"BUGGER!?! %$@*!!!!" --- delightful language for a young mother-to-be, admittedly - but I honestly didn't expect SUCH heavy traffic at 9 in the morning - especially when I was only just on time too! A long line of blinking, winking red brake lights stretched as far as the eye could along that pin straight road into Northampton, while visions of me doing arm-wrenching three-point-turns out of too-full hospital parking lots made me shudder and, I'm ashamed to admit, swear a little more.
Either the time-angels or the traffic-angels were on my side that morning, because we arrived with plenty of time to spare - AND finding a parking spot right in front of the antenatal clinic itself! Voila!
A petite orange lady (her stiff hairsprayed bob matched her orange blouse EXACTLY - a bit odd, really) took my maternity notes from me, and when I reached into my folder to retrieve my still warm wee-sample for her (she'd asked for it!!) she recoiled in matronly horror! I felt like saying in a bit of hormone-aggravated indignation, "Listen lady - then why did you ask me: 'And do you have your urine sample for me?'" Honestly...
Craig settled down with a magazine into the much more homely, warm waiting room compared to the cold sanitisation of the scan department's. The proliferation of 'Mommy & Baby' magazines sprawled endlessly over the tables irritated me somehow. Did they think that just because you're pregnant that's all you're interested in? That your brain has shrunk to a decrepit, useless walnut?! Anyway, it didn't matter because I was called soon enough by a waddling sweetie of a nurse with eyes that twinkled kindly. She showed me into a neat little room that was NOT what I expected at all!
Little Diversion: This is another aspect of what I've called The Soutpiel Phenomenon: the dysjunction between your South African expectations and the English reality. You see, our expectations are naturally based on our past experience and knowledge gained from heresay, newspapers, television etc - and my experience of visiting a gynaecologist and what my friends have told me about their visits just did NOT coincide with what happened in that Northampton antenatal clinic! What did I expect? To be seen, solely, by a snazzily dressed gynaecologist in a plush, modern office, including a thorough physical examination and open chat. What happened instead? Well...
Sweet nurse Julie had me sit on the paper-covered examination table, and took my blood pressure - smiling at the very healthy reading. Next she checked my urine sample - also nice 'n healthy. "Please lie back on the bed so we can listen to baby's heartbeat!" Now THIS was a surprise! Once again in a state of utter maternal ecstasy, I strained to hear my baby's sprinting-stallion heartbeat - and then suddenly remembered Craig was out in the waiting room - still bereft of this experience... "Could I call my fiance? He hasn't heard our baby yet!"
"Of course, love!" and Nurse Julie beamed proudly as though she were my own mom!
Like an unembarassed schoolgirl with the best news in the world, I ran into the waiting room to grab an unsuspecting Craig by the hand - literally dragging him into the nurse's cubicle. Craig's face lit up with a light I can only describe as brandnew daddy-love when our baby's heartbeat eventually made its sonic appearance (after hiding almost deliberatelt away down in the deepest dark depths of his home! Oops - did I say 'his'?)
Nurse Julie slipped out to call Dr Aldritch -- and with that kind of name, I was rather taken aback when in walked a stocky, smiling Nigerian man! Very quickly and politely he explained he was the new registrar under Dr Aldritch and would be talking to me about my pregnancy's progress and the medication I'm on. No qualms there - he did a fabulous job though was interrupted by a cellphone call about a delivery ---- not the the kind of delivery you'd expect from a gynae: a delivery to his house! He then said he'd briefly consulting Dr Aldritch before we were free to go. Dr Aldritch appeared a few short minutes later alongside his African protogee - in a pink shirt and an even pinker tie nogal spotted with little daisies! Casually leaning against the doorway, he reassured us with a grand sort of proficiency my pregnancy and baby were progressing wonderfully and that he honestly felt no concern regarding my meds -- but that he'd let 'the paediatrician' know about it anyway. Righty-ho! Next appointment: only on the 22nd of December. What a relief!
Though the experience didn't nearly begin match my expectations, I can't say I was specifically disappointed, nor was the experience a bad one. After all, we both left smiling like happy, reassured parents-to-be! March can arrive now - I am relieved and pleased as punch I chose Northampton hospital (despite its naughty nurse posing topless on Facebook and its random shootings! Curious - see "Health & Safety?!" at http://thesoutpielphenomenon.blogspot.com )