‘He does not weep who does not see’ (Victor Hugo)
When my doctor confirmed that I was pregnant I burst into tears. I’d just returned from a week’s holiday with friends and had drunk my bodyweight in alcohol.
But it’s also the realisation that there is, once again, the possibility of the life-changing reality of a baby.
Did I think this through all those times in which my husband and I had been having ovulation sex?
My doctor, a great swath of a man with hands the size of hams, waited calmly for me to stop crying before he remarked, ‘I don’t know if those are tears of joy or sadness…’ ‘I don’t either,’ I replied.
Undoubtedly, it’s both. After a few miscarriages, my husband and I have altered our expectations of ever having children to encompass the possibility. We agree that if a child doesn’t happen after the next, and final pregnancy, which I suppose this is, we’ll buy a VW California van. We’ll tool around Europe in it doing things that folks with infants can’t, such as eating leisurely, sleeping in, reading, lazing about on a Sunday afternoon, and watching DVD’s that we want to watch. Can I handle the sadness of losing another pregnancy? I’d named my first baby ‘Appleseed.’ It had never occurred to me that I’d lose that baby…of course I knew it was possible, even statistically likely at 25%, but when I did lose Appleseed I was heartbroken.
Can I cope with looking for blood every time I go to the bathroom as the first indication that something is wrong? What about my budding career as a writer? After the last pregnancy, I’d thrown myself into work. I’ll lose this momentum with a baby. Will my personal needs ever really factor into my life again?
In the midst of my neurotic circles, minutes passing in the doctor’s office while my mind raced, (no wonder his waiting room is always full), I decided to address the most pressing worry – my recent week of debauchery. I gave my doctor the litany of my activities while on holiday and he was nonplussed; ‘ce n'est pas grave…’ the baby is an ‘atom’ at this point and nothing will have harmed it.
I adore my doctor. He embodies all of the theoretical reasons that motivated me to move to France – leisure, thought, beauty. It has historically been a safe haven for misanthropes, artists, and buggers who didn’t belong elsewhere, and now it’s home for me.
He’s plump, but not obese. He’s untidy, but he knows where everything is in his office. Unkempt, there’s a robust sexiness to him, and sometimes on Sunday evenings there’s the resonant smell of a good cigar. His purpose on earth seems to be to help women to deliver healthy babies; not in an officious, ideologically driven manner, more of a lust-for-life-meets-his-specific-skillset.
He always seems to be working, holding late office hours and weekend hours (very un-French actually). It’s difficult to get an appointment with him in the first place and it really depends on the mood of his secretary as to whether it’ll take five or nine months to get one.
In the first instance, I simply announced to the secretary that I was pregnant and bleeding and she gave me an appointment immediately; there are some advantages to having a hostile uterus. I came to know my doctor well through my miscarriages, all the tests he ran and the office visits as a consequence. All this attention and it's 100% covered by my carte vitale – very civilised. In England, while free to anyone, (unlike the French system where we must pay taxes first) I would have been left to chew the umbilical cord off of my baby in delivery and if the baby didn’t make it that far, well, so be it.
By the time I left the doctor’s office my worries were abating. My doctor said on parting, ‘I have a feeling about this one…this one is strong…and stubborn…’ Tears welled up in my eyes, but I chuckled and said, ‘A “feeling”? You sound like a New-Age hippie.
Stubborn? He’ll have to be to withstand nine months in my womb.’
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