Siblings at Birth? Prepare Them.

Mothering.com recently posted an article titled The Beauty of Siblings at Birth, basically talking about how wonderful it was to have her children in the room when the new baby came.  It sounds so cozy, such a great family moment, right?

Here’s my experience:

I went into labor at midnight.  I was 33 weeks along, no way were we going to call a sitter at that hour.  (I was determined to wait until a “respectable hour.”  Like 5:00.)  And we don’t have family in town, so Picasso went to the hospital with us.  He was 2 1/2 years old (and was, at the time, recovering from having his tonsils out).

Of course I wanted labor stopped.  But my body doesn’t work that way.  So I labored in the hospital.  For two hours (because it was 3 or so by the time we got there.)  Picasso was in the room with us, and I didn’t care.  I was in labor, someone else got to think about him.

I didn’t care until he said the words I’ll never forget, the moment that will forever be locked in my memory with the birth of my child.

“Mommy made a funny noise.” (followed by laughter.)

Yup, he got kicked out, right then and there.  I learned how wonderful nurses are at babysitting during an emergency.

All of the “good” sibling experiences people have described involved prepared siblings, mothers who thought about having their older children at the labor and what that would entail.  Mine? A child who didn’t understand the pain I was in and thought it was funny.

Next time, I would call the sitter at 2AM.

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The theory and reality of Preemie Moms

I used to think that there was no way I would have a preemie.  Moms of preemies know that it’s coming, right?  They’re under more rigorous medical supervision, they have some premonition that it’s coming.

5 weeks in the hospital still didn’t have me convinced that I was a “preemie mom.”  Sure, I had checked out the two-inch thick book about Preemies from the library.  Sure, I slept at the hospital at least once, and spent too many hours driving back and forth.  But he was stable, wasn’t he?  He wasn’t near death or needing numerous surgeries.  They didn’t even have him in the NICU, they had him in the “special care nursery.”  (aka Level 3 NICU)  For four weeks.

A monitor for the first month he is home?  Still not a preemie.  It was supposed to monitor his breathing and heart, the only time it went off was when he was screaming his lungs out.  At that point, I knew he was breathing so I turned it off (for a few minutes.)  They only had him on it for a month, not ongoing.

He wasn’t a preemie, he was just “early”.  7 weeks early.  He grew, he was healthy and didn’t have more problems than the average baby.  He was easier than his older brother, in fact.

So what convinced me that he was a preemie?

A cold.

That’s right, a regular cold … that grabbed hold of his lungs and had him wheezing.  Had his breath so bad that the doctor almost sent us from his office to the ER.  He was two years old — too old, I thought, for RSV to be the big problem it is in infants.  Still, he couldn’t breathe well without help.

Now, my little preemie has asthma, when nobody else in his family does. I am learning about inhalers and about giving them to a preschooler.  I fight with him to get the medicine into his lungs, because even if he can’t breathe, he sure can fight.

Even though he is a fighter, he is still a preemie.

Day one

It was a cold day–the coldest it had been in decades. (This is before the negative double-digit temperatures of this past winter.  At that point, I didn’t dare contemplate temperatures below 4 degrees.). I was scheduled to be in court that morning. Thank goodness I got that changed so I wouldn’t have to walk my 38-week pregnant self to the courthouse. Also my date after which I refused to schedule anything just in case my expected late baby came early. (Because, as little as I expected a 38 week baby, there was no way I was having a preemie.) As it was, people laughed for stopping appointments so early. First babies are always late, right?
So here I am, just barely 38 weeks pregnant, and I wake up before my alarm clock with contractions. OK, Braxton Hicks, I know you’ll go away soon, but that HURT! An hour later, I’m in enough pain that I want to be in the hospital. When my husband drops me off at the door, I take the elevator up to L&D and say, I think I’m on labor. They tell me to pee in a cup.
They ask if I want an epidural. Natural mama as I am, I know I can’t handle this level of pain for the 24 hour labor I have planned, so I desperately agree. Then they tell me I’m too far along. I give no thought to the baby I am birthing, I just want this pain to STOP!
An hour and 3 pushes after I walk in the hospital doors, I’m a mother. Nobody knew I was in labor and they are shocked at my announcement. Meanwhile, there is a new person that has emerged from my body, now what? Welcome to the season of Motherhood. Life pushed me through the door, plans not yet made and nursery not yet finished.
Were you prepared for motherhood? Did it explode on you like a storm or come gently like a summer breeze? (OK I know motherhood doesn’t come to anyone like a summer breeze, although I’m sure things went as planned for some people!)

What’s on my menu?

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