Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Facepalm (05/15/14)
TITLE: But You'll Help Us, Right?
By Leah Nichols
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Her eyes shine. "Oh, yes, we are very excited. Aren't we, Jimmy?" She reaches over to the other side of the bed and grasps his hand.
He simply nods in agreement.
"Great." I adjust the monitor settings and the baby's heartbeat echoes loudly and clearly in the room. "Well, then, let's get to some of our admission questions and then we can talk about your plan of care. Do you have a birth plan?"
Both parents stare blankly at me.
"Do you have an idea of what you want for the birth?" I rephrase the question.
Caitlin looks at Jimmy for a second and then back toward me. "I want the epidural," she says quickly.
"Anything else?" I probe gently.
They look at each other again, then Jimmy shrugs. "We figured you'd tell us what's going on."
"Did you take any classes?"
They shake their heads.
"Read a book?"
"Watch videos? YouTube?"
"We didn't really have a lot of time to prepare," Caitlin replies softly. "The people at the WIC office helped us get our car seat and some diapers and bottles, though."
I glance at the prenatal record. She had received care from the community clinic from eight weeks until the transfer at 35 weeks to Dr. Horton. Not a lot of time to prepare, eh? I fake a smile. "Do you have any idea of what to expect for labor? Do you understand what the epidural does?"
"Takes away the pain. My girlfriends just told me to get it. They said it's the only way to go," Caitlin says.
I close my eyes and slowly blink them open. "Yes, but do you know what it does?"
She shakes her head. Jimmy blurts out, "You will tell us what to do, though, right? Like, you can help us breastfeed and change diapers and stuff?"
"Of course. But it would be easier for you if you'd had some preparation, like a class or video or something." I sigh, quickly typing No in the section regarding childbirth preparation. "You've babysat in the past or done childcare for someone?"
"Not really. A few of my friends have kids, but we only hang out when they're out shopping or something. I've never even changed a diaper," Caitlin admits.
Epic facepalm. In my mind I slowly count to ten. If I had a nickle for every unprepared parent. . .
"It's not that hard to take care of a baby, right?" Jimmy asks.
No, Jimmy, it's just going to consume every part of your life from today until either you just walk away or you buckle down and stick with it for the next eighteen years. You'll have sleepless nights, break party plans with your buddies, and take personal days from work to care for a puking child. You'll be obsessed with bodily functions, find creative ways to feed a toddler who won't open her mouth, and sing "The Wheels On The Bus" until you hate the song. You'll wonder why you ever signed up for this, and simultaneously believe it's the best thing that's ever happened.
"Depends on what you mean by hard," I reply. "It's probably the hardest thing you'll ever experience, but also the most wonderful, the most amazing, the most awe-inspiring. Hang on for the ride."
Both of their eyes widen.
"Seriously, guys; relax. You'll figure it out. Everybody does. Just keep an open mind, and remember above all to love this baby with all of your heart." I smile, genuinely this time.
Caitlin releases her death-grip on Jimmy's hand. "I think we could do that."
"Of course you can. Now, is anybody available to help you with the baby once you go home?" I turn my attention back to the admission questions.
"Yes, my mom. We live with my mom and stepdad," Caitlin says.
Yes, there is a God. Caitlin appears to be well-dressed and clean, with manicured nails and pretty hair. Someone has taken good care of her, so there will be a safe home for the baby. I restrain from releasing a sigh of relief. "Excellent."
Jimmy pulls out his iPad. "Do you have any suggestions for videos we should watch to help us get ready?"
I laugh. "Bit too late now, Jimmy. You're going to have to experience your own story."
"I just want to be ready," he says.
"Trust me, you're as ready as you'll ever be."
And I meant it.
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