The Pattern of Appointments
I had the real post-partum check-up yesterday, which required finding someone to drive me way down the road and finding a babysitter. Wouldn’t it be easier just to take him with you everywhere you go, you say? Well, consider this: I really don’t want to have to install the carseat into every car I jump into, and I get rides from lots of different people. So the carseat stays in Just’In’s car, and I call all the women in my life who coo over him and clamor to hold him.
I first called my grandparents; they felt unnecessarily concerned, for some reason, and wanted to help with my doctor’s appointments. We’d already discussed having them come over to babysit, and my grandma volunteered my grandpa to drive me out there. I called on Sunday to confirm the date and time, and they were disappointed to remember that Grandpa had an eye doctor appointment that would conflict.
So I called my Aunt Bronwyn, whom I’ve never known very well; the last time I saw her, I was very pregnant, and we talked about childbirth, the woes of pregnancy, babies and her grown children, whom I’ve never known. She offered several times, in that long chat, to babysit our newborn, to the point that she was almost demanding. When I called, she hadn’t met Toby yet because she was sick during Thanksgiving and didn’t come to the family gathering. She was thrilled to babysit.
Her husband called me on Monday evening: Bronwyn’s got trouble with her eye, and I’m going to have to take her to the doctor tomorrow, he told me. A detached retina, which you know all about, he says. She’s really bummed that she can’t babysit. I reassure him that I still like them both and that it’s okay, even though it means I have to scramble for someone else.
So my memory combs through the crowd of women who have fawned over Toby, and I end up calling a gorgeous, short-white-hair, husky-voiced lady named Rosie. She tells me she can babysit, and that she’s penciled me into her planner. The morning of the appointment, Rosie leaves a voicemail that tells me she’ll be a tiny bit late to my apartment because she has to take her daughter somewhere. I have a phone conversation with her an hour or two later; she feels really bad, but she has to cancel because she doesn’t think she’ll get back in time from dropping off her daughter at the psychiatrist’s.
It’s been snowing all night on top of snow that’s already there, and it’s still snowing at this point. So I thank her for calling me ahead of time instead of being horrendously late. She brainstorms with me about who else I could call; together, we come up with three or four other women from our church congregation.
I called all of them. They all have kids that are grown up, and all of them are retired grandmas. I get kind and hip Chloe’s voice mailbox, and I leave a message. Quiet and craft-y Mary tells me that she hates to turn me down, but her nerves just aren’t up to it today. (Nerves. What does that translate to medically? Anxiety? Depression? Fibromyalgia?) Finally, I find Toni, two hours before I need to leave for my appointment, and she’s the one who ends up coming over at the time I need her.
The rest of the day runs smoothly. The two girls I rely on arrive on time, the babysitter and my chauffeur, so I arrive on time. Sometimes, it’s amazing how much I depend on other people to look good. The girls at the reception desk ask where the baby is, and I’m happy to see my doctor’s nurse. When I’m sitting in a second waiting room, though, Chloe calls me back. She’s just checking up on me, because she loves me so. She was busy taking a friend to her doctor’s appointment.
That’s the fifth doctor’s appointment I’ve encountered. Yesterday presented an eerie pattern. Well, at least the girl I found to drive me to my appointment was reliable. And Toni ended up putting a fussy baby to sleep and knitting in front of the TV for most of the time.