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.

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Jen
Jen
14 years ago

I concur. My experience at Swedish here in Seattle was downright pleasant, despite getting caught in last year’s December snowstorm. My delivery nurses were amazing. I had my own birthing suite followed by my own recovery room, which felt like this comfy private nook, and for two and a half days, we marveled at our beautiful baby boy. I, too, enjoyed being able to order food (and extra for my husband, shh don’t tell Premera) whenever I wanted, including the world’s best chocolate milkshakes and grilled cheese sandwiches — at least, they seemed like the world’s best at that time. Yep. I wouldn’t change a thing about our experience, either.

Liz
Liz
14 years ago

I totally agree with you! I also had such a nice experience in the hospital and I really hoped no one gets a nurse like the one Jim and Pam had. She was so old-fashioned and eye-rolling that it verged on negligent. Could a real nurse ever be so down on breastfeeding and so up on taking the baby to the nursery after a normal delivery? Would a real nurse ever not be able to offer her own brief tips on nursing?

Nothing But Bonfires
14 years ago

I tell you, we’d been having the “When will we have babies?” conversation THAT VERY MORNING, and then we watched that episode of The Office that night. It stressed me out so much that “eh, maybe next year” immediately became “oh god no, maybe 2025? Or never?”

Glad to hear it’s not always like that.

Liz
Liz
14 years ago

Oh, this made me happy to read. I was so sad on your behalf earlier this year when you were writing about your disappointments w/ your birth experiences, and it’s so nice to read about your warm loving memories. Yay.

Amanda
Amanda
14 years ago

Thank you so much for this post. I also did not plan for surgical births, but have since had 3:) Despite this, I remember my birth experiences fondly. I felt very respected and cared for. I held my babies right away. I had a private room (the only kind available at our local hospital), the nurses gentley helped with breastfeeding, it was just really, really great. I think its so important for women to read and hear of good birth experiences of all kinds. But especially so for c-sections, since they tend to get so much “bad press”. So thanks for this!

Belle
Belle
14 years ago

Yep. Altho it’s been 34 and 30 years ago, I loved the care we all got in the hospital. I am sure we stayed several days back then. And I still remember that poor new husband/dad across the hall that his laboring wife was yelling at about how he could dare do this to her. ha

I remember the only time I was stressed out was when son was circumsized. I could hear that tiny little cry all the way down the hall…boy, THAT got the contractions gong again! I truly wish the nurses hadn’t told me they were “going to do it now” because I felt terrible. They didn’t leave the babies in our rooms then but I sure do remember unwrapping the blankie, checking out all the fingers and toes and thinking I’d get caught!

Stephanie
14 years ago

I kind of loved that they showed the awful as well as the magical moments, and I further predict a small uptick in the number of newborns nine months or so from the air date of that episode, because the overall effect it had (on me, at least) was the inexplicable MUST HAVE NEWBORN BABY AGAIN.

Stephanie
Stephanie
14 years ago

“like being in a pocket”.. wow. Perfectly said.

Kader
Kader
14 years ago

We had a really good experience post-C-section, too. We stayed for 4+ days, and I was terrified to leave that safe cocoon. Our nurses were great about breast-feeding and had both of us skin-to-skin with J. It was a great way to start and to get our “sea legs” before being sent out to fend for ourselves.

Kirida
14 years ago

I loved that episode so much, especially since I’m in the trenches of the prenatal panic. I loved my experience the first time. I hope that the second time is just as sweet and awesome.

jonniker
14 years ago

I was so stressed out watching that episode. I remember the screaming newborn, the whole mess. I was practically twitching watching it, too.

And then, yeah, I remember that I had a great, almost magical, birth experience. After all, I got the kid in pink pajamas, you know? You know.

Shawna
14 years ago

Oh my god, they made us wake our babies up every couple of hours to feed them, and it wasn’t two hours after the end of the last feeding, it was two hours after the beginning, so if your baby tried to nurse for an hour you then only got an hour break before they were shaking you awake to try again with the breastfeeding. All. Night. Long.

I vividly remember dutifully trying to wake up Biscuit for over an hour in the middle of the night, when all he wanted to do was sleep and I was practically tearful with exhaustion and I couldn’t stop thinking that if he wanted to sleep and I wanted to sleep, why weren’t we just allowed to sleep already for chrissakes.

And all I was allowed was one Tylenol and one Motrin every 4 hours and even after two nights of recovery I couldn’t even make it down the hall and back on foot, I was in so much pain from my c-section.

