In which a decision is made and I promise to stop whining about it all the time
The Heart Rock

Notes For My Sister On Having A Baby (Part One Of Probably Way Too Many)


I have tried (REALLY. I HAVE TRIED.) to keep my big fat older sister mouth shut about Being Pregnant and Having Babies. Not sure if you would say I have succeeded, but I have tried (REALLY. AGAIN.) to not dispense advice unless asked or prompted or the Moment seems Right. Instead I satisfy my MUST TELL YOU EVERYTHING impulses by GIVING you everything - let me know when you are tired of baby gear hand me downs. I still have about a roomful to go. 

But this morning we were talking about breastfeeding and I thought: I will just write my "advice" on my blog. Then I will feel like I got it out of my system and you only have to look at it if you want to. Plus I think my readers might gain some real enlightenment from my advice on breastfeeding. (HA HA HA that was a JOKE, Readers!)

But before you feed the baby you have to HAVE the baby. 

The best pregnancy book I read, hands down, was The Big Book of Birth by Erica Lyon. So go read that. I'd lend it to you, but the last person I lent it to never gave it back. Curses!

Things you might want to bring to the hospital.

There are a whole slew of people who go to all the classes and read up on pain management methods (the most intriguing to me is HYPNOBIRTHING, which I STILL cannot contemplate) and they practice with their partners and they make birth plans and they have music to play in the delivery room and I salute those people because HOO BOY just the WORD "hypnobirthing" gives me fits of anxiety. 

I am... not one of those people. Well, actually, the weird thing is that I AM (I mean, you have heard me talk about planning your baby shower, you KNOW I am a PLANNER!) but I knew ahead of time that planning was not going to suit me in this situation. My "plan" was to stay home as long as possible. After that? Phillip was in charge. My doctor was in charge. Actually, and you will find this out, the NURSES are in charge, but those women have received a special calling from God and you WANT them to be in charge of you. 

(The internet is full of labor and delivery nurse horror stories. Do not pay attention. You will get a wonderful nurse and she will love you, because you are not a drama queen, because you are polite, because you're lovable.) 

I think you are a little bit like me, and I think you have already come to this conclusion. "Just see what happens." I approve. I also approve of the drastically low expectations I suspect you have. Things will only seem great in comparison. This is why I am able to truthfully tell you: it was SO MUCH BETTER than I expected. 

Stay home as long as possible after your contractions start. It sucks to labor in a hospital. Stay home where you can eat and watch TV and wear your own jammies. 

Not that you will know when to go to the hospital. Your contractions will never follow the right pattern and you will have no idea when to go. I can just SEE your husband freaking out about this and I am laughing to myself already. Wait, I am not laughing, I would NEVER laugh about this. It's horrible, it is. I mean, SOME people follow the pattern, but chances are you aren't one of them. Call the doctor, call L&D. If you go to the hospital too early and they send you home, don't worry, just remember that happened to your dumb sister with her SECOND BABY. (Which reminds me: ask for the morphine shot!)

Maybe your water will break and this will all be moot. Maybe you'll be induced. But I don't have advice for those things, so we'll just act like they don't exist. 

Leaving for the hospital will feel surreal. Showing up at the hospital and changing into the gown and getting hooked up to the monitors will feel totally surreal. The nurses will act like it's No Big Thing and possibly they will also be acting So Calm You Want To Murder Them. That's when you should remember that they do this multiple times a day, every day, and later you will be grateful because they know just how to take care of you. 

This is a great thing to keep in mind about the nurses: there is nothing they haven't seen before. 

There is only one drug you want at the hospital and it is called An Epidural. They might try to offer you some fancy sounding drugs through your IV but GOD NO REFUSE THEM. These won't do anything for the pain, but they WILL make you feel stoned. Not that I know what that is like. And not that I am the Be All and End All to labor drugs, but hey, this is MY advice column. 

The epidural itself seems/sounds as frightening as having a baby, doesn't it? It did to me. But when it's happening? The hardest and scariest part is making sure you sit still. This is where your nurse is worth her weight in gold. During my labor with Molly, my nurse held my hand and got up right in my face and talked loudly through the whole thing so I could focus on her and what she was saying instead of what was happening behind me. I am STILL so grateful. 

And dude, the epidural? TOTALLY WORTH THE SITTING STILL.

There are all these machines and beeps and noises and ticker tape thingies in your room. Supposedly these are monitoring the baby's vital signs and your contractions. They are SUPER annoying. They can also make you feel pressured - the nurse is always coming in to check the signs and see if you're on track. Try to ignore those little print outs. You are doing a great job. 

If your sister and her husband visit you during this time period and eat a giant cheeseburger in front of you, consider it payback.

Pushing? I pushed MAYBE 30 minutes with Jack and of course you will have an easy time of it too. This is obvs the Law of Being Related. This is another point where the entire thing is completely surreal. Especially if you have an epidural and the room is sort of calm and medicated and you're kind of like OMG THERE'S ABOUT TO BE A NEW LIFE IN THIS ROOM!!!! only you're too busy working on producing that new life. 

This is another good time to remember that the nurse has seen it all.

And hey, your doctor isn't the doctor on call! Boo! Maybe this bums some people out, but this was such an insignificant item for me. My labors were so stinking long and the actual delivery part so short that it honestly didn't seem to matter who delivered the baby. 

I think, before you do it, it sounds like something that happens sort of fast? I mean, not the whole labor, but the baby suddenly popping out part? Sometimes it's not. Sometimes they have to use special tools to help you deliver. This might feel scary at the time, but it will just be a short blip in your experience and your baby's life. It will be okay. 

