t want to talk about birth with my mother. Ever. Herbal Tea’s voice, still mild, expressed shock. Why wouldn’t I want to talk about birth with my mother? I tried to backtrack, rushing out a story about the difficulties my mother had experienced in an understaffed hospital when my sibling was born on a holiday. “Oh, my son was born on the same holiday.” Herbal Tea replied. “Except it was a home birth. It was magical.” Oh.
The “hmm…” happened a few minutes later, when Herbal Tea asked if Sea and I had yet attended one of the clinic’s home birth seminars. No, I explained, we had decided on a hospital birth. “Hmm…” Herbal Tea nodded, head tilted slightly towards one side. And though I’m intimately familiar with the judgement of that “hmm…”, Herbal Tea refrained from saying anything else. I know that a hospital birth in a single bed sandwiched between the room’s linoleum floor and halogen lights isn’t what Herbal Tea would have chosen, but for Sea and me there is more comfort in this strange and sterile environment than in the warmth of our own living room. In different ways, Sea and I are both anxious people by nature, and in this very unfamiliar thing we’ve decided we would rather be surrounded by the people and technologies equipped to deal with emergency than by our cats. So I responded to Herbal Tea with a head tilt and nod of my own, and we moved on.
We’re now at 32 weeks (now 32.5). Bingo is measuring right on track. Even more importantly, Bingo is now head down. And I am sure that, just to spite both me and Herbal Tea, Bingo will be born somewhere else entirely. On my office floor, maybe. Or in a taxi. Or on the floor of Herbal Tea’s office as she tilts her head to the side and nods.