Now I have to start this with a tiny, little confession. We never attended any child birth classes. Or breastfeeding classes. Or infant care classes.
Now that you're totally horrified, I will reassure you that we do have the infant CPR part covered. Maybe if we had attended a birthing class, I would have known these things. But maybe not. So instead, I'll fill you in on a few details from my labor experience. These were details that I jotted down in my phone in the hospital and have held off revisiting.
My labor and delivery were actually pretty fast and relatively easy compared to most. For a recap on the whole shebang, check out this post. While I wasn't in labor for days or had to delivery my own baby in a tree during a massive flood, I did have some experiences that other ladies might find helpful. Or dreadful. But at least you'll be somewhat more prepared after reading this.
I was in active labor from 2 am until 9 am (at which point I started pushing). Which is to say that I was having contractions 5 minutes apart for 1 minute in duration starting at 2 am. Oh and the only things I could concentrate on for those sixty seconds was timing the contraction (using the timer on my phone) and swaying. We called the doc at 3 am and were admitted to the hospital around 4:30 am. The contractions I experienced varied. In fact, I had some in the hospital that were incredibly intense and were then followed by a very mild contraction. I was both thankful and very confused for those less painful ones. My understanding was that contractions would just keep getting worse. And they did. But I had a few mild contractions mixed with the nasty ones. You may experience something of the same. Enjoy those little reprieves.
Your husband ::
Treat your husband with as much kindness as you can when your labor starts because by the end, you might have not controlled your mouth as much as you wanted. I was a terror from 10 pm until midnight. I didn't need to wait until transition to get testy with my hubs. This was likely a combination of pain and fear but whatever it was, I threw him more attitude than a 15 year old high school girl could have. Oh, and it only stopped at midnight because he took a nap.
Pack your husband's hospital bag. We ladies tend to focus on what we need to bring to the hospital and what needs to be packed for the baby. We never thought to pack a bag for my husband so at 3 am when the doctor said I could head to the hospital, all I wanted to do was haul ass out of our place. Stopping to contemplate what Alan needed for the hospital was entirely outside of my mental capacity at that point. Think ahead for him because he will likely procrastinate and you should reserve your testy comments for other things he might do.
The epidural ::
OK I know everyone has their own opinion on pain medicine. Honestly, if we have a second child I would consider going through delivery sans epidural. Maybe. I would probably chicken out because I'm not real keen on pain but I'd think about it for about five minutes longer than the first time. If you get an epidural (which I was very thankful I got) just know that you will have a contraction while the epidural is being administered. I had this preconception that the process would only be a quick shot and I'd be all set to fall asleep. ER lied to me. Jerks. So take a deep breathe and sit still for a few minutes.
You will be more impacted on one side than the other by the epidural. My right leg became a peg leg. During delivery my nurse and husband had to coordinate my legs, propping the right leg against the left. Because my right leg was more numb than my left, it took hours longer before I could fully feel it whereas it took much less time for my left to come back to life.
Oh and despite being so numb on one side, I could still feel the pressure from every.single.contraction. I had about two and a half hours in between the epidural and when I started pushing. Whoever is able to get a nap in that timeframe is a lucky gal because that was not me.
I had a second degree tear. Now that I've typed that out, I completely retract my statement about possibly going without the epidural for baby number two. I don't know what came over me.
Pushing is nothing like in the movies or ER. They lied again. Hold your breath during each contraction for much more effective pushing.
Your husband will be more involved than you wanted/planned/prepared for. Just close your eyes and focus on your baby's impending arrival. If necessary, have your husband do the same. Alan looked at my face and the wall for all I know.
Don't let your mom throw away your ice chips. You might not want them during delivery but you'll be thirsty and possibly starving immediately afterwards. The doctors/nurses will ask that you wait a bit before you eat (I think I had to wait two hours) with ice chips being your only "snack." If your mom throws away your ice chips, beg someone for a popsicle.
If you plan on breastfeeding, I cannot stress "naked time" enough. Snuggle with your little one chest to chest with as little clothing in the way as possible. Have someone put a blanket around you all if you need it to stay warm. Having "naked time" definitely helped my son and I bond and very much facilitated the breastfeeding process.
Did you know that babies will often find it easier to breastfeed on one side than the other? This is because we are not symmetrical creatures and one breast might be easier for them to latch onto. Don't let that discourage you. We lived by a time sheet from the hospital and logged in all the breastfeeding attempts in those first 24 hours. I highly suggest doing the same to avoid over use on your "good" side.
You can go on less than you realize.
You probably won't want to send your little nugget to the nursery after exerting every ounce of energy in your body but it is hard to sleep with the noise of a hospital and the various tests the nurses need to take. So trust the hospital staff and the nursery. We were able to get about three hours of sleep the night we sent our little guy to the nursery and I definitely needed it.
You will prepare (or not, if you're like me) and things will likely not go exactly as you prepared but the end result will be the same: you'll have the most amazing little baby.
You will be a modern day super hero that someone calls mom.