It's no surprise that I'm in the final weeks of my pregnancy. I wanted to recap a few items that are on my checklist of "things to do" before baby gets here. This isn't super structured - just a list of things I'm considering, whether it's products or making sure we are registered with the hospital. Ready, here we go...
1. Pre-register for hospital: If ya'll haven't pre-registered with the hospital, make sure you do so! Since we recently moved to the area and I'm new to this hospital (haven't been there ever), we need to make sure we are all signed up and ready to go - meaning the hospital has our information and our insurance information on file prior to delivery. The last thing you want is to show up at the hospital and have to sit there and give the hospital your information while having contractions. It is super easy to pre-register; nowadays most hospitals and birthing centers allow you to do it online.
2. Make a list of birth plan or special needs: So I'm not the biggest proponents of detailed birth plans because who can predict how they will deliver a baby? What I am a proponent of is sitting down and discussing with your partner how you hope and intend for the birth to go. It's important to make sure that you are both on the same page with respect to certain items you hope to happen, for instance, when you think you'll want the epidural, how your spouse can support you, what tricks you'd like him to do to help distract from the pain, etc. I still need to sit down with Ryan to discuss this. Last time, he helped me so much by setting up the music player and playing pump up songs. He was light-hearted and really encouraging all throughout. I think it's also important to communicate to your spouse ahead of time that you might turn into a crazy person because of the pain. I remember I was in so much pain that it really turned me into a different person; for some people, they might get really sweet; for others, they might get really nasty. I was a combination of the two. Aside from this, I think it's important for your partner to know the in's and the out's of what is "important" to you on your birth plan. For instance, I want to get the epidural around 5cm (I think). If Ryan knows this, he can be on my team and remind me during labor that I wanted the epidural around 5cm. Another example is delaying the chord cutting (this is something that is also important to me). After you give birth, the last thing on your mind is going to be yelling at the doctor to wait to cut the chord. However, your partner/husband can play "mean cop" and demand certain things in your favor. Take advantage of this and make sure that your hub really understands how you want things to go down before you get to the hospital. After all, you are laboring and delivery, the least your hub can do is know that key items on your birth plan and be your number one fan to report on those items to doctors and nurses. Another important thing is to outline those important things on a hard copy word document. This includes items that are important to you during delivery, like when to get an epidural and delayed chord cutting, but it also might include certain parameters of your pregnancy that may be important for the hospital staff to be aware of. For instance, last pregnancy I was Group B Strep, so I noted this on my birth plan. I was also A- blood which meant I had a rhogam shot and something important needed to be done after birth. This pregnancy my baby needs antibiotics right after birth because of the kidney dilation. It was my pediatrician that pointed out how important it is not to "assume" that the hospital will have all of the details on file. Thus, I suggest you put them on a hard copy word doc that you have handy to show the hospital staff should they have any questions. Reminder to keep this document BRIEF. You will be laboring and the doctors/nurses don't have all day to read your life story of how you got pregnant and all of your preferences. Simply include your name, a few items that are important to you during labor and delivery and any information that is relevant to yours and baby's health.
