Humor helps in tough times

By Anita Doberman: CNJ Columnist

There is nothing like a good sense of humor to carry you through the experience of birth. This week, humor and irony, helped to make it through a c-section, some health issues and welcoming our sixth child, a little baby girl.

This was my fifth c-section and even though I have been through the drill many times, I was terrified. Some of my fears were rational, some fairly irrational — I was scared of dying during the surgery, being paralyzed, losing a limb, all sorts of dark scenarios. At any rate, being silly and joking about worst cases went a long way toward helping me face my hospital stay.

We also dealt with some very rational fears related to our baby, who was diagnosed with a heart defect before birth. We didn’t joke about that, but silly jokes with my husband still kept my mood up, and few things were off limits, for example, the fact that our baby has a big nose made us smile. Even during my surgery, humor helped. My obstetrician kept the jokes coming — telling the anesthesiologist, after she had put the epidural needle in my back, that she did a good job for her first time.

Humor helped us again after the baby was born and a cardiologist and team of doctors and nurses took her away for tests. There is nothing more nervewrecking than waiting around for health news while still completely immobile in the recovery room, begging a nurse for some ice chips.

Fortunately our daughter’s heart defect was not as serious as we feared, and we were very relived by the news. But I could still see beyond my motherly eyes, misty and further opaqued with some powerful morphine, and she did look an awful lot like a little old man, with lots of dark hair (thanks to some Italian genes).

My hospital stay was interesting and not all that bad after all. There were some great nurses, some not so great, and plenty of situations to find humor. For example, one of my nurses insisted it was critically important that she witness me properly using a suppository, because you never know what I could do with it. Wow. This was the same nurse who didn’t seem to find it all that important that I get my pain medication.

And of course, the talk about passing gas (you know how important this is if you have had abdominal surgery) was so serious you would have thought we were talking about gasoline.

Last but not least I couldn’t help but laugh at my difficulty with breastfeeding, which seems to accompany every baby I have. This time I was sure it would be a breeze, but I had to work hard at it with the lactation consultants, who are wonderful, but not always the most humorous folks (let’s just say the word “boob” doesn’t go over well with them).

And finally we brought our daughter home. There was nothing more precious than welcoming her to our family and looking forward to years of new things to laugh at.

Anita Doberman is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida. Contact her at: