Well, congratulations, young mother-to-be ~ You made it through the packing phase and you’ve arrived at the hospital. Your day is finally here, and I would love to do my best to help you through it in as peaceful and dignified a manner as possible…
I obviously have no idea what your circumstances are…your water might have just broken, you might have to be induced, you might be scheduled for a c-section, or you could just be having good ol’ normal contractions; each scenario calls for different tips, I suppose, but I will attempt to give good general advice that will help one and all of my pregnant countrywomen*. Let us begin.
The delivery phase…
*Two weeks before your due date, you are what they call “full-term,” meaning you could safely go into labor any minute, or the next day or the next day or the next day or the next day or the next day or the next day or the next day or the next day or the next day or the next day or the next day or the next day or the next day OR on your due date…or any day after that for the next two weeks. After that I suppose they have mercy on you and induce your labor. Now listen closely: IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that you shower and shave every day once you reach “full-term”. It is also very important that you put on make-up every morning and that your hair is presentable; these are the most imperative steps to fashionably surviving at the hospital. If your hair is oily when you go to the hospital, it will be at least 12 hours oilier before you get to wash it. If your legs are prickly, you will poke a lot of innocent people before you get to shave. If your make-up is nonexistent, you will look like the worst version of yourself when you hold your baby for this first time…this is unacceptable.
*I’m just going to blurt this out quickly, in license plate fashion: do ur best 2 have a BM b4 u go 2 the hospital. You know what I’m sayin’?
*In the car on the way to the hospital, freshen up your make-up a bit. It is always my goal to still have on eye-shadow by the time I have finished labor. So far, I’m three for three.
*When you get out of the car, take a deep breath, put your shoulders back, hold your head high and smile. This is it, little Mama. You are about to walk into a very new situation that brings out the ugly and whiny and unfashionable side of many a woman. But not you…you’re going to make friends with your nurses and doctors, you’re going to be brave and strong and kind and you’re going to show the grace of God to everyone you meet. And you’re going to make your husband and your Mama so proud. There’s only room for one baby in this situation, and that’s the one in your stomach.
*Don’t waddle into the hospital. Be a woman! Walk like a woman, one who is completely unaffected by the giant blob that is her belly. Don’t let the baby rule you. You rule the baby. You rule!
*Regardless of what lies ahead for you (inducement, c-section, spontaneous labor), you’re about to have to rid yourself of your clothes. It is the next step after checking in and signing a few papers. You’ll be taken to a room and you’ll be handed a hospital gown. Now…I’ve had three babies so far and a seeming gazillion doctor’s appointments in the process and I still have to ask which way the blasted thing goes on. Since it is fresh on my mind, I’ll tell you – the ties go in the back. The only thing you’ll have on besides that lovely gown should be a ponytail holder on your wrist for when your prettily-groomed locks start to drive you insane. And the nurses should offer you a bag for your clothes – if they don’t, ask for one. Then your husband won’t drop your undergarments on the floor when he picks up your clothes later on.
*Just a gentle word of advice: don’t be afraid. Something crazy happens when you enter the inner recesses of a hospital; some say you lose your dignity there, but really, it all-of-a-sudden becomes no big deal for all those folks to see…you. Just keep in mind that this is what they do, all day, every day. It’s not so embarrassing, after all. Mortifying, yes. Embarrassing? Nah.
*That i.v. cartridge they just taped to your arm? It has a needle underneath it and it will be in your arm for awhile. I just thought you should know (nobody told me, okay? Not all of us are geniuses).
*You are probably also hooked up to the “contraction machine” and have a “baby’s heartbeat machine” (not all of us are wordsmiths, either) wrapped around your belly. When you have to go to the ladies room, simply unplug the cords to the contraction machine, drape them around your neck like a fancy scarf, unfasten your “blood-pressure-taker cuff” and rise from your hospital bed. You and your “i.v. tower on wheels” can go to the bathroom as many times as you need to, unless you get an epidural (in which case your business will be handled via catheter, which is frankly awesome).
*And now the fun really begins. You’ll hear lots of talk about “dilation” and “centimeters” and “efacement”…none of the above should be posted on facebook or any other social media outlet. The only updates the general public really want to hear are “”We’re about to have the baby!” or “We’re having the baby!” or “We had the baby!” Which leads me to my next tip…
*What happens at the hospital stays at the hospital (unless you have a blog?). You’re going to walk through the most vulnerable and…organic…experience of your life over the next couple of days, and will find yourself freely discussing things with your nurses and your husband and your doctor that you previously would never have talked about out loud. Thus when the first visitor comes to see your baby, you might be tempted to tell them the entire nitty-gritty of what happened last night, a play-by-play of your most exciting experience. One word: Filter.
*You are in charge of what happens at the hospital. If you are unsure about something, ask questions first. If you don’t feel right about something, discuss it with your doctor. No matter what anyone has told you, you’re not as dumb as you look.
*For some reason – most likely due to the exposure of your backside – once you don a hospital gown, the hospital doesn’t let you walk anymore. You will now be toted around in a wheelchair while your husband walks behind you like a goober carrying the mountain of stuff I told you to pack. Sit in the chair, adjust your gown and then extend your legs so the nurse can put down the foot rests. Put your feet on the rests and inconspicuously tuck your elbows in. Your nurse may be gifted at drawing blood…but she may also be a really bad driver.
