I was taking driving lessons a long time ago. Let’s just say the person giving me the lesson was the instructor.
Instructor: Before changing a lane, you need to look at the rear view mirror. Now, look at the mirror.
Me: Ok. I did.
After a while, Instructor: Sooo, what did you see?
Me: A nice mirror.
Instructor: Can you see the road behind you?
Me: Yes I do. It’s a good working mirror.
Sometimes instructions are difficult to follow, especially when the instructions are provided with an assumption that the listeners have a certain level of common sense in the topic area. Childrearing is a lot of listening to instinct. Instinct develops from being exposed to certain situations and from the experience that accumulates through the exposure. By the time we were expecting or Dear Son (DS), neither of us has been to close proximity of an infant for a reasonable amount of time. By reasonable amount of time, I mean decades. It has been decades since we saw our siblings or cousins as infants. Yes, decades! By the way, our exposure to our sibling or cousin infants was way more fun than being exposed to an infant as parents. No hard feelings, DS. The summary is, we lucked out on the instinct department.
I (mother of DS) took the most trusted route for accumulating knowledge, read a few books during the nine some months of pregnancy and shared the details with Dear Husband (DH). As we pondered and marveled at all the wonderful tidbits of the life that was forming, time went on slowly. Being voyagers due to our job, we were away from our parents and relatives during the entire time of the pregnancy and the birth of our DS.
Well, all is good and in one fine morning the baby was here, safe and sound. And we, even though read a few books, visited a bunch of informative websites, looked at videos on how to bathe, feed, change diapers, or swaddle an infant, we were mostly, vastly unprepared or underprepared for what to expect from the infant. This post is more of a walkthrough of various things I wish we knew ‘before’ the birth of our little one.
Nutrition, regular checkup, and early prep for delivery will take up the most of the pregnancy phase. Really, there’s nothing else to do here. Let the body do its job, support it as much as you can, when the time comes — get ready for childbirth. I read a lot on what to expect: week-by-week and month-by-month breakdown of what to expect, what was going on with the baby during pregnancy. At times it felt time was slowing down, things could have gone a little faster. 🙂 In the age of multi-tasking and information overload, nine months are long and slow.
The ride to motherhood came with its own perks. The nausea, frequent toilet break – specially the ones at the middle of the night! Oh, and don’t make the mistake of seating in the middle of the row at the movie theater with a packed row when you are expecting. I did that. I am quite certain all those people were not pleased when I interrupted them in the middle of Mission Impossible action scenes; not once, but twice. I profusely apologized the whole time I got out and got in – don’t think that helped much. 🙂
So, here is the run-down for the ‘before’ baby part of pregnancy:
Prenatal vitamin (folic acid to be precise)
Make sure to take them regularly. I started taking them 3-6 months prior to the pregnancy. The folic acid in the vitamin is the crucial element. Some of these vitamins are big. Usually these are taken once a day. There are also others which are taken 3 times a day. Some pre-natal vitamins have plant-based folic acid which are claimed to be better for absorption of these vitamins.
Have regular pre-natal visit
These visits are necessary for the wellbeing of both the mother and the baby. In the beginning, the visits were roughly once a month. The number of visits increases at the end when it’s every week or every other week. Usually they take blood/urine sample, measure blood pressure, weight, belly size, listen to baby’s heartbeat, etc. The frequency of checkup may vary from person to person.
Proper nutrition is important
Make sure to eat something from all the food groups: carbohydrate (grains, bread) acts are the fuel, protein is important for muscle building, fruits, veggies, diary products, etc. The baby gets the taste of food mom consumes. I don’t like egg, so it wasn’t that often that I had an egg. When the time came for DS to try out an egg, guess who didn’t want to have anything to do with egg? Alcohol and smoke are on the no-no list. So is caffeine, since it increases the risk of miscarriage. I once ate a somewhat ripe papaya and I felt wired afterwards – in the tummy department. Later I found out that unripe papaya can induce early labor. Rest of my day went contemplating whether the papaya I had was ripe or unripe!
Take adequate rest and relax
Get as much as you can get. It is suggested that mom sleeps on the left side to keep the blood flow uninterrupted for the liver. Do some yoga, relax, and do some shopping to reduce stress. Search for maternity shoot ideas and studios for maternity photoshoot. We watched many youtube videos of babies doing funny things. It was very soothing.