THERE'S YOUR BABY OMGGGGG!!! A SLIMY BALL OF PERFECTION ALL CUDDLED UP ON YOUR Oh, what? Huh? I have to deliver a PLACENTA TOO? Don't you see what I just did? Don't I get a PASS?! Yeah, this part suuucks. And getting sewn up? (SORRY! SORRY!) This is actually sort of a breeze with an epidural. Without an epidural? The injustice of it all is magnified a frillion percent. 

Especially because your baby is over THERE getting looked at by people who are NOT YOU. I mean, they DO let you hold the baby, but then they have to do all this STUFF to the baby and it's all very annoying. 

FYI: stool softeners? Awesome. Miralax? Even better. JUST SAYIN'. 

Percocet? Watch out for the aforementioned issue. 

Make sure to feel really stinking proud of yourself, no matter how it happens. Maybe you will have a c-section. I have no advice for that, only admiration. If you feel sad that it didn't go a certain way, that's okay. It's a really complicated thing. SUPER complicated. We have a lot expectations we might not even know we had. This is why your sister will bring Ghirardelli brownies to your room and ask you how you're doing and make you tell me all the gory details. 

Well, unless you don't want visitors. Which is TOTALLY OKAY! Everyone will totally respect your wishes (which OBVS don't apply to me.)

Any advice for the FPC, Readers?


Jennifer H

As a L&D nurse, I have to say: bravo! I really think not having a metric ton of expectations and being willing to take things as they come is the secret to labor. You only have to be remotely humane & cooperative with your nurses and they will fall over themselves to make you comfortable (we want you to be happy! and we're used to working with people in more pain than they have ever been in before!)


I had a 2 day induction that failed and ended up with an unplanned c-section after 48 hours of non-labor. No big deal. I think the key is keep expectations open (I'm a planner and type A to the extreme but knew I couldn't control this which helped) and focus on the important thing - a healthy baby at the end. My cousin was pretty anti having a c-section and ended up with one and was horribly disappointed. She will likely opt for VBAC if she has another one (which is actually the new recommendation) and I will go the route of scheduled c-section because I am still a control freak.


I love this. Please write more, because I have recently realized that this child I am growing (from SCRATCH, no less) is going to have to come out of me at some point.

("Really? You're just now realizing this? Perhaps you didn't think this through very well, Kate," you're saying. Which is not an incorrect assumption.)


Re: Water breaking & induction...We got this great advice in childbirth class to go out and get those super maxi pads for after delivery. They give you ones in the hospital with the sexy mesh undies, but it's nice to have some waiting for you at home. AND they come in handy if your water breaks. Because whether it breaks or just leaks, it keeps going after that. And you have to get to the hospital somehow, so have a good pad handy that can handle it. I also lined my bed with plastic/towels and sat on a towel in my car in anticipation, but mine broke right after I peed, and I thought I peed myself when I stood up. But no, it kept coming. It was weird, but a little backup went a long way. Be prepared, I guess. Induction is just annoying because you can't eat and you have to be hooked up, but it's not like it's a choice so you'll just have to go with it if it happens.


I loved this. And I think I loved it so much partially because it felt like maybe as you were writing it you were forgiving yourself for Emma and how it didn't go as you wanted or had envisioned ahead of time.


I'll second the miralax recommendation.

Also, don't be embarrassed if you go to the hospital early and get sent home. With both babies so far I've gone in, had the nurses tell me I'm "not in labor" and send me home. And then both times my water broke within a few hours of getting home.

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THANK YOU TIMES A MILLION FOR THIS POST!!! I've been reading your blog for a couple years but have never commented. Just yesterday, I realized that I'm almost at in my third trimester and need to figure out what's going to happen to me at the end of all this. Other than knowing I'll have a vague-ish birth plan (the hospital gives us a simple check list we mark and they post on the door), I really have know idea what to expect. Please keep these posts coming!!


I've heard that hypnobirthing only works if you are crazy susceptible to hypnosis. Which I am not. Because I heard about it and thought it was interesting (labor without pain? I am down for that) and then I did some googling and was like yeah, THAT'S not going to happen.

My advice is to watch out for the post birth swelling of places that have been in contact with a baby's head. That was by far my most painful recovery issue when Elizabeth was born, and should there be a next time, I shall be doing ALL IN MY POWER to minimize that. However, I know lots of people who have said it wasn't a big deal for them, so maybe it is just me.

And take all the painkillers they offer you after birth. Stay ahead of that pain! You ate already going to be exhausted, don't add sore to it.


I second the pads everywhere theory (one in your car, one in his car, one at your office desk, one in the bed, etc). My water broke early on the way to the car and I was soooo thankful we didn't have to deal with cleaning that upholstery on top of everything else.
I also had non-labor that ended in a c-sec and had many mixed feelings of failure and disappointment for a long time afterwards because it was the opposite of what I thought would happen. Even though the end result (healthy baby, healthy mom) was the ultimate goal and I knew that in my brain, I still felt cheated for a long while and I've heard that isn't uncommon.
Just keep the mantra GO WITH THE FLOW with you at all times because nothing will go as you expected or planned. ("What is the birth plan? There is no plan! Babies show up when they are good and ready." That being said, be sure to pack warm socks and your favorite shampoo!)


I can speak to getting sewn up without an epidurl. Totaly no big deal. I mean after what just happened down there, nothing can ever compair. And, usually you're holding your baby while they do it which also has this odd way of numbing pain with overflowing love and happiness.

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