The maternity ward is a cool, weird place. You're surrounded by people but mostly keep to yourself. You're not super mobile and, obviously, you're pretty busy. But every now and then, a patron saint arises. She is there, seemingly, to serve as a beacon of hope for all the other postnatal folks waiting for their discharge papers. Yes, the cool mom of the maternity ward exists, and there's a solid chance you were her and just didn't realize it.
Full disclosure: I wouldn't necessarily count on being the Cool Mom your first time around. It's not impossible, but so much about being a Cool Mom, at least as far as I can tell, relies on experience and perspective. And, like I said, mostly the only people you're going to see while you're recovering in the hospital are your baby, your nurses, and whatever visitors stop by.
Obviously, no one is in a maternity ward for anyone's benefit but their own. And there's nothing wrong with you or your parenting if you never, ever become a Cool Mom, whether it be in the maternity ward or anywhere else. But sometimes you may luck into encountering a ray of maternal sunshine. Maybe you're rooming with her. Maybe you run into her in the kitchen. Perhaps you sit next to her during a breastfeeding class or support group. Maybe you are her. Either way, the following signs will let you know if you are in the presence of, or simply are, the cool mom of the maternity ward:
You Rocked That Bathrobe Like A Boss
It didn't have to be a fancy birth robe you bought specifically for your hospital stay (thought maybe it was). It could be a tatty old thing with a coffee stain on the sleeve. It didn't even have to be a bathrobe. Maybe it was a pair of old yoga pants and a nursing top, or a nightgown, or a housecoat. The point is that whatever you wore, you wore it with confidence and looked comfortable not only in it but in your own skin. Was your enormous phone book-sized pad noticeable at times? Probably. They'd be noticeable in a snow suit. Those things are visible from space. But did you GAF? Nope.
You Were On A First Name Basis With All The Nurses
Because you're in their house (so to speak) and it's the respectful thing to do, for starters. For another thing, you got chummy with them and, of course, they all took a liking to you. You really come to enjoy some adult conversation in-between feedings and diaperings and gazing lovingly at your new baby. You don't do this to butter them up or try to get anything for yourself but, let's face it, you probably wound up getting some tips in all those friendly chats.
You Brought An Empty Bag For Hospital Supplies
Because you know how expensive supplies can get — from diapers to formula — and you also know that everything in the hospital is going to be high quality. You're already paying a fortune to be there in the first place, either personally or through you insurance, so you may as well get everything you can.
(Besides, the nurses you've befriended likely gave you the hot tip to take supplies from under the baby's bassinet as frequently as possible since they'd always be replaced, so you don't even have to feel bad about it.)
You Let Everyone Know About The Beauty Of Mesh Underwear
Some people may initially resist the mesh underwear because it looks like something you'd find on an entombed mummy. But you let them know that the fanciest panties on the planet are not going to come close to the truly surprising comfort of hospital-issued mesh underwear. They're basically knit by fairies from cobwebs spun by magical, not-at-all creepy spiders. You encourage the other new parents in the maternity ward to find as many pairs as they can because when they have to go back to regular undies they're going to wish they had more mesh.
You Helped Your Roommate If You Had One
If you did wind up sharing your room, you respected the curtain divider, but you also let your roomie know you were there if they needed you for a chat, for moral support, or maybe to hold their crying baby so they could use the bathroom. You may well never have spoken to them again, but you always remember each other.
You Praised Everyone Who Gave Birth, However They Gave Birth
The immediate postpartum period can be difficult. Well, practically speaking it's always difficult, because you just had a baby and then you need to hit the ground running caring for that baby, but emotionally it can be difficult, too. Not only are you adjusting to being a parent, but you're reckoning with how your birth went down. Maybe it went in an entirely different direction then the way you planned. Maybe it went exactly as planned but it didn't feel like you thought it would. Maybe it was triggering and traumatic. Maybe you really don't know how to feel about it.
But you, cool mom, let everyone around you who gave birth know that no matter what went down, they're rockstars. You don't play that "Did you give birth naturally?" game, because you know that unless someone birthed an alien, every birth is natural.
You Knew "Fed Is Best"
You never, ever, ever made another parent feel bad about how their child was fed. Whether they're exclusively breastfed, formula fed, bottle-fed with breast milk, or some combination of any of those options, you gave them a big ol' thumbs up and a smile. You did your best to let them know they made a great choice if it's choice that makes them happy and nourishes their child.
You Let Everyone Know It Was OK To Use The Nursery
Yes, it's lovely to have your baby in your room with you but, sometimes you want to sleep for longer than an hour at a time and you can't really do that with an infant next to you.
You let other people know that they don't need to feel guilty for utilizing the nursery. You let them know there's nothing wrong with letting someone else care for your baby for a bit while you recover from giving birth. That, in fact, this is something that used to be a given for newly-delivered mothers, because that just makes sense.
You Tried Your Best To Practice What You Preached
Sometimes, postpartum brains in particular will get on a vicious, mean loop that cannot be helped and will lead you down a rabbit hole of self-doubt and mean internal dialogue. You, Cool Mom, tried your hardest to be kind to yourself. You knew that the only person you had to answer to was yourself and your baby, and you knew it was important to care for both of you. You knew that the standards for new moms are impossible and contradictory and never a one-size fits all.
No One Would Admit It, But Your Baby Was The Prettiest
Seriously, though. Just look at them. I mean, come on!