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Square Zero

About the Vandalism . . .

Posted by Eric (June 7, 2007 at 2:38 pm)

Eric and WilliamSeveral people have expressed curiosity about the reference to “vandalism” in my sketchy notes to Sarah Paraskeva’s birth story. I’m impressed that people are actually reading the notes, which are there to help me finally finish the full account of her birth story.

Unfortunately, I could not get a photo of the “vandalized note” in question to come out. But I do have a picture of me with “Baby William” which will give you an idea of what kind of state I was in after three days pacing around hospital rooms. William was fashioned from a blown-up surgical glove, onto which I drew a face: the thumb became William’s nose; the fingers his Mohawk.

William was “born” when my seven other children were visiting us the evening after Sarah was born. For some reason they let the whole crew in there at once, and Daddy got rather silly. Another silliness was my “vandalism” of the note that had been taped onto Sarah’s bassinet.

The back story is this: we had refused to allow the nursery crew to give Sarah a bath. Why? Because bathing a newborn baby is insane, that’s why. A baby at the moment of birth is the cleanest thing in the hospital. Moreover, bathing the baby brings down her body temperature, and then she has to be warmed up under a heat lamp. Madness.

There’s more to tell about our battle over such needless and even outrageous interventions, but let me not digress. When Sarah was finally returned to us in the postpartum wing, there was a note taped to her bassinet reading:

Please use gloves when handling this baby. She was not given a bath due to parents request.

Now, first of all, astute grammarians will immediately recognize the need for an apostrophe in the word “parents.” I duly added it (after the S, of course). That’s not vandalism, it’s editing.

However, I could see that further revision was called for. And so I amended the note as follows:

Please use gloves AND HAZMAT SUIT when handling this baby. She was not given a bath due to WACKO parents request.

Yes, I was feeling giddy. The kids got a huge kick out of all of this. Daddy was showing off.

The next morning, the note was gone, replaced by one which simply read, “Please use gloves.” Soon we were visited by a pediatrician—the same one with whom I had argued about the interventions already alluded to. She was there to badger us into consenting to a hearing test for Sarah, at which she finally succeeded by threatening that our refusal would significantly delay our discharge from the hospital, on account of the need to consult with hospital lawyers.

I promise to rant and rave about this “state mandated hearing test” on another occasion, but for now let me continue with this particular thread of the story. The pediatrician—who, by the way, could not have been a day over 17—was not content with her victory on the hearing test controversy. No.

“And also,” she declared, “I just want to say that I have the deepest respect for the nursing staff at this hospital. Your additions to that note were very disrespectful and inappropriate.”

Wow! Talk about can’t take a joke! I hardly knew how to respond. Should I point out that my note was not directed at the nurses at all, but at the hospital’s crazy protocols? Or perhaps directed at her, the great champion of those protocols? That it was a nothing but an innocent joke brought on by extreme exhaustion and the glee of sharing my new daughter with her brothers and sisters?

No. No point. I just said, “Okay—noted,” and left it at that.

After she left—and once the shock had worn off—I did amend the other note as well: “Please use gloves. BY ORDER OF DARTH VADER.” But April talked me into removing that note from the bassinet. Shortly thereafter we were released.

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5 Responses to “About the Vandalism . . .”

  1. Bekah says:

    I can totally relate. We ended up transporting during our home birth of #3. Our hospital was actually respectful enough to ask us whether we wanted the baby bathed (which we refused), but the pediatrician we needed to sign off on our requested early discharge did her best to manipulate us into staying.

    My husband is usually quite the mild mannered man, but he was fuming after our encounter with this gem of a hospital employee. She finally waltzed into our room 6 hours after delivery, berated us about our decisions to refuse vaccination, and demanded that we need to administer vit. K and eye ointment (keeping in mind protocol requires these things to be administered within 2 hours, and we already signed refusals), then after we maintained our refusals of these procedures, she proceeded to examine our 10lb 14 oz son. After a brief 2 sec listen to our son’s heart, she declared he had a heart murmur and would probably die over the weekend. BUT, if we would PROMISE to bring him in on Monday, she’d release us. They ran a BP on all four extremities, which were perfect, and we finally went home.

    Comment posted June 7th, 2007 at 5:03 pm
  2. John Jansen says:

    Heh!

    I apologize in advance for being a pedant, but I can’t help but point out the irony here:

    Now, first of all, astute grammarians will immediately recognize the need for an apostrophe in the word “parents.” I duly added it (after the S, of course). That’s not vandalism, it’s editing.

    Astute grammarians will likewise recognize that the third sentence above is a run-on. (A semi-colon, not a comma, is called for.)

    Comment posted June 7th, 2007 at 6:10 pm
  3. Eric says:

    John writes: “Astute grammarians will likewise recognize that the third sentence above is a run-on. (A semi-colon, not a comma, is called for.)”

    By no means, sir! Provided the clauses are short enough and the meaning entirely clear, there is nothing wrong with the construction, examples of which abound in literature (Austen, Dickens, etc.). Moreover, the technical term for the error you’re thinking of (but wrongly finding here) is “comma splice.”

    Comment posted June 7th, 2007 at 7:06 pm
  4. John Jansen says:

    Provided the clauses are short enough and the meaning entirely clear, there is nothing wrong with the construction…

    In that case, I stand corrected.

    Comment posted June 9th, 2007 at 6:03 pm
  5. Quinn says:

    No, instead of periods a dash like this – needed to be used – you know, like Nat Hentoff does in his articles 🙂

    Comment posted July 16th, 2007 at 1:47 am
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