Two sides of a wall

By Published On: March 22nd, 2012

At my last check up (32 weeks? 33? It’s all […]

At my last check up (32 weeks? 33? It’s all running together in one mushy pregnancy brain blur) I was cloistered in the badly wallpapered bathroom, attempting to hit a tiny paper cup target with a tablespoon of pee in an always awkward position made awkwarder by the giant belly obstructing my view. As I was waiting on a wing and a prayer, I realized I shared a wall with the nurse in charge of making all the consultation phone calls. I could hear every single thing she was saying (And vice versa, I’m sure—sorry about all the swear words, nurse lady!) as she called patient after patient, repeating in rote that their pap smears were normal or their blood test results showed no problems with their glucose levels. And then as I finally began to make some headway in my endeavors, I heard her conversation with what I can only surmise was an elderly woman, learning about a bone density test.
“Hello, Ms. Jenkins? This is Candy from Atlanta OBGYN? I’m just calling to find out if you’ve scheduled your follow up with Dr. Smith.”
“CANDY. From the OB OFFICE. Have you made another appointment with the doctor about your bone density test? You remember at your last visit how they told you you were having some osteopenia?”
“Yes ma’am, you need to make another appointment. Do you want me to do that for you? It’s important you get this checked out!They want to watch out for those bones of yours!”
“Yes, that means you’re losing some calcium in your bones. Are you taking any supplements?”
“SUPP-LE-MENTS. For calcium? Remember like Dr. Smith was telling you?”
… and so on and so forth. Candy was a saint—always patient and kind, speaking slowly and clearly, careful to explain all the things her phone partner needed to know. And I listened, crouched over the john trying not to make a complete mess of my swollen pregnant self in the tiny bathroom behind her. What a juxtaposition, Ithought. Ms. Jenkins on the phone, hard of hearing, brittle-boned, past her childbearing years, and me with a cup in a bathroom, getting ready to be measured and weighed and gelled up for heartbeat listening, expectant. Here we are, with stories playing out on opposite sides of a wall that could really be opposite ends of the same life.

Because one day a nurse will be on the phone with me, reminding me of the tests and visits I need to make to take care of myself in my old age, and someone else will be in the bathroom on the other side of the wall from her, seven months pregnant. The sands will fall through the hourglass and the pendulum will swing and before I know it I’ll be looking back through years of memories to the time when my stomach was swollen and ripe and my children were small. And it will seem like a second. An eye blink.
Already it feels a little like that just when I think about Noah’s early years. Now he grins at me with a gap in his smile and runs at full tilt on long, knobby-kneed legs towards a school where he does math in his head and says the pledge in Spanish. Yesterday—I swear it was yesterday—he was gumming teething biscuits, grasping at me with chubby fingers, saying mama for the first time. Eye blink.
And pregnancy, though each day is starting to feel as long as a year in my these last weeks, is really just a blip on the radar of all that will make up my years. It’s hard to grasp the long days in the short years and hold on to them in the way we want to. To store them up for safekeeping for when our bodies are back to being our own and our kids’ bodies have become wholly theirs, apart from us. Sometimes it feels like that day will never come. Sometimes it feels like it’s coming all too soon. Now I’m here and one day I will be there. And so Iwant to remember. Remember remember remember.
I think about all these things as Candy bids goodbye to Ms. Jenkins, and I place my cup on the shelf behind the door that opens to reveal the hole between my side of the wall and hers.