Another Day with the Doctor(s)

Holy shit, do I have a lot of doctor appointments.

I just put my next gig with the high-risk obstetrician on my calendar — May 14 at 8:00 sharp — and realized that, between now and then, I have an eye appointment, a meeting with my Certified Diabetes Educator, a lab stab, an echocardiogram and a visit with my regular-people obstetrician. All, for some reason, scheduled on Monday mornings.

My last visit was with both OBs (high-risk and regular), and it included a sonogram and a check-in on all things diabetes-related.

My husband and I hit the high-risk OB first for an ultrasound and a chat with Dr. Gaudier, the cheeriest damn OB/GYN I’ve ever met. The technician greased me up with a gratuitous amount of sonogram gel, a substance that’s always warmed for aesthetic purposes, but feels grosser to me the warmer it is. (Cold feels clean, clinical — almost refreshing. But when you squeeze a blob of heated-up goo onto my belly, it feels like something that just came out of another warm-blooded animal. Gross.)

It was time to spy on the baby. There’s the heart, there’s the brain, the kidneys. There are the teeny bones forming in its arms and fingers. At one point, the technician pointed to a shimmering mass of black and white static and said something about the baby’s “waist”, and all I could do was imagine it wearing a cummerbund.

Then, the moment that would make it all a little more real. “This baby’s looking pretty girly to me,” the technician said. “Yep. See those three dots? You’re having a girl.” She was so nonchalant about the revelation that it almost didn’t register, but when it did, I was thrilled. Not just because hey, it’s a girl and that’s awesome, but because so many people were hell-bent on the idea that the baby was a boy. I’d felt the girl vibes all along, and I’m the mommy, and damn it, I was right. It’s a glorious feeling.

After we’d identified a few other essential body parts and I’d wiped most of the slime from my abdomen, Dr. Happy came bursting through the door. It was like an early morning surprise party. “Heeeey! So good to see you! Both of you! How we doing today? Good! Good!”

He gave me a high-five for my latest A1c, and went through all the standard questions about scary symptoms that I’m grateful not to have experienced. Then he explained the (not so stellar) results of our first trimester screening, and all of our other screening options, in a mostly one-sided conversation that went something like this:

“There may be something wrong with your baby, but probably not. But maybe. If there is, there’s nothing you can do. So if you want, we can take a big giant needle and pierce your uterus and suck out some juice and test it to see if there really is anything wrong, but there’s probably not. But maybe there is. Also, if we do this needle thing, there’s a chance you could lose the baby, but that’s only slightly less than the chance that there’s something wrong with your baby, which there’s probably not.”

Bob and I decided weeks ago that we weren’t going to do no stinking, panic-inducing, false-positive-free-for-all prenatal testing, and so we declined the amniocentesis. But that wasn’t the end!

“There’s also a non-invasive option. We can draw your blood and look at the fetus things in your blood to see if there are any neural tube or genetic defects.”

Once again, we declined. The doctor went on to discuss what was visible in the sonogram — all in the most upbeat possible way.

“When we look at the umbilical cord, we want to see two arteries and one vein. It’s weird, because it seems like there should be one of each, but there are usually two arteries. Your baby is missing an artery here, so she only has one vein and one artery in her umbilical cord.”

Splendid.

“We don’t see any problems now with the kidneys or the heart or the bones, so it’s very possible that this baby will be just fine. We just have to keep a close eye on the development of the organs, which we’d do anyway because of your diabetes.”

I can’t quite capture it, but really — this doctor could deliver news of a zombie apocalypse and leave you thinking, “Hey, no big deal. Those zombies are only after me because I have such attractive brains, anyway. And I’ll get plenty of exercise outrunning them!”

His only recommendation was to exercise more. I suspect that recommendation comes from the generally accepted idea that exercise is good for you as much as it does from the doctor’s curiosity about the state of my heart. When this pregnancy began, I was well on my way to becoming a Team WILD 5k superstar, and the fact that I was able to run/walk for significant periods of time without any shortness of breath or discomfort helped give everyone a little more confidence in my cardiovascular abilities. Now, though, my sport of choice is napping, and I guess that’s not as beneficial as jogging for 120 minutes a week.

Next we headed downstairs to join the uncomplicatedly-pregnant masses at the regular obstetrician’s office. I’ve been happy with this place so far, with two exceptions. First, the entire office is covered — covered — with glamour shots of each physician’s family. Children on the beach, half-naked couples with their eyes closed and their newborns in their arms, draped in sheets, families in matching khakis and polo shirts assembled on grassy knolls. It’s like being stuck in a personalized Christmas card, only it smells like disinfectant and there are stirrups and speculums at every turn. Second, when the main nurse told me what my first A1c was — 6.5 — she prefaced it with, “It’s a little high.” (To which Bob responded, “Are you kidding me?”)

Anyway, that appointment went off without a hitch. The midwife listened to the baby’s heartbeat, which was galloping right along, and I made sure to tell every nurse I saw that I would NOT be needing a glucose tolerance test at my next appointment, thankyouverymuch. I think they just wanted to make sure that I was still pregnant and that I understood the intricacies of the billing process for baby-birthing. Affirmative to both.

I know these appointments will get tedious, but right now I’m looking at them as mile markers in what seems like an unending march toward my due date. I will get there, and when I do, all the generalized panic and glamour shots and warmed-up sonogram goo will be worth it.

I’m totally registering for this stuff. Then, in the months after the baby’s born, I can heat it up in the microwave and rub it all over my tummy, just to relive the good ol’ days.