I was watching last week’s episode of The Office where Jim and Pam have their baby—oh, uh, SPOILER, if you haven’t watched The Office in a couple years you should know Jim and Pam finally got together—and both JB and I agreed it was oddly stressful to revisit the hospital setting with the tiny crying newborn and and the worrisome feeding processes and remember what it was like to be brand new parents, wondering just what the fuck we were doing.

It made me anxious to watch it, but afterwards I felt flooded with all this happy nostalgia. I can remember that feeling of not wanting to leave the hospital, especially after Riley was born. JB was eager to get back to the comforts of our house but man, I was scared to go home. At the hospital we had all kinds of experts checking on the baby, making sure everyone was doing okay, and even taking him to be fed if JB was gone and I needed to sleep. A steady stream of friendly nurses were a button-push away from bringing me ice water, pain meds, and extra diapers.

Everyone says hospital food is awful and I suppose it was, but I have fond memories of the trays of food and a blessed cup of coffee on the second morning. A delicious pushup popsicle a few hours after surgery. A cookie that I gave to JB, reaching over the warm bundle that was snuggled against my side.

I loved the big comfy bed that could be adjusted to suit my needs. It was crisp and white and even when the sheets got all bloody and had to be changed out from under me it felt like this clean, safe, sterile place to be holding a baby. I could crank it into this Barcalounger shape and nestle my child in my lap while holding a book off to the side.

I dozed a lot, especially the first time around when I was recovering from that awful magnesium and since the UW is a teaching hospital it felt like I had a new nurse every time I opened my eyes. They were all nice.

After my second C-section I got unbearably itchy from the morphine and they gave me an IV of Benadryl. I remember lying there feeling an instant whoosh of that glassy-eyed allergy medicine feeling, while Dylan squirmed and gritched nearby and they cleaned him and put a knit hat on him—the one with the little tied-off piece of yarn—and wrapped him like a burrito in that teal-and-pink blanket and the anesthesiologist came by to check on me and there was this bustle of professional good-natured activity in the room and I just felt like we were so cared for.

When Riley was born an older nurse caught us trying to wake him up to feed him and she twinkled her eyes at JB and joked kindly that one of the rules of caring for a baby is that you never wake them up. (We woke him up anyway.)

One of my all-time favorite memories is from when after Dylan was born and we were in the recovery floor and a nurse checked on him and decided his temperature was a little low. She picked him up out of the bassinet and unwrapped him, then told me to open my gown. She firmly tucked his bare little body against my skin, put a blanket around us both, and left us be. The room was quiet and I dozed in and out, just looking at his tiny perfect face, while outside I could hear the murmurs and bleeps of a busy nursing station. All those people ready to help us if need be. It was like being in a pocket, or cupped in someone’s hand.

Poor Jim and Pam had the grouchy nurse, the shared room, the hasty exit thanks to an ungenerous HMO policy. I know a lot of people have unpleasant hospital ordeals, and hate the idea of intervention. I didn’t plan on having surgical births either, but I couldn’t have asked for better treatment. It’s funny, it took a TV show to make me realize how wonderful my birth experiences really were.


57 Responses to “Intervened”

  1. Jaime on March 11th, 2010 8:22 am

    Oh yeah, I had a shared room with a ‘roommate’ who decided that the visiting hours didn’t apply to her entire extended family and their screaming kids.

    I was also in a teaching hospital but in mine that meant that when I finally fell asleep I was woken up so the student nurses could see what a hemorrhoid looks like. I couldn’t wait to get out of there!

  2. Lori O on March 11th, 2010 6:27 pm

    This was nice. I went in expecting hell and then I had a wonderful hospital experience too when my daughter was born. I only fear that my next child if and when that happens gets born into just as pleasant an experience, b/c next time I’ll have some lofty expectations!

  3. sue on March 12th, 2010 1:36 pm

    wow, you sure had a different hosp experience than i did! the nurses were condescending and looked at me like i was stupid if i didn’t know how to do something. at one point they refused to come help me put the baby back in his bassinet at 2 am (the IV had bruised my arm horrifically and i was afraid i was going to drop him). no one showed me how to breast feed, or told me that his “tanned” color was actually mild jaundice, and they questioned me when i asked for a couple of tylenol for my headache…etc. i was also repeatedly asked “when are you LEAVING?” because they wanted to clean the room, but one nurse said i couldn’t leave until my doc saw me, while the other nurse forgot to tell me that my doc had phoned to say i could leave (without actually being seen). all in all, not a great welcome to the world for my son.

  4. akeeyu on March 12th, 2010 3:36 pm

    I was reading and nodding, thinking “Yes, yes, good food! and a private room! and nice people to feed babies if you need sleep!” and then I got to the part where you said UW and thought “Oh, so THAT’s why that sounded so familiar.”

  5. Jen on March 15th, 2010 11:48 am

    I agree! I consider myself lucky to have had such a wonderful hospital experience. My nurse was fantastic (she totally got the sarcastic humor between my husband and me and eventually started chiming right in!) and I also remember not wanting to leave. Partly because it was such a nice experience, and partly because OMG I WAS SCARED. heh

  6. statia on March 19th, 2010 12:03 pm

    My second hospital experience wasn’t nearly as good as my first, but I still embraced it, because it’s just so much nice to be looked after (except when they have that knack for coming in to check your vitals the minute you finally just passed out) and doted on. It’s like the calm before the storm.

  7. Melissa on March 21st, 2010 6:39 pm

    I love this post. So much of it rings familiar. I too watched “The Office” and got all nostalgic about my hospital experience. I was lucky to have been at an all private, newly renovated hospital so I had a large suite to myself. I loved ordering anything I wanted off of the menu 3 times a day. With my second child, I encouraged my husband to go home at night and stay with our oldest just so I could enjoy some alone (and baby) time. My night nurse was so fun and helpful. We had a good laugh over some of the baby names she had come across in her 20 yr career. So much fun…almost makes me want another! Not!

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