My nephew TJ has always been enrolled in Medicaid for medical coverage. Teej's new case manager (who I had not yet met face-to-face) sent an unnecessary stack of paperwork for me to complete for his annual coverage review. I was sure that she sent the paperwork in error, thinking that I was seeking coverage for both TJ and for myself. I didn't want to risk TJ losing his coverage because of a clerical misunderstanding; my phone calls hadn't been returned, so yesterday I thought it was best to see the case manager in person to get things straightened out. That's how I ended up in the waiting room of the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) for over an hour, surrounded by pregnancy 360o.
At one point there were eight pregnant "women" in the office (yes, I counted), and not one of them looked old enough to have graduated high school.
Number Nine entered with Boyfriend, and sandwiched between them toddled two girls who appeared to be around 2 and 4 years old. Number Nine was the size of a toothpick everywhere except her protruding belly, around which stretched a too-tight, too-small Baby Phat t-shirt. I overheard her say to the receptionist at the sign-in window that the reason for her visit was to find out why she received less in food stamps this month. I also overheard her tell a friend who she obviously hadn't seen in a while (also pregnant) that she had celebrated her nineteenth birthday last week and that she was finally having a baby girl. Hey, Nineteen.
Hello, claustrophobia. I pulled out my laptop and forced myself to focus intently on tweaking a PowerPoint I have to present to the faculty during Monday's staff development day.
I have been pregnant three times for myself and have four children.
I've been pregnant a fourth time and delivered one surrobaby. So why, why did I feel myself sink a little lower into my plastic hardcoat chair each time another rounded midsection entered the office?
I'm here, having "crossed over to the other side," as some like to say. My four passports make it possible for me to be here, but the familiar, uncomfortable feelings were like a well-worn path through an overgrown thatch of weeded grass.
Just get over it, part of me says.
Screw "get over it," says another part. It's too entertwined into who you are to "just" get over it.
I'm my own one-woman freakshow.