Your Time Starts NOW…

June 7, 2007 at 5:47 am (Uncategorized)

I finally got to talk to my friend Kate last night, a week after she became the mother of baby Ella. It’s only been a week, but when you’re this far away, a week feels like an eternity. We had a good long natter for over half an hour, which felt very decadent and left me feeling all topped up and happy and, if not almost there, then not altogether elsewhere. Kate sounds like she’s just nailing the whole new mother thing. I hope if I ever have a child, I can be as chilled and amused and as filled with an almost girlish wonder as Kate.

But oh boy, am I happy to give Britain’s NHS a big wide berth. No thanks. Ella’s fine, Kate’s great, Stuart’s besotted, and it’s not as though anyone did anything other than successfully deliver their little girl into the world, but imagine my surprise when Kate told me she was discharged a mere SIX HOURS after her twelve-hour delivery. Talk about an unceremonious discharge. I’d think after twelve hours of pain you’d at least have bought yourself an overnight stay. A meal. A little snooze. But no. Kate said they were giving her instructions about breastfeeding as they were helping her pack (won’t be needing those jimmy jams after all…!!). She said she had her newborn baby in one arm whilst trying to shrug her way into her coat with the other!! HILARIOUS! It makes for a highly entertaining story – Kate had me in fits of laughter last night. And I must say, whilst I don’t think I’m a bad sport, I do think Kate’s a bit of a legend for taking all this in her stride. There she was being bundled into a cab back home six hours after she could finally stop pushing. I just can’t get over that turnaround time.

I know it’s not what happens in private hospitals in Australia, but as far as I know nothing of the sort happens in the public system here, either. I think they’re pretty keen to get you discharged as soon as possible, but I think – and correct me if I’m wrong, mothers – that still means a minimum of at least one lousy night! I’ve visited friends in the maternity wards of North Shore Private and North Shore Public, and I’ve never seen anyone being shown the door without at least one night of additional help with the baby. What a surreal trip home from the hospital it must have been. Six hours just isn’t a very long time for your whole new world order to sink in.

There’s something fairly exciting, on the other hand, about being chucked so forcibly in the deep end. No being lulled into a false sense of security and on-tap assistance in Kate’s London hospital. Nope. This is your baby and you’d best get used to the idea. There’s something so refreshingly blunt and no-nonsense about the six hour revolving door that almost – and I say almost – appeals to me. But then I think about my friends in North Shore, the San and Mater private hospitals in Sydney, to name a few. I think about the drinks trolley being wheeled along plush carpet at North Shore. I think about a maternity ward that truly looks more like a hotel than a hospital. I think about the private room, the en suite, and the endless procession of qualified staff on hand to help monitor the first few days of a new baby’s life. I think about my own anticipated feelings of wild inadequacy, and the terror of being left unsupervised when I will patently have absolutely no idea what to do. And when I think about those things, I can’t help but think yes, thanks, I’ll have all of that. And that brand new pair of pjs for my overnight stay.



  1. billymouth said,

    My time starts now? If so that is sadly depressing for it’s been long enough already. Thank you for adding to my melancholy.

  2. doctordi said,

    I wasn’t trying to bring anyone down, there, Billymouth, I was just saying that my friend was on a strict timer once her baby was born – she was whipped out of there in what I think is close to record time. Sorry you’re feeling melancholy.

  3. Mike said,

    Y’know, parenting is one of the only things left these days that doesn’t require training, licensing or some sort of proof of capability. If this was taken care of before any up-duffage, a six hour turnaround probably wouldn’t seem so bad. Then perhaps even more sick people could be treated.

    Or, even better, we could apply the old Jetstar logic: no assigned beds; first in, best dressed — sorry madam, you’re birthing in the aisles? Should have been in the queue a tad earlier then! Need special assistance? Sorry madam, we’re not set up for that. Anticipating a breech birth? Please remain standing in the aisle during landing. Bon vol!

    How’s that for a segue from birth issues to whinging about budget airlines.

    It’s a long weekend this weekend (thanks Liz – one of the few benefits of our colonial heritage) — can’t fuckin’ wait! Have had two weeks from hell (but hopefully all for a good cause).

    XX :þ

  4. doctordi said,

    I think physically it’s a pretty big deal…I can imagine really wanting a bit of a lie-down after passing a watermelon-sized bundle of joy. I’m not sure there’s any way of training for that ahead of time in a way that would reduce the impact of the real thing on a woman’s body. And it’s only once a woman’s given birth that her milk comes in, so that too is impossible to try on a trial basis. From what some friends have told me, call it the most natural thing in the world until you’re blue in the face, but the fact remains a lot of women really struggle to get the baby feeding properly in those first days, and being around experts can apparently be very helpful, especially if the baby is getting hungry and then really distressed as a result.

    The vivid imagery you’ve provided, Mike, on the Budget Birthing Airline, perhaps explains the non-medical reasons why women are advised not to fly in the final months of pregnancy…How on EARTH would the drinks trolley get past??!!!

    Hope all the work pays off, Mike. I’m sure it will.
    Long Live the Queen[‘s Birthday Long Weekend].

  5. kate said,

    Hi Di,

    I was reading an article today in a British magazine that talked about their seriously lacking maternity services, which are apparently understaffed and underfunded. Maybe they were doing your friend a favour- at least at home she may get a higher standard of care? Not that that is o.k. but it may be how it is. In Australia there is an early discharge service where if everything is o.k. with mum and baby they are discharged soon after birth and then visited daily at home for a week to ten days by a midwife/baby health nurse.

    One of the hardest things about a long stay in hospital is that you are separated from your significant other at a time when it is especially important to have them close. Also, other babies crying, other mums up and about and midwives checking on you 24/7 can be less than restful. I guess I’m just saying there are pro’s and cons. Some hardy souls give birth at home and while I am too chicken to go that road myself I can understand the reasoning. Love, Kate.

  6. doctordi said,

    Definitely part of the story, Kate, yes – she said she was encouraged to stay at home for as long as possible when labour began precisely because she would be more comfortable there. I’m sure all the staff did their utmost to make Kate comfortable in what sounds like pretty strained (no pun intended) circumstances.

    And thanks, I definitely take your point about being separated from the father and other children, and I well remember the constant interruptions from my own two-week stay in hospital with typhoid. Less than restful indeed – I started to imagine very vengeful scenarios featuring most of the nursing staff.

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