1:30 a.m. — Nightmare wakes me. Supposed to be up at 6:30 so maybe it’s almost time to get up anyway. Look at the clock and curse silently.
1:45 a.m. — Can’t get back to sleep. Pad out into living room to find husband awake, too. “I couldn’t sleep,” he says. We head back to bed and try to sleep.
2 a.m. — No dice. We give up and get back up. My stomach grumbles, discontent. When awake, I need to eat every two hours. “You’re awake, feed me,” my stomach informs me. His and hers bowls of cereal. I eat mine in the living room watching some inane reality show in which models in tacky sports gear are suspended from highwires. He’s in the dining room intently studying the back of the Golden Grahams box.
2:30 a.m. — He heads back to the bedroom to read. I continue staring at the television and realize that I don’t even have the sound up loud enough to hear the dialogue properly. I rectify the situation and quickly realize it was better without the sound. Time to try sleeping again.
3:17 a.m. — No luck. The tarp from the brownstone being renovated next door flaps, snaps, and cracks in the wind, a foot away from my bedroom window. I weigh getting out of bed to retrieve the earplugs from my travel kit. This smacks of effort and I curl up, finally falling asleep.
6:30 a.m. — Alarm buzzes. It’s about time.
7:30 a.m. — While getting ready, I accidentally smack the blazing hot curling iron barrel against the inner crook of my elbow. A two-inch red burn mark immediately begins brewing.
8 a.m. — Our vehicle having died two days ago, we hail a cab, getting all the way in and shutting the door before telling him that we need to go to Virginia. We’ve strategized this ahead of time, figuring that even a driver miffed about having to leave D.C. won’t kick us out if we’re already in with the door shut. It works because he at least hits the gas while protesting, “I don’t know this area at all,” after hearing the word Virginia. “You and me both, pal,” I think.
8:25 a.m. — Appearing quite proud of himself for not getting lost and for having found a shortcut, he deposits us at the front door.
8:30 a.m. — Half an hour early for the appointment. I fill out the forms, writing the wrong last name, which the receptionist kindly calls to my attention by way of inquiry. The curling iron burn is moving into stinging hissy mode.
9 a.m. — We get called back. On the way to the exam room I point out the now furiously angry burn and ask the nurse if she has something I can put on it. She looks at me like I’ve just asked her to go fetch a hair off the great Cham’s beard. With a coy smile and an expression that clearly conveys “You two are so adorably nutty,” she sets low expectations for her ability to rustle up any such thing. In a hospital. “We might have a Band-aid,” she offers.
9:25 a.m. — My husband shakes his head thinking back to the nurse’s inability to locate burn ointment in a hospital. He turns this into an hilarious monologue.
9:35 a.m. — The first doctor arrives and begins the sonogram. My husband and I peer at the screen searching for any clue as to whether it’s a boy or a girl. Due to our lack of any sonographical training, I’m guessing we’re expecting the baby to hold up a sign that says, “I’m a boy!”
9:45 a.m. — The nurse sticks her head back into the room and announces that she needs to see the doctor. She pretends not to remember us or the heaving welt now amassing troops on the border of my arm. She seems insistent in the way of a 16-year-old who really needs the keys to the car right now. The doctor appears annoyed enough to confirm my hunch that this nurse is something of a pill.
9:50 a.m. — The doctor returns and has to restart all of the measurements. At this point it bears saying that WE ARE 50 MINUTES PAST WHEN I THOUGHT I’D KNOW THE GENDER OF MY CHILD. That’s all I have to say about that.
9:55 a.m. — The doctor indicates that the little one has his or her legs pressed very tightly together, hindering her ability to detect its gender. She says with complete lack of certitude that her theory is that it’s a girl. My brain responds, “THEORIES DON’T HELP ME PICK OUT CURTAIN PATTERNS, LADY!” She sends a second doctor in.
9:57 a.m. — The second doctor is nice, comforting, and completely ineffective at determining the gender of our child. He gives up after a few minutes and suggests that I walk around a bit to try to get the baby to move. He leaves, presumably to go back to the break room to hear more of the nurse’s hilarious story about the couple who came to a hospital and asked for a first-aid product.
10 a.m. — I head to the ladies room for a private heart-to-heart with the baby. “Baby,” I say, “I would really like to know what you are before I leave this office. Be a lambchop and give up the goods. It is the first and last time I will ask you to make such a flagrant public display.” Confident that the little one is now in line, I smooth my hair in the mirror and head back to the exam room.
10:02 a.m. — The first doctor comes back in. After all of about 20 seconds she sees what she needs to see and makes the announcement, proud this time in her certainty.
“It’s a girl.”