On the day I went into labor with my second child, Dr. P met me at the hospital. He removed his beautiful grey wool Armani jacket, rolled up his sleeves, donned a glove and performed an internal exam. In between contractions, I noticed he was looking awfully dapper for someone about to deliver a baby. All I could think of was not embarrassing myself while in the throes of labor. What I prayed for most – besides, of course, a healthy infant – was not to have a bowel movement on the delivery table.
After waiting the entire night with my husband at my side, Dr. P delivered my beautiful daughter. My husband and I were so excited and in awe of our new baby that Dr. P had to remind us to take pictures.
Dr. P then went out of his way to book me the nicest room in the hospital, because “I deserved it.” He was like a rich playboy with connections who could make a phone call and get me comped at the Bellagio’s penthouse suite in Vegas. My husband playfully teased me that “my boyfriend,” as he’d started calling Dr. P, had taken extra special care of me.
About four months later, I was on the playground of my son’s nursery school when I overheard Dr. P’s name. Someone was talking about his never-ending turnover of nurses and how it was due to his insanely jealous wife, a woman who was rumored to have a black belt in karate.
My ears perked up, and I said, trying to sound casual, “Oh, you go to him, too?” One cute, low-rise-jeans-wearing mom-to-be said, “He just makes me feel like I’m the only person on earth.” I wanted to throttle her. Another mother sighed and added, “Isn’t he the best dresser? I wish my husband wore Armani instead of Dockers.” The third woman in the group told me she gave her two sons the same unusual monikers as Dr. P’s boys, but swore (unconvincingly) it was “just a coincidence.” I felt so betrayed. It reminded me of the time my mother assured me I was her favorite daughter, only to learn later that she’d told my three other sisters the same exact thing.
But I got over my horror. There was enough of the good doctor’s attention to go around. And what was I going to do? Be jealous like his wife? Switch to another practice? Never. At the playground, the conversation again veered to Dr. P – specifically, his cologne.When I told my best friend about my situation, she sang a few bars from the ’70s song “Dr. Love”: “He ain’t got no competition, only he writes my prescription.”
The next time I was back in the playground, the conversation again veered to Dr. P – specifically, his cologne. “I think it’s Prada,” said one of the other mothers. It turned out she’d actually gone to Bloomingdales in search of the mysterious scent to give to her unknowing husband.
Now, almost a year later, I only visit Dr. P every six months for an exam and to renew my birth control pills. When I see him, it’s like meeting up with an old college boyfriend after a successful diet. I breeze into the room, dressed up and well groomed, and hop up on the exam table, fifty pounds lighter than I was when I was pregnant. We talk about my sex life, flirt a little and then I get to run off and talk to my fellow playground mothers about what he was wearing. Medical care, boundless compassion and a secret thrill, all for a $20 co-pay; now that’s value.