Here I sit in my hospital bed, finally feeling good for the first time in a few weeks because of a drug called dilaudid. Dilaudid, for those of you who don’t know, is a strong narcotic painkiller, stronger than morphine. I’m getting it because my stupid fucking gallbladder won’t stop nagging me about the fact that it doesn’t function properly, so they’re going to yank it tomorrow. Until then, dilaudid.
I’m not used to being the patient. I’m an ICU/ER nurse, and sitting here in a hospital gown with an IV, fluids, drugs, and vulnerability in not my typical perspective. It makes me appreciate a lot. I have a ton of friends and support, and I can’t thank you enough for that. I am particularly reminded of this because I’m getting my gallbladder yanked in the hospital where I’ve worked for the past seven years. Naturally, as I’m being admitted, I’m going to run into a few people I know.
One of these people is a good friend of mine named Nick. Nick and I met under the weirdest circumstances, and I’m just in the perfect narcotic-laced mood to divulge the details, perhaps at Nick’s embarrassment. Ah well, it’s a good story, so…sorry, Nick.
It all started out about four years ago. My wife was severely pregnant with our first child, and part of the first pregnancy is sorting through all of the different classes the obstetrician wants the parents-to-be to attend. One of these was breastfeeding class.
Breastfeeding class, for those of you who have never attended one, is about as awkward as it sounds. Not for immature reasons having to do with talking about boobies, but because you’re in a room full of couples all handling fake plastic babies and pretending to feed these babies through clothing. It’s all incredibly thorough, and every couple is just trying to pretend that the other couples aren’t there, and that they’re having a great time.
Especially my wife and I. We love making each other laugh, and we tried our best to wear our “this is serious” hats throughout the two-hour class, but we ended up making each other giggle over and over. It didn’t help that every other couple seemed to be trying their best to listen. How could we pay attention at all when we’re learning such valuable things as “you shouldn’t use crack cocaine if you’re breastfeeding”? I had no idea that crack was fine otherwise, but you just shouldn’t if you’re giving a newborn essential nutrition.
My wife and I didn’t make any friends during the class, as no one spoke to each other. I probably wouldn’t have recognized a single person in the class ever again, except there was this one dude there with his wife, and I admired his mustache.
He had a nice, full, proud, handlebar mustache. The thing was no shit, and I envied it. I mean, I can grow a full beard, but I have almost no chin, so I can’t pull off that kind of mustache. I know, because any time I decide to shave my beard, I do it in stages, trying out everything from mutton chops through the final Hitler mustache for about a minute a piece before I’m finished. I simply have not enough chin for a handlebar; it makes me look like I should be introducing myself door-to-door to everyone in my neighborhood because it’s a requirement of my parole.
So, in case I haven’t stated myself clearly, which you can blame dilaudid for if I haven’t, this guy’s mustache was awesome, and it was unforgettable. Alas, breastfeeding class came to a close, and all of us couples had to retreat to our homes. And I had to go get some crack, since I wasn’t breastfeeding.
A few weeks later, our beautiful baby girl was born. She was a c-section, so my wife was pretty damned sore. In order to give my wife some peace to rest, and just because it was fun to do, I would put my newborn daughter into a wheeled bassinet of sorts and walk her around the hallways. It was sweet. She’d just be lying there, arms up by her ears, looking all around with her tiny hat on her head. On one of these nights while I bonded with my child on a walk, I turned a corner and passed another dad out for a walk with his daughter.
It was the mustache guy! I got a little excited, to be honest. But both of our babies were sleeping, and he looked tired, and seeing as how I didn’t have any real distinguishing features like he did, I just smiled and nodded to myself, perhaps whispering “congrats, mustache dude!” Not within his earshot, of course. I was excited enough to tell my wife about how he was here and his baby was born, too. Considering how sore and sleep-deprived she was, I wouldn’t say she matched my excitement.
A couple of months pass, and I decide to change departments at my hospital. I was working day shift (7am-7pm) in the ICU, and the ER had an evening shift (noon-midnight) that was better for spending more time with my daughter, seeing as how 7am-7pm was the only time she was awake for. I got started in the ER, spent more time with my daughter, life was good, and then…it got a little better.
Mustache dude worked in the ER! He was a pharmacist tech, so he was in and out and running around like the rest of us, but our paths only really crossed when we were in the medication room at the same time. I wanted to introduce myself right away, and it seemed only appropriate, seeing as how we were coworkers, so we went through the normal shaking of hands and exchanging of names, but he obviously did not remember me. Perhaps he would have if I started giggling while talking about crack cocaine and breastfeeding.
The difficulty in meeting anyone new is striking up conversation. Naturally, all of us clamber for something in common. I wondered what I could have come up with that I had in common with mustache dude, but there was literally only one, inescapable event we shared. I decided just to go for it.
And why not? This might have been a once-in-anyone’s-lifetime event. I mean, when have two grown men had the opportunity to either ask or be asked:
“This is going to sound really weird, but don’t I know you from breastfeeding class?”
Seeing the array of facial expressions Nick went through after I asked was worth it alone. Especially with that awesome damned mustache. Of course, it all ended in laughter and discussions of fatherhood and how our wives and babies were doing. We’ve been friends ever since.
But! The strangeness of the story does not end there, ladies and gentlemen! After this initial meeting, our families ended up getting together a few times and the details of each of our child’s birth was discussed. And if sharing the same breastfeeding class wasn’t enough, here are the other crazy stats:
-We both had daughters
-Our daughters were born on the same day
-Our daughters were born in the same hospital
-Our daughters were both c-sections
-Our daughters were the exact same birthweight
-Our daughters were delivered by the same physician, with his wife’s c-section being the one just before ours
And now, here I am, drugged up before surgery, and Nick walks in to get my medication history.
It seems that the universe wants Nick and I to do either something spectacularly great or tremendously evil, as it keeps putting us together in random, inescapable ways.
Either way, I love this story. You might have great friends as I do. And I love all of my friends.
But I will only have one breastfeeding class friend.
You can be jealous.