The movies vs reality

Last week, my wife and I greeted our little baby girl into the world. We had the stereotypical rush to the hospital, smiles of relief when the anesthesiologist arrived, and that sense of accomplishment when our baby was born. What really struck me about the process was how different our experience was compared to what you see in the movies and on TV. I think our version may actually make better TV.

In the movie world, when a woman arrives at the hospital a team of orderlies arrive to rush her to the delivery room, professionals run in and out of the room during contractions, and when the dr arrives things happen. The baby is then born screaming, clean (?), and happy.

For us, we arrived at the hospital to find the doors locked. So, we drove to the main entrance which was under construction. A sign directed us to the “after hours door”. That door was also locked with a sign pointing back to main entrance, which is still under construction! Ahh, get me out of the infinite loop! The night security guard was nice enough to let us in, but the rest of the staff seemed bored. My wife was saying “I’m having a baby”, and the front desk lady looked it up in her computer (!?!?). I can imagine her thinking “Would it be under ‘B’ for ‘baby’, ‘D’ for ‘delivery’, or maybe something in Latin?” The orderly showed up to take her up to delivery, by walking as slow as humanly possible. My back started to hurt we were walking so slow. When I thought we couldn’t go slower, he pulled out his cell phone to show us (slowly) pictures of his five year old. Look, the kid is cute, but get us to the freaking delivery room!

A nurse met us in the room and asked how we’re doing. Our response was that we need drugs. Note that my wife was the only one who actually needed drugs, but I thought I’d put in a request in case they weren’t checking. The nurse said okay, then left the room. By that I mean she left the room, the floor, and maybe even the hospital. She’s gone, totally gone. After about 10 or 15 minutes I poked my head out into the empty hallway saying “Um, hello??” A new nurse arrived, and asked how we’re doing?  Seriously! We need drugs.

This nurse jumped into action by slowly strapping up the baby monitor and informing us that they need to start an IV and monitor contractions for half an hour before they can give her the drugs. What!?! Couldn’t you have started that monitor the moment she arrived? I don’t see how waiting half an hour to monitor for another half an hour really serves the best interests of my wife. Nurse number 2 left to get the IV.

Nurse number 1 returned (where had she been?) with the IV kit. She proceeded to poke my wife unsuccessfully on and off again for 15 minutes. At least she stopped during the contractions. I would like to think that she knew something wasn’t working right as my wife was continually cursing in her ear on every failed attempt.

****Skip this part if you don’t like blood! When I say “poke”, I mean she inserted the IV once and then moved it around routinely trying to get it in a vein. She would pull up on the needle, wiggle it around, push it in deeper, etc.  My wife’s skin was so stretched out that it reminded me of scenes from Aliens. Seeing that needle pull and tug from the inside of her skin was quite sickening, and I don’t typically have a weak stomach.*****

The nurse finally got the IV in her other arm. As she was finishing, nurse #2 walked back in the room with the IV. Wow, great coordination here. Nurse #1 left having successfully gotten in the IV, then we never see her again.

The anesthesiologist arrived to give her drugs, didn’t offer me any, and ended up knocking her out. My wife’s blood pressure dropped, and every nurse on the floor walked in to help. We had ten people in that room (though nurse number 1 was nowhere to be seen). After returning to stability, and realizing this incident is actually quite commonplace as people’s sensitivities vary, we had about an hour of just enjoying the rest that the drugs provided. The only thing we heard from the nurses during this time is that the Dr “wasn’t answering her phone.” That’s comforting. We also knew that labor was progressing at a significantly faster pace than is expecting for a first time mom.

Now, our Dr is actually a close personal friend of my wife.  Heck, she cooked for our wedding and threw us a baby shower. They’ve known each other for years and she has been looking forward to delivering this baby. So, I assume the nurses didn’t prepare her for how quickly labor had been progressing, because when the Dr arrived she announced that she would have been here earlier, but the day care didn’t open until 7. She asked me if I got any sleep and started to banter with my wife. My wife is frantic and continually asking to “check her” because she is having a baby. In retrospect, we learn she was ready to deliver for almost ten minutes before the Dr checked her and said “Oh my god, you’re having a baby.”

I don’t need to discuss the rest, as anyone who ever sees me with my daughter can probably figure it out. There was simply a surprising lack of urgency to giving birth for everyone except the mother. Luckily for us, our baby girl was healthy and we didn’t need any interventions. It was also nice to have a friend there to deliver the baby. Since there were two other births at the hospital at almost the exact same time (one delivered two minutes before we did), it felt like we had our own personal doctor. It’s nice to be home now, a week later, reminiscing about the birth and enjoying a really cute newborn.