Don't get me wrong, I really liked being pregnant. Besides the no booze part, the nine months went by pretty drama-free, the deliveries were uneventful (I know now to never say no to an epidural) and the only reason the word "post-partum" is in my vocabulary is because I've read about it. But now that I have three kids that are eventually (hopefully) going to attain some self-sufficiency, I'm not looking to take a trip down teething and diaper rash lane any time ever again.
Since this is my sister-in-law's first pregnancy and baby, I figured I'd try to be helpful by shining a little realistic light on the delivery and also, what the hell she and my brother are supposed to do with this miniature human that they're suddenly responsible for. I know that there are shelves full of books about pregnancy and babies, but they're all pretty lengthy and often contain bullshit information like "You may experience a small amount of bleeding for the first few days after delivery." What this tidbit of info really means is: "You will bleed more than a freshly beheaded chicken for a couple days, and then it will taper a bit, but if you do so much as a jumping jack during that first week after delivery, you will start to bleed again." So in order to save Ali some time, here are a couple tips:
- Postpartum Undergarments: Take the giant mesh underwear that they give you at the hospital. In fact, if you can get your hands on a few extra pair, swipe those too.
- Rectal Discomfort: If you push for more than three minutes, you may end up acquiring a new friend that is sometimes referred to as Hemorrhoid, and as a result you will have to hang out with Hemorrhoid's buddy, Inflatable Donut.
- Meeting Your Newborn: The first time you see your baby, it isn't like on TV. It's awesome and obviously something you'll never forget, but at the same time, it's kind of icky too. There's a lot of, um, stuff. Stuck to the baby. Like, EVERYWHERE.
- Overwhelming Joy: There are so many new moms that talk about the "bliss" and the "intense happiness" and the "immediate and natural bond" that they experience, and they're right: having a baby is a pretty amazing thing. But if your feelings temporarily end up leaning more toward "shock, pain, fear, holy shit," and "excuse me, but can I rewind my life about 9 months," that's okay, too.
- Nursing Comes Naturally: The baby does not enter the world on an empty stomach and starving. Don't feel like you need to jam your boob in the baby's mouth before she takes her first, or even 50th, breath. Even if a nurse is hovering over you pressuring you to NURSE THE BABY ALREADY don't feel overly pressured. But when you do finally nurse her (if you're nursing), you literally need to just jam what feels like your entire boob into her mouth.
- Mild Vaginal Irritation: In fact, it's probably best not to try nursing until the doctor is done sewing up your episiotomy.
- Establishing Your Supply: For the first couple days of nursing, it isn't like flipping the switch on the Kemps truck. In fact, it'll be more like a slow trickle out of an Elmer's glue bottle that is half-clogged with dried glue gunk.
- I'm a Fucking Dairy Cow: When your milk does come in, then it'll feel like the Kemps truck emptied its entire contents into your chest. And if my brother says "Wow, check out those boobs" and tries to touch them, please resist the urge to either chop off his hand and/or kill him.
- Your New Baby's Wardrobe: Babies look best when they're dressed in a onesie. That's it. Ignore the outfits with collars (Especially the rounded kind, because they always flip up and make the kid look like they're wearing one of those cones that dogs have to wear after surgery so that they don't chew on their incision.), the buttons going up the back (unless you enjoy making yourself cry while attempting to dress your child), lace and bows, anything requiring excessive snapping, and just put the girl in a onesie. If it's chilly, then put her in one of those outfits that resembles a pillow case.
- Around week three, my niece will be pissed and discover that she can be LOUD. She will cry, eat, poop, cry, possibly sleep, and then cry some more. You will, at some point, be really tired and cranky and as a result, might kind of yell at your baby. Don't worry. As long as you don't yell every day, you're normal.
- When you get home from the hospital, and you're finally rid of the nurses and the lactation consultants and everyone else, send EVERYONE home and hang out with your baby. Grandparents are well meaning and friends want to help, but for the first couple days it's best not to have any unsolicited advice. Wear sweats, don't wear makeup, change diapers, find the perfect spot on the couch for nursing and stare at your kid. Tell people who insist on stopping by to just leave food at the front door and then come back in 48 hours to pick up the dirty dish.
Oh, and by the way, at some point you might want to say to hell with this parenting thing because your day is really, really sucking and you will wish that the baby came with a receipt so that you could either return her or, at the very least, get store credit but unfortunately, you can't. But, you can bring her to Aunt Jody's house and I will hold my niece, make you a margarita that is sized appropriately for someone that is nursing and maybe even let you take a nap.
P.S. That's a picture of Zach at 5 days old, taken 13 years and 8 months ago.