Yesterday was an emotional ride in an old pick-up through the rolling hills of Missouri while trying to hold a full glass of red wine while wearing an expensive white pant suit.
Mindy and I went to our OB appointment on Tuesday. The doctor was friendly, even when Mindy said she had a list of questions. Dr. Winkelmann actually turned around to face her and listened intently without ever hinting that she was in any hurry. She was supportive. Actually, she had walked into the room when Mindy and I were bitching about our days, about the student loan repayment and about how frustrating work is. The doctor asked how we were doing to which we both replied, "Ugh."
"Well, I can't get a deferment on my student loans because I'm single (I nod toward Mindy) and I don't have any dependents (I point to Mindy's stomach)."
The doctor, whether she meant it or not said, "I wish there was something I could do." And then we hit her with our questions about natural childbirth and episiotomies and the like.
Mindy also said that I was afraid she'd die and leave me with the baby. The doc turned to me, on her swivel stool, and said, "Not on my watch."
I like her.
Then she told us to come back in two weeks for "the big ultrasound." And, instead of handing Mindy the appointment slip, she handed it to me. That small gesture almost made the student loans worth it.
So, yesterday we had scheduled a tour of the birthing center here in Columbia. Last week we checked out Fulton. Yes, Fulton, because we'd heard a doctor there does natural childbirth and all that, so we decided to check out the facilities. The nurse on duty was busy and kept getting phone calls, but overall, she seemed no nonsense. Mindy even said, "We're gay. Is that a problem?" And the nurse, in between picking up the phone (ob, this is shelly), shook her head and told us one of the night nurses was a lesbian and she'd (O.B., this is shelly) be thrilled.
Anyway, we went to our appointment last night. In the waiting room for the tour was: a white couple with kid and a pregnant mom, a black couple with a kid and a pregnant mom, a single white woman with a huge stomach, and us.
A white nurse came out, her tiny, gold cross necklace (jesus included), bouncing as she checked our names off of the list. When she got to the white couple, the mom pointed to her son and said, "He's here for the big brother class." The nurse got all fake excited and asked the kid his name, what he did in school that day...all that. She turned to walk away when the black woman asked what that class was for. The nurse, ignoring the black kid, told the mom about the class.
When the nurse got to the pregnant white woman who was alone, she asked if anyone would be joining her for the tour. The woman said, "No, he's deployed." The nurse apologized and was fake sympathetic.
Then the tour began.
We walked in a silent, awkward group through halls and into rooms where the nurse explained this or that.
When we reached the first elevator she asked the white kid if he'd push #3 and then said, "thank you, sir." It was then that she finally turned to the black kid and asked what grade he was in. Then we got out of the elevator.
Finally we reached the labor and delivery room. It was big and nice. The nurse told us this and that while we stood staring at the delivery table/bed. It looked like a normal hospital bed until she twisted some things around, pushed some buttons and voila! stirrups flew up and this is where you have your baby! She walked to a wall and flipped a switch. LIGHTS! There was a harsh, bright light shining down on the empty bed with the empty stirrups. We stared. The light was only made worse by the whiteness of the sheets. I squinted and had to look away.
I pictured my beautiful wife there on that table, that light right on her business, her legs spread wide and nurse all standing around. She was sweating and screaming and all eyes would be right on her vagina, lit up like it was with those LIGHTS! All the world's a stage.
I zoned out as the nurse said stupid stuff and talked to us in a voice like we were kids. Finally she asked if there were questions. I asked if they had a birthing chair. She said, "No." But then she played with the switches on the bed, putting it at different angles and saying, "it'll kindof move..."
We made it to the postpartum room where she called the white man "Dad." And said nothing of the sort to the black man.
It was here that she went on about the menu you could order from after you give birth, because you'll be very hungry. You just pick up the phone and say, "This is Mrs. Smith" and you can have anything you want.
The white "Mom" asked if the babies get wristbands. The nurse explained that they wore several to indicate who they were.
Dad gets a wristband, too, she told us while looking at the white couple.
I didn't like this nurse to begin with, but at this point, I despised her. The single lady had already told you that her husband's deployed. Obviously, Mindy and I are two huge lesbians. It seems like she's assumed the black man probably isn't the baby daddy. So, who is she talking to when she says, 'Dad gets a wristband, too."
I understand that Mindy and I are the minority, that maybe she's never given the tour to gay people...or black people by the way she's acting. But, a considerate person might have thought...you know, that woman said her husband is in a foreign country fighting a war, so maybe I won't say "Dad" because it might upset her. You know, since her husband won't be here for the birth of their baby.
Now, wait for it...
Then she said that the babies wore a security device on their umbilical stumps. In fact, if a baby goes any where near an elevator or one of the hundreds of locked doors, the doors freeze and the elevators don't work and the alarm goes off. She's very pleased as she says this. My mouth hangs open.
"So, the babies are micro chipped in their umbilical cord?" I asked.
"Yes. Isn't that great!?"
"No," I said, "It's totally creepy."
The last stop on the tour was the nursery. We looked in the window at two babies off in the distance. By that time I was ready for a drink. She says, almost under her breath, "I'm gonna get those babies closer to the window."
She goes into the nursery, pushes them up close, then unswaddles and baby (causing it to cry) and holds it up to us. The white MOM coos. The rest of us look around. Then, she grabs the security tag and flips it up with her fingers; it's the size of the baby's shin. (Imagine wearing a tag the size of your own shin. Now, try to sleep comfortably.
While she was doing all this the baby spit up. The extremely pregnant single woman jumped back and made a terrified noise. "You can tell I don't have kids...yet."