Marta claims that, while showering yesterday before our doctor’s appointment, she had “a feeling” we’d really like our new midwife.
At the Iowa City hospital, finding a midwife is a bit like speed dating. There are five of them and they stress the importance of new patients getting a chance to work with each of them one-on-one. The idea being that, as you have no idea when you’re going to go into labor, you might as well be at least partially acquainted with the midwife who is gonna to be there at your side.
What this system really does, however, is create an unofficial screening process by which new patients can suss out their five options before deciding on the one they like the best. Then said patients can do everything possible–in an “Iowa nice” way of course–to get appointments with the favored midwife.
Before yesterday’s visit we’d already met two. The first was the fast-talking New Yorker I described a couple posts ago, the one who told Marta she was gaining too much weight and needed to back off the carbs and back onto the elliptical machine. We decided she was a little too intense.
Our next option was the midwife we now refer to as The Mennonite (I think she was actually an orthodox Jew, but to atheists all religious folks look alike). If there could be a woman more opposite to the fast-talking New Yorker, she was it. She arrived at our appointment as listless as a sloth, plopped into the chair and then said. “So.” big pause. “How” another pause “Are you today?” The situation wasn’t helped by the fact that she was trailed by an intern who literally stood at attention in the corner the whole time, his hands clasped over his groin as if to ward off an imminent attack. Nor was she helped by the fact that her dress covered her entire body or that she seemed unable to pronounce any of the words associated with the more private parts of the pregnant female body, like “vagina.”
So our hopes were not high going in to yesterday’s appointment. Or let’s just say mine weren’t as Marta had had her shower revelation that all would be O.K.
And as she was pleased to point out when we climbed back into the car afterwards, it was a revelation that proved true. After the Too Hard midwife and then the Too Soft one, we’d found the one who was Just Right. A midwife who talked at a medium speed, even throwing in a Spanish phrase once (for varicose veins–something you can apparently get in your vagina!) and who was quick to ask us about our plans for the future and voice her support for marriage equality. Under her Just Right guidance, I found myself opening up in the appointment like never before–talking about our baby plans and those of our friends, etc. And Marta lost the vacant stare she adopts when she doesn’t like someone.
Most importantly, we got to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. We’ve seen it beat on the ultrasounds before, by the nurses then always told us the hospital had new rules that forbid them from letting us hear the heartbeat (don’t ask). The Just Right midwife, however, insisted that we hear it. Pulling out some lubricant she rubbed some of it on Marta’s belly just like they do in the movies and then, with a little microphone attached to what looked like an old boombox, she circled over the glistening spot.
The sound came through in seconds. It thudded. With a strength I decided was telling. And I almost started to cry.
The Just Right midwife looked at us both with a smile: “150 beats per minute. Perfect.”