I started writing something along the lines of “how can it be over three months since I held this sweet little bundle in the hospital,” but really, it feels like she’s been a part of our family forever. What is really hard for me to believe is that it was only three months ago we were in the hospital, healing and experiencing this new world with another tiny little baby.
With Lincoln I was so terrified of breaking the baby, or hearing him cry, or hurting him, or doing something wrong that most of what I remember from the hospital stay is the pain of recovery, the stress of newborn cries, and the total awe that this perfect little baby came OUT OF ME!
I wish I had spent a little more time soaking up the awe during our hospital stay.
This time around things were easier. The delivery was easier. The recovery was easier. And confidence from experience made taking care of the actual baby easier. The awe though, that was the same.
Some of my favorite memories of the hospital stay were just a few hours after delivery. That night after the epidural wore off I was feeling much better than expected. Ben had gone home to put Lincoln to bed and pick up takeout and I had about 45 minutes after I sent him home before my mom arrived to meet her granddaughter. In those minutes Adelaide and I paced around the hospital room, her snug and bundled in her SleepSack and me still in a hospital gown. I talked to her about how excited I was to have her be part of our family, how lucky I was to be her mom, and how much she was already loved.
Our hospital had instituted a new policy (I delivered Adelaide and Lincoln 17 months apart in the same hospital so it was interesting to see what had changed) that encouraged an uninterrupted first hour. With Lincoln I was too sick and tired to enjoy this part but with Adelaide I did a bit more of soaking in the cuddles. In addition to the new policy, the hospital had also switched from traditional swaddles to Halo SleepSack Swaddles and this was my favorite change. We ditched traditional swaddle blankets entirely for Halo sleep sacks when we got home with Lincoln but it made a big difference this time around not having to reswaddle every time the baby wiggled free (she couldn’t) or need a diaper change those first few days during the hospital stay. It made for fewer tears and more snuggles which is all you can ask for in the beginning.
So for all of you new moms out there, here’s a few tips to get the most out of your hospital stay when delivering your baby:
1. Soak it up: Just about everything else can wait. Those first few hours (days? weeks?) are just about you and your new baby. Let your husband take care of texting friends and family and taking/sending pictures of the baby. If you’re baby was healthy and crying at birth, all tests can be delayed for a few hours (I did let them weigh my baby after our first hour / hour and a half).
2. You’re in Control: When Lincoln, my first was born, I did everything they suggested, when they suggested it. I met with the Lactation consultant when she happened to stop by, I sent him to the nursery for his hearing tests when the nurse came to get him, I even changed diapers upon the nurses suggestions most of the time. A lot of the time their agenda interrupted a baby’s nap (and thus my precious sleep time). The second time around I realized I could be much more assertive. I could request they come back to do a weight check in another hour when we were both awake. I could ask them to take the sleeping baby to the nursery for a few hours while I sleep. I could ask for the lactation consultant come at a specific time. The hospital is your support staff (an awesome, super knowledgeable, and in my case wonderful support) – the nurses are not your professors, your parents, or the police. You are the one who gets to make decisions about your baby.
2.5 Ask Questions: It is great to be prepared but if a doctor or nurse mentions something you don’t understand or don’t remember, ask! I had the medical staff explain the purpose of every test, every blood draw, and every check they did on me or the baby the second time around. Most of it was just so I could feel more comfortable and understand, but every once in awhile, because I was no informed, I could ask them to hold off and come back later.
3. Bring a swaddle: You can ask your hospital before delivery if they use Halo SleepSacks Swaddles (a lot do!) ahead of time but if they don’t bring your own. Bringing your own swaddle with velcro closure will make swaddling so much easier and help your baby to calm more easily and sleep longer stretches.
4. Ask for help: You just delivered a baby! If you need help, ask ask ask. I remember when my first baby would wake in the night to eat at the hospital, I would have to slowly work through the pain of moving over enough to pick him up out of the bassinet, because I didn’t want to trouble anyone. The second time around I was much more likely to push the nurses button if I needed it, especially in those first 24 hours.