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Friday, February 1st, 2013
As I lay in bed the other night, husband out of town for work, contractions at level pathetic, I had the sudden thought, what if, what IF these don’t stop? My “worst case scenario” mind ran rampant. I envisioned my husband unable to get a flight while I, the mayor of pregnant-ville, drove to the hospital in my chonies, toddler in tow, because I didn’t have the presence of mind to pack a few bags and make a few calls before the big L.
It would make a good story…
I don’t really remember a lot of what I packed the first time. I mean, I’ve got the baby in my belly and my lady bits are always packed so what else does a girl need?
Since I couldn’t sleep, I decided to google the necessities of a “hospital bag” because I am a vision of forgetfulness and lack of preparation these days. After reviewing a slew of suggestions, I decided to create a one-stop-shop here for all your hospital bag quandaries.
For the record, I still have not packed my bag. At least I know what I want to put in it? Any points for that? No? Tough crowd.
Whatever, apparently, I like to live life on the edge and I’m not above chonies at the hospital. Let’s be honest, that’s much more covered and straight up nunning it compared to the booty flashing that is birth. I digress.
Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin…
1. A giant, empty bag. Say what? You heard me, bring an extra bag for all of the paraphernalia you are going to acquire, demand, and/or steal from the hospital. This second go round I know my priority numero uno is to load up on all the newborn diapers, mesh panties, nipple cream, nipple shields, and thunder down under maxi pad diapers they give you. Do not leave the hospital without a bag of fresh goodies. Do not stand for a half empty pack of diapers. Get those lovely nurses to load you up. If you don’t need a cart and an extra set of hands to take all of your stuff to your car, you’re doing it wrong.
2. Camera, memory card, charger. You’re going to want to remember that baby in all of his/her newborn, adorable, old man wrinkly glory. If ever there was a moment to document this is it. Don’t fail yourself now by forgetting the batteries, charger, memory card.
3. Cell phone and charger. The people are going to want to see that baby. Bring it. Charge it. Snap it. Send those picture texts and post regularly to let social media do what it does best, ogle a fresh little baby.
4. Makeup. Pictures are going to happen. Be in them. Maybe makeup is vain, but if vanity is not wanting to look like the puffiest, under-eyed baggiest, corpsiest person that lived to tell their birth tale, I’m okay with that. Heck, the other night I was wearing the fattiest, fakest, diamond earrings and I told the husband, “I want to give birth in these earrings.” Apparently, my vanity runs deep.
5. Toiletries. Brush, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, deodorant, contact lens solution (for us blind folk), chapstick, whatever you’d pack for an overnight stay at a hotel. It’s nice to feel like a human being with some of the comforts of home. Also, post birth is a bit gnarly. Don’t let your BO and stanky breathe add to the gnarly.
6. Comfy clothes. I packed a going home outfit for myself the first go round and it sat, tags attached, in my bag until I unpacked it at back at home. While the hospital gown is convenient, I got tired of my full moon being constantly on display. This go round I’m bringing my coziest (outside of just chonies), prettiest, don’t mind if they get a little post-birthified pajamas and lounge wear.
7. Nursing bras and panties. I tend to go sans bra when first nursing, but sometimes the girls have a mind of their own and they need a little support and reminder to not leak every ten seconds. I added panties to the list because some women are not a fan of the mesh tighties supplied by the hospital. Just remember you’ll be wearing a diaper post birth so packing dem thongs is not in your best interest.
8. Treats. My motto is treats all around! Treats for you, treats for the husband, treats for your toddler, treats for guests. Birth makes you ravenous and in case you can’t get that hospital food fast enough, it’s always nice to have something stowed away to avoid getting hangry.
9. Footwear (slippers, socks, sandals). Pack whatever footwear you fancy but keep in mind that if there were ever a fashion moment that permitted shower sandals or aqua socks, this is probably it. This ain’t NY fashion week. It’s a hospital. Keep those feet germ free.
10. I.D. and insurance. They maybe just kind of want you to prove that you’re indeed who you say you are and that somebody is bankrolling this baby.
12. Baby clothes. Whether it be a going home outfit, receiving blanket, or a hair bow the size of the kid’s face, it’s sweet to have a little something something to “ooh and ahh” and bawl over when you’re feeling nostalgic. And because baby clothes are teeny tiny, pack a spare set in case your teeny tiny decides to pee all over their formerly adorable coming home outfit.
