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30 Jul 2008

Stuff No One Told Me About Regarding the Birthing of Children.

Written by sally @ 3:34 pm — Section: Uncategorized

Ever since I gave birth, lo these 14 weeks ago, I have been keeping a mental list of all the stuff I didn’t know that I wish I had known. I did a lot of bitching about this stuff to whoever would listen, because all the books in the world still overlooked stuff that I personally would’ve been reassured to know about beforehand.

Things to Take With You to the Hospital That No One Told Me About

1. I brought regular old elastic-banded maternity jeans with me to hospital to come home in, but since I ended up having a c-section, the elastic band was right over my incision…which hurt, and so I left the hospital in pajama pants. Which was a cute look with the top I was wearing. So I recommend you bring some super baggy drawstring pants that could conceivably be worn higher up on your body. I wore the hell out of a knit skirt with a high waistband the last few weeks of my pregnancy, and found that it was absolutely the only thing I owned that didn’t mash on me for the first few weeks postpartum.

2. Baby fingernail clippers. Spike came into this world with longish fingernails, which he delightedly raked across his face in the first few hours of life. You may be afraid to cut your new tiny baby’s fingernails, but you’re never going to be able to see them as well as you will in the harsh and unflattering hospital room light, so get to it early. However, you may be weird like my mother in law and want to, you know, just bite them off. I’m sorry, but that is weird. (What’s doubly funny about my mother in law telling me that’s how she cut her babies’ nails is that she has a habit of repeating stories….a lot….so I have heard this approximately 97 times now.)

3. Clothes for your baby. I brought a couple of things, but as a parenting novice I didn’t have nearly enough things. I also didn’t realize that gowns were the way to go. If I ever do this again, I’m bringing at least 5 gowns with me. Gowns keep little people warm and provide easy access for diaper changes. Plus most have those little fold-down hand covers for malicious fingernails-across-the-face types.

4. If you bring your own pillow (highly recommended!), bring extra pillowcases. There are various icky things that might get on yours.

5. Giant underwear. I recommend a bag of giant panties at least 1-2 sizes bigger than your normal size. Larry went to the store to get some, returned with a bag of big, but not giant panties, and was sent back for truly gargantuan ones.

Things Regarding Childbirth That No One Told Me About (WARNING: GROSS)

1. If you push your baby out, unless you have just had a colonic, an enema, or bowels of steel, you’re probably going to poop. I’m just telling you. NOT THAT IT HAPPENED TO ME OR ANYTHING, but from WHAT I HEAR, the delivery bed/table thing has a detachable bottom (you won’t need the bottom of your table, as your legs will be up in the air) and your nurse will put a giant red biohazard bag underneath you to catch whatever happens to emerge from your various nethers. Plus, you will not care. Believe me. If a couple of mice and a hamburger and the Declaration of Independence had come out of my butt, I would’ve been equally nonplussed. I mean, in theory!

2. Something a friend did tell me: that during an epidural your legs feel like hams. Giant, hot, unmoving hams. Had I not had this handy description, I wouldn’t have been able to ask my nurse to help me move my right ham when I tried to turn over. I would’ve just had to say “leg,” and that’s no fun.

3. If you have a c-section and find yourself unable to, well, do anything, including sit up in the bed, at least you can do this: put your hand behind your kneecap and pull yourself up this way. It is somehow magic and doesn’t put pressure on your incision.

4. Also c-section-related: let us consider a plastic baggie. When you open a baggie, take out some of the contents, then close the baggie, air gets trapped, right? This is what happens to your body as well. They open you up, take out a nice baby, sew you up, but in the process air works its way into your guts. And you will have gas, my friends, the loudest, most bizarre internal, rumbly gas of your life. I sounded like the “haunted house” track off of a Halloween soundtrack. I didn’t even find it embarrassing because it’s not like it was in any way a normal gas situation…and it wasn’t coming out, that’s for sure. If you mashed on me, you could hear a ghost weeping.

5. Speaking of mashing, after you give birth a series of mean nurses will come around and mash on your stomach. Supposedly they are checking the location of your uterus, which in theory is making its way back down to its homeland, but I have a feeling that mashing on people and hearing them yelp is one of the perks of being a health-care provider.

6. If you have a catheter, something I was dreading but oh MAN was the catheter my best friend (as it meant I no longer had to haul my ass and my IV pole to the bathroom), when one of the aforementioned mean nurses comes around to take it out, she may also hover over you as you attempt to pee. You will not care. You will be afraid to pee and having a pee buddy will be appreciated. Do not be embarrassed to cry a little in front of your pee buddy and tell her you are scared. She will understand and will whisper comforting words.

7. Buy yourself some cute pajamas that button up the front. You’re going to be breastfeeding and you’re not going to want to pull a nightshirt or a t-shirt all the way up in front of all your relatives. Target has all those cute Nick and Nora prints — I have several pair.

8. Be prepared for everyone to have an opinion on why your baby is crying, where he is sleeping, how often you are feeding him, what you are feeding him, who he looks like, what you should name him, etc. Take the advice that makes sense to you and ignore the rest.

That applies to the rest of this post as well. Good luck, mamas!

7 Responses to “Stuff No One Told Me About Regarding the Birthing of Children.”

  1. Liz said:

    So much good advice! What about bringing your own nightgown/robe? I’ve heard both things: you’ll want to be in your own clothes, you won’t want anything non-disposable touching your body.

  2. lisa said:

    Totally true stuff but you forgot to mention the hemorrhoids. Oh man, you lose all dignity up on that table with your privates on display.

  3. Pinky said:

    Since it feels like I’m going to rupture, I should really stop reading your blog because I laugh so much. The gas thing KILLED me!! I’m really glad you posted about the C-section, we’re concerned I may have to have one. Nine weeks to go and the baby is already over 4 pounds! WOO!

    Also, gowns totally kick ass!

  4. sally said:

    Liz, I’d wear their gown for any portion of the proceedings where fluids are imvolved. But bring your own things for afterwards when soft, comfy clothes will be appreciated.

  5. melinda said:

    The stomach-mashing… OH MY GOD, the stomach mashing! Why oh why did the stomach mashing always seem to need to happen in the middle of the freakin night? Nurses, please, I implore you: mash my stomach if you must, but mash it when my eyes are already open and it is light outside. You dig?

  6. poobou said:

    A couple of other things: the epidural will make it impossible for you to control your farts. Just saying. Not that it happened to me or anything.

    Also, bring a pair of socks, because your feet might get cold. But make sure they’re old socks that you won’t care about throwing away if they end up getting blood on them. Again, not that that happened to me.

  7. christie said:

    Thanks for this, Sally! I was actually taking a break from packing my hospital bag when I read it. Here’s the advice I’ll take: The baby gown thing – I bought two gender-neutral ones at Target yesterday. It never occurred to me with #1 that I could avoid snaps with a gown. The going-home pants – I’ve rethought my going-home clothing choice just in case I’m sectioned! Here’s the advice I’ll ignore: The finger nail clippers. I’m a baby nail biter. Yep. I bite off baby nails. Have I mentioned that I love me some baby nail gnawing? I’m way too paranoid about cutting a little finger off with those clippers! Here’s the advice I’d add: In addition to the underwear being ginormous, it should also be your oldest, skankiest underwear. Undies take a beating after birth. Regarding the pooping the table thing, I was *terrified* of doing that and while pushing, I kept apologizing to my nurse and midwife saying that I hoped I hadn’t shat on them. They kept assuring me that I hadn’t, but my husband informed me the next day that they were just being nice. Great. I’m not going to eat for two days before this kid is due!