1. No Visitors Other Than Family. (Family stays for 30 minutes, tops.)
Here’s the deal: You will have nurses coming in your room every hour to “check your bottom.” I didn’t make that up, that is what they will say: “Turn over so I can check your bottom” as if you were entering prison. Lactation consultants (affectionally dubbed Nipple Nazis) will be coming in on the half to check your baby’s latch which really means they will be staring at your boobs. If one of those two things aren’t happening you will be nursing, peeing, or showering; all of which will be epic events involving your private parts. There is no reason for a non family member to take up the 5 minutes you will have to sit on your donut cushion.
BONUS HINT: Let Hubby play bad cop for you. He can be the one to lie and tell people the hospital only allows immediate family. (Sorry, friends.)
2. Marry your best friend.
Going through the process of labor with my husband by my side was a huge bonding experience for us. I can truthfully say I bonded with him in the maternity ward more than I did with both of my newborns. (You’ll be hard pressed to find a new mom to admit to not immediately bonding with their babies but it happens so don’t feel alone. It’s not a permanent sentiment.) I don’t know what I would do without him there. He called himself the “Mentalist” when I didn’t want to deal with visitors or smartphone communication. Most importantly he took the opportunity to make me laugh any chance he got. Here he is trying to open my first bottle of wine sans wine opener. This was just after we called down to the cafeteria for a corkscrew and they actually told on us to the maternity ward nurses. That thing in his hand is a shoe and you’ll notice the bottle is wrapped in a towel. He googled “how to open a wine bottle without an opener” and went with the 15th suggestion on the list. It didn’t work. But he put on quite a show and I laughed the entire time. (By the way – he resorted to using a knife and digging the cork out…if only the cafeteria ladies knew what we were doing with their utensils.)
He dealt with the insurance, the birth certificate, and the broken room blinds (a malfunction that really pissed me off) while I stressed over how to get up and brush my teeth.
3. Don’t have a big baby.
Hah! But seriously, don’t. Miss P was 5 days over due and 9lbs. Mr. D was 7lbs. The difference meant no tear and easy pushing. I chose to get induced the day of my due date with Mr. D (an option that was not available the first time around). I knew if I didn’t get induced I would be 5 days overdue again and pushing out a MAC truck again. If you have the option to get induced, go for it. (And if you are judging that statement, this blog is not for you.)
4. Get out of your hospital gown.
It’s very easy to slip into the patient role in the maternity ward; especially with nurses coming in to check your vitals all day long. Get out of your gown by Day 2. Walk down the hall. Check out the no-fun police that work in the cafeteria. Shut off the TV. Open the blinds (assuming they freaking work). Breathe deeply.
5. Have an amazing mother.
I hope you are as lucky as I am and have a mother that will take care of everything that matters. I was so nervous leaving Miss P while in the hospital. But my mother watched over her like she was her own child. She made it look effortless. She showed Miss P. the time of her life. It’s all I could have asked for. Here is a note she left in my hospital bag that I found on Day 3:
(Mom, you are a pillar of strength and selflessness and I am so proud of you, too.)
6. Crying is okay
When the beautiful Italian peditrician came to check out Mr. D in our room she seemed to connect with him right way. She was sickly sweet, cooing things softly to him that I hadn’t had a chance to say yet. I burst into tears thinking a stranger bonded with my baby before I did. Irrational crying is par for the course and passes (even though when you are locked into it you may feel like it never will.)
7. Shut it down. Phone, text, social media. Rejoice in the calmness of a quiet room shared with your new little family with daily food and linen service.
8. Save yourself the depression:
Don’t pack non-maternity clothes expecting to walk out of the hospital in them.
9. Stay the extra day.
Because both our children were born after 9pm we were granted an extra day in the ward if we wanted it. At first I convinced myself to get home and back to reality. Then I realized I would probably never have the opportunity to do #7 ever again.
10. You will be given the option to put your baby in the nursery. Embrace it.
Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about this. Now that you are a parent, it will most likely be the only time in your life when you feel your baby is completely safe without you which means you can actually get some sleep. Come to think of it ……..
11. Don’t ever leave the maternity ward.