3. Talk to your partner and family members about visitors before birth, during and after; make a plan for delivery: Ok, so this is a huge one. It is really important to have candid conversations first with your partner/hub about guests/visitors before labor and delivery, during and after. Which family members will come out for birth of baby? When will they come? Where will they stay? Who will watch your toddler while your at the hospital? When will they leave? Will they stay at your house after you get home from the hospital? At first, I thought I would just roll with it and hope for the best; that all of our family members would come and go as they please, but the closer I got to delivery and after talking with my mom - the sweetest and most genuine person - I realized that I really do need to put my needs ahead of everyone else's. I know myself the best and remember vividly how difficult labor and delivery was the first time, and having people around that may not fully understand the depth of pain I am in or may be someone I can't cry in front of due to the pain and sleepless nights, I've got to really think hard if I want that person around to see me at my worst. Labor and delivery are not easy feats. Like I said, my first delivery traumatized me both mentally and physically; my world was also turned upside down with how demanding a newborn baby can be. Who will you feel comfortable having around when you are at your worst? This was the question I needed to ask myself. Ryan and I did sit down and had a heartfelt conversation about the plan for our family's arrival. All I can say mamas, is that I encourage you to be honest! Know yourself - and if you are the type who likes the "entertain" when guests are in town or likes the house a certain way, having guests who aren't your immediate family likely will stress you the heck out. It's OKAY and encouraged if the only person you want to have around after delivery is your husband! Or maybe it's not your husband - and you'd rather he go back to work and that your mother-in-law or mother help you out in those first days of recovery. Either way, just know what YOU will feel the best about and who will provide YOU with the most help. Ryan and I decided on the best route for us and stuck to it when guests asked to visit us right away. We were strict about it for multiple reasons, including the aforementioned but also because of the importance we felt it was to have "just us" family time. It may be a tough transition with our little Lincoln, and we want to make sure we are attending to his needs rather than hosting family after the fact. Regardless of your decision, I encourage you to talk talk talk it out and be honest about your needs!
4. Find out how many guests can be at the hospital/make sure someone can watch your other kiddos: Some hospitals have certain rules for the number of guests that can be on the floor during delivery. Check this out (likely on their website) and come up with a plan as to who will be at the hospital during birth. You also want to designate someone to watch your kiddos. Immediate options are relatives in the area, a neighbor or even hiring a sitter and paying them nicely to sleep over at your house. Just make sure you have a plan so that if labor comes on early, you aren't forcing your toddler to sleep in the restroom of the delivery room while you grunt through your pushes and pain.
5. Designate your spouse to be "bad cop" before, during and after delivery: Okay, so I know that I already said this, but I think this one is super important leading up to delivery, during and after delivery. As pregnant women, nearing the end of your pregnancies, you can likely feel vulnerable, emotional and all kinds of things. It's a big time in your life and you've got a lot on your mind, mama! This is the one time in your life (this and when you are a bride in my opinion) where you can call the shots. This means that this is your big day and it's going to be stressful; what you need is people in your corner. Your number one fan in all of this is your husband, so make sure you take advantage of that!! In my experience, leading up to birth I have found myself getting stressed from little things that normally wouldn't stress me out. This means dealing with contractors for things around the house or dealing with family members wanting to come visit the baby. Normally, I'd love to chat it up and talk about these things, but for some reason, the closer I get to birth, the more stressed I get about the most random things. This is when I ask my husband to step in and to be the "bad guy" if you will (I say this metaphorically of course). Ryan is the sweetest, most positive person I know and there is no way that anyone would ever take the meanest thing that would come out of his mouth personally, because that is just the way he is. But when push comes to shove, it is important to let your man know that you need him to step in for you during these last weeks of pregnancy, during birth and after delivery. You need him to be your superhero and to rescue you when you start to get that look of "panic" on your face. This period of time will be over before you know it, but right now, is your time to be a little selfish and to ask your man to protect you. Another instance, like I referred to before, is at the hospital. There is going to be A LOT going on at labor and delivery, and you need your guy to step in for your and to make some tough decisions (potentially). You also need him to be a voice of reason and a calming/soothing presence. TELL HIM. Do not assume that he will be serene and tranquil - this is where it's important that you TELL him what you need. Say, babe, I need you to be super calm and my advocate; my hero and helper whenever you see I looked panic; just make me know that it's going to be ok. No sort of calamity or stress should enter your zone during delivery, and make him aware of that. If it does, tell him you won't need to hear about it and you trust he will handle it -- aka make him the bad cop. If the doctor or anesthesiologist (God forbid) is being an A hole, have your hubby handle it behind your back. This is why it's important for you guy to be aware of your needs/desires for birthing.
6. Newborn Carseat: Enough about emotions!! Make sure you install your newborn carseat - ah! We need to do this one still.
