In honor of my friend Tearza, who will soon deliver sweet baby Emery, I want to share a few lessons I learned from my limited experience in baby-delivery and the aftermath.
First a few warnings/disclaimers:
1. If you are a man, or are at all squeamish about body stuff, stop reading now. Unless you are about to give birth, in which case, you better get over it.
2. I hate it when people universalize their experiences, so I am not implying these things will definitely happen to you, and even if I seem to be, it’s just for rhetorical effect. But if they do happen, it’s nice to know you’re not the first person they’ve ever happened to.
3. These are roughly in the order in which you might need the info. You know, in case you want to check my blog again and again throughout your labor and recovery. Just kidding :0)
Here we go:
- Pack smart for the hospital—comfy button-up jammies, something to pass the time, toiletries, and snacks (that’s the one thing I forgot, and the hospital food was gross—and I’ll eat just about anything!)
- They are not afraid to send you home if you go to the hospital too early. Better safe than sorry, of course, but it seems like they’re pretty hard core about this. My contractions were less than a minute apart and painful, and they were still about to send me home because I wasn’t dilating fast enough. (Refusing to leave and asking to speak to supervisors does help in a situation like that, though!)
- Epidurals are awesome. If you feel personal pride in enduring massive amounts of pain, by all means, go for it. I’m surprised I wasn’t one of those people, because I really do think that’s cool and “no pain, no gain” sounds like something I would say. But when it came to labor and delivery, I figured “no pain, no pain.” From the moment I got my epidural, I drifted peacefully in a super-relaxed sleep, and even dozed off between pushes. It was great.
- Interventions aren’t ideal, but they’re not the end of the world. I—like most people—said “no vacuum, no forceps, no episiotomy, unless absolutely necessary.” Well, I ended up having all three, and while the vacuum made a scary noise when it kept popping off Kate’s head (too much hair to get a good hold), and the forceps left a mark on her cheek for her first 12 hours or so, and the episiotomy recovery was no fun at all, it’s really all fine and none of it marred our “birthing experience” in the least.
- If you feel something weird down below, don’t panic and assume they sewed up your episiotomy wrong. It’s probably just a hemorrhoid. (Not that I made that assumption or anything.)
- Don’t be in a hurry to leave the hospital. In those early days at home with Kate, when she was crying a lot, wouldn’t eat, and I was still physically recovering, I never longed for the days before baby, but I definitely longed for the days in the hospital, where professionals could help me out, were easily accessible for questions, and everything just seemed simpler. I seriously get all nostalgic every time I drive by the hospital. It was a special time (minus the bad food). Next time, I won’t be so eager to go home (except for the fact that the next time, I’ll have another child waiting at home, who I’m sure I’ll miss desperately!)
- Don’t look “down there” for at least two weeks. Just don’t do it.
- Your bathroom habits will be screwy for a little while. Things will come out when you don’t want them to and won’t come out when you do want them to. That’s as graphic as I’m going to get about that. (Unless you ask me in person, in which case I’ll tell all, because I have no TMI-sensor.)
- It’s alright to cry. It’s pretty much inevitable. Most of my early tears stemmed from our nursing difficulties—frustration, sadness, fear for her health, and fear that she would associate me with those negative interactions. But whatever your reasons (or lack thereof) it’s okay.
- Enjoy it. Take pictures of little things like the clock and the contraction monitor. Take note of what’s on TV and in the news the day your baby was born. Be sappy about it. It is the beginning of a completely new life—not just for your baby, but for you too.