Quietly knocking on the door and announcing, in a soft voice (I dread waking any mommy up), "Hi there. It's Laura from Volunteer Services. I'm here with your car seat," I greet them as I open the door and pull back the curtain. I'll look at the baby and reply, "What an adorable baby!" Then I'll look at both mom and dad and say, with great exuberance, "You two did a great job! He's beautiful!" They both smile and sometimes have a sheepish look on their face. (This sweet look on their faces has the effect of melting my heart a bit and diminishing aspects of the pain-stained memories of some of my childbirth experiences.) I'll proceed to talk about the car seat and the benefit of strapping the baby in before they are taken downstairs so they are not struggling with adjusting the baby's straps while also trying to get the seat buckled in their car. I have the mom then sign that she received the car seat. Before I leave I assure them that if they have any questions they can call for their nurse or me. "Congratulations!" I say as I exit the room and head toward my next car seat recipient.
Years ago, after I had Daisy at The Country Club Hospital, there was a student nurse that came into my room to do whatever. She was so cheery and complimentary in her own way: "I can tell this is your 5th child. You are so relaxed. The atmosphere is totally different in your room than down the hall with the parents who just had their first." She wasn't judgmental or critical of the other patients, just sharing an observation she had made. I felt so comforted and encouraged in this peculiarly validating way. Her sunny disposition more than anything was a very bright spot after an extremely upsetting delivery and a scary night at the hospital.
So, it is my attempt to recreate her sweet and cheery disposition that makes me approach new parents with such a positive attitude. Of course, loving all things mother/baby/childbirth/family also comes through in my encouragement and enjoyment of every couple's new baby. I so hope that even in a tiny way I've put a measure of encouragement into their parenting journey as they welcome their new baby into their lives.
Today brought an interesting acouple my way. How things played out with them both heartened and surprised me. I entered their room and began talking with them. Both were very intellignet and articulate. After I dispensed said car seat, I asked them, "Is there anything else I can get for you?" The mom, a tad bleary-eyed, asked, "Can I be discharged today?" We talked some about when she delivered and how it went. I saw no reason why she couldn't. However, I only said, "Let me talk to your nurse." After mentioning to her nurse the patient's request, the nurse quickly barked, "No she can't! She just delivered yesterday." I walked back into the room and told the patient what the nurse had said. "However," I added, "You can ask your nurse to ask your doctor. Your doctor is the one who will actually discharge you." I encouraged them to "sweetly and assertively" ask that the nurse call their doctor regarding their request. They chuckled at this suggestion and mentioned that they had already called the doctor's office to let him know she'd like to be discharged today. Good for you! I thought. I love patients who are smart and assertive.
We began to talk more about the details surrounding her baby's birth. As her lovely birth story unfolded there was one very sad element in the whole blessed event: Dad had missed the delivery. The clincher?
How all that might make any difference, I don't know. I hope the couple is comforted by it. I hope the nurse manager and that particular nurse are made aware of it. I so hope that one dad is spared missing his baby's birth, with his wife frantically calling out for him, because I brought the issue to light in my small little corner of the world. Feel Better Hsopital should earn its name, instead of Feel Really Bad Hospital.