“I can't believe you still haven't told them!” Josie hissed from the corner of her mouth as she sat next to Laura in the waiting room of the nurse-midwife's office. Half the pregnant women seemed to be called to the midwife side, and half to the obstetrician side. Josie was so out of place there, like a toothpick in a sea of Teletubbies.No promises, but it looks like Tuesday or Wednesday for Her Two Billionaires and a Baby! Stay tuned!
Laura compared her growing belly to those she saw. At nineteen weeks, she was almost halfway there. That first trip to the doctor three months ago had yielded a complete shocker: she was seven weeks along. One missed period and bam! She was nearly one-sixth through the pregnancy without knowing it. All the prenatal vitamins and pregnancy yoga and morning sickness remedies helped her to get here, but Josie was harping on the one, pesky little detail she couldn't deny her way out of for much longer.
The past twelve weeks had been a blur, and now she was about to meet her baby via ultrasound, go home with a picture of an alien baby that people would pretend was beautiful, and here she sat after drinking a liter of fluid, her panties moist from a bladder that gave up control right around the time her shoes stopped fitting. A light breeze could make her pee at this point. A sneeze would unleash a pee tsunami.
“Am I as big as her?” she whispered quietly, surreptitiously pointing to a woman who looked ready to drop any day. The shirt she wore looked like something a tent rental company made for her. She violated the laws of physics when she stood.
“Close,” Josie guessed. Her face reddened and she tsked. “Quit changing the subject! When are you telling Dylan and Mike?”
“Soon. After this,” she replied, pointing vaguely toward the midwife's office. Today she would have her first ultrasound and, she hoped, learn the baby's sex. She squirmed horribly, and not from Josie's nagging. Her bladder was rapidly in need of its own, separate bladder. A kegel would help, but damn if she could isolate and squeeze anything down there right now.
“You've been putting it off for three months, Laura! And you always say 'soon' but it's never 'soon.'”
“It's complicated.” Laura threw her a glare to stop a truck. If she said it...
“So we're inducing next week, when I hit thirty-eight weeks,” she heard the enormously pregnant woman say. A creeping dread seeped through her skin. Or was it a hot flash? She honestly couldn't tell the difference any more. Holy shit! That woman was twice as far along as Laura? How could they be close to –
“Laura Michaels?” A medical assistant appeared, chart in hand. The drill was simple for her normal appointments; go on in to the bathroom, pee, dip the sticks in, and if anything came back irregular, report it to the midwife. Thne sit in the waiting area again until called.
For an ultrasound, though, she went back through the maze of medical equipment and desks to a tiny room with an exam table crammed in. The platform seemed unusually high. Climb? Dude, she could barely wipe herself these days, the stretch a, well...stretch. Climb?
“Climb on up,” the male technician directed, his voice pleasant and his demeanor kind.
“With this exploding bladder, I'll squirt like a firehose if I lift my leg.”
Josie laughed. The tech seemed amused. “Nothing I haven't seen before.” All these baby people kept saying that to her. If it was supposed to put her at ease it did, but also left an unsettled feeling, as if her birth experience weren't unique, as if everything she was going through and that seemed so special were just...ordinary. Being ordinary didn't trouble her, in general, but the sensations and blossoming of this new life within her were so special, so life-altering, that she wished everyone around her would give just a little more “wow!” when they interacted with her.
Or, maybe, what she really wished was that she had a partner to go through all of this with her. Resting her hand on her belly, she wondered when she'd feel the baby move. Hopelessly eager, every pocket of gas, tweaked muscle, you name it – she braced and held her breath, hoping...
And wasn't that something she should share with the baby's father?
Fathers, an evil voice whispered in her mind.
Somehow she managed, with Josie's help, to get up on that torture table. Reclining on her back pushed her womb against her bladder, making her instantly homicidal.
“Oh, man, can't I pee? Please?”
“Just a few minutes,” the tech said, then explained the procedure. She hiked up her maternity shirt, a cute print from the Gap. Shopping for maternity clothing had turned out to be liberating, because the designers expected you to have breasts and a belly! Her shirt was a hippie swirl of pinks and turquoises, with lots of white thrown in. The panel on her maternity jeans was a pale blue, stretchy jersey added where the zipper and button normally would be.
She wanted to wear these clothes forever.
Maybe you will, if you can't lose the baby fat, that same voice said. Gah.
The cold gel made her kegels clench, helping keep in her urine but adding a sensory overload to that general region. The ultrasound wand the tech used went on the gel and soon she could see her little peanut, all bones and beating heart, floating upside down in an an enormous sea of black.
“There's the baby,” the tech said in a neutral voice, taking measurements. From the start, Laura had decided to have a low-tech birth, so this was the first ultrasound. Meeting her baby visually brought tears to her eyes, her heart swelling and even Josie was overcome with emotion.
“Oh, Laura,” she whispered, voice choked. She squeezed her shoulder.
Her child. That womb pressing hard against all that water, making her eyes cross and her ribs ache, contained a little growing human being that was going to come out in twenty-one weeks and be her little, precious baby.
“Boy or girl?” Leave it to Josie to get to the point.
The tech laughed, obviously accustomed to the question. “First off, do you want to know?”
“Yes!” the women answered in unison.
