I’m a big fan of Kate Middleton. She has beautiful silky hair and it appears as though her legs tan easily. Those are pretty much the only two pillars of my fandom, and if you disagree or find me shallow, you can jog. on.
I was pleased to see her walking out of the hospital like a badass, cradling baby Charlotte in one hand and crushing beer cans on her forehead with the other. It takes some serious guts to walk out in front of millions of people (twice!) after an ordeal like that. While I was not her midwife, I do have a suspicion that I know what was going on under the shimmery facade. This is where we start getting gross.
So, if you’re an expectant mother, father or just curious about the the way the world works, here are a few of my observations from the weird time immediately after birth:
FYTMI: I had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery at exactly 40 weeks. Epidural. Petocin. This was my first baby.
1. Baby comes out, cord is cut, baby gets put on chest, placenta comes out, doctor sews stitches (if necessary), baby goes with nurses to be weighed, footprinted, and measured on a table a few feet away. Baby returns to mama’s arms/chest.
2. This is the moment we opted to have grandparents enter the room and meet the baby. With such a long labor, there was plenty of time for them to get to the waiting room. Emotions and excitement were high. There were tears, photos, videos, and the emotional announcement of baby’s name. This was the only time we had any hospital visitors, which worked well for me and Nate. The whole visit took no more than 10 minutes because…
3. The doctor had to examine my uterus every 15 minutes for an hour after giving birth. This entails a lot of pushing on the abdomen and a vaginal exam. The latter clears the room of grandparents real fast.
4. You’re expected to pee at least an hour after giving birth. Apparently, the bladder must be empty when the uterus starts to begin to even fathom becoming a normal size again. This can be done via catheter or by going to the potty like a big girl. I opted for the latter and did so with the physical assistance of a nurse and my husband. I somehow mustered enough willpower to actually urinate with a nurse hovering over my head and my husband FaceTiming with his sister just outside the (open) bathroom door.
5. Back in our postpartum room, I remember thinking, “Nate doesn’t need to stay the night! He should go home and enjoy the bed and come back in the morning! Poor guy has to sleep on a couch! It’s all good! I have nurses!” This was irrational thinking. A partner must be in the room with you so that he/she can 1. manage the massive stack of hospital/government paperwork that you receive, 2. take handwritten notes on all the golden nuggets of Nurse Wisdom that get hurled your way, 3. enjoy the baby, and 4. be a source of comfort, love, and good humor. I felt so out of sorts and scared that first night. Nate’s high spirits saved me. He also ordered us pizza AND garlic bread AND mozzarella sticks!!!!!!!!! (SPECIAL OCCASION!)
6. Just as the nurse walked away and I finally had a moment alone with the new baby, she turned on her heels and remembered that she needed to check my butt for hemorrhoids (aka the other bundles of joy that come out after pushing). I looked at her with tears in my eyes and said “Please. No.” But it was too late.
7. There’s a lot of bleeding. My hospital bed had puppy wee-wee pads on it, because why feel like a milking cow when you can feel like a milking cow AND an untrained small dog?! The nurse instructed me on how to handle Groin Zero. I’ll give you a sneak peek of the protection. Ready? OK. Here it goes, in order of stacking from bottom to top:
– One pair of disposable underpants
– 2 big pads, laying side by side (“Double Wide,” if you will.)
– 1 long ice pack (the kind you crack and it turns cold. Like a glow stick, but for the worst rave ever.)
– A line of Tucks (witch hazel) circular pads on top of the ice pack. Like bologna slices on a sub. Sorry if my similes are too deep.
You also have to spray warm water on everything down there with a squirt water bottle. Like a bidet, minus the fancy European hotel room.
8. We sent the baby to the nursery at night, mostly because I wanted a few hours of solid sleep where I wasn’t waking up every five minutes to look at the baby and make sure she was still alive. Knowing she was under the watchful eye of three alert nurses who didn’t require ice packs to walk properly made me sleep just a little better.
9. As soon as baby cries in the nursery, she is immediately wheeled into the room to feed. After the feed you can have her wheeled back, or keep her in her case next to your bed. It’s all pretty adorable. Also, any time they wheel her in, they make you recite the long number on your hospital wrist band to make sure it’s the right baby! Here what it was like to look at that wristband after 29 hours of labor and 2 hours of sleep.
Luckily my daughter looks identical to my husband, in case of number flubs.
10. The hospital stay was really busy with feedings, feeding instructions, ordering more mozzarella sticks, vitals checks, state-mandated hearing check for baby, so much paperwork, ordering some more garlic bread too while we’re at it, intermittent sleep, pediatrician visit, OB follow-up (“Please. No.”), endless pad changes, nursing bra fitting, and the bombardment of SO much information from a knowledgeable staff. This is precisely why we opted for no visitors during this time. Nate needed to focus on the details, I needed to focus on healing my body and nourishing my baby, and we BOTH needed to get to enjoy this little girl (and zone out on our iPhones). I know some couples who gain strength from having a lot of visitors at this time. I support that! I just didn’t want my nearest and dearest to see me on a puppy pad. Only my husband can see that. The one guy on Earth who has to have sex with me for the rest of his life.
11. I noticed that all the lactation consultants I saw were kind of smug and aggressive. Then I realized, oh, they’re lactation consultants: The mere nature of their entire JOB is to proselytize a certain lifestyle and judge any digressions from that specific path. All except for Keith the Male Lactation Consultant, who just wants to look at boobs!
12. On our last night, Nate attended a class that was mandatory for discharge. I was too loopy to attend. Apparently the class was just Nate and a poor soul in a wheelchair who was recovering from a c-section. In this class they were both inundated with crucial information about life with a newborn, which Nate furiously recorded in his notebook while the c-section woman fell asleep in her wheelchair. I think about her often, and this image always comes to mind:
13. Speaking of which, there was so much Percoset! And it doesn’t even affect your breastmilk! This was my only relief for weeks and I’m so grateful.
14. I was pushed out of the hospital in a wheelchair, with the baby in the carseat resting precariously on my lap. My shirt had grease stains on it, shockingly, and my hair had developed the hair equivalent of bed sores. It was not a condition to be seen in, and I almost ducked behind the carseat so as not to be seen by a passing EMT… a person who handles gore for a living.
So, yea. I hope this helps you understand my appreciation for Kate Middleton’s clean exit. If I have another baby, I’ll be sure to step up my game a little bit. Already found my Departure Dress!!