13. A “thank you.” I didn’t do this with my first baby, but I heard through the grapevine that it’s nice to give a little thank you treat to the nurses. When I think of the bed sheets I peed, the blood they mopped up, and the bathroom trips they cheered me through like a potty training toddler, I’d say a thank you is in order.
14. First meal. Okay, okay, I know I can’t really pack a first meal but I daydream about my first meal post labor. Maybe I’ve already perused the hospital menu. Maybe I’ve made my post labor meal known. Panda Express. I know it’s disgusting but it’s all I’ve wanted this entire pregnancy. At least I’m waiting until the baby has left the building before stuffing my face with crap? Mother of the year. The only push present I care about is food and I am looking forward to some serious chowing down. I have a strict, “if you want to see the baby, I’m going to need a treat first” policy. Bring on the treats, visitors. Bring on the treats!
Is there anything I’m missing?
Image: Lady packing a hospital bag via salpics32/Shutterstock.com
Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
For a week or so now, there’s been a video floating around the interwebs put out by a Dutch television program where two men “experience labor” (Warning: some strong language).
Maybe I’ve been avoiding this video because as I watched them writhe in pain, I had the distinct recollection of exactly what labor is like. It ain’t pretty. A few nerves were cued as it hit me that the ol’ labor is certainly on my to-do list sometime in the next two weeks. As excited as I am to meet our daughter, their squirms, screams, and swears brought me to the reality of what I have to do to meet her.
Curiosity got the best of me though and I wondered how, just how will they simulate labor and how will these men folk react?
To simulate labor, they hooked the men up to an electro stimulation device that caused their muscles to contract while putting pressure on their stomachs and creating “immense pain” for two hours.
A midwife was in attendance to help them try different pain management techniques just like she would with laboring women.
As the physiotherapist ended her explanation of how they’ll recreate labor, one of the men stated, “briefly said, you’re electrocuting us for two hours.” My first thought was, “I don’t think anyone would describe labor that way.” My second, “I would never agree to that.”
As I watched them laugh and joke and clench their buttocks through the discomfort, it actually felt very similar to my initial moments spent in labor. When uncomfortable, I am the type to word vomit, make inappropriate jokes, or just laugh awkwardly. Oh, and clench my buttocks.
They called the contractions “annoying, like a barbed wire being pushed into your stomach in 36 places.” These were only the initial contractions. “Three percent,” the physiotherapist declares, “of the pain you’d actually feel in labor.” This is greenhorn status my young grasshoppers.
Next, the midwife and physiotherapist decided that if they are laughing, they were not in enough pain. Oh shoot. It just got real. (For it to get really real, there would have to be a way for men to experience the six week postpartum blood bath, granny panties, thunder pads, and swollen lady parts too.)
The midwife told the men to accept the pain to make it easier. Acceptance is a big part of labor. It seems far fetched however, for the men who are voluntarily being shocked. There is no great end goal they are reaching. They do not have the reward that each contraction brings them closer to unbelievable love.
This is the major problem with the experience. These men are shown a minutiae of the actual pregnancy and birthing experience. To isolate only the pain of labor cheapens the experience of pregnancy. It is a small part of the package deal. To focus on the pain alone is problematic because along with the fear, there is an excitement and joy that cannot be recreated.
A little over an hour into the two hours, one of the men declares he can’t do it anymore, and the electrodes are removed.
While the video may have captured some of the emotions of labor, the fear, the nerves, and even some of the dread, the fact that he can quit makes the experience unrealistic.
I think there is a very real moment in labor when many women wonder if they can do it. Or they don’t want to do it anymore. But unlike this man, women do not get to quit. He cannot accept the pain because he never really has to. Women endure so much during labor because they know it is not in vain.
As the last man standing completed “labor” and they handed him a fake baby, I felt sorry for him. He underwent massive amounts of pain for really, nothing. That is not labor. That is not pregnancy.
He did not understand the feeling of enduring a grueling experience to welcome the indescribable love of the baby he carried and labored. That is the purpose of labor. That is the purpose of the pain.
It is unfair to men and the pregnancy experience to equate two hours of electrocution to labor. The only way to be fair is to give men the sweet experience of carrying life. They need the previous nine months, with the phenomenon of movement, to be ready to do whatever is asked to meet the baby that made them laugh and cry when bony knees and tiny bottoms pressed against their tummy.
That can never be simulated and it feels cruel, worthy of a witchy cackle to simply say, “here, endure incredible pain for no reason.”
The man who did not endure the entire two hours reflects at the end that he doesn’t know now if he can put his wife through this pain.
