Not the vacation I thought it could be

21 10 2007

This weekend Jeff and I attended the 28 week class and maternity ward tour at the hospital where I’ll be giving birth (I couldn’t make it to the one last month, when I actually was 28 weeks along, so amongst the 10 other expecting couples there, I won the title of Biggest). I was pretty sure that it was going to be a boring two hours going over stuff I already knew- pre-term labor signs, shaken baby syndrome, pain relief options during labor, postpartum depression signs- and I was right. None of those things has changed since the last time I did this two years ago.

The only part of the whole thing I found… let’s say, enlightening, came when we took the tour. Without realizing it, I had been expecting in my head that the Labor & Delivery Ward and the Mother/Baby Unit would look exactly the same as they did where I last gave birth. What I didn’t take into consideration, however, was the one big difference between the two places: the last was civilian, whereas this one is military. The civilian hospital where I had Ethan was very similar in appearance/set-up to a hotel. Not a fancy one, mind you. Just your basic Quality Inn. Generic art hanging on the walls, curtains of a generic geometric print on the windows, some generic wood furniture that matches the big wood headboard.*

Oh, and you have your own bathroom. With shower.

Not so in the land of the military hospital. The delivery room, instead of being comparable to a $60-a-night hotel room (which, seriously, is that asking too much?), was more on par with that shady motel we had no choice but to stay in one night in The Middle of Nowhere, Spain 3 or 4 years ago. We’d happened to show up in this little town in the late afternoon/early evening on the same day that some random festival/soccer match happened to be taking place, and every place we tried happened to be booked. Except, conveniently, one place, the only place in the whole town with any vacancies, whose amenities featured companions of the insect persuasion throughout your room, and little holes all over the yellowed sheets from cigarette burns, but hey- at least they matched the curtains. The curtains that, when opened, provided a lovely view of a wall across the alley. And the floors sloped immensely. You could almost sit down at one end of the room and slide down to the other end, if you weren’t afraid of sitting on a cockroach, that is. This wasn’t gross, just odd. And kind of annoying, if you happened to be walking where there wasn’t something to hold onto. I was literally so grossed out by the bugs, the sheets, the sheer dirtiness, that I slept, fully clothed, on top of Jeff. As if he were my mattress.

Okay, the hospital isn’t that bad. I may be exaggerating a bit. I’m sure there are no bugs and I know I won’t be finding any cigarette burns in these sheets. But. It certainly isn’t nice. It’s very old (the woman running the class said that it’s the oldest DOD hospital with a labor ward in the US), and it looks every bit it’s age. There is a bathroom in the delivery room, but no shower or bath (I had hoped to have the option of laboring in a tub, but that’s not to be). Which is okay; my stay in that room hopefully won’t be too long.

However, as for the recovery room, where I’ll be spending more time (although not if I can help it), not only is there no bathroom (forget about no shower, there’s no bathroom whatsoever; to get to the bathroom, you have to shuffle your sore, exhausted, hospital be-robed self to the restroom in the hall that everyone else uses), but you don’t get a private room either, unless it’s your lucky day and you happen to get one of the two that exist. Two! If I recall, my time spent in the recovery room after having Ethan, despite being a private room with a my own bath, was still not so recovery friendly. You’re not in your own bed, for one thing. You’ve got nurses just waltzing into the room unannounced all night long to wake you up and check your bum for hemorrhoids. You’re exhausted and just want to sleep for 11 days, you’re in pain, and oh, yeah, there’s that baby you need to wake up and blindly and fumblingly “nurse” every two hours (and you know that those feedings will never ever coincide with when you need to wake up so that the nurse can check on you; that would be too easy).

But AT LEAST you have privacy. In a new and not-so-pleasant experience (I’m talking about the actual hospital stay part of the experience, not the joy of bringing a life into this world part of it), that is at least one small comfort that you should be able to have. Honestly, I was kind of looking forward to a day or two in recovery- time alone to bond with the baby, time to not have to chase around a two year old or do laundry or do anything, really, meals that are brought to me in bed (the first will be a turkey sub from Jerry’s, ohhhh, how I long for deli meat!).

(And, speaking of meals, did I mention that “in an effort to help out with the war effort,” as our instructor put it, in this hospital, the cafeteria isn’t open on the weekends? Somehow, without a cafeteria, they do still manage to serve the mothers (a lukewarm tuna sandwich from a machine and a bag of chips? What are they going to serve me without a kitchen?), but if you are a nervous husband, extended family camped out in the waiting room, EVEN IF YOU ARE STAFF, you are out of luck.)

That has changed. I am no longer looking forward to it, other than the part where we, you know, get us a bouncing baby boy. It has never been my luck to be the one to get the private room. I have the kind of luck that will not only land me in a shared room, but it’ll be the one the absolute furthest from the bathroom, and I will share it with Janice from Friends. OR, more likely, I will share it with the girl that was in our class today: she didn’t look older than 15, and as we learned when she shared her whole freaking life story with us, she’s already got like 3 or 4 other kids, and she was in labor with the last one for 24 hours, and the doctors wouldn’t let her get up and walk around, and her sister-in-law said… (the instructor cut her off here). She will be my roomie. And her boyfriend/husband will show up in the middle of the night, during the one single hour that isn’t being spent feeding or having my butt checked, and they’ll have a big fight, and then he’ll leave, and I still won’t get any sleep because she’ll cry all night long, and in the morning her loud mother and 4 sisters will show up, and they’ll sit there, being all loud together, and I’ll finally find out what her sister-in-law said, as well as a past history of all the family drama. And then her boyfriend will come back and they’ll make up and then instead of fighting I’ll have to listen to their sticky sweet make-up words, and their “honeys” and their “cupcakes” and their “babes” and it’ll be just as bad as listening to them fight, because, let’s face it, any noise not made by me in the recovery room is going to grate on my nerves, whether it’s happy noise or otherwise.

There is one thing the instructor said that gives me hope. She said that in December, blizzards, hurricanes and full moons throw every pregnant woman in the area into labor, and to call before we come in to make sure they’ve got room. If they don’t, they’ll find another hospital in the area that accepts our insurance where we’ll go instead. It doesn’t snow here, so a blizzard’s out. And I’ve checked, and unfortunately there won’t be a full moon on my due date (November 24th there’s one, and the next is December 24th). I don’t want to go into labor a month early, but… if there’s any truth to this full moon myth, and it leads to labor which leads to no room at the hospital for me… I’m not opposed to that. That is the sad little thread to which I am clinging.

*I tried to find a picture from Ethan’s birth that showed the hospital room, but for some unknown reason all the pictures from that day are of the baby, what’s up with that?


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4 responses

22 10 2007
ethans oma

When you get home from the hospital, I will wait on you and treat you like a queen….will that help ?

22 10 2007
Caley

ethans oma: All you have to do is watch Ethan, taking little breaks to hold/cuddle the new baby, so that I can get sleep. That’s all I want! We can make Jeff wait on me. 🙂

22 10 2007
AndreAnna

Uck, that does not sound like fun! I hope it goes better than you expect.

4 01 2008
Storytime « Sublime Bedlam

[…] sudden regular. And so clearly, positively more intense. We hung out in the hospital room (which I talked about earlier in my pregnancy, when I said that after having the hospital tour I was kind of afraid to […]

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