Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Moms and Hospitals

When my friend visited in the hospital, she asked a question to the doctor/nurse about one of the procedures. It was asked because she cared. And probably because I was not at all thinking straight and not able to think of what I needed to ask.

Mom asked questions when she called. Why is the doctor doing this? What about this? When Mom asks questions, it's in a judgmental tone. The hospital doctor mentioned that the GI doctor's dilation might have provided an opening for an infection to set in. Mom was asking why we had it done, don't we know babies can hold their bowels, etc etc. I didn't need guilt - I had enough. Not legitimate guilt (and yes I recognize that it is progress to recognize this is not legitimate guilt) but just mommy guilt that I couldn't make the pain go away. I recognized my mom's attempt to inflict guilt.

When I was 7, I developed a huge bump on the side of my neck. Our regular doctor didn't know what it was and sent me to a specialist. Mom took me. Dad stayed home with Sister. I think Dad was uncomfortable with doctors. He never took me. The specialist drew fluid from the lump with a needle. I screamed bloody murder. Mom had to hold me down. When it was done, the doctor had two options -- come back every day for seven days to repeat the drainage or be admitted to the hospital for an operation to drain it. Mom said there was no way she could make me go through that needle every day. I have to give her credit for that.

So I went to the hospital. I was on a children's floor. I was left there alone. Mom visited every day for a little while. I think Dad came once. Sister didn't come - maybe she wasn't allowed. I had to share a room with a young boy. He didn't have any visitors. I think maybe he was a foster child. It was scary there at night. It was a teaching hospital and there were hospital students in all the time. Plus doctors and nurses waking me up all the time. I don't remember the operation. I do remember after the operation having to go to an office with a doctor. My parents were not there. I was scared. The doctor pulled this string-thing out of my throat. Maybe it was a tube? It hurt and I freaked out. (hmm, maybe this explains my gag reflex?). I had nightmares about that for awhile.

When the Doctor told me Baby was being hospitalized, there was never any second thought, discussion or consideration. Husband and I knew that I would stay in the hospital and he would care for Daughter. If it had been our firstborn Daughter who had been hospitalized when she was an only child, we both would have stayed with her. I know that without a doubt. It killed my husband to leave us. He told me last night how hard it was to juggle Daughter and things at home, deal with Daughter being upset at missing us, and deal with his own feelings of needing to be in two places at once.

When we were admitted, we were in a tiny room. The nurse apologized and said that they would move us to a bigger room as soon as someone was discharged. There was one bed. They wheeled in a crib/bassinet. I told the Doctor I was not leaving - and that I was staying there that night and every night. I was pretty fierce in my tone He looked surprised and said, "of course. That bed is yours. There is a TV too. And we will bring you meals if you want - or a ticket to go eat at the cafeteria." He expected me to stay.

We were moved to a much bigger room. This one had two beds. One for the patient (although in our case, a crib was wheeled in) and one for a parent. I did leave the room a few times when Husband came. I'd walk down to the gift shop and grab a soda. Just to stretch my legs. I noticed that there were parents (or adults, at least) in every room I passed.

When I talked with Mom on the phone, she implied that I was only staying because I am nursing. She called a few times while I was there. She said she wished she could be there. I guess taking off work wasn't an option - oh yeah, she only does that when her Husband is sick or hospitalized. She also said she was worried and had been up all night worrying. Huh?? Why? That boggled my mind. Why would she worry? She called once a day while we were in the hospital and the first day we were home. Since then I've not heard from her much.

While I don't ever want to see the hospital with Baby again, it was good to have a concrete example of how I parent differently than my mother. I favor my mother, appearance-wise. I have some of her mannerisms. So I need regular reminders that I am not her - and never will be.

EDITED TO ADD - I'm in the office today. Baby is with me. I'm here because the other attorney who does domestic work is in the hospital and will be for a few weeks. His wife is staying with him. His son visits every day. It's a 3-4 hour drive from here to the hospital. Another attorney is also out because her teenage daughter is hospitalized. She and her husband are taking turns spending the night. It's a 1 1/2 drive to that hospital. I also remembered last night that when my friend's husband was having surgery, she spent the night in the hospital with him. Same when her mother was hospitalized. When my sister's son was hospitalized with RSV, she not only spent the night, but crawled in the crib with him so she could hold him.

So I think that the "norm" is for parents and relatives not to leave people alone in the hospital. And once again, my mom is the odd person out.


lawyerchik said...

Hey, Enola. I'm glad you were able to stay with your son while he was in the hospital, and how cool that your husband wanted to stay too but recognized that he needed to take care of your daughter!! :) I hope your son is feeling much better.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you were able to remain in the hospital with your babe.

I was only hospitalized once as child, and I do realize that I am quite a bit older than you...but at that time, my parents were not allowed to stay. In fact..they were shooed out when visiting hours were over. They were only allowed to be there at certain times of the say. Today..I think they like having parents there because parents do things for their child that docs and nurses just dont have time for. Children probably heal quicker when mom or dad is there as well.

When my girl had her tonsils out..
1976...nurses didnt want me there then either. I visited..held her...gave her popsicles which she promptly threw back at me...and left when she fell asleep. Of course I took her home the next day.

Son broke his leg badly and had to be in hospital overnight. Again...they would not let me stay. Again...I took him home next day.

Geesh Enola...now I am feeling huge parent guilt.


Enola said...

Laurie - please don't have mommy guilt. Like you said, times were different and you were not allowed to stay. It sounds like you did all you can and were there as long as you could.

Jackal said...

Hello Enola,

This comment is not in relation to your post but to your blog name.
I was struck with it and wanted to share that I feel exactly the same.

Angel said...

Your mother's judgmental tone tells me that she is looking for any reason to denigrate your parenting so that she is no worse than you are. I'm glad that you recognize her efforts to guilt for what they are.