As I walked back, I saw the placenta, sitting out in the open on a steel wheeled table. It was this blob of slimy, bloody, disgustingness. It was in my way, between me and my path back.
I froze. And I looked up at the ceiling. I didn’t know what to do. I was trapped in the middle of the worst place in the room for guys who can’t handle that kind of thing.
My stomach began to sicken. My eyes clenched. I tried to remember the miracle that was so recently attached to it all, but it wasn’t working.
Then, seeing the swaying, grossed out giant white man in the middle of the room, a kind nurse asked me to step aside and she moved the tray with the placenta out of the way.
Determined not to let any of my current mentality show through to my sister who had just been through one of the hardest things ever and was now enjoying what was probably her life’s best moment ever, I sucked it up and went and stood by her head, and congratulated her as another nurse handed her a now clean and fuzzy and purple baby.
After snapping lots of new mommy moments, I went and plopped myself onto the little sofa and averted my eyes from just about everything and everyone in the room, fighting the sickness I was feeling. I fiddled on my phone. I watched out the window. I looked up and smiled at my sister from time to time. But I was getting sick.
And then the real last straw.
I happened to glance over (this was 30-60 minutes after the baby was born, mind you) at just the wrong time and saw the nurse throw a dry towel onto a puddle of blood and grossness that was still puddled up on the floor beneath the foot of my sister’s bed. She hummed a pleasant tune while she pushed at it and swished it with one of her feet. The blood smeared in circles as she cleaned it. Clumps of God knows what began forming where the towel had missed.
And, I officially lost it. I had hit my limit. I could take no more.
“Sis, I am so happy. I love you so much. I really have to get going.” I told her.
She looked at me like I was a soulless schmuck for having other plans while she was having this life changing miracle of a moment.
“Oh, okay,” she said. “I’m glad you could come.”
I gave her a tender hug and told her I was so proud of her. I never told her while I was there that I was fighting an incredible urge to puke.
“Wait, don’t you want to hold him before you go?” she suddenly asked.
With everything in me, I pushed down the nausea one final time, I sanitized my hands and arms, and I took my new swaddled nephew in my arms.
He was perfect. A little squashed maybe, but beautiful. He had a black mop of hair on top of his head, a tiny satisfied smirk spread across his face, and for that brief moment that I held him, I completely forgot about how sick I was feeling.
As soon as I handed him back, it all came back though, so I made a hasty exit.
That night, after my stomach had calmed, I called my sister and confessed it all. I confessed to the hesitation, my fear of bodily fluids, and how sick I had gotten. I wanted her to know that I left because of that and not because something or someone else was more important than she was on that incredible day.
She just laughed and laughed and from my side of the phone I heard her tell the rest of my family who was still there the reason I had left so early. And they laughed and laughed. And now we all will laugh about it together around the dinner table for years to come.
It’s not for men. At least not men weak-sauce sissy boy men like me.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. I kid you not. Just writing this blog post has brought back the physical illness all over again. I could never work in healthcare. Ever.
PPS. Much thanks to Amy who can laugh about it all and be okay with me laughing about it with all of you.
I would love your comments on child birth, and bodily fluid yuck, and anything else. Can’t promise I’ll read all of it. Depends on how my stomach is doing when this gets published.