Thursday, March 9, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: January 4, 2399

They’re at it again. Arcadia and Vearden are at the doctor’s office. Every four weeks, like clockwork, they schedule an appointment, with a few extra appointments sprinkled in between. Today, they’re here for a special reason, as they have decided to preemptively find out the sex of the baby. They have been thinking of her as a girl pretty much the whole time, but they obviously don’t know that for sure. A doctor that they don’t recognize comes in looking at the chart as Arcadia is dangling her legs off the edge of the table. “All right, Mrs. Haywood.”
“Uh, Preston,” Arcadia corrects. “Haywood is his name.”
“I see. And why are you not yet married?”
Arcadia winces. “I thought we had an understanding at this establishment. Where is Dr. Garver?”
He sighs. “Dr. Garver had to be let go, I’m afraid. She was being too lenient with her patients. You know how women are,” he says to Vearden as if Arcadia weren’t even there. “You have to be firm, or people will lead unhealthy lives.”
“Being unmarried is unhealthy?” Arcadia questions.
“No, it’s a perfectly legitimate life choice...if your religion says that you can—”
“It does,” Arcadia interrupts.
“Right.” He’s really having trouble communicating with his patient, instead wanting to focus on the man, since Vearden is automatically treated as a well-adjusted, non-hormonal, reasonable human being who is allowed to make decisions. “Now, we’re here for an echouterogram, correct?” Yeah, he’s looking at Vearden again.
Arcadia snaps in his face. “Hey, yeah, it’s me. I’m the patient. Look at me, please.”
“I’m sorry, I’m just used to dealing with male patients.”
“Aren’t you an OB/GYN?”
“A what?”
Different words for things here. “A gyniatrician.”
“I am, yes.” No elaboration.
Arcadia has half a mind to leave, but she doesn’t want to make a scene. “Yes, I would like an echouterogram. We would like to know the sex at birth.”
“What do you mean, at birth?”
Yeah, she keeps forgetting about stuff like that. She doesn’t really want to raise her child in a world that has flying cars, but no openly transgender people. Assuming it’s even in the cards, though, when will it be safe to travel to any other reality? This place is awful, and this guy is awful. That’s it. They can’t escape to the main sequence, but they don’t have to stay here. Vearden doesn’t even need her to say it. As the hack doctor is turned around to wash his hands—which they’re surprised he even bothers to do since Arcadia isn’t a real person, and can’t get sick—Vearden stands up to grab their coats.
“What were we thinking, normal convex or endovaginal? Now, most ladies prefer me to just stay on the outside, but I like to really get in there, and take a good look around. Wadya say?”
“I say, go screw yourself,” Arcadia spits. She’s wearing her coat over her gown, which she doesn’t intend to return to the facility.
“That’s just the hormones talking.”
“Can I?” Vearden requests of his girlfriend?
“Doesn’t make you any less of a feminist in my eyes.” Arcadia decides.
Vearden holds the door open for her, and then punches the doctor in the stomach as he’s stepping out himself. “That’s..not gonna leave a mark,” he snipes.
They both climb into the car, but don’t leave yet. “We’re going to the government,” she declares.
“I thought you didn’t want to involve them in this.”
“I don’t,” Arcadia confirms. “But to be fair, I said that months ago, back before Team Matic and Kivi had strengthened their relationship with them. I think maybe they can be trusted...or trusted enough anyhow.”
They drive straight to the government hospital to check in. They don’t even have to say anything; Arcadia looks exactly like Agent Matic, and at least some people are already aware of Arcadia’s current medical condition. A hopefully real doctor comes into the room after she only has enough time to undress.
“Miss Preston, how are we feeling today?” That is the right way to start a visit.
“I’m feeling all right. I feel bigger than I feel like I should,” Arcadia replies.
“Well, everyone develops differently. It’s not the size that matters, it’s the strength of the labor pain medication, I always say. We’ll have a look, though. Firstly, my name is Dr. Cenric Best, and I can be with you every step of the way until delivery. It is government policy for gyniatricians to take vacation either one day at a time, or after forty-two weeks. I should ask, are you comfortable with a male physician?”
“Yes, as long as you don’t criticize me for being married.”
He winces. “I’m not married.”
“We had a bad experience with our last so-called doctor,” Vearden explains.
“Well, we don’t like those here; bad experiences. I’m going to do everything I can to make this a safe environment, and a painless procedure. When you look back on these days, I hope you remember them fondly. It will make it easier on your relationship with your child.”
“That makes sense,” Arcadia says.
After a few more questions so that Dr. Best could get to know Arcadia and Vearden better, he begins the ultrasound procedure. He uses the external wand, as opposed to the endocavity one, since it should be good enough for their needs. As it turns out, they were right, they’re going to have a little girl. And when she’s old enough, she’ll decide if she wants to keep being a girl, or be something else, and they’re not going to let anyone in this reality tell her otherwise. Once it’s over, Dr. Best starts looking over the results, as well as Arcadia’s past visits, which the other facility sent over.
Arcadia is concerned “Is something wrong, Doctor?”
“Hmm? Oh, no. It’s just...what’s the earliest you could have gotten pregnant?”
“Very early September; it’s impossible for it to have been any earlier.”
“I was briefed...briefly regarding your origins. Forgive me, but how long is a member of your species usually pregnant for?”
“Forty weeks. It should be the same as you. We’re all human.”
“Of course, yes. It’s just...”
“It’s just what?”
“Well...” Dr. Best wavers. “She’s gestating rather quickly,’s accelerating. If she keeps this up, and I did the math right, you may give birth in April—not June.”

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