And yet, it was definitely reassuring to have that support network on call. I absolutely can’t imagine managing that early recovery on my own, so I’m grateful for the staff, who was very nice even if they didn’t let me get much rest or pain relief.

emily
14 years ago

I am so glad I didn’t watch that episode! That’s about what my first 3 hospital births were like. Cranky, bossy nurses who made me feel like I was bothering them the one time I would call to ask for something…the roommates, everything. It sounds like you were very lucky; I felt abandoned and alone, SO ALONE, when my family was kicked out at the end of “visiting hours” (which= WTH, really? The DAD isn’t “visiting”. Ugh.) I had complete mental breakdowns all 3 times each night I was there, and no-one cared or said a word, even as I was sobbing when they’d come in to check my stats. I hate thinking about it.

My 4th was a totally different and wonderful experience. While I would have been safe had I needed intervention, I didn’t (thankfully, oh my)…I gave birth in a birthing center and was home less than 6 hours later. In my own bed, with my family. No babysitters were needed, I was completely confortable and happy. And? No mental breakdown. Not one, not even a little tearing up.

It doesn’t work for everyone, of course- I fully understand that. I just am so thankful that I didn’t end up needing a c-section (I almost needed one with my third) because I honestly think I would have been diagnosed with severe PPD, when all I needed was to be in my own home. But I’m definitely a little jealous of your experience…had I had *that* experience, I know my feelings be different!

Julie @ The Mom Slant
14 years ago

Ha, I wasn’t even watching it with Kyle, but that newborn wailing provoked an involuntary panic and dread in me.

I have great hospital memories too, even with three surgical births and two shared hospital rooms. Bonus: two of my three anesthesiologists were hot guys.

kim
kim
14 years ago

I LOVED the hospital, loved loved loved it. When we left I cried and my husband thought I was crying because I was so overcome with happiness but really, I was crying because I didn’t want to leave. :)

JCF
JCF
14 years ago

@Liz-“Could a real nurse ever be so down on breastfeeding and so up on taking the baby to the nursery after a normal delivery? Would a real nurse ever not be able to offer her own brief tips on nursing?”

YES! Jim and Pam’s nurse might have been my nurse when my first baby was born! She was totally unhelpful with breastfeeding when I told her I was having trouble and asked for help. She kept telling me I was doing fine and not to worry, but then as she wheeled me past the nurses’ station on the way to a new room, she announced “This one is NOT doing well with breastfeeding. She’s going to need a lactation consultant.” Um, thanks? She then asked if I was planning on breastfeeding exclusively, and when I said yes, she said “Well, that’s your problem!” I’m glad I had the sense to boot her from my room at that point, wait for the lactation consultant, and then high-tail it home.

Sahara
14 years ago

I had two homebirths and I get frustrated by all the lovely earth mamas out there who poo-poo hospital births. To me, what you are writing about was the worst part about a homebirth. Everything else was fine with me (or else I wouldn’t have chosen to go that route twice), but I so wish I could have had a team of people keeping on top of the laundry, dishes, and doting on/feeding me. I’m sure if we had family closer or more friends who had kids themselves, it could have been different in that they would have been better able to understand the need for help.

Ahh, to feel like a princess/queen just for a few days….

Penny
14 years ago

This was a good post. I had an excellent post-partum experience with my first birth, which ended in a c-section. It was like being at a spa, and I didn’t want it to end either. Even the food was good.

Lawyerish
14 years ago

This is really comforting and lovely. It made me realize that I am actually rather excited about the hospital part — I mean, as excited as one can be about such a thing. I’ve imagined it being much like what you describe, with the comfort of knowing there are doctors and nurses all around and having them provide diapers and food and such.

Of course, at this almost-38-weeks point I am just ready for the kid to be BORN ALREADY, so even the jankiest hospital stay would be welcome.

Liz
Liz
14 years ago

@JCF yikes! I guess I was very lucky with my doctors, nurses, and internet friends. Everything is so hard at the beginning and I can’t imagine how you’d get through it if you had to deal with grumpy nurses on top of that. Good for you for being able to be proactive about it :-)

Suzanne
14 years ago

I really liked the hospital food at my stay there too!

Loved your post! Brings back fond memories for me too :)

Maureen
Maureen
14 years ago

I had an unexpected C section, god-almost 16 years ago. I had the loveliest nurse, she was with me for her shift, and then when I had the emergency surgery, another nurse came in to relieve her. She said “no, I am staying with her till she has this baby.” I will never forget her kindness and gentleness, it still brings tears to my eyes to think of her. I wonder if nurses know how important they are when you are a first time mom, and things aren’t going as planned.

I was in the hospital for 5 days in all, and I had a wonderful experience.

Renee
Renee
14 years ago

oh, that brings back the memory of my son’s birth like it was yesterday! I had a similarly reassuring stay in the hospital after my C-section. Everyone was so nice and I never felt like I was being invaded and it was so nice to have everything done for you… I didn’t even change a diaper until we got home!

