The lights are bright, the conversation is awkward and your hands get all sweaty. The only thing missing is the name tags.
Welcome to obstetrician speed dating.
For the past month or so, my wife and I have been seeing a different doctor every time we go in for our weekly appointments to have my wife's tires rotated or whatever it is they do in there.
Recently, when I asked one of the nurses why they kept switching up doctors on us, she said the same thing she always does to me: "Mr. Donovan, the gowns are for the women." But then added: "Because it allows you to meet all the different docs here at the practice."
The reason this is important is because you never know which one is going to be on call when you finally go into labor. And with six or so doctors in our practice, this means lots of first-time introductions. And even though I completely understand the logic behind it, it still doesn't mean things can't get awkward. But truth be told, probably not as awkward as this:
DOCTOR: "OK, Mrs. Donovan.* Just give me one more good push." (Long pause followed by the crying of a baby.) "Congratulations, you have a healthy baby boy."
WIFE: "Oh. He's beautiful!"
DOCTOR: (Wiping off hands on legs.) "I'm Dr. Harris, by the way."
(*My wife actually kept her last name, but since this is my column, I get to make the rules, and so in this space she shall be referred to as Mrs. Donovan.)
So I'm glad we're getting to know them all. In fact, the surprise factor has kind of gotten me re-energized about our weekly visits because you never know who's going to walk through that door.
Will it be a woman? A man? Wait ... I hadn't thought about that one. So far it's been all women. But what if it is a man? And he's all, "Well, hello there," to my wife as he's rubbing on her belly and I'm all, "Um, hi. Yeah. Hi there. I'm her husband" and he's all (to my wife), "You want me to ask this joker to wait outside?"
OK, I'm being ridiculous. So we get a dude. Big deal. The point is, regardless of sex, it's important to get to know all these people before that oh-so-critical moment when we're at the hospital giving birth. Even if it is a sleazeball. I mean man.
On the bright side, however, I have learned quite a bit from this whole Rotating Doctor Experiment. Like for instance, every OB has a different style and approach when it comes to their bedside manner.
Some are jovial, others are serious. Some like to chat, others are strictly business. Some get uncomfortable when my wife and I make out on the exam table, others join in. (OK, so I made that one up.)
But the biggest thing I've learned is that no matter who we end up getting on delivery day, we are definitely in good hands. Which, thankfully, we will have shaken long before our son is born.
Bryce Donovan also writes a weekly column called "It Beats Working," which appears every Thursday in Charleston Scene. Reach him at 937-5938 or firstname.lastname@example.org. And for even more Bryce, check out his blog, "The Bryce is Write," or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brycedonovan.