I started to sweat inside the doctor’s office while waiting for Dr. Ahmed. It was late morning. Your Daddy was pacing around the cramped, hot room with you over his shoulder. A few minutes before, the nurse had taken my blood pressure then told me to undress. Now I was sitting naked on the exam chair with a pink paper gown draped over me, dabbing my underarms with the crinkly thing every so often, anxious to get my six-week postpartum checkup going.
I sank into memory while waiting, thinking back to the first time I came to see Dr. Ahmed at East Cascade Women’s Group when I was twelve weeks pregnant with you. It was late September, and I was not yet showing. Your Daddy was with me, and when Dr. Ahmed walked in our room she gave me a sturdy handshake and said, “I’m Mary Ann Ahmed, and I hear you’re having a baby.”
Her voice was soft yet it sparked with interest. She shook your Daddy’s hand then sat on the rolling stool to review my medical history on her laptop. I looked her over as she did this. She was petite, wearing a forest green dress and brown leather clogs. Her chestnut eyes twinkled and her silver hair spiraled down her back, as graceful and wild as the weeping willow.
My doctor is Mother Earth, I thought. I could tell I was going to like her.
After reviewing my medical history, she instructed me to recline in the exam chair. “Let’s take a look at who’s inside,” she said.
Your Daddy leaned forward in his seat as Dr. Ahmed rolled a robotic-looking contraption with a computer screen for a head next to me. She activated the ultrasound machine then turned out the lights. I lifted my shirt. The doctor squirted cold gel on my stomach then rolled what she called a transducer probe over my slippery skin. Like magic, a black and white image of a tiny being—head, body, and a little bent leg—popped onto the computer screen. It was you, Levi, and at this stage you looked like a cashew. I stared in awe at your image. Your Daddy reached out his hand and placed it on my knee. Then Dr. Ahmed took your heartbeat. It was fast and loud like a chugging train.
“One hundred forty-three beats per minute,” she said, smiling. “Boringly average.”
“So there’s really a baby in there,” I said, grasping for the first time that you were real, that my pregnancy was more than mere exhaustion and nausea and mood swings, that it was you, Levi, my child. I looked over at your Daddy. His eyes shone bright in the dark, fixated on the glowing screen.
Sitting in the exam chair now, it was hard to believe six weeks had passed since your birth. Dr. Ahmed had cared for you and me every step of the way except for your delivery. Her on-call shift had occurred the day before I went into labor with you. In fact, the morning after you were born, she visited our room before her workday began to check on the two of us.
“You couldn’t have had him one day earlier, huh?” she said, winking at me and placing her hand on my shoulder as if to say good job. For many months she had invested her time and energy into our wellbeing, and she cared to know how we had turned out. This is the mark not only of a good doctor, Levi, but of a good mother, too.
A knock at the door pulled me out of my memory. Dr. Ahmed entered. She was wearing the same forest green dress I’d met her in, and her sweeping hair was pulled partway back, glistening down her spine. She took a good look at you over your Daddy’s shoulder then connected eyes with me. “It’s the best thing in the world, isn’t it?” she said.
I replied, “It really is.”
After examining me, Dr. Ahmed found I had recovered fully from giving birth. With my clean bill of health, I no longer felt anxious, only sad that this would be my last time to see our Dr. Mother Earth since we are moving back to Tennessee in a few days. She asked if I had any questions. I said, “No. But I’d like to thank you for taking such great care of Levi and me.”
She looked as if she might cry. Then she gave me a tight hug, even though I was sweaty and naked beneath the crinkly pink gown.
“The pleasure was all mine,” she said.
Her words were another mark of not only a good doctor, Levi, but of a good mother, too.