The other day I was inquiring about H’s Language Arts teacher. I asked him if she had said anything to the students about her impending maternity leave. “Nope.”
Had she even mentioned that she was pregnant? “Nope.”
Was she looking any more rotund? “I don’t know. She looks the same as she always has. She always looked round to me.”
“Maybe she’ll go into labor during ELA and you can deliver the baby.”
He looked confused. Of course he would. He can’t remember back to the tender years of childhood when he proclaimed that he was going to be a midwife.
He was three years old when I was pregnant with Princess Commando. He was my little companion to all of my prenatal visits with my beloved midwives. Their office occupied the first floor of a lovely brick Victorian home. That is what the office felt like- home- with its waiting room set up in the original living room and decorated with worn couches and children’s toys. H loved it there. He was impressed that they always left out nutritious snacks like fresh fruit, cheeses and crackers for visitors. Usually, he would stay in the living room with the receptionist, Mary, while I was having my examination. Mary put him to work copying papers, putting stamps on envelopes, etc. But, there were occasions when he just wanted to be with me. He would sit on the chair in the corner of the exam room, keenly observing every gesture, every soft laying of the hands by the midwife. I was used to the boys barging in on me in the bathroom- coming in to have a conversation while I was taking a bath or getting dressed. I had long gotten over being modest about my body around them. But, I also wasn’t parading around the house flashing my lady lumps.
On the day that I was to have my internal exam and Group B strep test (about 36 weeks), H decided that he wanted to join me. I was hesitant because up until now the only body part ever exposed during an exam had been my belly. I knew I would be draped and if he stayed in his corner, he wouldn’t see anything. I asked my midwife, S, if she thought it would traumatize him to be there while she was all up in my lady business. She laughed and told me that children (siblings) had seen far worse in the delivery room. S let H put the blue jelly on my stomach for the Doppler. He called it blue mustard (maybe this is why he has an aversion to mustard?) She guided his hand with the device to find his baby sister’s heart beat. He was spellbound. When S began the internal exam, the lights were turned down low. S told H that he could be her assistant and she gave him a flash light. So, there I was with my legs in the stirrups, draped, with my parts exposed. And, there H was, at my feet, dutifully pointing the flashlight. All of a sudden he exclaimed with equal parts pride and wonder, “Mommy, I can see right into your vagina!”
I kept trying to assure myself on the ride home that that he would probably forget that visual before we even pulled into our driveway. And, it seemed to be the case as he didn’t mention the experience at dinner when the Mr. asked him how his day was.
A few days later, H and I were at Target. I cannot remember why we were there. All I remember is that we were standing in the home goods section when the lights went out. There was a sudden sputtering and belching sound from the building as systems were shutting down. And, then, silence. I was struggling to find my bearings. My eyes were adjusting to the darkness and I could make out the form of an elderly woman at the other end of the aisle. We stayed put, listening to the muffled confusion of the employees trying to figure out why the back up generator had not kicked in. I looked down at H sitting in the cart, who seemed more amused than frightened.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said with a huge smile exposing his little chicklets.
“You remember when we were at the midwives and it was dark in the room, and I got to look into your vagina?”
Oh no! There is was, as loud and clear as Christmas bells. There was no mistaking what my sweet boy had said. I thought I heard the old lady gasp in horror. And typical H, kept going, the more I tried to hush him and the less I tried to answer. “What? What did I say?!”
I tried to unbuckle him and rip him out of the shopping cart in the shroud of darkness, but the power was restored and the lights came back on. I hung my head and sped out of the aisle. This wouldn’t be the last time one of my children embarrassed me in a Target store. And it certainly was not the most scarring (that incident involved an epic tantrum, a Lego set and the help of 4 adults to get us to our car).
While I am a little disappointed that he has forgotten about his dreams to be a male midwife (he would be perfect for the job), I am certainly grateful that when recalling this story to him today, not a single thread of it sounded familiar. I am putting money aside for therapy, just in case.