After years in the U.K., I landed back in the States with a rather large “to-do” list. There were things to buy–clothes for New York summers, new home furnishings, and every electronic and appliance that required a U.S.-style plug. There were things I needed to eat–General Tso’s chicken, BAGELS, Mexican food, and bacon, egg & cheese sandwiches (and then wash them all down with a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee). There were things I needed to do–watch the Today Show and the Bachelorette, catch up with family and friends, and go to an American grocery store. You, know, all the stuff that makes home, home.
But, also on my to-do list was to give my body a giant overhaul. This meant a superficial tune-up–like a post-breastfeeding mani, pedi, and facial. (I tried to stay away from chemicals throughout the two years of pregnancy and breastfeeding, and all those services are cheaper in the States, anyway.) But, I also needed to focus on the important stuff: head-to-toe wellness. After years on the NHS (the U.K.’s public healthcare system), I felt like I was just scratching the surface on health checkups. I wanted the works. So, once insurance kicked in, I made an appointment for a general physical, including blood and urine tests, a life insurance physical, including blood and urine tests, a full body dermatology appointment, a gynecological exam, with a pap smear and another urine test, a dentist appointment with a hygienist cleaning, an eye exam, and a physical therapy appointment to figure out why my wrist hurts when I turn it. The WORKS. And, when your husband is gone from 8:00-7:30 and doctor’s appointments aren’t always available on the weekends, you’re sometimes left with no choice, but to bring your child right along with you. (Clearly, finding a babysitter is still left on my to-do list. But, let’s face it, I’d rather NOT spend an additional $30.00 to go get invaded by one of these specialists.)
So, there I was, scheduling my gynecological exam at a convenient time for my daughter. And, a week later, 10:15 on Wednesday rolled around. I woke her up from her nap, changed her diaper, and sprinted to the appointment. Now, this is what it looks like to have a toddler at the gynecologist.
The office at first is all “oohs” and “ahhs.” “Ooh, she’s so cute!” “Ahh, she just said ‘cracker’!” (Wait till she says “cracker” 45 more times until someone gives one to her, even though you’re trying to withhold her snack until the actual exam. Then the cute “cracker voice” will turn all Veruca Salt on you. Not that cute.) She kicks to get out of the stroller while you fill out the redundant 4,625 health questions on the computer. She spends that time as if the diaper bag is a vault, trying to break in to the zippered portion where the coveted crackers hide. This proves to be boring, and she gets distracted on the front pocket where she takes out miscellaneous items, such as lip balm, hair ties, my keys, her sunglasses, and then ends up sucking on a bottle of hand sanitizer.
My questionnaire is finally complete and they need a urine sample. The three women, still amazed by her cuteness, chat her up while I go into the bathroom to provide the sample. It’s a small New York City office, so, luckily for this exercise, the bathroom is basically in the waiting room with a make-shift wall probably thrown up by the doctor’s brother. Like a record stuck, I hear “Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama,” as the new replacement for “caca, caca” (cracker), so I rush to finish while not completely making a mess of the situation, with the impossibly small bottle that I’m supposed to bring out with me and hand right over to the gloveless lady at the front desk. Gross.
Then it’s exam time. Here we go. The room is impossibly small. It takes shifting of stools, side tables, and the dreaded exam chair, in order to fit the stroller in. The stroller is an absolute necessity if you’re going to strap down a child and pump her with crackers and raisins, while she watches a little colorful ABC video that is basically crack for babies. I reserve any sort of phone video for dire emergencies. Basically just flights and gynecological exams.
This is the first time I am seeing a Stateside doctor post-pregnancy and delivery, so they want you to take them through the whole experience. My story is rather long and traumatic, which leaves me talking about how horrible it all was, while explaining its all worth it, as I pick up and eat chewed raisins off my daughter’s onesie. Ahh, motherhood.
So, there I am, in two minds. Naked, wearing a thin, tiny gown, “open to the front,” and completely vulnerable because, one: I’m naked, and two: I just took this stranger through the most emotional experience of my life. At the same time, I’m a distracted parent that during the pap smear says “hold on, the baby accidentally swiped out of her video.” At that time, I knock her bag of (some organic version of) Goldfish over, and try to clean it up off the floor, but am restricted from the pull of the speculum. Two minds. Vulnerable and scattered. The best two adjectives for motherhood, really.
We survived the whole experience. The student nurse acted more like a VJ replaying her videos than there to learn. (Why doesn’t the iPhone have a lock feature that freezes the screens???) The doctor was able to complete her exam. And despite, having to pick up the diaper bag contents and 8000 crackers off the floor, and still have that “dum diddy dum” crack video song stuck in my head, I left high on compliments about how I have the best baby. I’m also now a babysitter’s fee richer, so I get to go try on clothes at JCrew, with dressing rooms that do not contain children due to doors that start three feet off the ground. Wish me luck!
NOTE-This story has an unwanted sequel after receiving an email from the doctor saying that my test results were inconclusive due to not enough cellular data (story of my life), since it was my time of the month. So despite what your friends and Google say, do not go during that time, RESCHEDULE THE APPOINTMENT. Back to the gynecologist we go!