For most of your natural life as a man (pre op of course), the hospital has always been about broken legs, flesh wounds, and amusing x-rays of strange objects in strange places, which circulate among the newsfeeds and blogs of the internet’s more open minded humorists.
So what happens when you start going to Triage? Suddenly things begin to matter more.
This department is a secret Department. It involves locked doors which require pushbutton entry and it gives you feeling of being some kind of elite baby maker as you enter. No-one enters without being reviewed by a mysterious invisible security guard who chooses not only how long to take to decide your fate (sometimes up to 10 minutes), but also whether they will speak with you on this occasion, or buzz you through in silence.
A special challenge awaits the intrepid traveller who pushes the call button while someone is trying to leave the post-natal ward as well; presumably on the same system, a push from the post natal department will disable the call button to get into antenatal, until the post-natal inmates have been released. The best way to handle this is with comedy.
Once inside, you follow the blue floored hallway down past the cleaners, and the admin office until you reach the midwife office, with the TV room.
As you walk down the corridor, you catch glimpses of various different stages of pregnancy. You see people in pain, you see people who are concerned, and you see people who are not concerned at all and this causes an awful lot of confusion.
For the first few months, you won’t get past this milestone, as the vast majority of our visits were simply to be strapped onto the CTG to monitor the babies heartbeats for a solid 20 minutes or so, along with Bloods and other such testing.
The mans role here is to fetch water, chat with his wife, and peruse the trashy gossip magazines to find out why everyone thinks Justin Bieber is going to have a child-star meltdown.
He will feel useless, and mostly unnecessary except when he gets to maintain the CTG machine when it chews up the printer paper. This can simply involve calling the midwife to fix it.
You will chat with people in the TV room, as you wait…….sometimes for hours……you will learn things about people that sometimes concerns you. One young mum kept going out for cigarettes. That even made me look twice and I like to think myself fairly liberal when it comes to the vices.
Some of the people that you come across have been there for days, some of the people that you come across will be in there for no more than an hour, and some of the people you meet have no idea how long they are going to be staying there. Including you.
But most visits, you will get your tests done, wait for the doctor to rubber stamp your wife’s return to home, then plod your way home.
After waiting for them to let you leave through The Gates.
Then there are the times when she is kept in. I’ll tell you about that in part 2.