7. Know where to park at hospital/how to get inside: So during my first labor/delivery with baby #1, we lived just blocks from the hospital. In fact, Georgetown University Hospital was adjacent to the business school, where I went every day for classes that past year - and also where I had all of my prenatal appointments. Not only that, but Ryan and I did the whole "tour the hospital" thing and knew and were familiar with where labor and delivery were. However, on the night (midnight) that I went into labor, he dropped me off yes, at midnight, in front of some doors and drove off to park. Lo and behold, after he drove off I realized these doors were locked and panicked. I found another option to get into the building, but I say this because my contractions had already started and it would have been really really bad if the second option door didn't open either, and I was really stuck or had to walk around the entire building. It would have added way way way more stress to what is already a crazy stressful situation. Therefore, I encourage you all to (at the very least) call or look on the hospital website to see where labor and delivery is, where the best parking spot is and if there are any special entrances during off hours. Send it to your husband and any family members so that they too are aware. The smart thing to do is to actually drive the route to the hospital and practice parking and getting into labor and delivery, but for us lazy people and second time moms, looking online and/or calling the labor/delivery unit should suffice. Just make sure you understand the specifics!!
8. Buy Baby A Cute Outfit: Okay, so even on your second, third, fourth and (maybe) fifth child (jk), you should buy your baby a coming home outfit!! I mean, you obviously don't have to and what the hospital gives you should suffice. But I will say there is so much fun and satisfaction in dressing your newborn babe in a new little outfit that is all his or hers :)
9. Pack your hospital bag: Okay, shoot, so I haven't done this either. Again, I blame the case of the "second-time mom." But the more I think about this, it is really important to at the very least THINK about what you need to pack. Once you start thinking about what you need to pack, you will likely realize that there is more stuff that you'll need than you originally thought. This leads me to my second point... start packing your bag!! I seriously need to get on this. The other night, I started thinking about all of the things that I need at the hospital and the list was crazy long. After I thought about it, there was a lot more on there and I realized that if I waited there was a high likelihood I would forget something. No, it's not the end of the world. Do you really need your favorite pillow while laboring? No, but it sure as heck will make the experience A LOT nicer. This is why you (I) need to pack your bag pronto!!! If you haven't already, check out my hospital bag checklist here.
10. Buy Siblings A Gift from Baby: This is really important for Ryan and I, and is also something that I keep putting off because I keep thinking that delivery is so far away. In reality, we are two weeks out and it could literally happen at any moment. This is why Ryan and I need to buy Lincoln a gift from baby brother/sister NOW.
11. Talk About Names: Again, second-time mom syndrome of waiting until the last minute. Ryan and I have an ongoing list of names that we love, but as of late, we haven't really agreed on one or even two for that matter. Yes, we agree that we love some names, but don't really know exactly what those are. There is a part of us that wants to wait until after baby comes to decide on the name, and yes, that is pretty much what we will do, but it is important for us to narrow down the list. If you haven't already (which I'm sure you have) start thinking about those names and really hashing them out! You won't want to pick something you might regret later :)
12. Prepare a List of Things to Do for Dad and Son After Baby Gets Here: This one is something that I've also put off but think is really important for that special time that dad gets with the older sibling(s) after baby's birth when you get home and are attending to your newborn. It's no surprise that you'll be recovering and attending to your baby, which will mean that dad is on full-time babysitting duty. Since I stay at home with Lincoln, I know and am well-familiar with all of the fun things we get to do during the day. Make this time special for daddy and kids, and outline some things that you like to do. Us moms know how hard it is to find the coolest story time and the best hours to attend, or what parks are secret treasures, or how much your little one loves to play with the neighbor and at what times they are home. Make a list for your hub generally detailing some of the important factoids. This will take the burden off of his back that you have spent months and months specializing in.
Okay mamas, I'm sure there is A LOT more for me to do but these were the things that came to mind on important items to share. I hope you all are hanging in there, as I am, during these last final weeks/days and really savoring your current situation :)