Saturday, September 25, 2010

Modern Maternity Ward

My idea of the maternity ward was a mother in a sterile delivery room with nurses dressed in starched white uniforms and the father anxiously pacing in the waiting room. Everyone has known for years that my view went out the window a long time ago. I have been clinging to my experiences in the the 1950's when my mother gave birth to my younger sister. We couldn't even go into the hospital, let alone visit her, during the whole week she recouperated. We had to sneak around to the back of the hospital and have my mother open the window to see her during that long week. Adopting children did not give me the maternity ward update.

I was not prepared for my experience at the maternity ward this week when my precious granddaughter was born. Lorrie was asked by Andrea to be with her in the delivery room. So, I went to the hospital to pace in the waiting room.

Surprise! We get off the elevator to be met with chaos. I could see a gaggle (that's a word of unknown origin that my father used) of people, small children to teens to grandparents. What was going on? I soon observed that this family outing/reunion was breaking camp. Everyone appeared to be disappointed. Soon a very pregnant girl appeared and led the troops down the elevator. False start!

I was invited into the delivery room where nothing much was happening except the monitors were fascinating. The nurse comes in to do an examination. I decide it is time to leave. Before long my son-in-law, Derek, comes down the hall and tells me that the action is about to begin and that Peyton will soon make her mortal debut.

The old women in the waiting room are talking centimeters like everyone around them were experts in these things. How would they feel if I would engage them in conversation about f-stops on my camera? It is the same thing isn't it - except f-stops are smaller, the larger the number!

Then the families begin to arrive as we await the grand announcement, not by a doctor coming to preside over the annoucement, but by a cell phone call from the intersanctum from an excited grandmother.

Great. Do we now go home? No! We are invited into the delivery room to see the new miracle just minutes old. Those were special moments. Thanks, Andrea and Derek. Calls to the new aunts and uncles and cousins go out. The internet fires up. The word spreads like- wildfire?- No, like, as fast as smart phones can be checked.

Well, we go home. Does the action stop? No. Soon Ben, the photographer, must get to the hospital to get picture of the new-born and celebrating parents. Great pictures, Ben. They are all over the internet within hours.

Nine babies were born in the hospital the same night as Peyton. It was the Harvest Moon.

Next day. Anyway, when I go to the hospital for a visit after work, I step off the elevator at the maternity ward. Amazing, the same gaggle of people are there again. The same family as the night before. The waiting room looks like a college dorm room or perhaps, more appropriate, a house after the girls had a sleep over. Bankets, pillows, candy wrappers, coke bottles and whatever else you can imagine. I see the same grandfather, about 50, a blue collar type, who now hasn't slept in three days. He looks like death warmed over. He is trying to move the troops out again. (This time there is a baby). I consider talking to him and suggesting that he looks like he should be admitted to the hospital himself (that would be a joke). I decide against it when he utters a string of profanities and proclaims that his wife thinks that she has to be the hospital's housekeeping staff and clean up the aftermath of a tornado that his family inflicted on the waiting room. Finally, the family moves out. I shall not forget the tired wrinkled face, pull over shirt with wide blue and green horizontal stripes worn by that poor man both nights of his maternity ward experience.

It isn't a maternity ward. It is a three ring circus and our crew and family was in one of the rings.

How can mom and baby get any rest? (That's why they send them home within 48 hours now.) Friends, neighbors, family, toddlers and nurses all converge in the room. So much for germ control. A trip to the Golden Arches brings a hamburger for the new mother - hospital food just won't do. Again, the smart phones buzz as congratulatory calls come in, the progress of the delivery of a close friend is monitored and to take on the spot pictures of everything. Then out comes the laptop. No respectable, connected parent would go to have a baby without her laptop. Uploaded pictures of the last 24 hours are immediately available to view on the computer. This generation is amazing.

My head is still swimming with all of the new images that have come with this new experience. My image of the maternity ward will never be the same.

Thank you Andrea and Derek for a wonderful new grandchild and some new experiences.

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