This morning Hannah and I were introduced to the Women and Children’s Services area at Southeast Hospital. In the old days I suppose it would’ve been called the Maternity Ward. We walked the eight blocks or so to the hospital to gauge if the hike would be doable when Hannah’s actually in labor. I expect she’ll want to tough out the whole process, because that’s how she is, and she’ll definitely be the baddest mamma jamma in the ward if she gets a good walk in while having contractions. We’ll see.
Times have changed even since my baby brother Trevor was born fifteen years ago! The birthing rooms are a lot nicer, plenty of room for the mom to move around, a nice tub to soak in, pull out couch for the dad, and real meals provided–not that they’ll let Hannah eat while she’s in labor. The staff seems willing to bend over backwards to make sure Hannah is comfortable during labor (even if she wants to give birth bending over backwards!), and we’re both comfortable with the care of the runt after it’s born. I’m particularly pleased that the baby isn’t whisked away to the nursery anymore. Unless we’re both wiped out the nugget will stay with us in the room for the duration of our stay. There are 21 birthing suites in the ward, and everyone was occupied today (!) so we had to settle for seeing an older room no longer used for labor. We were also shown the NICU and the nursery, both of which made us feel pretty sad for the little isolated varmints. I was surprised by how eerily quiet it was most of the time we were there. I guess even in a space with so much pain and so much joy folks still can’t shake the hushed decorum of a doctor’s office.
We were shown around by Jane Unterreiner, Southeast’s “Nurse Navigator”, whose major role is getting mothers familiar with the rooms and protocol. She also teaches a number of prenatal, labor, and postpartum classes that she was pushing pretty hard (no pun intended) for us to take. Hannah may humor her and take a Saturday labor,postpartum,lactation crash course in October while I’m in California. Jane was very nice, but sometimes over-explained labor, nursing, etc. I guess we should feel good that the reading and research we’ve done so far has already put us ahead of the game. There were a few helpful tidbits though like finding out if our insurance covers their lactation coach’s preferred breast pump, and reminding us to settle on a pediatrician well before the birth. She also emphasized the First Day Photos program they run so that all you family, friends, and fans out there can see the print nugget ASAP. Both hospitals in town also have 24 foot billboards that show off new babies, so the critter will be a multimedia star from day one! Ultimately the tour was useful since our admittance paperwork is now taken care of and we know our way around the hospital. With any luck we won’t have to make use of the O.R. or the NICU again.
Of course today is also the 9th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, an event that changed both of our lives, and probably led to us being together. The storm also cemented our devotion to New Orleans. Though we know we probably couldn’t raise our family there (mostly because I’m ambivalent about the charter school > public school philosophy adopted post-Katrina), we’ll always visit and instill in our kids the best of the city: a love of culture, creativity, diversity, and uniqueness the city has to offer. Of course the storm also remains an influence on our artwork. We continue to address the ecological disasters that fueled the storm, and the political issues that washed in with it. These concerns continue to haunt us as we anxiously await the addition to our family. We talk often about what the future will be like for our kids, and the prudence of bringing another consumer onto an already over-crowded planet. The stresses and biases on display in the darkest days after Katrina continue to rise around the country like the heat off the summer pavement. As we peer forward and look back today I can only promise that we’re going to do our damnedest to practice what we preach to raise a print nugget who’s looking out for the planet and the best interests of its inhabitants. We’ve got no choice but to be hopeful, helpful, and hard-working to provide the best world we can leave behind for our nugget and all of yours. Here’s to our adopted city and to new beginnings!