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One Door Opens… And Never Closes

, , , , , | Right | November 8, 2021

My wife goes into labor a couple of days before the official due date. I call ahead to the maternity ward, and they have everything ready when we arrive a short time later. My wife and I are ushered into delivery and she is hooked up to the monitors. It’s now just a waiting game.

Not knowing how long this will take, I excuse myself to use the restroom. The rules state that in the delivery wing, restrooms are reserved for mothers-to-be, so I go across to the recovery ward.

As I go to exit the single-person bathroom, I turn the knob, the little button push-lock pops out, and… nothing. The doorknob turns freely in my hand but the locking mechanism remains stuck. I jiggle, re-lock, and unlock again, and try things over and over, but the door won’t open.

Outside, a voice asks if I need help.

Me: “Yes, please. I seem to be locked in the bathroom.

Nurse #1: “I’m a nurse. I’ll call maintenance. Who are you visiting in the recovery ward, so I can let them know?”

Me: “Actually, my wife is over in delivery, ready to give birth.”

Nurse #1: “Oh! Oh, my! You’re going to miss the birth of your child! [Nurse #2], [Nurse #3], quick! Tell maintenance it’s an emergency!”

This draws every nurse on the ward.

Nurse #2: “What should we do?”

Nurse #3: “Should we call the fire department?”

Me: “No! Please don’t do that! That would be a disturbance for everyone. I’m sure maintenance can figure it out.”

Maintenance did arrive. There was no way to disassemble the lock from the outside, the door hinges were on the inside with no way to pass me a tool, and there was no window to escape. Eventually, two maintenance workers used crowbars to pry off the doorframe and remove the door completely.

I sheepishly left the scene of destruction under the gaze of several families who had come to visit their newborns and went back in time to see my son being born.

Things went well, and of course, we were moved to recovery after his birth. For the next twenty-four hours, with each shift change of doctors and nurses, the story of why the door of the bathroom was leaning against the wall just spread. Our OB-GYN arrived the next day, fully briefed on what had happened, and constantly teased me about it. My wife found it hilarious.

The story continues. As our town was building a new hospital at the time, large maintenance work in the old hospital, such as replacing broken doors, was not a priority.

We returned several times over the next few months for wellness checks and breastfeeding advice. The door was never fixed, and everyone knew it was me. I thought I would never live it down until the new hospital was finished and the old one was torn down almost a year later.

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