When I was expecting our second child (who turned out to be our Daughter Divine) and my due date was drawing near, Mama was with me when I was buying some new nightgowns for my hospital stay. As we were browsing in that department, several times I saw cute ones I thought I might buy. But Mama kept pointing out the practicality of the rack of warm and functional flannel gowns. And she finally convinced me. I thought, “What the heck. It’s for the hospital, which might be a little cold, and besides who cares what you look like in the maternity ward where everyone has just had a baby!” She also talked me out of buying a new robe and slippers when I had perfectly good ones already. “This is no fashion show.” she said, referring to the maternity ward. She was right, of course, but I did end up wishing, just this once, that Mama hadn’t been there with her practical advice, and that I had been a little less practical.
So, the big day came, and I had our beautiful baby girl, and a little while later she was taken to the nursery (before mothers and babies shared rooms) and I was taken to a room — and met my new roommate who supposedly had just had her baby less than a day earlier. Wow! She was an absolutely beautiful blond who was very well endowed and, as I soon found out, had brought a whole wardrobe of beautiful, somewhat revealing nightgowns and robes for her hospital stay (which I’m guessing her mother had not helped her pick out!). Obviously a woman who wasn’t going to let little post-partem inconveniences like pain, stitches, lactation and gas keep her from looking her best!
That was the beginning of a very interesting three days as “Blondie’s” roommate.
It just so happened that some remodeling was being done on the hospital at the time, with scaffolding right outside our windows. Which meant we could see workmen coming and going outside our window most of the day, unless of course, the curtains were closed because we needed privacy. But, the curtains were open most of the time. So, it didn’t take long for the workmen to discover Blondie. As I remember it, one of them almost fell off the scaffolding while “glancing” in the window when he should have been watching his step instead. Blondie just smiled at all the attention. It was clear that she was used to attracting it.
Blondie was really a very nice roommate — considerate and friendly, but she, obviously, wasn’t the ideal roommate when it came to my somewhat fragile just-had-a-baby self-esteem.
She would go into our shared bathroom in the morning and come out in a beautiful nightgown and matching robe, showing her voluptuous figure to best advantage, perfectly made up, and with her long blonde hair done up in gorgeous curls on top of her head. She completed the look with high heeled slippers, for heaven sake! (Did they accidently put her on the wrong floor? Could this woman have possibly just given birth? Maybe the baby they sometimes brought her was rented!) If you are old enough to remember what Bridget Bardot looked like in her heyday, you can picture how Blondie looked after her morning “assembly.”
I, on the other hand, would go into the bathroom for my morning shower and reappear shortly thereafter, face freshly scrubbed but mostly unadorned, brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, and wearing one of my practical little flannel numbers, tastefully accessorized with my comfy chenille robe and fuzzy slippers. I’m sure when Blondie and I walked down the hall together (fuzzy slippers shuffling and stiletto heels clicking; chenille drooping and satin swishing) we probably looked like the “before” and “after” pictures on one of today’s make-over TV shows.
Blondie told me that she and her husband had both been married before, and this baby girl was their first child together, and a first daughter for both of them. I could have guessed that when her husband showed up the first day with so many gifts that he had had to borrow a cart from the gift shop, because he couldn’t carry them all. He then proceeded to fill her side of the room with pink baby things from the local high-end baby store and two dozen pink roses.
I did have more visitors than Blondie, but even that wasn’t particularly an ego boost because when some of my visitors would walk into the room (and not just those of the male variety) they would be immediately dazzled — and distracted — and have trouble carrying on a conversation with me, the person they had come to see — not only because of Blondie’s gorgeous presence, but because her side of the room was a wonderland in pink, looking like a combination baby store/flower shop.
Luckily, my husband is not, and never has been, easily dazzled. So, when he came to visit me, he may not have been carrying arm-loads of presents, but he also didn’t spend his time looking at my roommate. I have never loved my not-impressed-with-razzle-dazzle man more.
But, apparently Hubby did notice the contrast between Blondie’s side of the room, i.e., the pink wonderland, and my unadorned side of the room, and felt sorry for me, because he obviously decided this required extreme measures to even the odds a bit. The second day I was there , a dozen of the most beautiful dark red roses I had ever seen were delivered by a florist — from Hubby! Now, I have made it clear in previous posts how temporary and therefore extravagant Hubby considers flowers, so this was a huge shock to me — but a wonderful, ego-boosting shock for which I will always be grateful. His so-out-of-character gesture made me feel beautiful and loved — exactly the result he was hoping for.
By the way, there was one particularly interesting tidbit I learned from Blondie: those luscious curls on top of her head? — she confided, it was a wiglet!! I had never heard of one before, but I went right home and bought one, so that I too could have beautiful curls at any time. Of course, I didn’t get quite the same result with my wiglet as Blondie did with hers, but it was pretty darn handy to be able to pull all of my hair up on top of my head and plop that little cap of curls right on top — instant hairdo! A real plus when you have a newborn baby and a two year old.
The maternity ward was an interesting place back in the 60’s when you actually stayed for a few days. And, sometimes you met verrry interesting people — like my roommate, Blondie.