Hospital & Birth Etiquette

I have been sitting on this post for a few weeks, not being sure whether it was appropriate to share.  This is a subject that is now very sensitive to me after my own experience with labor, delivery and visitors.  I truly believe most people don’t understand the rules of etiquette when it comes to baby hospital visits and such, so if this can serve to enlighten even one person, I’m happy.

A few weeks ago I read this fabulous article from one of my favorite etiquette blogs, The Pink Teapot. Janine gives some awesome tips for Moms-to-be as well as potential visitors.  Some of my favorite points:

For the Mom’s to be:
  • It’s okay to say no.  There is no cause to be rude.  Although sometimes we have people in our lives who are pushy or overstep their bounds, we can plan ahead, thus helping to minimize the “drama”, let me explain:  the day you are in labor is the wrong day to discuss with your mother-in-law that you’d rather she not be in the room as you’re delivering your baby.  Think ahead of people who you need to discuss this with and have a candid conversation with them.  If you are unable to do so in person (because of fear or logistics), a sweet email, filled with excitement about the new baby and a clear invite or boundary given, will help ease that tension.
  • You need your rest:  This is more than an etiquette tip, it’s advice from a mother of four.  I so enjoy company and love people, but the 48 or so hours we spend in the hospital with a newborn baby combined with the annoying (but necessary) interruptions of the hospital staff, do not create a restful environment to begin with.  Mix in all kinds of visitors and you’re even more exhausted when you come home even if you thrive on people like I do.

For the Visitor (family or otherwise):

  • Please respect that it is not the end of the world if you are not there for the actual labor and delivery of your grandchild.  Although I understand it may feel that way, it’s simply not the time to be imposing on another person.  I remember my sweet mother-in-law and I having conversations about this when I was pregnant with my first child and I remember her being so respectful of my wishes.  I actually wanted her there just after, and we told the family we’d call them.  My husband’s family as well as mine respected that and we had all of our family around us within hours of my son’s debut into this world.
  • Please don’t ask if you can be there during labor and delivery- and don’t just show up.  Again, this is a private thing, a painful thing, a wonderful thing.  There are so many emotions wrapped up into this event that make it special.  It should not be intruded upon by someone else, no matter who that person is.
  • Don’t get your feelings hurt.  My wise mother always says, “remember it’s not about you, it’s about them”.  I am a tender-hearted person and I wear my heart on my sleeve, so I understand getting my feelings hurt, but this is not about you, this is about the person who is holding that little bundle of joy…remember that.
  • Don’t assume and bring children. It’s always best not to bring children to the hospital for so many reasons. They press the call buttons, run around, bring germs along with their sweet faces… none of these things are appreciated. A visit can always wait until they get home from the hospital so you can find someone to tend to your children to go and visit the baby and mother.

That was pretty lengthy, but I couldn’t really leave anything out! I love how she includes tips for both the mother and the visitors, because really, everyone could use some help in these awkward situations. No one wants to have a horrible birth experience!

I know the comment about getting your rest sure hits home (right, Kourtni, Colleen, Larissa, Kristen, Jennifer, Megan, Jimaie, Kristen, Shea, Lisa, Talia, Nanette, Liz, Natali, Molly & soon to be Crystal, Tristan and Kate? Whew!)

If I can stress one thing, it would be to accept the help that is offered to you.  Those first few days after you pop that baby out are so tough… DON’T TRY TO BE A HERO, lady.  If you have a mom, sister, grandmother or friend who is willing to watch the baby for even 2 hours while you get some rest, jump on that opportunity with no reservations.

Do you all have anything to add? Any good, bad, or ugly hospital experiences to share with the rest of us? A tip or two for the moms-to-be?

The Birth Story

Typing with baby in one arm is going to be interesting & it will probably take about three years to finish this post one-handed, but here goes…

My due date (Thanksgiving day) came and went and there was no sign of my little turkey girl.

Okay, so I sort of thought I was going into labor that day and managed to turn my parents’ house upside down with excitement, but it turned out to be a false alarm (read: gas mixed with a little over-anxiousness).  I was incredibly disappointed, but everyone says that a due date is really just an estimate.  I know, I know… but that day I was not in the mood for all the “Madeline will come when she’s ready” comments that everyone was giving me.  I wanted her OUT and was willing to try anything to make it happen.

Let’s see, the wives tales I fell for were eating spicy food, eating chinese food, eating pineapple, eating Olive Garden’s soup/salad/breadsticks, going for loooooooong walks, doing squats (which actually sort of toned my thighs, haha), doing the thing married people do, and pretty much everything short of reaching up there and trying to pull her out myself.  Nothing worked and I was totally bummed out.  After reading about the horrors of castor oil and how it caused so many women to do the ONE thing I was absolutely terrified of (pooping on the delivery table), I swore I would never, EVER do it.  Seriously, my friends know how scared I was of that happening, and I wasn’t going to risk it.

