I am often (weirdly often, come to think of it) the victim of mistaken identity. My top five most embarrassing moments all contain some element of zany misunderstanding. For instance, I once showed up at the wrong house for a dinner invitation and no one realized it until dessert. That was Embarrassing Moment #1 of All Time, but coming in a close second was the day I was accused by a midwife of smoking weed.
When I was newly pregnant with Nate, I was deep in my crunchy granola stage: vegan, co-op shopping, leather-less from head to toe. I wanted a natural (preferably water) birth surrounded by midwife goddesses with nary an MD in sight (ask me sometime how that went). I was also twenty-two, poor as dirt, and freaked the fuck out, so it suited me just fine that my only option for a midwife-based prenatal practice was in a mobile trailer on Spokane’s sketchy west side serving high-risk mothers. Not high-risk pregnancies…high-risk mothers, the ones most likely to be seventeen and/or coming off meth and/or single and/or driven to their appointments by their own long-suffering…mothers.
Despite being absolutely straight as an arrow (I’m the only person I know who has actually gotten less conservative as I age) I loved this practice. No one judged me there, that was for sure. No one said, for instance, “You just finished college with honors, have a great starter job, are newly married…why exactly are you pregnant…now?” (Insert frowny-face.) My midwife Kathy was respectful, cheerful, compassionate, and admitted to a crush on Wallace Stegner that rivaled my own. We understood each other. So when I was pregnant with Calvin a few years later, I went back, despite being even less of a high-risk mother than I’d been the first time around.
Everything went swimmingly. I was welcomed once again into capable Kathy’s loving arms. I checked off my appointments one by one, averted my eyes (or maybe totally stared) at all the baby daddy drama unfolding in the waiting room on any given day, and generally minded my own business. One afternoon well into my pregnancy, I arrived for my appointment, peed in my cup as usual, and awaited Kathy in the exam room. Except that a different midwife was seeing me today. She bustled in, and right away, I could tell she was mad. Seriously mad.
“How often do you smoke pot?” she demanded, no preamble.
I laughed of course. How funny! She did not laugh. “Wait, what?”
“The weed. You need to cut out the weed. It’s terrible for the baby.”
I think I laughed again. Haha…what?
And now she was really pissed. An intense lecture commenced, but all I heard was a high-pitched Eeeeeeeeee! sound as panic made my brain fuzzy. What I felt then must be close (hopefully as close as I ever get) to how suspects feel when unexpectedly finding themselves interrogated by hard-nosed, street-savvy cops. Where was Kathy?! I demanded Kathy!
Finally, Kathy was called in. When she heard what Midwife Tough Cop was accusing me of, she laughed too. Hard. She laughed so hard, in fact, that she had to brace herself against the exam table between gaffaws. Despite my relief that someone here knew me well enough to know there had been some sort of mix-up, I resented her just a little bit for knowing me so well that idea of me getting high while pregnant was not just ha ha funny, but hysterical funny.
Turns out, there had been a mix-up. Because this practice was all comfy couches and natural lighting and down-with-the-institution, they were also a little loosey-goosey with their pee cup protocol. My name was cleared, although I asked never to see Tough Cop again, and during the remainder of my pregnancy, the worst thing I was busted for was high blood pressure. And no, they never did catch the guy–I mean gal–who was enjoying a joint or two. At least as far as I ever knew.