What Do I Do With My Toddler When I’m In Labor?Emily Malone
With less than two weeks left to go until our new baby arrives, we are in full-time prep and planning mode over here. Baby clothes have been washed and sorted, the infant car seat is ready to be buckled in, and hospital bags have been pulled out and (half) filled. But this being our second time around, I find it somewhat comical how (not) prepared I am this time compared to how (uber) prepared I was last time. I know by this point in my first pregnancy, I had a fully stocked hospital bag packed and practically sitting by the front door. This time, the bags are out but the packing has been minimal.
The difference? This time I have a toddler to think about! My husband and I keep laughing at how worried we were last time about figuring out what to do with our dogs when I was in labor. It felt like this huge deal with many different steps and stages to the plan. What if I went into labor outside of kennel hours? How do I book a reservation for an unknown day and time? Should we give a key to a friend in case we have to leave them at home in a hurry? As it turned out, my son was six days late and my mom ended up being in town (and stayed home with them), so this became a non-issue. This time I have my dog-sitter on speed dial, and that’s about the most I’ve thought about it.
Nope, this time it’s all about figuring out where my toddler will go while my husband and I are busy working together to bring our new son into the world. With all of our family being a plane ride rather than a phone call away, we aren’t able to rely on that support network, since we don’t know when this next little fella will be joining us. Luckily, we have great friends here in Seattle who truly feel like a second family, and they have generously offered to help get us through this major life transition.
I have one friend in particular who Cullen is incredibly comfortable with, as he spends a few hours with her and her son one day a week while I sneak in some work hours at the coffee shop around the corner. He loves her like family, he knows her house and her rules better than I do, and he begs to go there almost every morning. Naturally, her house is the place that felt like the natural spot for him while we are otherwise occupied. Thankfully, she agreed.
The one piece that complicated this plan was that she was spending most of the month of September in Europe. Thankfully, she arrived home a few days ago, and I took a big sigh of relief knowing that our Plan A would hold up, and we wouldn’t have to resort to what were some very loose Plan B’s, C’s, and D’s. And so now we know that once I am in labor, Cullen will go to Katie’s house and likely spend a day or two with her family.
Even though I feel completely comfortable with her care, it is still hard for me to imagine Cullen spending the night if not several nights away from us. Up until now, he’s never done that before, and I know it will be a big milestone for all of us. He has, however, taken several long afternoon naps at her house, so I feel confident that overnight shouldn’t be too different. And I expect that he and his little buddy will have a blast splashing in the bathtub together, sharing meals at the table, and running around in their jammies before their sleepover.
Even with this solid plan in place, there are still a lot of unknowns. So much of how and when we coordinate getting Cullen over to her will depend on what time of day labor begins, what day of the week it is, how quickly things seem to be progressing, and more. But despite all this chatter, I’m actually feeling surprisingly laid back about it. I don’t have a big list typed up with all of Cullen’s likes, dislikes, and schedule. I know that she knows most of it already, and the rest they can figure out together. He’s a pretty adaptable kid.
I’m crossing my fingers that labor is relatively uneventful, and even slow at the beginning, in order to give us time to prepare and get everyone where they need to be. I know that dropping him off at her house will be a bittersweet moment for us our last as parents to only one child. But I’m looking forward to seeing big brother bounce into the hospital room to meet his new little friend, and for our next adventure to start as a family of four.