OK, I’m a little late with this post. But hey, my son was late too so it’s sort of apropos. Where did I leave off? Oh yes, the morning after. It’s 5AM and my wife and child finally join me in the room. It’s evident that none of us have an ounce of energy. My wife is tired exhausted from nearly 20 hours of labor and a c-section chaser, my son is fatigued from being pulled from his mom’s belly, and I’m worn-out from everything. The good news? For the first time we’re alone, and being able to savor the moment is not only wonderful, it’s necessary. Sadly, alone time doesn’t last long.
I’m sitting on the hide-a-bed, my wife is on the bed, and the little guy is sleeping in his bassinet-on-wheels. I hear footsteps in the hall. The door opens.
NURSE: Hello, I’m nurse so-and-so. First of all, congratulations.
WIFE & ME: Thanks.
NURSE: I know you’re tired, but I want to go over a few things.
Are you kidding me? You realize the sun is coming up and we’ve been awake since the last time it broke the horizon? She isn’t and she doesn’t. She goes on and on about what’s in store for us and the baby in the coming days.
NURSE: Are you going to circumcise the baby?
ME: Well, I was hoping you guys would do it. Chuckle
Yeah, uh, that joke doesn’t go over well. I try to rebound with another lame comment, but I get nowhere. The nurse, now annoyed, turns to my wife and continues.
NURSE: Wah wah wah wah wah wah wah. Wah wah? Wah wah, wah wah wah wah. Wah wah wah?
I’m fading fast. Initially I could participate with some coherence. Then my words turn to grunts. Before long my eyes are wide shut and I’m making decisions I don’t remember on topics I should probably care about. I just want to sleep. So I do. When I wake, my son is gone and my wife is zonked. The door opens.
CAFETERIA LADY: Good morning. Ooh child, you look tired. What can I get you for breakfast?
She isn’t talking to me. In fact, the entire time I’m at the hospital I’m not so much talked to as I am talked down to…even by the cafeteria lady. Hey folks! I’m involved. I’m here. I’m not off getting someone else pregnant or playing craps. I’m a responsible father. How ’bout cuttin’ me some slack? Anywho…the breakfast order…
WIFE: Uh, wha?
CAFETERIA LADY: Food dear. I’m here to take your breakfast order.
Ma’am, my wife is still doped up from last night’s anesthesia. So, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that you’re the on the bottom of the list of people she actually wants to talk to right now. The cafeteria lady ignores the vibe and hands my wife a menu.
CAFETERIA LADY: Just point at what you want honey. I’ll get your lunch and dinner orders later.
My wife raises her arm like E.T. and points out some eggs, a biscuit, and a cup of coffee. The cafeteria lady thanks her and goes away.
ME: It’s like grand central station in here.
The door opens…
LACTATION CONSULTANT: Hello! And congratulations! You must be so overwhelmed right now.
WIFE: Yes, we are.
ME: We’re pretty tired.
The lactation consultant snaps her head and stares into my soul with a level of feminist hatred I’ve never felt. OK, I’ll speak when spoken to.
LACTATION CONSULTANT: Mom, I’m a lactation consultant and I’m here to talk to you about breastfeeding. Do you have any questions?
WIFE: Right now, no. I haven’t had a chance to…
LACTATION CONSULTANT: interrupts. Oh, well, I see that your baby isn’t here.
Her powers of perception are amazing. Come on lady, The Count could have figured that one out. One Adult, ah ah. Two adults, ah ah. Wait, Vhere is da baby? Zero babies, ah, ah. He would have left after coming to the conclusion, why don’t you?
LACTATION CONSULTANT: Well, I’ll come back a little later. If you have any questions you can talk to your nurse and she’ll get in touch with me.