Annie
Annie
14 years ago

I think that episode is going to bring a third baby into this house. DAMN YOU PAM AND JIM!

Angela
Angela
14 years ago

@Jen: Hey, I too had a baby at Swedish in December 2008 (just before the snow, fortunately)! And OMG yes, the chocolate milkshakes. After my daughter was born, my (totally awesome) L&D nurse was tidying up and said, “This is what you need: a chocolate milkshake.” And it was EXACTLY what I needed, so much so that I had two. I was so happy with my whole experience there.

Rachel
14 years ago

Totally takes me back! As scary as those first days were, they were completely precious and wonderful too. I felt the same way as you, I definitely did NOT want to leave the hospital where help was just a button push away. I remember wanting to say to the nurses “You’re going to send me home? Are you CRAZY?? I don’t have a clue what I’m doing here! That’s gotta be against the law or something!” Ha, good times :)

Melissa
Melissa
14 years ago

I’m 34 wks into my third pregnancy and this was really great to read. I have similar stories with my other two and I’m looking forward to these special moments again. It’s that wonderful time where you can recover a bit and not be completely responsible. As a mom, it’s nice when you can let someone take care of you too.

Anonymous
Anonymous
14 years ago

Wow I guess I must be some kind of freak. I hated the hospital stay after having a C-section! The constant stream of nurses, doctors, social workers, med students (poking me in the belly and asking if it hurts!) waking me up every hour to “check” my incision or the baby or weigh the baby or take my temperature… And oh the pain of recovery! It was a hellish nightmare and I couldn’t wait to get out.

Fast forward three years and I had a VBAC (yeah, try THAT in a hospital these days) in a free-standing birth center and it was bliss. No one bothering me unless I called for them. It was clean and comfy and so so quiet… like having a homebirth in a bed and breakfast. I hope I never have to step foot in a germ-infested hospital again.

Kami
14 years ago

loved this.

Kami
14 years ago

My first birth experience sucked, involving an emergency c section and mean nurses in NYC. My second was beautiful awesomeness, involving a VBAC in Boston. I didn’t see the episode of The Office, but spoilers don’t piss me off! This blog post however may or may not have convinced me to have a third child,,,

Leah
14 years ago

We had SO MUCH FUN during our stay at the hospital– loved the labor and birth, loved the nurses, liked the food enough to eat it–that it’s one of the things I’m looking forward to next time around (pending the convincing of a certain second party). I know I may be setting myself up for one hell of a letdown should things not go so well in the future, but give me my great expectations and leave me be.

lb
lb
14 years ago

So nice to hear you say that you enjoyed the hospital! I hated it, couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Nothing like trying to sleep in a room with FOUR newborns. Actually, with my middle child, it was FIVE because one woman had twins. And there was 100% rooming in, which means they don’t take the babies to the nursery. So basically it was like being at home, only I didn’t have my husband to help me, and it was noisier, and brighter, and the food was worse, and the chairs were less comfortable, and I felt like I was disturbing people, and people kept disturbing me. So actually, it was nothing like home at all.

Nancy
Nancy
14 years ago

I’m with you — I loved my few days in the hospital after our twins were born 2.5 years ago. Friendly, quiet nurses checked on us all around the clock, helped me hobble to the bathroom, helped us learn to nurse, make bottles and change diapers. They’d take the girls to the nursery for a bit, then bring them back and offer more support. It was a peaceful cocoon from which to begin this crazy parental journey! We were sure terrified to leave for home — but it all worked out well, and what do you know, it didn’t take us long to figure things out on our own.

pam
pam
14 years ago

I admit, I liked being in the hospital after my boys were born, but since they were in the NICU, I didn’t get all those sweet memories. However, at least I got a few nights’ sleep while other people took care of my kids. :/

Jessica
Jessica
14 years ago

I had a few nurses that were sticklers for the rules, one didn’t want me to leave the bed while I was in labor and the other didn’t want me to sleep with my son in bed with me. But for the most part, they were great. And I loved the hospital food, it was just a phone call away and healthy!

Velocibadgergirl
14 years ago

We also had an unexpected c-section baby (after planning for a natural birth), and I’d heard so many hospital horror stories, but our birth / hospital experience was really wonderful. I’m so glad you posted this, because first of all I love happy birth stories, and secondly it took me back to my own first wonderful hazy days as a mother.

wordygirl
14 years ago

What a wonderful post. <3

JMH
JMH
14 years ago

Loved my hospital stay too. I live in a (very) small midwestern town, but our hospital’s maternity ward was AWESOME. Huge, private suites, and fantastic nurses. For my 2nd child, after he was delivered, she asked if I needed anything. I told her I really wanted a Diet Coke and asked if that would be OK. She said, “You just gave birth..you can have wahtever you want” She came back a few minutes later to say she couldn’t find a vending machine with Diet Coke. I drank water instead. About 20 minutes later, she shows up with a Diet Coke. My husband told me later that she left the hospital, went to the grocercy store and bought a 6 pack of Diet Coke just for me. That story still makes me tear up a bit. What an awesome nurse…and what GREAT costumer service!

