Since the day you found out you were expecting, you had it all planned out. Your husband would be bumbling and nervous. He’d grab your bag and rush you, panting and sweating, to the emergency room. Twelve hours of screaming and heavier breathing later, you’d finally meet that tiny person who had been growing inside you. Everyone would come to the hospital with balloons and cards. They’d spend the next few days “oohing” and “aahing” over the tiny bundle. Finally, you, dear husband, and your new baby would go home, ready to start your new lives, together.
Yes, that is the perfect scenario, the one many wish for surrounding the births of their children. Let us now come back to the reality of childbirth. If your pregnancy situation isn’t perfect, as many of ours are not, you may feel the way I did: you simply want your baby to be healthy, not much more.
I was technically in labor for five hours before I realized that those uncomfortable feelings were contractions. I drove myself to the hospital, and dear husband was not around. Gratefully, these were the only deviations from the “ideal” scenario. I had my mother for my coach, the baby was full term (though alarmingly tiny), and healthy. There were some readings on the monitors that gave the doctors a fright, but what do machines know when there are higher powers at work? My beautiful, active little girl was finally here. My energy was back the day after I delivered. I had no postpartum complications. I even asked the doctor if I could leave. Hospital protocol required them to keep me for two days after delivery before I could be released. Her doctor told me my little Celeste was slightly jaundiced, and he had her placed under a small UV lamp to help her liver break down the chemical that was causing the condition. I thought, no problem. We were going home the next day. Well, when sign-out time came, I was dressed, packed, and ready to get out of that stale room. I was all set to start mothering. The doctor informed me that Celeste was not yet ready to leave, and that she would have to stay under the lamp for at least another night.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, or if you are reading this now and your precious newborn is in some hospital’s nursery, here are some tips you can use to cope:
1. Don’t Despair. With all those new and powerful hormones crashing, this is easier said than done. Whether your baby was born prematurely, jaundiced, or something more serious, remember that he/she is getting medical attention. You’d prefer him to be in a hospital, getting the help he needs so he can get well, right? Also, remember not to allow yourself to make the baby’s condition a life or death issue in your hormone-laden mind. It makes things worse. If leaving your baby is too much to handle, ask if you can stay with him. Depending on the hospital, though, this may or may not be an option.
2. Rest. You’ve just been through the most difficult physical ordeal a woman can encounter. You also have a newborn coming home soon, and for some odd reason, she will neither realize nor care that 3:00 am is not an appropriate time to eat.
3. Call often. It’s okay if you call to check up on your baby regularly. The staff expects and welcomes your frequent, maniacal phone calls. It will also set your mind at ease, and gradually, your need to call will taper off.
4. Take care of last minute details. Did the homing instinct skip over you prior to labor? Is your home a mess? Did you somehow forget to buy pampers? These menial tasks will not only help your body start to mend, but they will take your mind off of your heartache. Do not take on tasks larger than what you can presently handle, especially if you are recovering from a Cesarean section. You could suffer a set back and find yourself in the hospital.
5. Seek family for support. Use the company of whoever you are fortunate enough to have at your side at this time. Any loved one will suffice: husband, significant other, parent, sibling, friend. They are also good for comfort, if you just need to cry (those hormones tend to attack whenever, for whatever reason).
Before you know it your baby will be well. You can take her home, and you can finally start your lives together.