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Thursday, March 22, 2007

You don't want to read this

Aunt Sharon and Uncle Josh, both soon to be parents (albeit of different children) seem to want to know more about what this whole pregnancy and birth thing really is like. We've hinted here before how a lot of this goes unsaid, and we left a lot out of the recommended shopping lists.

Still, this seems like a good day for us to share the unvarnished truth, and for you, Dear Reader, to reconsider adoption.

Please note: This "us" and "we" stuff boils down to dad's observations, rather than his personal experiences. It's certainly far worse for mom or any mom, in the generic sense.

Let's begin somewhere.

Third trimester: Everyone has a friend who had the easiest pregnancy ever, with only a little bit of heartburn. You will never be that friend. You will always be the friend of that friend, nothing more.

As you near the successful end to your pregnancy, the most feminine thing that a female body can do, you're going to feel decidedly unfeminine. You're going to swell up like a summer sausage. You'll never be comfortable sitting, sleeping or standing. Everything is going to ache. You're going to be tired, then dead tired, then more tired. It'll get worse. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Labor: There's a quaint term in the English language for women who prefer the experience of natural childbirth, e.g., childbirth without pain killers. That term is simply "F'n idiot." Get the epidural, and keep asking about it. If you have a long labor, you may even be able to rest during the periods between contractions, and even during the contractions themselves. Note the epidural keeps women confined to bed ("back labor"), makes labor longer, and means women have to pee into a bag that has become a temporary part of their plumbing.

So what, exactly, does it mean to have to push a baby out? Witness our eccentric Russian nurse: "Thank the God for the vomit. Is the best push." Nausea happens to a majority of laboring women. And what else did the nurse say? Push like you have the constipation. Yep. Guess what that means? "Accidents" are also incredibly common among laboring women. And what does all that mean? Yep. Pack the Preparation H, the real stuff, not the cooling gel. You're going to need it.

Most babies are going to arrive covered in white stuff, like cottage cheese. Ours also arrived far more white on her own -- an arm in a strange way, the cord wrapped around in odd ways, paler than any of the three non-Asian students left at MIT. A few minutes on oxygen and things got back to normal. But guys, girls? No matter what, this is not the time to practice your infant CPR. Leave it to the pros, and stay the hell out of their way.

Episiotomy. Such a simple word. Looks minor. Wait until the scissors descend upon your loved one. That doesn't look so minor. Our doc did the cutting without asking us. It's out of your hands, anyway.

Blood? Oh, yes. You know when you leave the garden hose on, but don't hear the water flowing through the pipes any more? Something like that. The placenta gets delivered a while after the baby. It'll hang out in a pan, looking something like a surplus from a Grade B horror movie, until the hospital collects it to sell to a cosmetics company. Other family shouldn't come in until the placenta goes somewhere else.

Recovery. Preparation H. Ice packs. Ibuprofen. Narcotics.

Breastfeeding? The instructors say it's easy and natural. Right. dad asked someone if she did lactation consulting. She said she wasn't a certified lactation consultant. Pause. "It's like they have the Ph.D. and I have the associate's degree." Sure. Easy. Natural. Except the baby has no idea what he's doing, and you're new to this, too. Buy the Lansinoh. Buy the Soothies. Use both until a nurse tells you they're not meant to be used together.

Oh, and baby? Most babies start turning yellow with jaundice. The test involves scraping the baby's bleeding heel against a plastic container for about 10 minutes, trying to collect drop by drop. Something like four out of five babies get covered with rashes within the first week, some with little white zits on the inside. You're supposed to ignore it. And unless you had a really tough labor, your baby's going to have some phlegm and other fluids built up that just didn't get squeezed out enough. That means suctioning out snot and stuff from mouth and nose. That's independent of your baby's gastrointestinal tract, which has never worked. Accordingly, it's filled with something like road tar. You could look forward to the days of tar after the projectile crapping begins.

Still, Dear Reader, you'd be given a chance to bring a life into this world, to take a little fella dependent upon you for food, shelter, support and love. Within time, you'll hopefully usher this youngster through adolescence and then perhaps onto college, all to prepare him or her for a life as a successful adult. Just to make your day brighter, we offer this chart:

OK, next post we'll have some cute baby pictures, OK?


  • Thanks for all of the warnings... I'm so glad to know you and Suze love little Isabella and she's worth all of this pain and suffering of the last trimester (and delivery!).
    Keep on posting for me... it inspires me!
    Aunt Sharon:)

    P.S. I will keep this from Pat though... I still want him in the delivery room!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22/3/07 23:02  

  • My wife was that friend. At least for the first pregnancy. She pretty much felt great, no problems sleeping, etc. Except for the 3 days on Pitocen to get him out, it was a joy of pregnancy. And even then, only about a half hour of pushing at the end and the little guy was out.

    That wasn't so bad. We could do it again. No Problem!!

    Let's just say that after the second one, we're waiting for grandchildren.

    By Anonymous Boboli, at 23/3/07 16:24  

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