Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 325: Guilty by Association

On Day 325, I went to Northside Hospital to visit new mom Trish, new dad Mark and Baby Will (aka Willie J). I planned on juggling for him, but since that didn’t really work out on Day 324, I brought flowers and magazines for his mommy instead and showed him my new blue toenails.

Despite having a lot of friends with kids, this was the first time I'd ever been to the hospital to visit a newborn. I was at the hospital when my friend Danielle’s first child, Karson, was born, but I had to leave immediately following her birth to drive back to school. I never got to hold Karson at the hospital, or bring flowers and be a part of the baby celebration and fanfare.

So Day 325’s thing I’ve never done before was to meet Baby Will, and visit his new family in the hospital. Unfortunately for Will, though, the day presented another first that neither of us was too thrilled about.

Seeing Trish as a new mom wasn't at all as shocking as I thought it might be. Trish is happily married and she's a natural caretaker; of course having a baby is an expected next step. Motherhood had instantly come very easy to her. What did surprise me was how laid back she was about it all; she handed Will over, offering to let me hold him right away.

I declined at first. Not because I didn't want to, but because I always feel so terribly awkward holding newborns. They seem so fragile to me in my inexperience, and it makes me feel stupid that I'm not better at it. Aren't women naturally supposed to know how to hold babies?

Trish, Mark, and I instead chatted about the birth, and about how the woman across the hall from her had refused an epidural and screamed bloody murder the entire time, scaring everyone in the vicinity. Trish showed me a video of Will peeing on his daddy for the first time and pictures of all who had been to visit so far. She sang the praises of the hospital for their warm hospitality and helpful nurses.

When I finally relaxed enough to take Trish up on her offer to hold Will, I fell in love. He was so small and perfect and rolled up into a little ball. And for the first time I can remember, I didn't feel awkward at all holding a newborn.

That is, of course, until a female nurse rolled a crib on wheels until a female nurse wheeled in with a crib and sweetly said, to Trish and Mark, "If you're ready, we can go ahead and take Will for his circumcision."

I looked up when I heard the word, "circumcision."

Trish looked at the nurse, and then she looked at Mark and then she looked at me.

"Like now?," she asked the nurse.

"Yes. Now. If you're ready?"

Is anyone ever ready to bring such trauma to their child? I don't know, I don't have kids; I can't imagine leading them to suffer, even if it's for their own good, is a pleasant experience.

But seeing Will's circumcision as a necessary evil that he'd never remember, Trish's concern was for me, since I would miss out on spending quality hospital time with the baby.

Mark was understandably concerned for his son for very different, very "dad-like" reasons. "Sorry buddy," he said kindly, "I'm so, so sorry."

I was concerned, of course, for myself. I looked at the nurse, who had motioned for me to put him in the crib she'd brought.

"So you mean you're going to do this now? And I'm the one who has to hand him over? So now he's going to associate this experience me?"

She ignored my antics and asked Trish to sign some form saying she approved the surgery.

I suddenly felt awkward again holding Will, reluctantly trying to lower him into the crib on wheels.

"I'm so sorry, Will. This was not my idea," I told him quietly.

I sought consolation in what Trish told me. She said that just like shots and other unpleasant injuries he may suffer as a baby and toddler, he will, forget any pain suffered during the circumcision. He's only a day old, after all.

I believe her, but what about subconscious association? What if when Will is a teenager he hates me for reasons he can't even explain that all stem from this day?

In that case, I hoped that the big blonde nurse was the last person he saw before the snip.

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