Baby Max arrived a week before his due date. Leading up to giving birth and throughout my whole pregnancy, I had a fairly nonchalant approach to motherhood – I had planned to work until my due date, in fact, my water broke while I was still in the office. My first real moment of panic occurred while waiting for my husband to pick me up to head to the hospital – I suddenly felt completely unprepared for what was coming (the hospital bag was packed after my water broke), and that the next time we’ll be home will be with our new baby. Everything was about to change.
Today, a short month later, I can tentatively say that this whole parenting thing is off to a good start. While a large percentage of that confidence comes from my unrelentingly loving mother-in-law (and there is not enough blog posts, thank-you cards, or gratitude in the world enough for how amazing she is) – our “new parents” panic was first received by the maternity ward nurses.
Nothing daunted Alaine and Bobbi Jo, the two nurses who took care of us during our short hospital stay. I’m sure they had seen it all with new parents and babies coming in and out of the ward, they met us with infinite patience – there was never any hint of exasperation towards our oft-repeated requests and questions. Since Max was born at 11:37pm, the hospital counted the next 23 minutes as our first night’s stay – therefore we had less than 48 hours of support to learn all we could. We opted to “room in” with the baby, him sleeping in the little plastic bassinet next to my hospital bed. Everything was imminent, urgent, and completely baffling to us – including and not limited to:
- Pee (we had never changed a diaper before! oooh, wetness indicator strip!)
- Poop (did you know that a newborn’s dirty diapers look like black tar? we didn’t!)
- Feeding the baby (how is breastfeeding so darn difficult?! please show us how to burp the baby again, for a 3rd time)
- Holding the baby (I still don’t think anything prepares you for holding a newborn – he’s so floppy!)
- Dressing the baby (how do you get that floppy head through a onesie?)
- Bathing the baby (Alaine combed Max’s hair into a lovely pompadour after the bath demo)
- When to panic, and more importantly, when not to panic (I have a feeling that we’ll have these two flipped for years to come)
- How to take care of myself to keep my health and sanity
(Seriously – we knew none of the above going in.)
I’m not sure if we’re just lucky that we ended up with two great nurses – but from the moment that we met them, it felt like we were cared for by friends who are genuinely glad to help – friends who gladly helped me to the bathroom several times when I was wobbly after the epidural. One could argue that they are just “doing their job”, which makes me conclude that they must truly love their job to be doing this for 12+ hours a day for years and still smile through every repeated baby-burping request.
More proof that nurses are awesome: the labor suite nurses are the best motivational speakers I’d ever met – so much positive reinforcement while telling women to “push really really hard” for hours on end! Also, much love goes out to a dear childhood friend’s mom, who is a retired maternity ward nurse, who talked on the phone with me during our first week home and gave me a much-needed dose of sanity.
Would I do this again? Probably – thanks for the nurses who literally propped me up through all this!