“Then give me a few minutes to do the required measurements, and I'll try to see. No guarantees – it's all about whether the fetus is in the right position, and what we can see with the machine.” Laura nodded and Josie seemed already to know that. The room was so tiny that Josie had to jockey for space with the tech. And it was getting warmer in here. Plus, she felt like an overstretched balloon that would burst if anyone breathed hard.
Loving warmth coursed through her. Baby. Her body, which she'd despised most of her life for its inadequacies, for letting her down time and again with men, was now ripe with purpose and growing a human being. How could she hate it right now? It was building, layer by layer, system by system, a whole 'nother human who would be part of the next generation.
She was a goddess!
Finally done with measurements, the tech stopped, frowned, and said, “Excuse me. I'll be right back.” The click of the closing door felt like a death sentence, the air sucked out of the room as Laura's entire body switched into panic mode.
“That can't be good? Why would he leave? Do you see anything?” Oh, God, no. Just no. Nothing could be wrong, right? She hadn't planned for anything to be wrong.
Josie peered at the screen. She shrugged. Non-chalant and cool, she made a questioning face and replied, “I don't see anything obvious, but I'm not an ultrasound tech.” Her hand on Laura's felt reassuring. “I'm sure it's nothing. Maybe all your talk about peeing made him need to go.”
“Don't make me laugh or I'll give you a golden shower, Josie.”
“Now you're turning me on.” The laugh did make her nearly pee, giving her a few fleeting seconds of amusement, shifting away from worry. A knock, then her midwife came in, followed by the tech.
“Sheri? What are you doing here. They said this was just a routine screening and I wouldn't see you.” What she wanted to say was Go away! Nothing's wrong Nothing cane be wrong so go away and let me not hear what you're about to say! but something in her knew that wasn't the case. She gripped Josie's hand like she was drowning.
Josie gripped back.
Sheri's eyes were kind but guarded, wrinkles forming everywhere as she smiled. Somewhere in her sixties, she had a relaxed, natural look to her, with dark brown eyes, tanned skin and long, grey hair braided in a thick rope that stretched over her ass. Today she wore a loose, flowing jacket over a tank top and a long skirt, an outfit not unlike many in Laura's closet.
“The tech just asked me to take a quick look at something.” Her voice was smooth and practiced. Josie nodded, eyes on Laura, her professional nurse face in overdrive. It felt like they were all hiding something from Laura, and she did not like this one bit. Sheri introduced herself to Josie and they shook hands in a perfunctory way.
The tech and the CNM put their heads together and murmured medical terms Laura strained to hear. She really was about to explode, her vagina starting to pulsate – and not the good kind of pulsating.
“I need to pee!” she whispered to Josie. How banal, to have such an insignificant need in the middle of what could be the worst news she'd ever heard in her life. Yet nature called.
The tech and Sheri pulled back, the tech leaving the room. Sheri's hand was warm and gentle on Laura's shoulder. “First, the baby is healthy according to our basic measurements.”
A huge, loud sigh poured out of Laura, like a yoga breath. “Thank God.”
“But it's a bit complicated.”
“Right now, you're on the high end of amniotic fluid. There's a condition called polyhydramnios – it literally means excessive amniotic fluid. Your measurements show you are at the low end of having this condition, which means the fetus is just floating in all that fluid, like an overstuffed balloon filled with water.”
“Are you sure that's not just my bladder?”
Sheri laughed and reached out to grip Laura's hand. “Why don't you go and empty that poor, overstretched balloon and we can talk more. All the images we need are done.”
Laura started to get up and stopped. “The sex?”
Sheri cocked her head and made a face of surprise. “Oh! James didn't get to that before he found me. You want to know?”
“Yes!” she and Josie practically shouted.
Chuckle. “Well, then, if you can bear it, lean back again and let's look.”
Groaning, Laura complied, the pressure to urinate overwhelming her mind and body. This was crucial, though. Boy or girl? She'd wanted to know since the day the test said PREGNANT.
More gel. Wand. Gouging (not really, but it felt like it). Jiggle. “Why are you jiggling?” And then she knew, as the baby moved and shifted, trying to get away.
“Well, this is not an exact science.” Josie snorted. Sheri made a self-deprecating gesture. “I am, though, ninety percent certain it's a girl.”
“I don't see the telltale penis I'd expect to see. Just the umbilical cord. The only time we're certain is at the birth.”
Girl. Laura had imagined the baby was a girl since day one. She was right. It really was. Mother's instinct always knew, right?
“Are you OK, Laura?” Sheri asked.
She shook herself out of her own thoughts and grinned. “I assumed it was a girl. I was right.” She stuck her tongue out at Josie, who had teased her she was wrong.
“You and Josie are having a baby girl,” Sheri said, looking at them both with great joy.
Hold up. “Me and Josie?”
“Awkward,” Josie said out of one side of her mouth. She addressed Sheri. “Um, we're not – ” she said, pointing between her and Laura.
“Oh, no! No, we're not a couple!” Laura added.
“If I were into women, Laura's totally not my type,” Josie added helpfully.
Hey, now. “What does that mean?” Laura cried out, indignant.
Sheri cut them both off, her face red with embarrassment. “I certainly did not mean to start an argument, and I apologize for my assumption. And Laura, you did mention that the father isn't part of the picture – ”
“Fathers,” Josie muttered. Laura cut her a glare that would kill Medusa.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
It's complicated...an excerpt from Her Two Billionaires and a Baby
An excerpt further into the story: