You could look at pregnancy as one big long waiting period. You wait for the positive test. You wait for your first scan, and then the second. You wait, patiently or not, for the arrival of the little bundle. At this point, eight months in, I can tell you that in some respects it seems like a pretty long wait.

This pregnancy, though, has involved more waiting than most given that I have appointments at least every other week in a clinic that almost never runs to time. I try hard to occupy myself during the waiting time, but it’s difficult when you need to also keep an eye on the screen for your name to appear. My mind invariably wanders to thoughts of the baby and what still needs to be done to prepare. And of course thoughts of whether I, and they, are doing ok. But sometimes, when I want to push those worries aside and spare myself from bursting in to emotional tears before I’ve even been called in, I think about how much of my lifetime, nevermind this pregnancy, I’ve spent sitting in hospital waiting rooms. I do wonder what better things I might have done in all that time, given the choice.

Most appointment waits fill me with a strong sense of deja vu. Please tell me that I’m not the only one who feels like this:

It begins with optimism that it won’t be that long. The hands on the clock slowly turn round. You have to verify with your watch: yes, you really have only been here five minutes. Ten minutes come and go, and finally fifteen. You keep double, and triple, checking the screen to be sure that you haven’t just missed your name popping up.

Frustration begins to creep in, because although you have no other pressing engagements, you have taken an afternoon off work to go to the appointment and if you can get it over with quickly, you could have the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. Fantasising about how to spend an illegitimate free afternoon eats up another ten minutes.

You start wondering how to pass the time. You casually wander over to the magazine stand/table/pile on the floor and start reading a great article. However, you fly into an internal rage when you turn over the page to find the end of the article has been torn out, no doubt because the person who last read this particular magazine wanted the 25p off washing up liquid/chocolate chip cookies/pasta sauce coupon printed on the reverse.

You turn your attention back to the waiting room with its peeling paint, wilted pot plants and water-marked floor (a defective water machine, you hope) Alternatively: soft chairs, fresh paint and artwork – lucky you! You fight the urge to let out a large sigh. By this point you’re almost certainly bursting for the toilet, but don’t want to go because you must be called in soon and you know that they’ll want a urine sample from you.

Other people get called in, and you’re sure they arrived after you. You try to console yourself with the fact that they are probably seeing a different doctor. And anyway, you don’t want your doctor to be rushing through the patients, because you wouldn’t want him to rush your appointment either.

You start to wonder if maybe it is personal. Do you smell? Were you rude last time you met, or are you being punished for the time you were late? You consider checking with the receptionist in case you’ve inexplicably been forgotten, but decide against it for fear of seeming pushy. You briefly reconsider using the pressure in your bladder as a reason that you *must* be seen soon, but shelve that idea because you don’t want the whole waiting room to know that you’re desperate to pee.

You decide to try reading another magazine, but find you can’t get into it, because you’re sure it must be your turn soon, and you don’t want to be wondering about the end of another good story you don’t get to finish. Added to the fact that screen checking frequency is now up to every 20 seconds or so. And you’re also now fidgeting in your seat with desperation to relieve your bladder.

Finally you decide to go to the ladies. That will give you the opportunity to double check that you don’t smell/have bad breath as a possible reason for not being seen. You can also then legitimately enquire with the receptionist on your return, in case you missed your turn while you were gone, and can put in a good huffy protest about your wait time when they ask for the sample you won’t be able to produce. All round win!

No, you didn’t miss your name whilst you were gone. The receptionist flashes you a grin and tells you they are “really busy, you know how it is?” You get really frustrated now, and can feel your blood sugar, not to mention blood pressure soaring in response. When (if) you get to seen, you vow to tell the nurse/doctor/midwife exactly what you think of them, and then find yourself a new doctor.

Finally you hear your name being called. The person apologises and thanks you for your patience; “you know how it is?”

And of course you find yourself agreeing that you do know how it is and saying that it is quite alright… really not a problem at all…

Oh… and that pee sample. Not a problem either. You are heavily pregnant, after all!


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