Okay, so on Saturday the 29th, my family had a nice afternoon.  We went to see Four Christmases (hilarious) ate some Mexican, and went back to my parents’ house for a while.  Madeline was doing her usual painful kicking and rolling around in my belly and I just said, “Okay.  Castor oil.  Where do I get some?”  My mom said, “Umm… you know what that does, right?” and I didn’t even care.  Off to Walgreens I went.

An hour later I was standing in the kitchen, staring at the little bottle sitting on my counter and trying to muster up the courage to down it.  The stuff smelled DISGUSTING, oh my gosh.  I sent a few messages back and forth with Jimaie, who had told me a while ago that castor oil mixed with orange juice worked for her. I had all the details on how much to drink, what it does, and all that.  A few minutes later I was stirring up a nice big glass of globby oil with some orange juice and gagging it down.  Justin and I started up a movie and waited for the tummy rumbles to start.

Nothing.

I climbed into bed around midnight and was just so disappointed.  I mean, what the heck?  It had been 5 hours since I drank that SIIIIICK stuff (almost the full bottle, by the way…) and I hadn’t felt anything out of the ordinary.  I drifted off to sleep, angry at the world.

12:30am.  THAT didn’t take long.  Tummy rumbles galore… but nothing else.  I got up and sat on the couch with a book for a while, and the cramps in my stomach slowly got more and more intense.  I was convinced it was just gas, but when I started feeling them in my lower back, I knew something was up.  I laid on the floor in the living room until about 4:00 as these cramps came, still just waiting for #2 to kick in.  By that point Justin had been asleep for a few hours, all warm and snuggly in our big comfy bed, and I had had it.  Poor guy, he didn’t do anything, but the PAIN.  UGH.  I went in our room and woke him up.  I told him I wasn’t sure if it was gas or labor, but we needed to go to the hospital so I could get checked out.  NOW, man.

4:30am.  We were checked into the hospital and I had my gown on.  The cramps were still coming and going, about every 5 minutes, but the nurse said I was only dilated to a 2.  NOOOOOOO!!  All this pain and nothing was happening?!  You have to be kidding me.  The nurse came back at 5:00 and checked me again, and I was dilated to a 3.  They said I could stay, thankfully, but they weren’t all that sure this was the real thing until they checked me again a little while later and I was a 4.  JESUS LOVES ME.

7:00am.  Helloooo, Mr. Castor Oil!  Relief… sweet, sweet relief (in more ways than one, let me tell you).  One less thing to worry about!

8:30am.  Family starts to trickle in.  The contractions, which by this point I was sure were real, were absolutely AWFUL!  Girls, some of you are wanting babies… please please pleaaase take my advice: EPIDURAL.  Don’t try to be a hero.  Seriously.  The doctor who was on call was sort of a hippie (no offense to anyone who has been a stud and given birth without one, but she really was) and was guilt-tripping me when I told her I wanted one.  After a bit of fake-crying and some pleading, I got my way, but she was on my nerves, man.  Don’t tell me how much pain I can handle!

10:45am.  Epidural!  The needle wasn’t bad at all, especially in comparison the the contractions that were coming 2 minutes apart and making me want to rip my own face off.  It kicked in immediately, as did the loopiness (or so I’m told).  My nurse was taking my fingerprint a few minutes later, and I guess I said something about being wanted for murder.  I don’t know.

Noon.  Everyone left my room to go to the cafeteria for lunch.  They figured it was safe because I was about a 5.  It was nice to have a few minutes to get some sleep since I had been up for about 30 hours.  The nurse came in about 20 minutes later and checked me, and I was an 8.  Don’t know how that happened!  I called someone (my mom? Justin? I can’t remember…) and told them to come back soon…

1:30pm.  Fully dilated and ready to push.  I didn’t know how in the world I was going to feel anything with the epidural (I couldn’t even lift my own legs, they were so numb), but I was ready!

2:00-4:06pm. Pushing.  And lots of it.  I won’t give too many details, but I will say that there was a mirror.  I would advise against this.  Strongly.  Eww.

4:07pm.  Madeline’s little cone head popped out.  Then an arm, Michael Jackson style.  They put her on my belly and I cried.  I looked up at Justin and he had the sweetest expression I had ever seen.  We were both thinking the same thing — Parents!  And to a gorgeous little girl.

Her eyes were open from the start, and she looked right up at me.  As mushy and new mom-ish as this sounds, I knew my life would never be the same.

That mirror was still at the foot of my bed, and I caught a glimpse of myself holding my new baby.  I looked like complete crap, and for the first time, I didn’t care.

Okay, maybe a little.

They finished getting the baby and I all cleaned up and the — ugh — placenta delivered, and told me I didn’t need stitches.  SCORE!  Those close to me also know that tearing during delivery was a close second to pooping on the table, so that was good news.  How I was so lucky, I’ll never know.

The hospital stay was short and sweet.  We left the next day around 1:00pm and drove — very slooooowly — home, with me in the back seat, holding her head steady the whole way, haha.

The past week has been a whirlwind of visitors, poopy diapers, painfully massive mama boobies, and a whole lot of sweet-smelling baby.  Our Madeline is a week old, and getting sweeter and more adorable all the time.

I just love this girl.