In order to begin this episode of Dr. Combat I must start by describing Peawhistle as a baby. Every mother thinks their babies are beautiful. That's the only thing keeping the little screamers alive sometimes. Naturally, I thought Peawhistle was a beautiful baby myself. I wondered from time to time if it was just me, but then someone else would make a comment that reassured me that I wasn't the only one who found her attractive. From the start, I had people stop me and tell me that Peawhistle was the most beautiful baby they'd ever seen. The phrase "porcelain doll" came up about every other time in describing her (although I admit I've seen my fair share of ugly porcelain dolls, but I figured they weren't talking about those). And it wasn't just the old ladies who stopped to gawk, it was women with babies of their own telling me she was the prettiest baby they'd ever seen, it was children of all ages saying how beautiful she was, and even grown, manly men stopping me in the Commissary to say, "Now THAT'S a beautiful baby." Total strangers begged and begged me to let them hold her. I swore she was going to be kidnapped at any second, and I was prepared with my latest Karate Kid moves. Peanut gets his fair share of attention now; he is very popular wherever we go. But nothing like what Peawhistle got. Peawhistle, was in fact, a very pretty baby.
Dr. Combat disagreed. He never outright said, "Your baby is ugly and I hate her," but I have evidence, spanning three distinct events, proving that he didn't find her particularly easy on the eyes. I'll let my readers be the judges.
The day after I had given birth to Peawhistle, Dr. Combat, whom I had not seen for a week, popped his head in the room to wish me a hearty congratulations. After they moved me to the post-partum ward, he joined the nurses in the nursery to lend a hand and administer newborn examinations. As I was wheeling Peawhistle down the hallway in her cart to get some ice from the snackroom, I came upon Dr. Combat coming from the opposite direction. He smiled brightly and said, "Awww, let's see the baby!" He bent over her expectantly. He just stared at her. "So what's her name?" "[Peawhistle]." And then he just stared at me. He gave me a look that suggested, "You're one of those idiot parents who just makes up names, aren't you?" For the record, Peawhistle's name is centuries old, a Catholic saint's name, and not uncommon; and yet, there are still those who have never heard it before in their lives and are convinced I invented it (I had to explain to Peanut's nurse the other day--a Catholic no less--where the name originated. She only sparked with recognition after I pronounced it the way its country's origins do. Go figure.). Dr. Combat was one of these people. After all of that, the best he could muster was, "Congratulations." And he walked away. Hm.
The next time I saw Dr. Combat it was at least a couple of weeks after Peawhistle was born. I was coming into the hospital at all hours of the night for reasons I won't disgust you with. I picked him out immediately, as he was the only person talking up a storm to every nurse in the vicinity. After he assisted me and my issue, he asked how Peawhistle was doing. I told him that she still wasn't back up to her birth weight yet, mostly because she kept falling asleep while she was eating. He said, "Well, I would too. You're eating, you're warm and cozy, your mom's rocking you to sleep, she's singing to you...." Note: Peawhistle did not enjoy my singing. She typically responded with singing of her own, namely the kind that shatters your eardrums. I learned not to sing to Peawhistle. Attempting to add an alternative suggestion of my own, I instead inserted, "...and telling her she's cuter than all the other babies." He looked at me with a harsh "You wish," sort of look. Man, tough crowd.
I'll be the first to admit that fresh-out babies look strange as far as human beings go. But by around the second or third week they begin to look the way they're supposed to look: cute and babyish and stuff. After the last encounter with my unexpected visit to the hospital, Dr. Combat wanted to see me back for a follow-up in the clinic. I made an appointment a few weeks after that and brought the baby to the appointment in her carrier as I had yet to find a suitable babysitter for my young child. At the end of the visit he said very happily, "Now let's see this baby!" Peawhistle was looking her best. She was sleeping. And she was adorable. I waited for him to finally admit she was attractive on some level. He looked at her for a second, stretched a thin smile across his face, and flatly declared, "Cute." Ouch. The appointment was over and I left with my ugly baby.
Perhaps he couldn't help it. It's very possible that he was merely used to his own children, who likely were so gorgeous that no human could gaze upon them without falling into a coma. Perhaps he had higher expectations for my offspring, what with my being so particularly stunning myself. Perhaps he was momentarily possessed by baby-hatin' demons. On three separate occasions. Regardless of the reason, would it have killed him to lie? Did he think he would be barred from the AMA if he did?
For an example of how it's supposed to be done, here's how my 6-week post-partum conversation went with my OB after Peanut was born. After she requested a peek at him, I removed the blanket over him so she could see him.
OB: *gasp* "ABBY! You didn't tell me you made such gorgeous babies!"
Me: "I thought that went without saying."
OB: "He is so perfect, so beautiful."
Me: "But then, every baby's cute, right?"
OB: "No way. I've seen some ugly babies in my time."
Me: "And what do you say to their mothers?"
OB: "'Oh, how precious!'"
See, even if she was lying, she was convincing enough that I'd never know it. One thing's for certain: Dr. Combat is not a good actor. It's just as well he's otherwise occupied during the day or he'd starve.