Yesterday I visited my OB, fulfilling my health protocol of one visit per year.

Seeing as it had been a lengthy sabbatical,  the last time I saw her was at my 5-week check up following Bea’s birth.  And still a year later, that office and it’s bridge-way connection to the hospital where Bea was born is a magnet of memories.

Co-mingling are the strange feelings that overcome me when I revisit our old hometown.  The route is completely routine and strangely more familiar than my current treads.  It is a mixture of sadness, relief, joy and apprehension.  I wonder if these will eventually fade and at times I am hopeful they don’t.  It is nice, I reason, to pilgrimage when the desire strikes.

The hospital parking garage is an old, familiar friend.  I wind upwards, wondering if a lucky parking spot is awaiting me at the top.  Curiously, no matter how high you climb, the deluge of parked cars never seems to thin.  So I begin stalking the 3rd floor exit, waiting for someone to vacate.

My time spent in this wait most definitely reminds me of MG.  She faithfully accompanied me to all of my appointments, even the ones that seemed to pile on top of each other at the end of the pregnancy.  We would count the floors as we climbed the garage tower.  1….2….3…I prayed for a parking spot near the door, one that wouldn’t require me to lug my expectant belly and toddler companion through a long trek of stairs and distance.

Just like in those desperate times, an open spot suddenly appeared a very short distance from the entrance to the skyway.  Bless.

As we would walk hand-in-hand, MG would recite our routine: “first I’ll play with the baby {they have a children’s area with toys and two very ugly, but sanity-saving baby dolls}, then we will listen to the heartbeat {Bea’s}, then I’ll eat a sucker {while we wait for the doctor to finish the exam}, then I will pick out a sticker, then we will go home.”

Walking over the bridge by myself, I suddenly missed her attentive commentary.

I passed through the elevator and into the office.  Nothing has changed in my absence, at least not in the physical sense.  I wondered if MG would still think the lines on the wall looked like snakes and the window sills like benches.

I couldn’t help but notice there was another little girl in the play area with the dolls.  She had them by their plush toes and was banging their bobbly heads together.  Probably for the best MG wasn’t there.

I filled out some forms as if I were a new patient (it had been a year, afterall); carefully marking in the dates and details of my pregnancies, smiling with pride as I filled in the girls’ hefty birth weights.

Not too long after, the nurse called me back.  It had been an entire year since I had seen her but in those last days she had become a friend by sheer proximity.  I wondered if she felt towards me the gravity of emotion that I felt towards her.

The doctor came in and routinely rubbed her hands with the waterless soap hanging from a container on the wall.  The smell of it is a memory napalm to me.  I am instantly transported back to room 305, leaning over a plastic bassinet, my hospital-issued gown tented over me as it is today, my deflated belly leaning with me, just a few beats behind.

I absently press my stomach as she shakes my hand.  It is still a mystery to me that something with bones and muscle and flesh can be stretched so far and then knit itself back together.  I am proud of its accomplishments over the past four years, pushing itself to its absolute limit two separate times and then coming back down according to my pleas.  There is no little one fluttering around in there today.  It is at rest for now.

The exam is quick and she asks me about my future pregnancy plans.  It tumbles out easily.  After what we have been through together I feel I can be completely candid with her.

For the first time in five years I am not pregnant, nor do I have a baby nourishing off of me, nor do I desperately desire either of those things.  And I am pretty happy to be in that place for a while.  She gives me a knowing smile.  She has a 3 year old and a toddler of her own.  I tell people it’s because I have my hands full, as she expects, and that is part of it.  But another large part of it, that I am afraid to speak aloud, is that I am not in a hurry to usher in the end of possibly the dearest and most lucid time in my life I have ever experienced.  As long as I keep that door closed, I can relish that my days of cradling a baby are possibly not over, be that truth or not.

I leave, but somewhat reluctantly.  My heart physically hurts when I think about the last time I was here.  My happy, little toddler who had me by the hand and heart, My expectant belly full of promise fulfilled.  It was such a fleeting time in my life and surely one of the sweetest.

I don’t know when or even IF I will be back.  At some point I will most likely have to move my OB visits to my hometown.  I can’t tell if this will be a relief because I will be able to close this childbirth chapter and force my emotions to move along, or if it will come with much dread and heel-dragging, reluctant to say a final goodbye to a place rampant with memory.

My heart is a tangle of emotions.  It feels as if the good as well as the bad have encircled themselves upon it in a hard knot.  I don’t even know where to begin in order to sort them out.  For now, I think I will wait until next July, when my next appointment is due.  I am sure by then I will have a bit of clarity; when the nearness of Bea’s birth is not such a raw spot in my heart and the newness of my current home is not so strange.  Yes, I think I will give myself until then to sort it all out.

-smk

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