*Of course your hospital may be different than mine, but you will probably be settled into a delivery room by now. Unless this is also your recovery room, hold off on bringing all your luggage in just yet. All you need here is your husband or birthing coach, your pony-tail holder and some forms of entertainment and/or comfort. Movies, books, music, cards, knitting, Play-doh…and don’t forget your camera! You wouldn’t want to miss having a picture of yourself with the swollen hands of a linebacker holding your screaming fresh out o’ the oven ooey gooey baby. Seriously.
*Don’t loudly crunch on your ice chips like a hillbilly, even if you are miserable.
*Now this is my own special trick, a happy accident, if you will. If the pain from your contractions becomes suddenly great and your epidural is not yet available, ask for a little drug called Stadol. Your nurse will inject some into your i.v. and in three seconds you will be in Neverland. It makes for some delivery room hilarity, and if you’re lucky like I was, will grant you some much-needed sleep before active labor begins. You can thank me when your Stadol wears off and you are no longer singing loudly like a drunken sea wench.
*If you have to berate your husband when the hard and heavy contractions come, do so quietly, hissing through your smiling teeth. Compare it to kicking him under the table at a restaurant. To anyone watching, you will look collected and brave, all while you are saying to the man who got you in this position “I hate you, you toad.”
*In all seriousness, grit your teeth, grin and bear it. You’ll get compliments like “your pain threshold is extremely high!” and “I can’t believe how tough you are.” Which will make you feel like a rockstar or a pioneer woman. (However, your husband might look at you strangely, like, “…but…why did you cry when you got that papercut last week?” Hiss at him again if he does).
*Epidurals are our friends. That said, I did just watch Anna Duggar of 19 Kids and Counting do a natural, at-home birth and it was beautiful and brought me to tears. So…whatever floats your boat.
*If you do get an epidural, here is the run-down: You need to ask for your epidural about 30 minutes before you really need it – it takes awhile for the anesthesiologist to gather all the paperwork and make it to your room. Once they arrive, your husband will have to leave the room. You will sit on your bed with your legs hanging over the side. You will arch your back and try to hold very, very still. There will be lots of fiddling around back there, then the big needle, and then you’re done. In my opinion, the worst part about an epidural is that they use something akin to duct tape to hold it in place. After you’ve had your baby and are prepping for recovery, they rip that tape off in one fell swoop. Ouch. But really…we’re avoiding the curse of pain-in-childbirth here…what’s a little duct tape?
*Now its just a waiting game. Nurses and doctors will periodically check your *rhymes-with-mervix* and tell you things like “you’re doing great” and “you’re progressing” and “we’re almost there!”…
*And then, they’ll check you again and you’ll expect to hear another encouraging word, but this time, they’ll nod and raise their eyebrows and spring into action. It is time to push! Your quiet room will come alive out of nowhere – your doctor will be there with several nurses, some prepping the little incubator where your baby will be cleaned up, some surrounding you and propping your legs up in those lovely lady-like contraptions (not very fashionable, but you can’t very well have a baby with your ankles crossed). Your nurses will keep track of your contractions and will tell you when to take a deep breath and prepare to push. No worries – you will be gently coached through this entire process and you’re going to do great!
*A note on pushing. If you have an epidural, it is really difficult to figure out where to push because you can’t feel anything. But don’t worry…you’ll get it figured out. Just maybe not on the first or second try.
*When you are told to push, really focus on that one thing. Don’t be self-conscious or think about what you look like or if you’re doing it wrong…just zone in and work on pushing that sweet little baby out. You’ll bear down for about ten seconds at a time and then will be given a break in between contractions.
*Now for one second, throw fashion to the wind, because when that blessed final push takes place and your baby lands in your doctor’s hands, you’re going to want to make a fool out of yourself…and that is perfectly alright. It is a moment of extreme physical and emotional relief, and if I remember correctly, I make some sort of involuntary yelp everytime.
*Wait patiently while the staff cleans up your baby, measures and weighs him/her…and I’ll warn you now, you’re probably going to think they’re being too rough with the little darling, flopping him/her about, scrubbing them down, all while your baby is squalling at the top of its lungs. But in no time at all, they’ll have that little bundle all wrapped up and will place it in your waiting arms. Enjoy this moment. Whether you remembered your camera or not, you’ll never forget it.
* And this may seem like small stuff compared to what we’ve just discussed, but I just have to interrupt. Don’t take your favorite blanket to the hospital. You might lose it in the delivery room and be very, very sad forever.
Golly, that was exerting. And exciting! I am sure that I left a lot of useful information out, but I hope this helps give you first-timers a sneak peek at what is ahead.
Any other words of delivery advice from our experienced deliverers? Did I forget anything? Leave your comments below. And stay tuned, pregnant ladies…phase 3 will be posted in the days and weeks to come!
*It should be noted that Mrs. Gore is not a doctor or a nurse or an expert or intelligent. Her advice should always be heeded at your own risk.