Sarah
Sarah
14 years ago

Loved this post. I emailed my husband and told him to read it because I felt the very same way you did about our hospital experience. That episode made me think about it for days. Loved the nurses and the bed so much I longed for them the first few weeks we were home!

Michelle
Michelle
14 years ago

I had my first two kids while I was in the Navy, horrible nurses. In and out of the hospital in 24 hours and zero help while I
was there. In fact the crazy, bitchy nurse
I had with the first one turned me off trying to breast feed ever. Fast forward to
the the last two kids. I had them in my
small hometown hospital where I was the only
patient on the maternity ward both times.
Fantastic nurses, lots and lots of attention.
My doctor kept me in three days both times
because he felt I needed the extra rest and
I didn’t even have a c-section! Your description of being kept in a pocket really
hits home with me.

Joy
Joy
14 years ago

I watched the episode and I was actually angry after a while. I was proud of The Office for having Pam breastfeed and show it can be difficult at first. But I gave a big old “come on!” when she fed the other person’s baby. Plus I found it difficult to imagine a nurse who would not care if a baby was being fed properly or not. Even though my actual birth experiences were not positive, the care I received after was amazing. The nurses were so kind and helpful. The lactation consultants were great too. I loved receiving three meals a day that I did not have to prepare or clean up! I am sure not everyone had a positive experience during their hospital stay, but I don’t think I ever wanted to leave.

Lucy
Lucy
14 years ago

From a pediatric nurse, these comments warm my heart! I don’t mean to sound cranky, but we often receive only the negative feedback from patients and families. At my hospital, we work so very, very hard to provide warm, personal, compassionate care to our patients. It makes me happy to see that so many of you appreciate it!

Life of a Doctor's Wife

What a lovely post. I’m not a mom, but I’ve read so many birth stories that paint hospitals as these cold, inhospitable places that want to take your money and make you uncomfortable. I don’t doubt that many experiences are bad – which sucks. But it is so nice to hear about the other side.

Anon
Anon
14 years ago

I had a horrific hospital birth, I wish my experience was even 1/4 as good as yours! Great post.

kalisa
14 years ago

My delivery went so well they wanted to send me home THE SAME DAY. Whatever, dudes. My ass is staying right here.

But my hospital did the all-in-one-room labor and delivery which was great when you’re the one laboring and delivering but when you’re trying to sleep and the woman next to you is SCREAMING IN PAIN ALL NIGHT LONG you end up kind of ready to go home afterall.

Val
Val
14 years ago

My dad just had his shoulder replaced He was in and out in two days. He probably could have stayed longer – he has good insurance – but the hospital staff treated him so badly that he figured my Mom would take better care of him at home so home he went. They ignored his buzzer for hours. How rude.

Alissa
Alissa
14 years ago

After following Jim and Pam’s story for years, I loved that episode of “The Office.” However, it made me feel strange because I am at that point in my life where everyone asks the question, “When are you two going to have one??” My husband and have been married for a little over a year and everyone looks at us expectantly when we come to family gatherings. I have to say, my clock has been sort of…unwinding as I get older. When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to have kids, but the older I get the more scared I become. (Also, we both teach middle school, so….yeah. Kids – not so appealing anymore.) How do you know your kid’s not going to turn out like the kids you can’t stand when you go out in public??

Valerie
14 years ago

I had SUCH a good experience in the hospital. I will never forget how my nurse sat and held my little boy while I scarfed down a turkey sandwich at 2am.

HollyLynne
14 years ago

It is so nice to hear positive hospital stories. I’m due with my first at the end of next month and, while I do plan to try to go natural and intervention free, I most certainly WANT to be in a hospital. Can you imagine how horrible the car ride to the hospital would be if you were trying to give birth at home and something went wrong?! Most of the literature out there on natural childbirth makes hospitals seem like really nasty places to have a baby . . . I’m glad that isn’t always the case.

Caitlin
14 years ago

Linda, I think this is one of my favorite posts of yours. I’ve read your comments on how you felt about your birth experiences before, and it was so refreshing and awesome to read this.
I’ve also enjoyed reading the comments. And Alissa – I kind of feel the same way. TERRIFIED!