“DR CARLISLE” by Fielding Edlow
an essay, published in Anna David’s True Tales of Lust & Love
This is a love story about my OB/GYN. She is a prettier, less drunk, height of the Go-Go’s Belinda Carlisle. I will refer to her as Dr Carlisle. When I stand next to her, I feel like a small, hairy, Jewish minotaur. My first shrink really liked the idea of a ‘pretty doctor’. When my acting “career” was relegated to angry feminist community theatre like playing the well-meaning but conflicted ‘Belle’ in Vulvalution: her Lips Speak, my shrink and I had a serious talk. She lit up one day like a Jungian lite brite. She said, “Maybe you could be a pretty doctor”? I remembered thinking, That’s kind of sexist but then I got excited cause I was like, Oh my God, she thinks I’m pretty! Dr Metzger was a fairly good shrink. She got me off coke, Prozac, Nutter Butters and blowing losers in the bathroom of Dorrians. But years later, I really just remember three things she said: “Don’t do caffeine after 2pm, ‘No’ is a complete sentence, and don’t set up your father’s J Date account with a picture of Steve Guttenberg.”
My OB/GYN is so pretty that my brother who’s a neurologist at Harvard- got furious when I showed him her picture. “Are you fucking kidding me? Is she even Board Certified? What’s wrong with you and why does it look like there’s a wind machine on her hair?” She does have this glossy, Pre- Raphaelite chestnut brown hair that flips up insouciantly at the ends and always seems to say, “I’m perfect… go fuck yourself”. I didn’t understand how my brother didn’t want to fuck her too. Her face is like a silky Banyan tree or a Greek sunset or a tiramisu that makes you skinny.
I was nervous before meeting Dr Carlisle because my friends had told me how pretty she was but they also were very clear with me. “Don’t get sucked in because she’s not perfect. She wasn’t in the cool group in high school and she’s not funny.” I remember sitting in her turquoise blue waiting room which felt like a fairy’s aquarium and sniffing her fig hand soap on my fingers. I remember discovering her middle name on one of the degrees and feeling like… we belonged together. I was very intrigued by this Beverly Hills doctor who didn’t take insurance and who chose to bury her face in pussy all day. I was a dyke for a month and I didn’t do it. Most girls, when they decide to have a gay phase, have just gotten royally fucked over by some horrible guy, had a keg of Jagermeister, and said, “Fuck it! Let’s go munch a million boxes at Lilith Fair!” I was three days sober and thought, Wait a second, do I want backstage passes to Lilith Fair? But let me tell you something: no amount of Ocean Spray cranberry juice is gonna make me want to munch your box.
Dr Carlisle walked in and I jumped like a horny prom date. I felt immediate shame in front of her. I was sure Dr Carlisle never had shame, never publicly binged on Duncan Hines yellow cake mix and had probably never gotten fingered in Row P during an INXS concert.
During the meeting, she asked me if I was interested in getting pregnant. I checked to see if she wanted me to or not. “Well, I’m not really ready yet, I said. I kinda wanna be more established in my career. I know I’m in my middle-late thirties but—“ She cut me off. “You seem very wise and I’m sure when you try, you’ll have no problem since you have a great attitude about it.” I wanted it to start drizzling, and have her two dumber than fuck assistants shut down the office so we could curl up and read Island of The Blue Dolphins together.
When I got home that night, I told my husband that we should wait to get pregnant. My emotionally unstable actor husband who’s an exact cross between an Irish splinter group and a whisper-y ballerina had a hissy fit. “What the fuck?! I’m OLD. I knew you didn’t want to have kids. Fuck you Fielding! Family is the most important thing. Your eggs are probably toxic and dead anyway.” (beat) Will you come with me to Yogurtland?”
