Reflections on room service, freebies and prescription painkillers
Or, what is even sicker, I might sorta wish I were sick.
Actually, to be frank, what I mean is that I miss being in the hospital.
I remember the births of my two children well. The first was a relatively short, but excruciatingly painful labor and delivery. No drugs. It SUCKED. But, then I got to stay in the hospital. That part was sweet.
The second delivery occurred after 17 hours or so of labor. At one point my labor stopped and I had to be induced; my water broken manually. Yucky. My husband and I then had a moment where we looked at each other (after I had been pushing for what seemed like an eternity) and we both thought the same thing: what the fuck is THAT? We heard the fetal monitor change. The heartbeat seemed to slow and weaken. No one in the room looked alarmed. But, lots of people started showing up. My husband was told he’d not be able to cut the cord and was asked if that was okay. Jesus. Just bring our baby safely to us. Our son was tangled in his own umbilical cord. My amazing doctor brought him into this life heroically. I will never be able to thank her enough. It was exhausting, terrifying, confusing and miraculous all at once. It was one of the most emotionally draining experiences of my life.
But, then, I got to stay in the hospital. Sweet again.
Let me tell you why staying in the hospital after having a baby is so frickin’ sweet:
1. They politely ask you: “Would you like your baby to room with you or would you like him to go to the nursery?” Um, nursery, please. This will be the last night I will sleep by myself, in peace and awaken whenever the fuck I want for the next — I don’t know — 8 years, maybe. Sounds good. Sign me up.
2. A magic button gets you drugs. Whenever you want, a nice lady will bring you heavy-duty painkillers. They work. It is nice.
3. All you have to do is lie in bed all the time. They charge you to watch TV. That’s pretty cheap, really. But, whatever. I will not get to lie in bed and watch any TV show that isn’t on Disney Jr. or Sprout for the next several years. They can have my 16 bucks. Hook me up with the Today Show.
4. They wait on you. Just pick up the phone and some magical person will deliver you a hot meal — right to your bed. Where I was, too, the food was not at all bad. And, I didn’t have to cook it. This is the absolute most important part of it all. And, when I was done, I didn’t even have to clean it up. Fabulous.
5. You get cozy socks. I still wear mine around the house. They even have those non-slip doo-hickeys on the bottoms so you don’t fall down your own steps and break your coccyx.
6. People bring you flowers. And balloons. And cards. And teddy bears.
7. You don’t have to be around sick people. You get all of the benefits listed here, but you don’t actually have to have a life-threatening illness or be around those who do in order to get the perks. In fact, unlike other hospital locations, the maternity ward is generally a happy place.
8. You don’t have to shower. Or brush you hair. Or put on make-up or real pants, even. In fact, you are encouraged “just to be comfortable.” Why don’t more people say this to me more often?
9. The beds adjust to your specific bodily needs. Like to sit up and lounge in front of the TV? It does that. Would you like your legs gently raised and your knees supported and caressed by the beautiful curvature of a custom mattress? It does that.
10. No responsibilities whatsoever. There is literally a team of people solely dedicated to your comfort, health and personal needs. You can see, cuddle and kiss your baby as much as you want. Then, when you are tired, you can have him or her whisked away to be cared for by professionals trained to care for infants. You don’t have to pack lunches, drive carpools, scrub toilets, answer e-mails, talk to your boss, discipline anybody, sweep off your porch, do laundry or even remember to turn the furnace down at night.
Of course, we all know that this is just the calm before the storm. When you get to take the bundle of joy home, all Hell breaks loose. At that point, you have to cook, clean, feed, wipe, sweep, brush, shop, fix, tidy, change, wash, dry, carry, vacuum and prepare — all on NO sleep. Like, whatsoever.
And, that hospital stuff does come at a price. There is a literal price tag attached which varies depending on your health plan and the part of the world in which you live. And, then there’s the blood. Oh, the blood. And the weakness. And the aching. And the total inability to poop.
I can’t help being a little nostalgic, though, about the time spent in the hospital with my babies — hopeful and excited about what the future would bring. In total denial about how hard my life was about to be. Wrapped up — both mother and baby — in blankets and warmth and love and anticipation. Every time I put on my teal hospital socks, I feel a little warmer. Like, not just in my feet, either, y’all.
Now, to be clear, I am NOT willing to have another child to experience adjustable beds, room service and quiet. Because for the splendor that is one or two nights of being waited on, 18 YEARS of responsibility comes thereafter. And, I really don’t feel the need to clean up that tar-like baby poo again anytime soon. Even if they do give you free diapers.