Rules for Visiting a New Mom

I’m obviously not a “new” mom, but I did just have my third baby a couple of months ago, and I’ve learned a thing or two that I’d like to share with some of you who might need the advice.

There’s an etiquette to visiting a new baby. There are rules. Follow these rules, or suffer Mom’s wrath (which would be well-deserved):

  • Ask about hospital visits well in advance. Don’t just show up and expect to be able to see the baby right away. Birth is hard no matter how it goes, sometimes some of us may not want visitors.
    • …and always ask before showing up at home. Don’t just show up at my house once we’re home and expect me to host for you. Ask me first or wait for an invitation. Let me tell you that it’s okay. We both need to settle in, and I’m probably still recovering.
  • Wash your hands. Every time you plan to ask to hold the baby, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. The last thing anyone needs is for a newborn to get sick because you were being lazy.
    • …and just don’t visit if you’re sick. This one should just be common sense. No matter how much I love you and may want to see you, I don’t want you around my newborn if you’ve got germs.
  • Bring food. Or offer to do my dishes. Vacuum for me. Mop my floors. Feed my cats. Offer to change the baby’s diaper. Take my older kids off my hands for the afternoon. Not only will you get my undying love and gratitude, but you will get thanked in newborn cuddles.
  • Don’t comment negatively on my baby’s name. You hate it? I don’t really care, I don’t need to hear it. You can tell me how much you like it, you can tell me all about your great-grandfather’s brother’s niece’s step-daughter who used the name, you can even just say “oh, how nice,” but don’t criticize it. I’ve already filled out the birth certificate and you’ll just annoy me.
  • Leave the advice at the door. Unless you’re being asked for your input, chances are that it isn’t wanted or needed. I’m tired. (And I’ve done this before!) If you’re coming to visit, just let me do my thing, I’ll let you know if I need advice on something.
    • …and don’t be judgmental about my parenting choices. I don’t really care how you parented your kids, whether you diapered with cloth or disposable, whether you breastfed or formula-fed, whether you had a C-section or a vaginal birth, whether you had an epidural or not, etc. It doesn’t matter. Don’t judge how I chose (or am choosing) to do things.
  • Be nice. I just pushed a baby out of my body, it makes me feel good to hear nice things about my baby – or me. Keep it positive.

I Dropped the Ball on Preschool

I messed up.

And I’m mad about it.

Earlier this year, people started asking me if R would be going to preschool this fall. I said no, I didn’t feel like she was emotionally ready. My biggest fear was that I would send her to school and she would be difficult and stubborn and that she would defy the teacher… like she does with me, all the time. It’s no secret that my oldest is extremely strong-willed.

However, over these last few weeks, I’ve noticed a big change from five or six months ago. Honestly, I’ve noticed a change even from just two months ago, when her brother was born. I’m realizing that I was probably wrong on her not being ready for preschool, especially since I have seen this strong-willed child actually¬†listen to people who aren’t one of her parents or grandparents. This is completely new and, actually, unexpected.

To add to it, she’s been asking about where the neighbors’ kids have been lately. When I tell her they’re at school, she asks me, “Can I go to school too?”

I had looked around a little bit at potentially sending her to preschool earlier this year. I emailed someone back in March and she had given me a list of places I could look into. I sort of did, but then I kept putting off doing more work on it. Part of that was because I didn’t feel like R was ready, and the other part was because I had a busy summer: my best friend got married, I had baby number three, my mom got married, and then we went on vacation. Only then did things seem to settle down, and by then it was the end of August.

Realizing that I’ve dropped the ball on getting her enrolled somewhere, I’ve started the process of trying to find her a spot at one of the preschools near us, but I only started that this week. We can’t afford to pay for a spot somewhere so I’m trying to find an opening at a free program, and that’s been proving difficult. Programs are either near capacity already (and giving preference to certain kids using criteria that wouldn’t fit my child) or not calling me back. I’m finding myself feeling frustrated.

Preschool should really be provided through public school for free, in my opinion. It’s not, though, so I’m stuck trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do.

Lesson learned: don’t wait until the last minute with the other two.

My Birth Story – Take Three

Here it is. My last and final birth story to put on this blog. Probably my favorite one too.

I was due on July 4 and stressed all week that “today’s the day!” everyday. It never was. I went to bed on Friday, July 7, thinking, “Eh, it won’t be tomorrow, probably Sunday or Monday.” Maybe that was what my brain needed to hear to get my body into gear, because I was totally wrong.

