Push the Button
Minutes earlier, my newborn daughter had been wheeled from the nursery into our hospital room.
“Nurse, where did you go? Where’s the instruction manual?” But the nurse was gone.
“Uh, Mattie, I know you just had a C-section, but I need your help here.” These were my thoughts when faced with my first dad challenge — changing Jessie’s diaper. The details are still as vivid as the day it happened.
I carefully peeled away the tape on each side of Jessie’s diaper. I pulled the diaper away from her belly like a bomb specialist deactivating a live bomb. I must not have been careful enough though, as the “bomb” had exploded. In my 44 years of life, I had never seen anything like it. It turns out that babies’ first poops are meconium, a mixture of bile, mucus and amniotic fluid. I should have paid closer attention in health class. Let’s just say it’s not pretty. With Mattie immobilized by the epidural still in her back, solving this problem was all up to me.
I went through a mental checklist of my three careers to draw on my relevant expertise. Twelve years in banking? No, making a loan wouldn’t help here. I did have experience in collections. No, not quite the same kind of collections. Four years in public accounting? Debits equal credits. No good. Assets = Liabilities + Owner’s Equity. No help. Cash inflow versus outflow. There was outflow alright, but not cash outflow (although that happened when we got the hospital bills). How about my five years as an internal auditor and investigator? I didn’t need to do much investigating to find the guilty party. Based on what I was looking at, Jessie didn’t have a good grasp of internal controls.
Luckily, I remembered my associate degree in management. This situation needed to be managed by a strong leader. I needed a plan.
Plan A: I could do the 25-yard dash down to the nurse’s station and announce “Emergency, Emergency!” No, I have my pride.
Plan B: I could calmly strut down the hall to the nurse’s station and request a little assistance. No, I was way past the “calmly strutting” stage.
Plan C: I could push the button on the remote on Mattie’s bed to signal the nurse’s station.
Our first parenting disagreement ensued when I informed Mattie that we needed to call the nurse. She said “You can’t call the nurse for a dirty diaper!” Undeterred, I sprinted from Jessie’s bassinet to the remote hanging on the side of Mattie’s hospital bed. The nurse arrived within seconds. She smiled and said I wasn’t the first dad to push the button. Diaper Changing 101 followed.
There have been numerous times over the past six years as “Mr. Mom” when I wish I could have simply “pushed the button” for assistance. Something tells me I’m in for many more button-pushing situations.
Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting, and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad and writer.