At the age of 20, I knew the exact day when the new issues of Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie-Claire, and Glamour were due to come out each month and bought them all. Today I can’t get through two pages of any of them without feeling like I’m losing faith in humanity.
If that isn’t a successful self-improvement project, I don’t know what is.
So the No Stress Test that I now have to undergo twice a week at the hospital is not that bad. I have to lie in bed listening to the heart-beat and waiting for fetal movements. When they happen, I press a button. It’s like having a weird form of a dialogue with little Eric.
The disturbing part is not the test itself but having a lady of a very advanced age assigned to cart me around in a wheel-chair. The lady is called Sonia and even if she is a life-long four-packs-a-day smoker and suntanning addict, she cannot be a day under eighty. Sonia is not an athletic 80 either but, rather, a shaky, fragile 80.
Together with Eric, belly and my book-filled bag, I weigh about as much as three Sonias would. She makes very scary heaving sounds just to budge the wheelchair and then begins to wheeze as she struggles to push me down the corridor. It would make a lot more sense for me to cart Sonia around. And it would be good for my health, too, I’m sure.
In spite of all the pregnancy-related symptoms, I look very healthy. This is my curse: I always bloom like a May rose no matter what happens. People who encounter me and Sonia in the hallway look at me with the kind of contempt that nasty exploiters of fragile elderly ladies deserve.
I squirm in the wheelchair, feeling like a horrible person, and tell Sonia that I really don’t mind walking to the ultrasound unit on my own.
“Yes, but then what would I do with myself all day long? I have to justify being kept on in this job,” Sonia says quietly.