Yes! She goes away and I’m quick to start sending e-mails of videos and photos of my son before anyone else can join the party. My wife calls her family. After an hour of alone time the door opens again. Another nurse. This time she wants to take my wife’s vitals. She goes away and we’ve got the room to ourselves once more. I look at the clock. Only 8AM. Six and a half hours before the Spain-Netherlands match.
I call my sister and make arrangements for her to visit. My wife does the same with two of her friends. Heads up hospital staff, this is what one would call an “invitation.” To invite someone is to “ask to enter or participate.” We made two such invitations that day, yet we had 17 visitors. The worst part is not even the self-invitation. Nope, it’s the timing and lack of respect by the self-inviters.
My son returns to the room around 10AM-ish, and I close the privacy curtain to allow my wife to breastfeed. Breastfeed? What’s that? That’s when the top layer of clothing is removed to reveal the breasts which are then used to provide nutrients to a child. Apparently, no one at the hospital understands that when a woman attempts to breastfeed and “let down” the milk for the first time the situation is a wee uncomfortable. In order for the woman (my wife) to relax, it is imperative that she (my wife) be as comfortable as possible (no strangers). So, my wife has my son in her hands and begins to give him the good stuff when Bam! The door opens.
NURSE: Oh, I see you’re breastfeeding.
How? I pulled the privacy curtain. Oh, that’s right, privacy is none of your concern
WIFE: Yes. I’m trying.
NURSE: Well, you’re doing it wrong. Let me show you how to do it.
The nurse then proceeds to invade all kinds of personal space. The look on my wife’s face is one of horror, disgust, exhaustion, and annoyance. NURSE hangs around for a while then goes away feeling somewhat satisfied that she made someone feel small. Later, another lactation consultant comes in and piggybacks on NURSE’s demeaning approach to support. She goes away and another nurse takes her place.
My sister arrives and things feel a little more normal. My wife’s friends arrive and normalcy continues. A nurse arrives and I’m annoyed once again.
After a half an hour or so the nurse leaves. I grab lunch from the cafeteria, and return for the opening kickoff of the World Cup final (Go Spain!) I manage to make it to the last few minutes of regular time (unfortunately the winning goal is scored in the final minutes of OT. Suck!). When night falls my son’s crying engine is firing on all cylinders. It takes us two hours to get him calm. A huge sigh of first-time-parent relief. Well, that is until…the door opens.
In walks a nurse and pop goes the weasel. My son goes bonkers. I’m crazy tired. My wife is crazy tired. And the nurse, well she’s just crazy. After she “checks in to see how things are going” (and wakes up my son) she leaves. Not long after someone from the nursery arrives and takes my son to weigh him. Peace at last. Peace at last. Thank God Almighty, peace at last. Thirty minutes later he’s back and asleep. Not for long though. No, the rest of the night my son is in and out of la la land. I never actually woke up the next day because I never actually fell asleep. But when the next day did arrive, I was ready for whatever was to come my way. Or not.
I’m gonna spare you the detailed account of the next three days, but I will say that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were duplicates of Sunday. Nurses, lactation consultants, cafeteria peeps, even volunteers came and went like we were living in a commune. No quiet even when there was quiet.
Look hospital folk. I know that you are looking after the best interest of me, my wife, and my son, but come on. I’m willing to let the 100 or so unannounced visits slide if you would just acknowledge that privacy is an issue. Not HIPAA privacy, good old fashioned “door is closed” privacy. For future reference, when you come upon a closed door you should knock. And when you knock you should wait for someone to respond instead of your current approach which is knock and enter. <– defeats the purpose of knocking
Needless to say, by Wednesday morning we were all bone tired. I couldn’t have been happier to be going home. Not because I get to sleep lay down in my own bed. Not because I get to eat my own food. Not even because I get to spend time with my wife and son in our own home. No, the best part about being home? I can lock my door.
This is a great time for my entire family. I can’t thank all who helped my wife and I through the experience. I won’t forget any of you. OK, I probably will. As for the rest of you, you’re welcome to leave your comments below or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.