(Photo from The Man-Nurse Diaries).
“Hold on a minute!” I said. “I want her to go to her mother.” I looked over at Sandy’s exhausted, filmy eyes and the look of panic on her face.
“No, we’re sorry,” they replied firmly. “Hospital policy.” Having proclaimed this, they strode purposely forward toward the door just to my left.
Quickly I stepped in front of them, blocking their way. “Hospital policy or not, I’m her father and she’s staying here!”
Suddenly it seemed time began to slow. Looking back, it seems almost like some sort of bizarre operating-room football game. The doctor, with my child tucked under his right arm like a halfback, decided he would simply ignore this irrational father, take a step to his right and scoot on past my left elbow and through the swinging door. I don’t know what he expected I would do, but I certainly know his eyes looked surprised when I made my move.
Sensing his plan, I quickly stepped back so that my body was exactly in front of the door. My hands were on my hips so there was no room to go through. My fists were clenched and my knees were slightly bent. My heart was racing in my chest and my lungs were pumping air. I could feel my eyes narrow to slits and my belly tightened as my voice dropped about an octave. I growled more than spoke the words, “Nobody’s leaving this room with that child!”
They froze in their tracks. Their eyes told me that this was not an everyday experience for them. The doctor on my right tried one more time to run interference, a kind of “bureaucratic cross body block”. “You’ll have to sign papers saying that you’re taking this child against medical advice!”
I imagine that if I had not been an experienced physician, I might have faltered long enough for him to succeed in an end run after all. But I had delivered enough babies to know that this one was in no immediate danger. I felt not the slightest tinge of fear, only intense concentration, resolve . . . and a rising tide of fury.
On the other side of the room, beyond the pediatricians, I could see the tears in my wife’s eyes as she watched her only child being taken away before she had a chance to even see or touch it. In the doctor’s arms I saw Lauren’s mouth making sucking movements. I felt the irreplaceable seconds ticking away and could hesitate no longer. I stepped forward and extracted her from his arms. “You get the papers, and I’m taking my child.”
The interception completed, I stepped swiftly between them. In response to a sub-sonic growl, they parted like the Red Sea and I marched through. A moment later, Lauren was there on her mother’s arm nuzzling for the breast. The feeling of warmth, closeness, love and family was breathtaking. Suddenly all the pain, labor and danger faded from our minds.
Now, eleven years later, the remotely possible complications never having appeared, we are thrilled at the results of our steadfast attention to such “details.” Lauren is a wise, loving, active, good humored, secure and wonderfully compassionate being. We know that our role has been to make space for and nurture these inborn qualities.