I think his comment shows how isolating the pain of labor misses the whole purpose. He doesn’t understand that the pain means something.
While it seems tempting to ask men to see if they can “hack it” when it comes to labor, it will never be an equivalent comparison. You can bet your bottom dollar I wouldn’t do it for any other reason than to meet a fresh baby from heaven. Without that incentive, it loses authenticity. It’s just an endurance test then. Almost game show/reality show-esque. Fear Factor enthusiasts apply now. Or masochists.
All is not fair in love and labor and we should stop expecting it to be.
Unfortunately, men will never know what it is like to carry life. That is truly unfair because while difficult at times, it is ridiculously wonderful.
If pain is the only way to depict and capture pregnancy, men should not “experience labor.”
Instead, I’m happy to experience all aspects of pregnancy. I’ll do the laboring and push it real good if you keep the jokes and ice chips coming, boo.
Image: Woman giving birth via Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com
Monday, January 28th, 2013
38 weeks/9 months
While wrapping up an interview with a psychologist for a pregnancy related article I’m writing, I kept coming back to her advice, “Just like a good wife never complains about her husband, a good mother never complains about her pregnancy.”
I’ve often heard that saying in regards to husbands, it’s one I subscribe to, but I’ve never heard it applied to pregnancy before.
With my pregnancy nearing the end and this unique opportunity to chronicle so many aspects of pregnancy, I can’t get her words out of my head.
I think back to the posts I’ve written and the way I’ve captured pregnancy and I hope that while honest and humorous, it’s also been positive.
There are only so many times a woman is pregnant in a lifetime and it seems cavalier, even detrimental to spend it complaining.
While some may find it arguable, I think it true, a good mother never complains about her pregnancy. Not because it’s easy or she’s being inauthentic, but because like with a marriage, what good comes from it?
The thing is pregnancy is finite. Not even a year in the long span of years we call a life.
Sure, this is the hard part. At 37 weeks, it’s uncomfortable, it’s mentally tough, physically excruciating at times but then, before I realize, the miracle will be over and there is nothing like the miracle of pregnancy.
I am truly grateful to be pregnant. I will miss this belly.
There are a limited number of times a mother feels her baby kick. There are a limited number of times a mother watches her body grow a baby. There are a limited number of times a mother gets to hold her new infant for the first time. These are the moments I want to remember.
All I’ve wanted to do is focus on the things I like about pregnancy. I’ve been afraid to openly say, “I love pregnancy” because I care too much what people think of me. “She’s annoying.” “She’s naive.” “She’s hormonal.” “She’s not being real.” “Her pregnancies are easy”…etc. But I don’t care anymore.
I am a woman who loves pregnancy.
For me, pregnancy is the grandest example of the body’s amazing capacity to grow life and the soul’s ability to love someone without ever meeting.
While this may be the last time I am pregnant, I hope that it is not. Regardless of what happens in the future, I want it written, documented, remembered, the things I love about pregnancy:
Baby kicks. The feeling of a life, a being, a healthy little babe inside of me is something I wish I could box up and save for the rainiest of days. It cannot be recreated and it is hard to conjure when pregnancy is over, but it is the most incredible sensation.
A constant companion. I love the fact that where ever I go, she goes. She’s with me day and night, sharing secret indulgences, silent tears, and sweet movements. To carry her is to love her.
Talking baby. I love discussing the new addition with family, friends, and even strangers. I love discussing how excited we are to meet her and hearing thoughtful congratulations. Babies are to be celebrated and the best way I know how is to talk about how much we already love her.
My husband falling in love with our baby. His worries indicate just how much he already loves our daughter. He’s protective and thoughtful. There are few things more beautiful than a man loving his children.
Envisioning our future family. I am hopeful when I think of our future. I look forward to the noise and chaos of multiple children. I welcome milestones and find fulfillment in the thought of trying to raise happy, helpful, compassionate children.
Picturing my daughters together. I find so much joy in at the thought of my daughters loving each other. Their shared kisses and toys and secrets is one of the things I look forward to the most.
As I’ve focused more on the things I like about pregnancy, I’ve realized how much their really is to love about it.
Image: My 37 week, full term belly
Friday, January 25th, 2013
My first introduction to the “push present” was a Bentley. No, no, no, not for me. That’s crazy talk. I saw it on The Real Housewives of Orange County as the wealthy mother zoomed around town in her new “baby bauble” (although really, a Bentley is hardly a bauble).
