I used to think it was the directive to drink, and actual drinking of, the aggressively sweet carbonated liquid that was the worst. Today I realized it is the requisite 60+ minutes in the waiting room that is the true torture. Ah, yes, t’was the beloved glucose screening today. I conned Sean into joining me for the appointment at noon, which I had only scheduled 90 minutes prior. He dutifully cleared his schedule and said he’d meet me there.

We walked across the first overcrowded waiting room and into the next, a third of the seats already taken. We grabbed two and I set my coat and purse on the other. After Sean took a swig and told me the glucose potion wasn’t that bad I told him to take his sip, multiply it by 100 and add to it the indignity of being a walking, cramping mass of boobs, ass and gut and he might be a little closer to reality. That rich exchange was our last as the two teenagers beside us joined our conversation.

I was literally pained by their conversation, so light. They were swapping stories about their parents’ responses, tears followed by glee at the genders of the babies gestating in barely post pubescent bellies. At their knees sat a cherub faced boy, a bottle filled with a dark liquid in the tray of his stroller. The girl closest to me, pregnant with her first, was feeding him french fries, the girl next to her, his mother, was searching for the lollipop she’d given him.

“Here, drink your soda til I can find your lollipop,” she said as she leaned down, the vertebrae of her back poking through her shirt as she searched.

“You know what you’re having?” She asked me as she blew the hair out of her eyes.

“A girl,” I smiled. “Me too,” she said. “What are you naming yours?”

“I’m not sure yet,” I answered honestly.

“If it’s a girl – they told me with him it was 70/30 he was a boy,” she said pointing at the little 15 month old who was gumming another french fry, “And he came out a boy. This one is 70/30 it’s a girl, so if she stays a girl I’m naming her Keilani Meilynn.”

“I can’t stop eating and I just want to shop,” chirped the girl next to me. Her skin was so smooth, so clear beneath her silky top knot. I was overwhelmed by her youth, her resemblance to my own little girls.

“Don’t you think that’s beautiful? Keilani Meilynn.”

“Very,” I said.

“I don’t have a name yet, but my boyfriend is a Junior so he wants him to be a Third. Yuck. Does he want a mozarella stick?” She asked the other girl, the once crisp, deep fried stick now limp and crumbling wiggled between her fingers. Sean looked over at me and made it clear that I was in no way disguising my horror. I kissed him quickly and begged him to leave as I grabbed a magazine that I had every intention of burying my face in.

“Are you sure? I feel like I shouldn’t leave?” He said sincerely.

I shook my head, a silent please go and he did. I watched him leave, wishing I’d set the appointment for another time, an hour later.

“Were you on the pill?” The words hung in the air, a pair of older women in the corner tried to hide their shock. I winced as I realized she was asking me.

“Ah, no.” I answered.

“Huh, I was. Yup, but I still got pregnant.” The older women were looking pained and desperate to leave.

“So you have two girls?”

“Yes.” I nodded.

“Were you bummed it wasn’t a boy?’

“No, our girls are great, so another will be that much better.”

“I sobbed so hard when I found out it was a girl. I wanted one so bad,” she wiped pop from her son’s chin.

“I’m having a boy,” the angel face said. “But I am so gonna sob when it’s time to have him. I’m scared it’ll hurt. Do you want some Doritos?” She asked standing up, her bottom half clad in flannel pajamas adorned with images of kittens, her top half engulfed in a Carhartt jacket.

“That’s cause you’re spleening,” her friend said to her. I had no idea what that meant and hoped she wouldn’t bring Doritos back to the little boy.

They both looked at me. I smiled. They smiled back. “Spleening. It’s whining,” the young mother told me sympathetically.

I wondered if they thought I was old, uptight. I imagined what they might think if they knew how the french fry and pop snack was making me want to weep, how a small part of me was hoping that the young girl beside me was confused and that she wasn’t really pregnant.

When the nurse called my name I leapt from my seat with relief. I know that my way is not the only way, but sometimes I am just crushed by how little say these babies have in the way that they are raised, the foods they are fed and the experiences they are given.