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Local Hospital Is Father UN-Friendly

Mike Kuster

June 10, 2002

As regular readers know, my wife Emily and I recently doubled our family with the birth of our twins. There is no greater experience than watching your children being born. There is no greater feeling than becoming a parent.

Our children were born at Frederick Memorial Hospital. The doctors, nurses, and support staff were wonderful. They made a very stressful few weeks much easier. They were very supportive and explained everything to a tee.

The only problems I had with Frederick Memorial Hospital were institutional. Yes, everyone can complain about the parking situation, distance to the front doors, confusing paths to the ER, and the pitiful excuse of a shuttle to and from the parking lot.

New fathers and expecting fathers, however, have a lot about which to complain. So, let this be your warning fathers-to-be. Hopefully, you won't be in the hospital as long as we were, but I'm sure you will find FMH's policies disturbing.

FMH is the most un-father-friendly hospital imaginable. The funny part is that FMH calls their maternity ward a "Family Center." This is very misleading. There is nothing for the paternal part of the family. It should be renamed the mother and child center.

The first surprising event occurred while my wife was in labor. At 9:30 P. M., my brother-in-law and I decided to get some dinner after the doctor told us it wouldn't be until morning. So, we made our way to the cafeteria. The staff watched us gather food and drinks. When we went to the register, I was told I could not buy the food in my hands. I did not have a Visitor Pass. Apparently, a father-to-be is a visitor. Emily and I had been in the hospital since noon. I had not left her room since then. Luckily, my brother-in-law got a pass and paid for my dinner.

The second problem occurred after my children were born. My wife had complications after delivery and could not have the babies in her room that evening. In order to see my children, I had to go to the nursery. Surprise! Fathers cannot go to the nursery. I could not even touch my children. I had to look at them through a window.

The only person who can go to the nursery is the mother! She wears a bracelet matching her to her children. The daddy gets nothing! The nurses cannot just hand the babies to anyone. Without a bracelet, Daddy is nobody!

Paternal Rights Out The Window at FMH!

Once Emily and I moved from Labor and Delivery to the "Family Center," I immediately noticed the next problem. There is no place for Daddy! There is no place to sleep. In the delivery room, there was a comfortable recliner. In the "Family Center", there was a hard plastic chair that was barely wide enough for sitting let alone sleeping.

The final and most bizarre FMH policy against fathers involves the paper work required for the children. Each child gets a folder of papers requiring signatures for everything from screenings to immunizations. Each form asks for the signature of the parent or guardian. I signed all of the forms while my wife was recovering and on medication that made her incapable of making rational decisions.

Shortly after turning in our paperwork, the nurse returned and informed my wife that she had to sign all of the paperwork. We were told that the father cannot sign for the babies. Only the mother can approve immunizations, screenings, etc.

Paternal Rights Denied, Again!

Not only did I father these children, I paid all of the bills! As the father and the check writer, I would expect to be the one deciding what will happen to my children. As the only parent able to legally sign papers at the time, I would expect to be the one FMH would want signing papers.

WRONG!

FMH considers the father an inconsequential element of bringing children into the world and raising them. My rights as a father were ignored and denied by our local hospital!

If you want to be an integral part of the birth of your children, steer clear of FMH. The staff is wonderful, but the rules are outrageous!


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