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Maternity Ward Power Trips: The Nurse Called Security On Me

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The part that pisses me off most about this whole Beyonce birth story isn’t so much that Bey and Jay-Z rented out an entire wing of the hospital for an alleged $1.3 million. Or that little Blue Ivy is being treated like the Second Coming. Or even that “regular” women give birth every single day in way more trying circumstances with zero fanfare. No, what’s annoying me the most are the private security guards on duty at New York’s now famed Lenox Hill Hospital. That’s because, if the reports are true, they treated the maternity ward like an “exclusive nightclub,” as one angry dad puts it. He and another man have come forward to the media with claims that they were denied access to their own newborns in NICU thanks to Beyonce and Jay-Z’s private security team.

This all brings me back to the day my niece was born – the first grandchild to enter my side of the family. It was a magical day – until the head nurse in the maternity unit called security on me. Like the headset-clad men on duty during Bey’s labor and delivery, this woman – we’ll call her Jane – was on a total power trip. And I was the unfortunate (and unlikely) recipient.

It all started when I got the call. “It’s a girl! You’re an aunt!” my brother told me over the phone. I hopped on the subway and arrived at the hospital 12 minutes later. This was in November 2003, at the height of SARS, and so people were on high alert. (Remember how hordes of frantic citizens walked the streets with surgical masks over their mouths?) Because of the whole SARS hysteria, I was told that only one visitor was allowed in at a time to see the baby.

I signed in, figuring I had a good 30 minutes or so before my parents – and the in-laws – arrived to meet their new granddaughter. Clearly they are as “A-list” as they come in the family hierarchy, and so I was happy to pop in for a quick hello before the grandparents showed up. In I went, bearing flowers and biscotti, and I got to hold my little niece for the first time. It was a moment.

Then it was time to leave my brother and sister-in-law and their gorgeous new baby. I said my goodbyes, walked towards the maternity-ward entrance, signed out and stumbled upon my parents – first-time grandparents. My mother signed in – she couldn’t control her excitement – only to be told by “Jane,” the head maternity nurse, that she’s out of luck: there’s only one visitor allowed per day.

“You mentioned earlier it was one visitor at a time, not per day,” I said in my kindest, sweetest voice.

“No, I didn’t. You’re it for the day. You can all feel free to leave the premises,” she shot back at me.

My mother and I are barely the type to keep quiet when spoken to so rudely, but we knew better than to upset the head nurse in the maternity ward, where my brother and his wife would be spending the next three days. So, in a very calm and non-confrontational way, we explained our situation and the misunderstanding.

I apologized for the miscommunication and explained that I never would have visited had I known that there was only one visitor per day, and could she please just make an exception for us? I was very aware of my tone and made sure to convey my appreciation without sounding entitled. She was having none of it.

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