The first three months may or may not be that difficult. The nausea was somewhat bad for me, but not too bad. I used to carry a little pickle with me most of the times, the tangy taste was good for keeping nausea at bay. Changing the toothpaste also helped – wired as it may seem! The second trimester was much easier. I had more energy. By this time the baby can get the taste of the food you are having. The baby can also hear you. Some people read or talk to the baby, others play music. We went about our life which included most of it expect for read aloud. Also started oil rub at this stage – helps with the stretch marks and DS seemed to like it 🙂 The last few months were a bit tougher because I couldn’t move as fast – but not too bad.
When we first wrote this post, we did not include this paragraph because at that time we thought that it was better to keep some items unspoken. At this point, we think that situational awareness is way better than lack of information. Harmony prenatal test is a process to analyze the DNA fragments of the baby that are floating in mother’s blood stream. Modern techniques can be used to separate those DNAs from the mother’s blood to predict a risk of down syndrome. Any possibility needs to be confirmed with diagnostic tests. Harmony prenatal test can be done as early as in the first trimester while many other traditional tests for similar purpose are done in a later part of the pregnancy. Such tests are sometimes vital for healthy pregnancy and childbirth and sometimes depend on past history.
Get information on different types of childbirth
Collect as much information as possible regarding natural childbirth and C-section. Gather information about assistance (doula, midwife) and what to expect for each of these options. Taking classes can be helpful. We didn’t, mostly because we got information from other sources (doctor, book, and internet).
Get information on how to care for a baby.
Sign up for classes. We did sign-up for such class. DS decided to stay ahead of the schedule and arrived earlier. Surprise! I canceled my registration for the class holding him in my lap. Looking back, should have taken that class or a similar one a week or two after the birth. Could have, should have – well, we can place the entire earth inside a glass bottle with the help of ‘could’. So, I guess, it was all good – DS survived, so did we. 🙂
Pre-register with the hospital
If possible, pre-register with the hospital, which reduces the amount of paperwork during the admission to the hospital. DH will be happy, really really happy, even if he is the one doing the paperwork.
Well, you need to keep yourself occupied for those nine moths, right? And, also the rest of your life. There you go. A nice name will make it easier – just kidding. It was a fun thing for my DH to boldly reject all the names I came up with.
Onesies, blankets, diapers, bottle, thermometer, nasal aspirator, nail clippers, bodywash+shampoo. I can go on and on about these stuffs, but you got an idea. Familiarize with the baby stuffs. Reading comments and reviews of the products from Amazon helps a lot to develop a feeling about brands.
Hospital bag (stuffs for parents and the baby)
No biggie, any bag will do. Not having anything works also. DH can drive home, or get stuff from the store. It’s convenient to have things close by but it’s not like we are going off to another continent to give birth. But, if you want to be ready, keep some comfy and slightly warm cloth for you, baby, and your partner. Some form of entertainment, hygienic product (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.), camera, charger for cell phones, laptops etc. If you want you can use a mild detergent to wash the baby cloths.
This is a must. You can get those car-seat-stroller combo. We didn’t use the combo that many times but it was good to have. Car seat belts usually are very strong and can seem like hurting the baby’s neck. Some car seats come with padded belts that are movable. Our car seat didn’t have this, so we got one from Amazon. We didn’t use it that many times since it seemed bulky for the tiny baby. I wrapped the edges of the belt with small washcloths at times. Some of these car seats come with baby inserts, which makes the seats a little more comfortable for the baby. These inserts can be bought separately. Usually, these are not safety hazard. DS wasn’t a big fan of car seat with or without these seemingly comfy attachments; these were more for our peace of mind!
That’s it for today! Things to keep in mind ‘during’ childbirth: So much with the ‘before’ stage. During childbirth, assess the situation (contraction, water break, etc.), consult the doctor or the doula, listen to your instinct, and keep a level head (as much a possible). Nothing much to add here. Our bodies and minds react differently. For me, I am scared of surgery but I had one. Doctors and nurses were very helpful. Having the DH nearby was a big plus. All those needle poking wasn’t fun but things needed to be taken care of.
Things to keep in mind ‘after’ childbirth: So, the baby is here, congratulations! Here is the big part. If I had to prioritize the preparation of pregnancy again, I will start here. These are where we need to actively tune in with the baby. This is where we are needed 24/7. This is where we need to make decisions. Therefore, prepare for the unexpected! Anyway, DS will wake up soon for his midnight peepee. I need to stop for now. We will bring in the subject again in another post. Yaps, this is going to be a sequel! To be continued …
Settle in El Paso team
Update: The next post has been already published. It is here.