Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Single Guy and the Newborn

While the Single Guy was on vacation, he got a chance to meet the Caldwells' newborn daughter. In all honesty, he was nervous about this meeting.

The Single Guy wasn't too worried about making a good first impression on the kid. After all, at this point, she was only eight days old. He was pretty sure the baby wouldn't even remember this encounter.

His anxiety came from the fact that the kid was being watched and cared for in the NICU at Roanoke Memorial. For the Single Guy, anything with the letters ICU spell "Restricted Zone." But both of the parents were there and invited him to go back to the unit with them while they spent time holding and feeding their new baby.

The invitation didn't really alleviate his anxiety. The fact that he wouldn't be allowed to hold the baby did help though. Upon entering the quiet and dimly lit nursery, the Single Guy was told he needed to wash his hands up to his elbows for two minutes straight at the sink just inside the door. Afterward he would need to don a hospital gown to cover his street clothes.

The hand washing commenced. While the parents made their way to another sink, the Single Guy pressed the pedals under his sink to start the water flowing. He applied the soap to his hands and arms (up to his elbows) and began scrubbing. The only problem was, he forgot to check the clock to time his two minutes. So he just kept washing. After a few minutes of washing, Mr. Caldwell returned from around the corner and said, "Dude, I think you're good."

"Has it been two minutes?" the Single Guy asked.

"Yeah... It's been five!" He laughed at the Single Guy and tossed him a gown.

"I think I can safely say that my hands have never been this clean before," he said as they made their way over to the baby's crib/incubator where the Single Guy would get his first look at Baby Caldwell. And she had her back to them. The Single Guy wasn't worried about his first impression on the baby girl and, apparently, neither was she.

Mrs. Caldwell opened up the crib/incubator to get the baby turned so we could see her, but the baby didn't seem to like this idea very much. A quiet cry escaped her tiny mouth in protest, but soon her complaint was forgotten and she was once again snoozing.

For a few minutes, the three of us sat around the crib/incubator talking quietly, trying to catch up on each others lives a little. Then it was feeding time. Mr. Caldwell settled in while a nurse got everything ready for them. It was his turn to offer a bottle and the baby responded well. It took a while, but eventually, she drank it all down.

During the feeding, the nurse needed to change some of the IV fluids. For this procedure, we all needed to wear masks. We weren't allowed to breathe while she made these changes. So, rather than all of us holding our collective breath, she gave us the masks instead. The Single Guy decided to keep his as a souvenir of his visit. He also thought it would be fun to wear it around and make people think he had some kind of strange communicable disease.

At the end of the evening, after much laughter and several "awww" moments, the baby was returned to her bed and the grown-ups left her in the care of the capable nurses of the NICU. Before they left, however, Mrs. Caldwell asked the Single Guy if he wanted to give the baby a kiss on the head.

"Am I allowed to?" he asked. Immediately he knew it was a stupid question. The mother of the child wouldn't have offered if it wasn't allowed. So the Single Guy gently kissed the baby on top of her head and said a silent prayer for the little one.

The Single Guy isn't one to get emotional and he isn't one to think of things as cute or sweet or whatever. But when the proud parents asked what he thought of her, his honest answer was, "I think she's about the most adorable thing I've ever seen." After saying that, he felt the need to explain that he wasn't being sarcastic. The Single Guy's heart may have grown a little bit that night.