Yesterday was the first OB/GYN visit for Bob’s daughter and I got to ride shot-gun with her. The baby delivery business has changed considerably since I had GE. In the mid 70’s, there were no sonograms and the doctor was King. South Texas boasted few Queen Doctors delivering babies.
Every month during pregnancy, I took off from work at 2 p.m. on a day when I had completed my payroll duties and the bookkeeper had time to answer the phone in my stead. OB visit day was one of the rare days when I drove to work. William and I had a red VW for which he provided life support. Like Lone Ranger’s horse, Charly the Bug did not appreciate a different driver at the reins. He was a one driver car and William was the driver. False starts and stalls were the norm when I was behind the wheel. It didn’t have air conditioning and I arrived at the doctor’s office with panty hose welded to my sweaty legs, curly hair wet and stuck to my forehead.
The doctor always asked if I had any questions as he walked out the door. The attitude didn’t encourage prenatal queries. The hospital offered Lamaze classes in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy; attending the classes permitted the baby dad to stay in the labor room but not the delivery room. In the pre-sonogram days, fetal development was determined using an X-ray if there were any pre-natal questions.
Jack arrived in 1988. We were ready for a boy since we’d seen him on a sonogram. The doctor delivered him in a birthing room. John, Doug, Kathy, GE, our minister, friends from church, friends from work were all in attendance during labor. John held my hand during delivery and carried Jack to the nurse’s station for his first bath. The process was family friendly.
The past 24 years have brought more improvements. I loved meeting GE’s doctor when Sophia and Travis were born. There was a laid back feeling, an inclusive attitude. Her doctor was a young woman who had just given birth herself. We crowded into the room to watch the sonogram. The inclination is to make sure that mom, dad, and baby are comfortable and re-assured. It was a major departure from GE’s birth in the 70’s.
GE’s motherhood was a landmark for us as mother and daughter. I loved seeing her as Mom-zilla when she thought something might be threatening her child. In her post-partum state, those threats ranged from visitors who sneezed to nurses who tried to let her sleep. The first night of Sophia’s life, a nurse took her to the nurse’s station for weigh-in, trilling as she walked out that she was going to keep her for an hour so “new Mommy can rest.” Sixty two minutes after the nurse walked out, GE sat bolt upright and demanded that Jonathan find out what that nurse was doing with their baby.
I find she appreciates my maternal parenting advice up to a point. When I expressed concern that she wasn’t giving infant Sophia water, she explained (1) water has no nutritional value; (2) water fills up babies so they won’t drink breast milk; and, (3) babies have “DIED from water intoxication, Mother!” Oh.
GE is more likely to listen to the doctor first. That’s a novel concept for her alcoholic mother who used 32 ounce Mason jars after the doctor told her that a couple of glasses of wine in the evening would be okay. In sobriety, I’m more likely to pay attention to medical experts, but my alcoholic ego can over-ride sane guidance if there’s a perceived conflict between my opinion and scientific advice.
Yesterday’s doctor visit with Chelsea mirrored the experience I’ve had with GE in Austin. The doctor was 100% attentive to Chelsea; she didn’t rush her and sat knee to knee with her as she gave prenatal instructions. Both the doctor and nurse pleasantly endured my photo snapping during the sonogram.
I texted Chelsea earlier in the day that I was glad to act as back up at the appointment since I’m backing up the 3 most important people in her life: mom, dad, and fiancée. Work and/or long distances prevented them from being at the appointment and I consider being asked to go incredibly good luck. Watching my daughter become a mother, seeing her insatiable love for her children is a gift beyond measure. It’s one that I might never have appreciated if not for sobriety. I don’t take the honor lightly.