Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Toured the local hospital yesterday, since we have never birthed there -being old hounds at this stuff (!) It was not an in-depth tour, as I saw no machine more dynamic and complex than the two-floor elevator, but it was a tour all the same, covering a few minor hallways, a lobby, and the parking lot, which we traversed on our own. Twice.

Valet parking is available. Valet parking! If you have never rushed your expectant wife to the hospital and arrived between contractions, you don't know how helpful valet parking can be, as dropping your laboring spouse at the front door of the largest superstructure in town and telling her you'll catch up with her after you park the sedan is just not going to fly, I'm here to tell you. Typically, you would ditch the vehicle and wheel her in to the maternity ward -all huffing and poofing, and panging and yelling- and it'll be hours before you realize that you left the car at a right angle to the thoroughfare, halfway up the curb and into the hedge, engine running, doors wide open, ambient birthing music streaming from the sound system... (Don't worry, happens all the time. Security had it safely towed.)

It is good for the husband to take the hospital tour. Scratch that -he doesn't need the tour- he just needs to see the hospital, maybe even learn which building of the hospital to aim for. The last thing a woman needs when she goes into labor is her husband swearing he knows where the hell he's going and refusing to ask directions.

We met in a conference room where an impressive layout of food was beheld. Why so much food? Not sure, but everyone who was 8 months pregnant appreciated it. We watched a video. We took a bathroom break. We met the lactation consultant. We took another bathroom break. Then we walked down the hall to the elevator and took it up one floor. Then we exited the elevator and walked down the hall where the guide pointed at a desk and indicated a door and said, "Check in at the desk, and go through there. If there's no one at the desk, just go through there."

This was going to be easy.

But, Lord knows, when the time comes I will hit every red light and make a wrong turn onto the freeway at that spot where the next exit is 50 MILES AWAY and there is no good turnaround. And then when we finally make it to the hospital, everyone at every desk will be on break, including the valet guy. And the midwives will all be out that night, and we will be stuck with the mid-maidens or alt-wives, or some such thing.

We were informed that we could have no more than four people, plus siblings, in the birthing room at the time of labor. FOUR! That's practically a cheer leading squad. So, if you're thinking of having your Mother and your Dad and your sister and your Aunt all in the room with you, arguing over whether you should breathe or push, and who has "coach" seniority, I know a hospital I can recommend. (In any case, I will deny this hospital rule later. Oh, look: it seems they just changed the rule, and only the father is allowed in. Sorry, team.)

This is not my mother's hospital. Formula is frowned upon, but happily accepted as a last resort. Dads, I gathered, are expected to be there, but Dads are generally not expected. There was only one other Dad on the tour with us, and, it seemed, one pregnant teenager and her mom. (Incidentally, the other Dad had a lot more tattoos than me, but that's neither here, nor there.)

Also, if you don't know the sex of your unborn child, you are a strange pair. Hippies. I mean, what are you even doing here in the hospital when you could be birthing in the comfort of a pile of hay in your own backyard? I've heard stories of babies coming out and then being whisked away to be washed and swaddled without an announcement of the sex ever having been uttered, and the mom left there, legs up in stirrups, wondering what just happened. Strikes me as odd, this knowing ahead of time, but so am I, I guess. Anyway, the class held a drawing for a boy gift basket and a girl gift basket and they didn't know into which lot our tickets should be cast. There was a moment of confusion. Seemed funny having a random drawing over something that is basically a random drawing to being with, but here we are. So we said "boy," to move things along, and then we didn't win. (In hindsight, we should have said "girl", as there was only one other girl being had in the class. They didn't even bother with the drawing, and just handed the mom her gift basket. No surprises.)

No, we don't know if it's a boy or a girl. And, no, there is no C-section scheduled, so we don't know when the baby will come. Fun, huh? Well, we think so! The best surprise of your life is life itself. We appreciate the surprise.

The best surprise of your life is life itself. Most profound thought I've had all day.