If you were able to pick the best time to have a baby, during a major public health crisis would not be at the top of the list. Higher than while being in high school maybe, but definitely in the bottom three. This wasn’t something we could have planned for nine months ago, and as we got closer to the due date and the virus spread a lot of people asked me what our plan was now. Honestly, our plans were exactly the same – have a baby.
When we were having our first child we went to all the birthing classes and heard about creating your birth plan. Popular suggestions we heard were to create a custom play list, bring a calming scented candle, bring pictures of your loved ones as a focus object. Popular responses we gave were eye rolls. My wife’s birth plan for all three kids was this: she was to have a baby with the help of medical professionals, and I was to refrain from touching her face in any and all circumstances while she was doing so. And you know what, its a great plan. Worked every time.
Some people are into home births. Some people are into putting ketchup on a hotdog. People are weird. I’m not here to judge the crazy things people do, but home birth was never going to be an option. I get that people used to give birth in their homes for much of history, but I’m going to go ahead and put hospital births in the same column as indoor plumbing – a positive advancement that there is no going back from. Though our plan did not change, there were some noticeable differences with this birth.
I Didn’t Know What Anybody Looked Like
Everybody had a mask at all times. All I saw of the nurses and doctors that came in our room was there eyes and ears. I grew slightly suspicious when the eyes of the doctor who would be delivering the baby in no way looked like they belonged to the full-faced person on her ID badge. If there is suddenly an outbreak of stolen babies during this pandemic, I know who my top suspect is.
Light on Staff
Maybe it was due to the time of day (baby was born at 2:00 a.m.) and the hospital just staffs a little lighter for the overnight shift, but there were less people attending to my wife this time around. With our first kid it felt like there were people in and out of the room constantly – a nurse, a doctor, a different doctor, a medical student there to observe the doctor, the anesthesiologist – but this time there was one nurse and one doctor for the majority of the time. A second nurse came in just for the birth.
We also didn’t get a ton of attention. Again, perhaps the time of day, but maybe they were actively trying to limit the amount of time we were actually with other people. Also, once the nurse found out this was our third kid, I kind of felt like she assumed we had it all under control, showed us where the remote for the TV was, and assumed we could take it from there.
Though she was much more present than the doctor, who I am pretty sure came into the room twice – once to introduce herself and once after the baby was born.
Wait a second Pat, did you say after the baby was born? Yes, yes I did. The nurse was allegedly monitoring my wife from the nurses’ station, but as the contractions intensified nobody seemed to be in any big rush to come into our room and have a look-see.
Let me take a minute here to give a shout out to my wife who has had three kids naturally. An absolute trooper. Nevermind not getting an epidural, she didn’t even so much as buzz the nurse to ask for ice chips.
Having said that, because she isn’t needy and didn’t want to be a bother, we got to the point of the baby being seconds away from coming out before she asked me “should you ring for the nurse now? I feel like they should be in here.”
When the nurse got there (after what had to be the longest 10 seconds ever), my wife was ready to push and the baby was ready to come. Noticeably un-ready was the doctor. The nurse was catching the baby while the doctor was still getting her gloves on. Not that I would have cut it anyway, but I thought it would be a nice gesture for me to let the doctor cut the umbilical cord so she could feel involved too.
After mom and baby were all settled the nurse let us know that this was the first baby she ever caught. What a terrifyingly charming anecdote!
No Visitors Allowed
Responsible social distancing does not lend itself to cramming grandparents, aunts, and uncles into a hospital room. This was communicated to us as soon as the hospital made the policy change that only one designated visitor was allowed, so its not like we had to leave disappointed relatives on the other side of a highly sanitized velvet rope desperately trying to explain to a hospital security guard that their name should definitely be on the list. “Are you sure it’s not there? Check under Nanna.”
This affected us most in the fact that I was technically a visitor. My wife was a patient, she needed to be there. I was non-essential personnel. I’d argue that water cups don’t refill themselves, but I was a visitor none the less and therefore was subject to the stricter set of rules. The biggie was that once I was in, there was no leaving. With our first two kids I would leave to go get food from the outside all the time, but now I was subject to hospital food.
Speaking of hospital food, given the fact that I was held a culinary hostage we were told that my food would be included at no extra cost. Which felt like getting a free keychain when you buy car. But hey, free food is always good. Except when it isn’t free. Upon placing our first order for food delivery we were informed that a meal for me would be $8. I understand that cost of food is relative to the location, but there was a zero percent chance that anything I could get off the hospital menu would be better than a Hot and Ready. This is my measuring stick for all value-based food purchases.
For us, I’d have to say some things were more inconvenient, but not drastically different. The birth plan worked fine. A baby was had. No virus of caught. Crappy hospital food was shared.