As you all know, my 13th grandchild was born on the morning before Thanksgiving: Bentley Keith. As I have announced his birth, many people have exclaimed, “A thanksgiving baby! How wonderful!”
The reality of that statement is actually quite far from wonderful. Although I would have joined in the ranks of “how wonderful” before; now that I have witnessed a birth day near a holiday, I can tell you first hand there was nothing wonderful about the experience.
From the minute my daughter arrived at the hospital, it was not wonderful. This was her third delivery at the same hospital, where previously she received amazing care, so it was definitely the holiday situation. Apparently, nobody wants to work on holidays—of course. And the unlucky ones who actually do have to work on the holiday are filled with resentment. Resentment in a birthing center equals horrible care. Can you imagine a worse time to receive horrible care: when you are at your most vulnerable and need it most? Let me tell you—it was tragic.
I guess I shouldn’t be unfair to the few (and I mean FEW) who still performed their job to par: there was Jen, our first nurse—she was amazing, and then our last nurse, who was very good but only after we had words (yes, I am that mother still—the one who is going to light you up if you mistreat my child). But the ones in between? My gosh…let me tell you how bad it is when nurses resent working…
The nurse who replaced our wonderful Jen after we had been there 4 1/2 hours (during which time Jen was in room constantly checking with Courteny and the baby–doing her job), came into the room twice. Yes, you read that correctly—twice, during her 12 hour shift. During that time, the baby monitor slipped and was reading a heart rate of 35 to 40 (as opposed to 140) for several hours. Imagine if there had actually been something wrong with this child. I would be talking to a lawyer today instead of you.
Each time I went to the nurses station, she (our second nurse) was just sitting with the other nurses and seemed surprised she was needed. Once I heard all of them deeply involved in a discussion about Britney Spears’ performance on an awards show: infinitely more important than caring for a laboring mother and protecting her infant. So, after my third appearance, the charge nurse came down and got things adjusted. She was awesome. But, then she introduced us to her second in command, who we saw from that point out—not awesome. If we had a question, she would tell us she would return in 30 minutes and come back two hours later. Once, she didn’t come back for five hours, telling us she was going to talk to the doctor right after she finished her C Section. When I went down, she assured me the doctor had done one C Section after another all night long and that is why she didn’t return. Miraculously though, after my appearance, she was able to locate the doctor and get approval for the epidural my daughter had been begging for for six hours.
The doctors, of course, did their jobs with the professionalism you would expect. Unfortunately, in a birthing situation, you barely deal with the doctors—you are at the mercy of whatever nurse you’ve been assigned. Previously, I had never thought of it as ‘being at mercy’ but now I realize that is an accurate statement.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, apparently they also use minimal support staff during the holidays as well. Courteny gave birth at 9:06 am. Any of you who have had a baby know that after not eating for nearly 24 hours, and working furiously through labor and delivery, you are ravenous immediately afterward. Her nurse assured her breakfast was coming—never came. An hour later, we went to the cafeteria and got her some leftovers before they closed breakfast down. Lunch—promised, but never came. Next day she got breakfast but lunch never showed again. No kidding. Pretty unbelievable from a top rated hospital like this.
And the last piece to this sorrowful puzzle is that not only was she treated so incredibly poorly by the hospital staff, but because her own family (me/us and Keith’s family) were home making Thanksgiving meals and welcoming out of town family members, she sat all alone in her hospital room with her newborn baby. Typically, when you have a new baby, people are fighting to get in the door to see him. There is an exhaustive line of visitors, flowers, and gifts. Courtney and Bentley received zero visitors, zero flowers, and one gift. Does any of this sound wonderful to you? My own shame overwhelms me.
Although this blog sounds like a rant to the hospital (don’t worry, they will hear from me as well), it is really an appeal. If you are a nurse or support staff at a hospital and you have to work on a holiday, please still perform your job to the best of your abilities. That laboring woman did not schedule you to work that day, but that laboring woman is the reason you have a job–a good paying job–so be grateful instead of resentful. That job probably put the food on the table at home that you are missing. And if there are kids at home sitting at that table, you know what it feels like to be at the mercy of a nurse in a hospital while you are laboring. And for heavens sake, if you are support staff in a hospital, make sure new/nursing moms EAT! There are only 20 rooms—how hard can that be?!
This appeal is to family members as well. Thanksgiving is a meal. The birth of a healthy child is a gift that should not be ignored because of a meal. I beg forgiveness for my thoughtlessness.
For all of you out there who have holiday birth days, your poor mother probably went through something like this. It is unlikely this is a new trend in human nature. It was the saddest joyous occasion I’ve ever witnessed…and those are pretty sad words too.
Here is the little miracle and his mommy. These two lives should outrank a turkey.