I got pregnant 2 months later thanks to the iPhone app ‘Fem Lite’ and my B+ in the Biology of Women at U Penn. Fem Lite told me the precise day when Larry should gizz inside of me. It was a bright morning in June and Larry was putting on his man sandals and stapling his pic and resumes together in the most annoying way when I stopped him. “I need you to come home later – and can you try not to jerk off today? Or at least not again?” “What? I don’t know if I can, I have a call back for Suburgatory.”
“I need you to come home and dump a load in me after your stupid audition.” “I’ll dump a load in you.” “Great and, can you also pick up 2 bags of kitty litter on your way back?”
When I got the official ‘I’m pregnant’ three-minute voice mail message from Dr Carlisle, I immediately treated six people to lattes in Starbucks. And so our dating began with my eye always on our looming hospital consummation. But Larry was onto me especially since he was discovering mounds of cut pubic hair all over the bathroom sink. (it’s rude not to trim before visits). He insisted on going with me to my five-month check-up.
As we sat in her office I watched Larry get completely sucked in by her sea green Manolos, silk mini skirt and seductive fig waft. Dr Carlisle attempted a joke. “So I’d start having sex now cause it’s gonna be a bit challenging later on”. I guess it wasn’t really a joke. But desperate for more intimacy snippets from her, I said “Yeah, Larry’s not that interested-– he thinks he’s gonna dent the baby’s head with his cock.” Awkward silence.
I wanted to tell her that the one time we fucked it took 45 minutes to climb on top and then he told me I was breathing like John Goodman. I couldn’t do any of my usual tricks like when I was 50 pounds lighter. I couldn’t bend down and be like “Do you like it?” or loudly whisper, “How wet is my pussy?” And that’s rhetorical: your pussy is always wet when you’re pregnant… I wanted to be able to tell her that my poor little portal was trapped beneath my big fat fucking pregnancy gut, like James Franco’s arm in 127 Hours and that my daughter was going to enter the world with a lot of closed doors, sticky iPads and secrets.
After another of my appointments, Larry spotted my sparkly Louboutins under the couch and said, “Tell me you didn’t wear your wedding shoes to the checkup.” Silence. “You do know that when you give birth, you’re probably gonna take a big shit in front of her face.”
He was right. I did poop a couple of times during the birth. I sorta knew it but each time I just kinda pretended I was in a black out. Aside from that, I had a gorgeous shiny-haired nymph’s hands in me- massaging, cajoling my stubborn daughter out with her goddessy mineral oil, form fitting scrubs and festive Nikes.
It was the first time I even heard her say my name. I could care less about my daughter coming out- I just wanted to hear, “Yes Fielding, beautiful Fielding, that’s it Fielding!” But I only got that when I had a good push and my husband was very clear with me that during the first hour, my pushes were very general and NOT good. So I ended up pushing for four hours not to try to avoid a cesarean or to have some transcendent, spiritual experience with my daughter. No. I just wanted Dr Carlisle’s hands in me which felt like tiny wands- sweet talking my lazy daughter who had obviously set up some sort of cozy night lounge in my uterus.
Dr Carlisle is an amazing doctor. Yes, the evening before I delivered, she broke my water wearing a fur vest and Uggs. She had just finished up a steak dinner at Mastros with her Persian husband, hopped over to Cedar’s, and stuck her manicured hand up inside me and with the flick of a finger, broke my water. My cervix was stubborn. But my small warm river gushed over her Seven jeans and it was foreplay at its best. Yes she doesn’t take insurance and was not very theatrical and was borderline anti-climactic when she announced, “It’s a girl”. And yeah, she’s not that funny. But she cried a little when my daughter was born. And the next day, when the roads around Cedars were blocked off because of the LA marathon, she ran with the marathoners in order to make my follow up visit, arriving, in a sporty track suit. But the most meaningful moment in our entire relationship occurred the night before I gave birth, when she was examining me and my daughter reached out and grabbed her hand like she was shaking it. My daughter, Ellis, had more poise, boundaries and professionalism at 0 than I did at 37.