The forward nature of maternity ward nurses was a shock to me, and the ease with which my partner accepted it even moreso.
I wondered whether she was truly nervous and just not showing it: Had she mentally prepared herself for this during the pregnancy? Or is there a hormone released in new mothers that makes casual nudity with strangers no big deal?
She acted as if it was the most natural thing in the world that every few hours someone we barely knew would walk into our room, ask her to reveal her breasts and then woman-handle them until they were satisfied.
My disbelief soon became sordid amusement as I began to see the benefit of everyone in the room acting like two women caressing my partners’ breasts at once was perfectly normal. After all – the depraved part of my brain reasoned – isn’t women attending to my newborn’s only food supply just one step shy of a threesome?
A sinful grin crept upon my face the first few times this obviously erotic ritual transpired; the action played out before me in slow motion, the midwife locked eyes with my fiancé, Marvin Gaye crooned softly, and the lights dimmed low.
Nevermind the mechanical way these nurses were squeezing as if milking a cow; Nevermind the wince my partner made each time; Nevermind the wailing baby in my arms crying because she somehow knew her supper was being prepared nearby – this was sexy!
The fantasy was short-lived
The novelty wore off quickly when I witnessed a tired, middle aged midwife swatting my partner’s hands away, forcibly grabbing her breasts, rearranging them into a shape they had never been before and squeezing them harshly until a strange yellow liquid seeped from them.
The fact the midwife cheered as if she had won a hand at poker didn’t help. She triumphantly held up the liquid she had sucked into a syringe as if it was the heart of a dragon she had just vanquished.
Also not helping: the way she cut off every damn question my partner had about breastfeeding with a rather patronizing demand for her to do something she had never done before in her life:
“No no, make the nipple pointy whilst moving your babies’ head so the nostril is touching the top of the nipple.” … “No you also need to push your breast from behind.”
That last part puzzled me. How can she push from behind her breast?
The midwife seemed unaware that, while her entire working life involved manipulating these top fillers into cow udders, to the women she was supposed to be helping this entire process was confusing, painful and depressing.
If this is what a threesome looked like I decided monogamy was for me.
The first few days in the hospital will contain experiences that are nothing short of bizarre. Depending on your personality, your religion, your upbringing, or any phobias you possess they may be extremely confronting or shocking.
But in the end you really just need to roll with the punches. Communicate with your partner, help when are where you can, and trust that the hospital staff know what hell they are doing. Because if you’re anything like me, you sure don’t.