I woke up Saturday morning at about 9:45am and was having what felt like intense gas pain, which seemed pretty normal, considering the on-and-off diarrhea I’d been having for nearly two weeks. (One of those super fun side effects of pregnancy.) I got up and went to the bathroom and lost a whole bunch of mucus plug. I felt a little better, so I laid back down. E was laying in between my husband and I last night so I cuddled up with her.

A few minutes later, I realized I was still having that pain. It was coming and going, but at first I thought maybe it was still gas. When it started to radiate from my front around to my back (which reminded me vaguely of back labor I had with E), I realized it actually might be full-on contractions. It was almost 10:30am. I shook my husband awake and told him I thought it was the day, and I needed him to get the kids ready, since I could barely move from the pain.

I ended up going downstairs and hanging out on the couch, having to lean over a couple of cushions on all fours every time the pain would show up again. By then, I was timing contractions (I had been since laying in bed) and they were around a minute long, but were somewhat inconsistent in frequency. My husband booked it to get the kids around, make sure the cats had food and water for a day or two, and get our stuff in the car. Meanwhile he kept trying to get me to hurry up because I needed to get dressed and brush my teeth and every time I moved, the pain was just so much worse. I was snippy but he was understanding.

I finally got in the car and the contractions were closer to a minute and a half (some were as long as two minutes) and averaged two to three minutes apart by the time we got here. They got me into a triage room and I warned the nurse, the baby was coming and coming fast, I was already feeling pressure against my tailbone. I don’t think she believed me until she realized how close together my contractions were and how painful they were. I had to repeatedly ask for things because they didn’t seem to have any sense of urgency until another nurse was assigned to me. (And she was great!) It was almost 12:30pm when we got here. Things were pretty intense, I was dilated at a four or five when I came in and my cervix was “very thin.”

I asked for morphine because I didn’t want to deal with the epidural. My gut told me that it wouldn’t be worth the pain and I was too close to delivering, so I just needed something to take the edge off. I wish it had worked better, but I think it did help a little¬†for a little while. (In the end, despite the intense pain, I really think it was better that I didn’t try for the epidural.) My husband let them know to not offer it, he said – which I’m fine with, because he and I had that discussion a few times before today and I told him if I wanted it, to let me be the one to suggest it, I didn’t really want it offered to me.

The contractions got more and more intense and my body started shaking and I started getting nauseous. The pressure in my tailbone was getting worse and I started warning them I was in transition and getting close. I was in a triage room that wasn’t prepped for delivery so they were working on getting it ready, but a delivery room managed to open so they moved me down the hall.

My water wasn’t breaking, so they had me use a peanut-shaped pillow between my legs (I had been on my side since I was admitted because it was the only halfway-comfortable position I could be in) with the hopes that it would break. I was dilated to a six at that point, and they said the intense contractions were probably being caused by the fact that my bag of water was bulging. They offered to break it before we tried the pillow, but I wanted to give it a few contractions and see what happened.

After the third contraction, I felt a really small gush and I thought maybe it was a leak. They let me get rid of the pillow (which I was thankful for because it was making my contractions hurt more with it between my legs) and my mom showed up shortly after. Within just a couple of minutes, my bag burst and it felt like the whole bottom half of the bed was covered in water and blood, though I couldn’t see it so I don’t know how accurate that is.

I told them I was going to push and I just went for it because I had the urge and I wasn’t even going to try to wait. They had to rush around to get a couple of staff members in to deliver, and unfortunately, it wasn’t the on-call resident who was assigned to my doctor’s patients, it was two people who I hadn’t met yet. I can’t even tell you if they were nurse-midwives or doctors.

I think I had two big pushes and that had his head out, but his body was stuck for a second. I think they wanted me to wait to push again, but my body was done and I went for it with a pretty massive push (along with a pretty awful scream) and my husband said the baby literally shot out of me.

I didn’t get to catch him like I did with the girls, but the labor was too intense, so my arms were half holding me up. The nurses did immediately put him on my stomach, and he was so calm, though a little squirmy. The placenta didn’t want to deliver, and I had a pretty big blood clot. I also had what they called a “trailing placenta,” which was a little terrifying once I realized what that actually meant. I was watched pretty closely for possible hemorrhaging, but in the end, everything ended up being okay.

Born on July 8 at 2:43pm, baby W weighed in at 9lbs 4.5oz, the heaviest of the three kids. He was twenty-one inches long with a head circumference of about fourteen inches. My recovery was actually a breeze compared to the other two, which I truly think was in part because I didn’t get the epidural. Cramping was a lot worse this time, but I was told by my nurses that was to be expected.

Our family feels complete, and I couldn’t be happier with how my birth experience went.