Statistics show the “push present,” a present a partner gives to the mother after giving birth to their child is a growing trend. I’m curious as to who this trend growing amongst? Celebs like Rachel Zoe and Mariah Carey made the push present a thing, but are celebs the only ones raking in the gifts at birth? Are we the common folk growing this trend as well?
To me, the term “push present” feels well, pushy. It feels greedy. It feels entitled. It feels like the baby is secondary.
Proponents of the push present say things like “yes, the baby is gift enough but…” the but makes me feel like well, a butt for thinking a present is required for experiencing labor.
As one mom put it, “Labors really tough. It’s nice to have something to look forward to apart from the child of course.” Yes ma’am. It is really tough. But it’s more than just “one of dem days that a girl goes through.” It’s a monumental and special part of life that feels weakened by an “I had a baby and look at this gift I got!” moment.
Many women have being doing the labor sans gifts for centuries. While I believe in having things to look forward to, I know the thought of meeting my child at the end of labor was motivating me through each swear inducing contraction (I joke, sort of…), not a bracelet.
I’m just sayin’ this.
A present isn’t inherently greedy. If a husband wants to give his wife a gift out of the kindness and thoughtfulness of his heart, I’m all for it. But he shouldn’t do it because he’s told to or it’s expected.
I think it’s thoughtful to surprise a new mum with a trip for two post baby or a sentimental token that could possibly be gifted to the new baby one day. Again though, that should happen of the spouse’s own free will and choice and not out of guilt because he didn’t have the “burden” of pregnancy and labor or the need for his wife to have an answer to what she received as a pushy present.
I’m also just sayin’ this.
Ladies, treat yo self. Labor is really though. Having a newborn is really tough. Be kind to yourself after birth.
If that means you want your gams massaged, your toes painted, or your house to “shine like the top of the Chrysler building” through the angelic cleaning hands of someone else, treat yo self. I just think those things should be separate from the birthing experience and not a reward for labor; but a nod that you are a human being who needs help at times and an occasional indulgence to make you feel like a woman.
Image: Bentley emblem via olgaru79 / Shutterstock.com
Thursday, January 17th, 2013
As I inch, or should I say centimeter (I slay me), my way to this due date, there’s another milestone that must be discussed.
The cervix check. Whoomp, there it is!
This is the point when pregnancy stops being polite and starts being real.
Call me dramatic, it’s my trademark, but the cervix check is worse than childbirth. I don’t know what they taught in med school back in the day, but it must have been something along the lines of, “if your patient doesn’t cry when you check their cervix then you’re doing it wrong.”
I don’t want to call my doctor out too much. Her bedside manner is impeccable and she’s listened to and assured an awful lot of hormonal tears from me, but dang gina, dem hands is rough.
My first pregnancy, I wasn’t prepared for the ol’ cervix check. I mean I’d had a pap smear and while not my best friend, no tears were shed. The cervix check though, ov vey. It was definitely a “like a virgin moment” and I don’t mean that in the way Madonna tries to spin it. There was nothing enjoyable about it.
The cervix check is not my favorite activity…but it is my least favorite activity.
I pity the fool who like me, so unassumingly, gets the most painful feel up of their life.
We’re not strangers my doctor and me. She brought my pride and joy, my darling first daughter into this world. Please ma’am, understand we’re close now. Next time, warn me if you’re going to do anything that will make me loathe you for an entire week.
Now that we’re all aware of how much I truly, madly, deeply hate the cervix check, let’s talk the dilemma.
The slightly wussy lady in me who despises pain, wants to opt out of all cervix checks until labor is literally taking my breath away.
However, the curious, glutton for punishment part of me wants to know, is there any reason to suspect, hope, dream that this baby might be coming early? Have the floodgates opened?
The problem is the dilation status messes with the ol’ head. It adds another level of crazy to the waiting game. Just because one dilates does not mean one immediately labors. It can take weeks.
I hear tales of women who walk around dilated to a 5 for weeks. WEEKS! I hear of women who go from 0 to 60 in 5.2 (figuratively speaking of course).
Theoretically, the cervix check means nothing. Like babies, cervixes do what they want, when they want. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I’m curious, oh so curious if anything is happening. It might not make a bit of difference in predicting her arrival to know the dilation digits, but maybe, just maybe it might?
I can’t get you outta my head cervix check.
Is the pain worth it to find out if my business is doing any meaningful business?
Image: Gloved hands via Dan Kosmayer/Shutterstock.com