Everybody's all about the big show: labor and delivery. It's the culmination of 40 (more or less) weeks of hard work so, yeah, it's a huge deal. However, once the excitement has died down, there's a very needy newborn to be taken care of and mother's body that has to heal. Partners, you need to know it's not all about the baby except when it is. I know it's confusing, so I've created a handy guide of things every pregnant woman wants her partner to know about that first night in the hospital.
Technically, I was in labor my first night in the hospital. That's what happens when you labor for 29 freaking hours. Yep, you get an overnight stay. I wish my husband could have known how impossible it was for me to get any sleep that night, but I really needed support the first night after our baby was born. You would think the sleepless nights would start once you got home, but that initial night in the hospital is full of tests, poking and prodding, attempts at breastfeeding, worrying, and pain.
While my spouse was sleeping soundly on a trundle bed in the corner, my mind was going a thousand miles a minute. It's not that I would deny him his rest, and he wasn't unsympathetic, but I think it would have helped him to know the following:
I'm Being Interrupted Every Hour
There are half a dozen things that happen to baby on their first night in this world. For example, they get a heel-stick blood test, a Vitamin K shot, and a hearing test. It's not just the baby, either. The nurses keep coming in to check on me, which is lovely, except that I'd like some peace and quiet to bond with my baby (especially considering I'll spend the next several years being constantly interrupted by this sweet child).
I Can't Sleep
See above. It's really hard to get some shut-eye when the door to my hospital room keeps opening. Plus, I've got some serious adrenaline leftover from the delivery. Add to that the pain I'm experiencing and my constant worry that our baby is not OK, and you have a recipe for insomnia.
It F*cking Hurts Down There
Oh my God, my vagina is on fire. I had an episiotomy, and that sucker hurt like a b*tch. Whether you tear or are cut or manage that thing with your lady parts in tact, whether your birth was vaginal or via c-section, whether you were medicated or not, some postpartum pain is virtually unavoidable. I was very reluctant to press the call button, but in the middle of the first night, I was begging for pain meds.
I'm Worried The Baby Isn't Breathing
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is very real and very scary, especially for a new mom. Please know that I am constantly checking for the rise and fall of our newborn's chest. I know we have taken all the necessary steps to remove environmental and maternal risk factors, but I'm still terrified. This terror is not based in reason, but in a new fierce love that I feel for this little creature.
Bring me my giant hospital water bottle and make sure it is never empty. That is all.
Rooming In Is Awesome And Also The Worst
I know I asked for the baby to stay in the room with us, and that really is what I wanted. You know, because of my irrational fear of baby swapping and kidnapping. Also, I want her close to me.
However, it would have been nice to do the whole "baby in the room thing" without the crying. Nursery care is starting to sound like a nice option. Be prepared for me to change my mind and to be my advocate.
You Need To Change The Diapers
My body is recovering from freaking trauma. This mama needs some rest, and she doesn't need to be getting up every few hours to change a nappy. When I finish breastfeeding, it's your turn to participate in newborn care. So I'm going to need you to get real comfortable with a little something called meconium, mmmmkay?
Breastfeeding Doesn't Always Come Naturally
At least every three hours tonight, I will attempt to breastfeed our baby. It's not as simple as sticking a boob in her mouth. She has to latch, be in a proper position, suck efficiently, and stay awake enough to eat. For now, I'm only able to give her colostrum while I wait for my milk to come in. It's a lot of work. A little recognition would be nice.
I'm Sweaty As F*ck
Cot terribly uncomfortable other there, little buddy? Try sleeping with uncontrollable sweating. As my body's hormone levels are dropping and those excess fluids show themselves out, my perspiration is becoming profuse. It sucks to wake up absolutely hot and soaked with sweat only to become cold from the damp a little while later.
Going To The Bathroom Sucks
When I waddle past you to use the toilet, I'm in for an unpleasant experience. There's perineal pain, blood, swelling, and stitches. Plus, I've completely lost the urge. But I know I have to do it, or I'll get a urinary tract infection.
I've had a tough day, and I'm in for a rough night. A little "I'm sorry, babe" wouldn't hurt.