By Chris Gaffney of Uncommon Discourse
I’ve been full of various thoughts and anxieties leading up to my wife Jenny’s c-section scheduled for Tuesday morning.
The vast majority of them revolve around the health and well-being of my wife and daughter, which brings me some relief because that proves I’m not a narcissist. Although having that thought makes me wonder, again, if perhaps I am.
The two ladies are definitely the focus of the day. I even put the surgery into my Google calendar as an all-day event, although I suspect it will be wrapped up by noon.
However, with all of the attention being paid to them, many of the important issues impacting me are understandably falling by the wayside. I’m having a hard time figuring out which ones are appropriate and which are mere distractions.
I’m smart enough to know that each time I want to ask a question about how this will impact me, I instead say, “I love you, sweetheart, you’re doing great.” This always works.
But occasionally one of the videos Jenny watches will prompt her to “check in with Dad to see how he’s feeling,” and I’m able to sneak a moment of attention for my own issues.
The biggest issue I’m struggling with is deciding what to wear to the hospital on delivery day. It seems like kind of a formal life event, so maybe I should get a little bit dressed up, but there will also be many body fluids in play, so maybe I should dress down a bit?
I’ll probably go with either a sweater or a t-shirt. I know I need to wear a soft material. I wore a scratchy sweater once to meet a newborn nephew and they made me use a blanket buffer to hold him.
It’s overwhelming. I’d like to make a good first impression on my daughter but I understand she can’t fully process colors yet and can only see a few inches away from her face, so I’m definitely not worried about my shoes.
For a long time, I was leaning towards wearing a sweater, but then I worry that it might be too bulky underneath the scrubs I’ll have to wear in the delivery room. There’s apparently a whole surgical outfit laid out for me at the hospital, although I’m particularly nervous about the hat.
My watermelon-sized head is the reason they started changing hat sizes from “one size fits all” to “one size fits most.” It’s also one of the reasons we’re going with a c-section.
Then there is the overnight stay. I rarely thought about fatherhood as a child, but when I did, I thought it would involve pacing around a waiting room, handing out cigars.
Those glory days have passed and I’m now expected to shadow my wife like some sort of maternity intern.
This includes sitting with her in the operating room, where there is a zero percent chance of me being any help whatsoever.
I view my role as similar to that of an extra on the set of Grey’s Anatomy. Just follow the action of the lead players and don’t say anything or they’ll make me get a SAG card.
We took a tour of the maternity ward last month and saw a version of the room we’re likely to occupy during our first days as a family of three. There’s a little futon-style couch for me, complete with pillows and blankets.
So I’m in this for the long haul, spending my first night in a hospital since I had my tonsils removed around age five, which is daunting.
I have no idea what to pack.
Is it rude to bring noise-canceling headphones? I think they’ll come in handy.
I’m fine with waking up when my baby is crying, but there’s literally going to be a baby in every room on that maternity floor. It can’t be very conducive to getting a good night’s sleep, and all of the experts have told me to try and get as much sleep as possible while we’re at the hospital. Apparently, raising a newborn is exhausting.
It seems like my bulky headphones might be a bit much, though, so I’ll probably just bring some earbuds in case I want to listen to a podcast. Our surgery is the same day as the State of the Union address, so there might be breaking news.
I’m definitely bringing a hat. I’m not sure what the whole pop-in situation is going to be like or when I’ll go from laying down to action – and how showering will fit into the mix – so I don’t need to be an oily-haired Alphalpha lurking in the background of Grandpa’s first picture with my child.
I know I have to bring a car seat. They’ve been very clear about that. I had it installed by professionals at the police station, then immediately screwed it up while trying to detach the carrier from the base. I’m pretty sure I fixed it, though, and I probably did it right.
Do I bring the kid a birthday present? And if so, do I wrap it? There’s no way she’ll be able to figure that out–a gift bag should be fine.
Should I bring a book? At least one children’s book to read to her, but maybe also something for me. I don’t want to seem cavalier, but I got a few good books as Christmas gifts that I’m still itching to crack. One or two should be okay.
Maybe the safer play is just to bring a magazine. Nobody ever gets mad about a magazine.
I have dozens of more concerns like this, but what I’ll bring home from the hospital is far more important than anything I’ll need while I’m there. And we’ve saved the cutest hat for her.
This post was originally published on Uncommon Discourse.
About the Author
Chris Gaffney’s weekly humor column at UncommonDiscourse.com won the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ 2019 award for best in its class. Chris is a writer and public speaker specializing at the intersection of creative nonfiction, memoir, and humor. Season 01 of The Uncommon Discourse Podcast is available now on iTunes and Stitcher. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UncommonDiscourse/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/GaffneyCh LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chgaffney/ Website: http://uncommondiscourse.com/