Time in Willow Creek: 1 year, 1 month, 2 weeks, 6 days
Hillary was laying in a hospital bed at Willow Creek Hospital staring at the tiles in the ceiling and seeing faces in some of the holes. She was 25 weeks along, and it was time for her monthly appointment. The last one was at 20 weeks, and it was oh so exciting. Harriett was with her, and they saw the baby for the first time. The heartbeat was strong, and for the first time, the pregnancy felt real. As exciting as it was, it was also very scary. Seeing the baby and hearing the life coursing through her veins made it painstakingly clear how fast her life was going to change in a matter of months.
There was a quick knock before the doctor entered. “Hel-lo,” she sang. “I’m Dr. Garrison, if you don’t remember.” She sat in a seat next to the bed and extended her hand.
Hillary breathed a sigh of relief and grinned. “Of course I remember you.”
“How are we feeling today?”
“I’m ok. I didn’t sleep too well.”
“She’s keeping you up?”
The doctor grabbed the probe from the ultrasound machine. “That’s good! She must be shimmying all over the place,” she said as she shimmied her shoulders. “You might have yourself a little dancer!”
Hillary smirked. She was too tired to laugh. Ever since the baby started moving three weeks ago, she had been thinking about her more. Every little butterfly, every little poke, she wondered about the little girl. Who would she look like? Would she be a sweet angel or a diva like her? Would they get along? Did she really have the chops to be a good mom? And, now, the doctor planted new seeds and she wondered what she would be interested in as she got older.
“Ok, here we go. Ready for the ice bath?”
She lifted up her shirt and pinched her eyes shut in anticipation of the frigid gel. The humor was appreciated, and she hoped Dr. Garrison would be the one she would be seeing from then on. A handful of doctors had seen her before and Dr. Garrison once. The situation was already less than ideal and being tossed around like a child of divorced parents didn’t make her feel safe. She wanted one person she could get to know and trust with her care.
“Alllll right.” Dr. Garrison fished around Hillary’s abdomen for a few seconds until she found what she was looking for. “There’s our girl! Oh, she’s been growing up a storm, hasn’t she?” She turned on the speaker to listen to the heartbeat before she began to take measurements to see exactly how much the baby had grown.
“She really has.” It had become her morning ritual to stand in front of her full-length mirror to see how much the baby grew from the previous day. She always marveled at how much could happen in a 24-hour time frame.
“Have you felt any contractions?”
Hillary flinched at the thought. “Isn’t it early for that?”
“Yeah, but lots of women experience Braxton Hicks contractions early on. It’s nothing to worry about, but let me know, ok?”
She nodded and saw an opportunity. “Am I going to see you from now on?”
“Yeah, I’m afraid you’re stuck with the crazy one.” She winked. “Are you gonna take any birthing classes?”
Birth… She cringed at the thought of the pain and horror she would be going through in a little less than four months. “Oh…I dunno. I haven’t thought about it.”
“What about breast feeding? They have classes for that too.”
Hillary shrugged and felt more like a dunce.
“Tell me you’ve at least found a pediatrician.”
She wanted to cower in a corner. “I don’t–
“Come on now, girl! It’s time to start thinking about this stuff! It’s easier to take care of it now while you still have energy and aren’t waddling around like an elephant.” She laughed at her own joke. “I know you’re young, and it’s your first time…and, well…I haven’t seen a man with you yet, so I’m guessing things are complicated and that’s all right. But you gotta woman up, girl! That’s what mothers do.”
Hillary felt like she probably should have taken offense to her boldness. But, between the head nods and the fist pumps, there was something about her words that encouraged her.
Dr. Garrison held up her hands like she was surrendering. “Now, I’m probably out of line…people always say I talk too much, and if I offended you, I’m sorry. That wasn’t my intent, but I just felt like you needed to hear that.”
“I did. Thank you.”
“Ok. Let’s get this goop off you and get you on the scale.”