We’ve come cross country to be together as a family when my sister has her baby. Since she is having a C section, we were able to time our trip to be around for the actual birth. As we were sitting at dinner tonight she was trying to make a list of what to do, pack and prepare as she’s going into the hospital tomorrow. After a summer of focusing on getting the house ready (despite her earlier anxieties, it looks great to me!) she’s got one evening to cram for her own needs.
So what are the essential things to remember on the eve of your baby’s birth?
The stuff we came up with at dinner could be filed into a few categories:
Grooming. We got on this topic because my sister remembered, smartly, that she needed to cut her nails before the birth. Not that the baby won’t be scratching him/herself with those baby claws (they’re sharper than you might think). But you’ll feel a lot worse if you do it yourself. And grooming tends to be a low priority in the newborn phase. I personally am not of the “shave your legs for the OB” camp. But I do appreciate the value of grooming. In early labor with my son, I painted a self-portrait, which, while not necessarily something I feel like sharing with the world, gave me a lot of strength and pleasure in the moment. My second labor, I was not quite so inspired. But I needed distraction so I showered and blew dry my hair. I was pretty sure I’d be sweating it out in the labor process. For some weird reason, I didn’t. This resulted in some ridiculously glamorous looking birth photos—a self portrait of a whole different kind.
Technology/Record Keeping. You will want to record this event in as many ways as you know how. Make sure your various machinery is ready for the challenge. My sister realized today that they have no SD card for the camera, resulting in a momentary panic (Grandma to the rescue). Technology makes amazing things possible, but it also has amazing capacities to screw up at the worst possible second. Double check. Bring backup. If there are specific things you want recorded (or don’t want recorded!) make sure you communicate them to your partner or whoever’s taking pictures. Remember you can always erase but you can’t go back and take what you missed. But also remember that photographing can add distance to the experience, which can be a drag for Dad.
Personal Comfort Supplies. You may want your own pillow. You might be happier in your own clothes. You could potentially benefit from some breastfeeding tools. Everyone has their own essentials and recommendations. Here’s a site with a lot of personal experiences and ideas about C section prep.
Lastly. Take a minute to experience what things feel like now. Enjoy your relationship with your partner, and your older child if you have one. Things are going to be different after tomorrow. It’s not like this feeling will disappear forever, but it might not be back in this form, at least for awhile. You might not be missing it anytime soon (or ever) because the new normal will soon fill its space. This is something my sister didn’t put on her list at dinner, but as I was about to post this blog, I saw she wrote one herself. Watching her joking and cuddling and talking with her son, I remembered the way I felt about my own son on the day before I had my daughter. He came into bed with us that morning. I was happy and sad and scared—scared of of what might happen, to me, to the baby, to my connection with my child. I hugged him, and I cried. I knew by tomorrow things would change forever. I just didn’t know yet that it would be better.