What “They” Said

Disclaimer: This post is about labor and delivery. While it’s not graphic, I wanted to warn the guys who may not care to read about breastfeeding or cervix dilation. 🙂

On August 8, 2012, I gave birth to my first little baby ever. As a new mom, I was more than eager to prepare myself for labor, delivery, my hospital stay, and the first few days with this new little human, so I spent a lot of time searching on the internet and asking questions of my friends with children. Looking back now, it’s interesting to see what was spot-on and what was totally off! Just for fun, I’ve listed below a hodge-podge of advice/tips/information I got from all over the place, and then my actual experience. Of course, “every pregnancy is different,” so I should have expected to have a totally different experience!

You can leave your belly ring in the whole time.
False. It started to look ridiculous through my clothes somewhere around month 4. Besides, they make you take off all your jewelry at the hospital anyway. 

Don’t leave your belly ring in because it will stretch out your skin, and it won’t go back to normal.
Inconclusive. I didn’t leave it in, so I don’t know. What I do know is that my skin stretched out anyway, it hasn’t gone back to normal, and my belly ring hole is about the stupidest-looking part of my stomach right now. I’m only about 3 weeks post-partum, but it really looks stupid. My advice would be to just not get a piercing at all if you’re ever planning to grow babies in your belly. If you already have a belly ring, well, “every pregnancy is different.” Search the internet and decide for yourself!

It’s so nice to not have a period for nine months!
True. But I’d rather that than have all the side effects that came with pregnancy, especially during the first and third trimesters when I frequently felt yucky. Second trimester, okay. I felt totally awesome and enjoyed the excitement of a moving baby and finding out his sex and registering at Target and NOT having a period. The rest of the time, not so much!

You’ll have a “period” for about six weeks after the baby’s born.
Okay, I found this out shortly before we decided to get pregnant, and it was a lovely piece of news that completely negates the benefits of not having a period for the whole pregnancy, if the pregnancy side effects didn’t already negate it. SO NOT COOL.

In the hospital, all modesty is out the window. You won’t care who looks down there.
False! I cared. It’s not like there was a huge party or anything; it was only the people who were helping me try to have a baby, but I was very modest when other people came in there. Like the anesthesiologist, for example. I was a little embarrassed that he could see my butt crack when he gave me the epidural. I certainly wouldn’t have been thrilled about showing off anything else to him. (I doubt he would have been thrilled about it, either, because he’s friends with my husband! Ha!) It was a little weird to have doctors and medical staff I’d never met come visit me just because they knew my husband (he’s a physician there). I wasn’t mad, but it certainly felt a little strange because I was just meeting some of these people for the first time. So, in all, I DID care. If you’re a modest person to begin with, I’m not sure that childbirth will totally change that. You’ll have to relax a bit, but you’ll still care. 

In the hospital, all propriety is thrown out the window. You can say and do whatever you want because you’re having a baby, and no one can blame you for it.
False. I thought about this a lot before delivery, actually. I imagined all those TV scenes where the woman is screaming at her husband, “YOU DID THIS TO ME!” and cussing out doctors and nurses left and right. I was a bit apprehensive, because I knew that there was no way to really prepare for delivery, and no way to know what my hormones might be doing or what might want to come flying out of my mouth. Here’s what I realized about a week or two before I went into labor: Having a baby and/or having out of control hormones does not give me a license to sin. Just because my body is being ripped apart, it doesn’t mean I can verbally rip apart my husband or the people who were working to help me through labor. Thankfully, it turned out that I didn’t want to anyway. I never blamed my husband, and I was never mad at anyone in the room. I loved having my husband there, and he was so supportive and calming. (Although I didn’t seem calm, I’m sure.) In all, I firmly believe that you’re still responsible for your choices even when you’re in pain. 

In a hospital setting (as opposed to midwife/birthing center/home birth), they treat labor and delivery as a clinical condition, so it’s impersonal and sterile.
False. The doctors and nurses at my hospital were incredibly caring, patient, encouraging, and attentive to my needs and concerns. I had a great experience with the L&D staff, and since I was there for four days, I think I met them all!

In hospitals, they rush to C-sections at the first sign of trouble.
Inconclusive, because I did have a C-section, but I am inclined to say false. My baby wasn’t positioned quite right, and they did a lot to try and coax him into straightening up. They had me pushing for an hour and a half, but he really made very little progress. I’d been in labor for about 18 hours by then, and that’s when the doctor recommended the surgery. She offered to let me continue trying to push for a few more hours, but we ultimately agreed to go on with the C-section. I didn’t feel pressured at all, even if I was disappointed.

It’s hard to get support from a hospital nursery when you don’t want to use bottles or pacifiers.
False. They were totally supportive. He did come back from his circumcision with a paci, but I was 100% okay with that for a couple of hours, under the circumstances. Poor little bub. 

Breastfeeding is a beautiful bonding experience.
Not false, really, but I don’t feel any more bonded to him during feeding than when I’m looking in his eyes or kissing his fingers or anything else.

Breastfeeding is really painful.
False, mostly. If you and the baby are doing it right, it doesn’t hurt. I still think it feels a little weird, though!

I really hope you can breastfeed; it didn’t work for me.
I am thankful that my little guy was a natural; not everyone has that experience. I haven’t had any trouble from the first time we tried. However, there was an awesome lactation consultant who came and checked on me every day in the hospital, and there is a support group in place as well. If you have trouble breastfeeding, I recommend getting help and support before giving up. If you really want to continue nursing, don’t give up. 

Breastfeeding will help you lose all the baby weight quick!
True, then false. I was dropping a pound a day for a bit, which was awesome! I’ve been stuck at a certain weight for about a week now, though, so it appears I’m on my own for the rest of the weight. Too bad I can’t exercise yet! 😦

You’ll miss feeling the baby move in your tummy.
False. That was really cool until the end when it got really uncomfortable. Even thinking back to the time when it was still really awesome, I much prefer having my little guy in my arms and looking into his eyes. I don’t miss being pregnant at all!

They grow so fast!
True story. I’m already upset about how big he is! 

Your hormones will be crazy for a while. 
True. I cried at a Dreft commercial because they said that I’ll have a child forever, but a baby for only a year. ONLY A YEAR!!!! How sad! 

After you’re home with your little guy, you’ll forget about all the pain of labor and delivery.
That’s a big fat false. I remember. It was painful. Really. And I got an epidural around 5 cm, so I can’t even imagine… Natural birth people, you definitely have my respect. 

The pain will all be worth it.
Oh, so, so completely true. I’d do it again. (But not anytime soon.)

What about you?