I wrote this for a creative writing class when I was pregnant with Max. My sister, April, reminded me of it on Saturday. It is a memoir piece, and my creative writing teacher was James Frey.
I have to admit I was a little nervous before my first prenatal visit. I hadn’t been to my OB/GYN’s office for over 4 years, but when I walked in last week, things had changed a lot. First of all, when I made the appointment, they asked me to come an hour early. I figured the extra time would be filled with paperwork of various sorts. After all, it had been a long time and my insurance and job had changed. I walked in the doors and found that the lobby had been redecorated. Actually, “redecorated” makes it sound like they changed to another shade of mauve wallpaper and teal upholstery. Maybe renovated is a better word. There were cascading waterfalls at either end of the lobby. The walls were covered in marble and the various chairs and benches were covered in ornate silk fabrics. There were three cabana boys wandering around the lobby in loincloths with trays of food: ginger ale, soda crackers, pretzels, and pickles. One of them, a muscular blonde, came up immediately to escort me to the check-in window.
“You must be Tiffany,” he said and held out his free arm.
“Yes,” I said, taking the arm.
“Let me be the first to congratulate you,” he said, “You look wonderful. How have you been feeling?”
“Not so good, actually,” I said, “I’ve had a lot of morning sickness this time. And afternoon and evening sickness too.”
“I’m so sorry,” he said and his eyes welled up with tears, “it must be terrible.”
“Well, it’s okay,” I said, “I mean, I guess it’s a good sign.” By now we were at the check-in counter.
“That doesn’t make it any easier,” he said, handing me a ginger ale.
“Sandra,” he said to the girl behind the gorgeous black marble counter, “Tiffany is here for her appointment. She hasn’t been feeling well, so please treat her well and use a soft voice.”
Sandra nodded and took my hand.
“I’m so sorry you haven’t been feeling well. You look wonderful despite. Anyway,” she said patting my hand, “we’ll get you right in.”
“Thank you,” I said, nearly on the verge of tears from the outpouring of sympathy thus far, “do you need me to fill out any paperwork? My insurance has changed.”
“We’ve already contacted your employer and tracked down all of your necessary information for coverage. That’s our job, not yours. As far as we’re concerned, you need never mention the “I” word again. Now, please have a seat and rest those tired feet of yours.”
I sat down in a comfortable chair and began to take in my surroundings. I hadn’t noticed the string quartet in the far corner. They were dressed in black formalwear playing Vivaldi. There were beautiful statues of pregnant women all around and a few doves that fluttered and cooed in the perfectly pruned olive tree next to one of the waterfalls.
Within three minutes, a door opened and I was called back by Trish, who greeted me and gave me a big hug.
“We’re so happy for you!” she said. “Sandra mentioned that you haven’t been feeling well. I’m so sorry. We never like to hear that.”
We walked down the marble corridor to a door labeled, “Wardrobe,” and into a large room filled with racks of beautiful gowns and robes. Trish stood back and looked me over.
“Hmm, let me see. What are you, a size 4?”
“Not exactly.” I said.
“No, no, I’m pretty good at this. Let’s try a few of these.” She pulled three robes down and held them up under my chin. They were all satin, vibrant shades of pink, green, and purple. She froze on purple.
“This purple looks amazing on you,” she said, “what do you think?”
I looked in the tall mirror, and had to admit that my once green face looked great above the purple robe. She directed me to a beautiful antique screen to change behind.
“Just leave your clothes on the floor. We’ll get them and have them for you after your appointment.” She called to me.
I changed into the beautiful purple, size 4 robe that fit amazingly well. Trish then escorted me to another room where I was weighed and had my blood pressure taken. I stepped on the scale and cringed, as usual. I always hated this part. Trish moved the weights on the scale slowly and meticulously until it balanced perfectly.
“Okay, dear,” she said, “let me just subtract 1.8 pounds to account for the weight of the robe.” She did the math on the corner of my file, “…and round down…perfect!” She then took my blood pressure and we moved down the hall to a room marked, “Masseuse”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” I said as Trish opened the door.
“It’s so important for a mother to have relaxed muscles throughout her pregnancy,” she said in all seriousness. The room was lit with warm lighting and there were three different massage tables laid out, with different adjustments for a pregnant woman’s body.
“You’ll need table number one, so get comfortable, and just push the red button on the side of the table when you’re ready.”
I enjoyed a thirty-minute massage from a large woman who looked like Alice from the Brady Bunch. When she finished, Trish met me again.
“Do I get a massage every time I come?” I asked her.
“If that’s what you choose. Of course, you can always choose a facial or a pedicure. It’s really just up to you and how you’re feeling that day.”
We walked down another hall to an exam room.
“Have a seat on the table and the doctor will be in to see you shortly.”
I hopped up on the table which was covered with a soft, 300-count sheet, instead of the strip of disposable sandpaper it used to have. I also noticed that the once cold, metal stirrups were now covered in plush leopard-skin mufflers. I couldn’t believe all the changes that had been made since my last visit. I also couldn’t believe that my insurance would cover such luxury. I heard a tap at the door.
“Everybody decent in there?” said a familiar voice behind the door.
“Come on in,” I said, inviting Dr. Sperry in. At least one thing hadn’t changed. But it wasn’t Dr. Sperry behind the door; it was Bill Cosby wearing scrubs, a stethoscope, and a white coat.
“I’m so confused,” I said, “where’s Dr. Sperry?”
“Oh, he’s working on a charity project in South America. I’ll be covering for him for the next year, if it’s alright with you, of course.”
“But you’re not a doctor,” I said.
“No, but I played one on TV for 9 seasons,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, “so Harvard Medical School awarded me an honorary medical degree two years ago, and I’ve been practicing ever since.”
Well, who could argue with Harvard Medical School? So, I lay down on the table, put my feet in the soft stirrups and Dr. Huxtable, er-Cosby completed my exam. I was growing normally and the baby had a strong and steady heartbeat.
“Definitely a girl,” he said, “sounds just like my little Rudy.”
I was overcome with joy. “Really?” I asked. A girl!
He helped me sit up and we had a long talk about the pregnancy; all of my questions, all of my concerns. He asked me about my life, my job, my husband’s school. We talked about things I could do to ease my morning sickness.
“You’re doing great, Tiffany,” he said, “Now take good care of yourself. No heavy lifting, and don’t forget to take your prenatal vitamins and some B-6 for your nausea, and I’ll see you back here in a month.”
“Really,” I asked, “I have to wait a whole month?”
“Tell you what,” he said, patting my leg, “how about 4 weeks instead? Now, before I forget, here is my card with my home phone number on it. If you have ANY questions, you just give me a call, okay?”
There was a knock on the door and Trish came in with a beautiful gift basket, filled with pregnancy magazines, lotions, bath beads and several boxes of Jell-O.
“Just a little something from us to the new mommy,” said Dr. Cosby.
“And here’s your clothes and shoes,” Trish said, handing them to me, “We took the liberty to iron your blouse for you. It was a little wrinkled, I hope you don’t mind.”
“Thank you, both. For everything,” I said and a single tear rolled down my cheek. I got dressed and left the room and the marble halls and the gorgeous lobby. I walked out the door, waving goodbye to all of my new friends carrying my basket and wondering how soon I could have another baby.