My daughter Cassidy and I were hefting an old desk into the back of John’s car so that I could deliver it to her house. As we removed the drawers, under the very bottom drawer we found a piece of paper on which were rules, headlined “For Fathers Wishing To Participate In The Feeding Of Their Baby.”
There was no date on the sheet, but it had to be from the 1970s, either Cassidy’s or Morgan’s birth. By the time Jake was born, fathers feeding babies was old hat. Besides, you didn’t get to stay in the hospital long enough to follow all the directions on the sheet of paper!
I can’t figure out if the rules assume that parents will be bottle feeding or the mother will be breast feeding, but at the time, babies were kept in a nursery and only brought out at feeding times. Here they are:
•Please Be Prompt - you should be washed, gowned and in Mom’s room before feeding time starts. Usual feedings are scheduled at 9 a.m.; 1 p.m., 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Gowns are located in the family room.
The following procedure should be very CAREFULLY carried out to prevent infection in your baby as well as the other babies in the nursery.
1. Remove your jacket or coat and roll up long sleeves if possible. Remove rings and watches.
2. Wash hands thoroughly.
3. Put on long sleeved gown so that it ties in back.
4. Use septisol foam (size of a golf ball) and rub into hands. This should be done just prior to holding your baby so that hands are germ free.
5. Handle only your own baby. Enjoy your visit together. Babies love to be talked to and held.
6. Remove your gown after baby leaves. Linen hampers are located in family room or utility room opposite nursery door.
PLEASE REMAIN IN MOM’S ROOM UNTIL ALL BABIES ARE RETURNED TO NURSERY
Fathers participating in the 9 p.m. feedings are requested to leave by 10:00 p.m.•
I do remember that naturally, John was late once, and a nurse chased him down the hall calling, “The babies are out, the babies are out.” He was scared to death.
Then a week after you get home, you are dragging yourself out of bed in the middle of the night, fumbling in the crib for the screaming baby, sitting down on the chair you bought at a garage sale, and probably are dressed in a milk-stained nightgown. Or maybe I shouldn’t say “you,” because there were always a few parents who were so together that they bought their own septisol and a week’s supply of hospital gowns. That just wasn’t us.
Now I apologize for laughing at the pamphlet that Morgan’s mother-in-law brought to a baby shower. It warned expectant mothers to limit their alcoholic drinks to two a day, and their cigarette smoking to 10 a day. I had totally forgotten these rules for fathers. I didn’t forget the fight we had to get the hospital to let John in the delivery room, though. Finally Dr. John Tweedy said John could come in for the delivery if he promised not to faint and hit his head on the radiator.
Times have changed, huh? But babies haven’t.