Expecting? Plan for the Unexpected
There is no way to know for sure when your baby will be born, so in my opinion, you should plan as if your baby will be premature.
Of course, we all hope that our baby will go full-term or 40 weeks, but you can’t count on that.
We Should Have Known Better
We were identified as a high risk pregnancy from day one. We were told that we wouldn’t be able to carry full-term; but things were going so well and the high risk doctor was so confident and so happy with our progress that we let ourselves believe that we were going to carry well into the late thirties.
At 31 weeks and two days, Lynn’s water sack ruptured. So, not a full water break, but leakage. We went to the hospital that Sunday morning not knowing what our immediate future held in store for us.
We were not ready!!! So, my advice is to be ready and be ready early.
I think you should be ready by the start of the third trimester. Being ready early won’t hurt you. In fact, it will take one thing (or more) off of your “To Do” list.
Make Medical Decisions in Advance
- Discuss and understand any risks to your partner with her doctor in advance
- What happens in case of a C-section?
- Will her tubes be tied?
- Who will make emergency medical decisions on her behalf?
- Will you be retaining the umbilical cord?
- How will this be done?
- Get this done early!!! We didn’t and it didn’t happen.
- Choose a pediatrician
- Are you planning to circumcise, your male child?
- Will you both be getting the whooping cough vaccine? (in advance)
- Will you require any other baby caregivers to be vaccinated?
- Will the baby receive the Hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth?
- When and if the baby starts on their vaccination protocol?
Pack Your Bags
We hadn’t packed our hospital bags. Yes, I said bags. Pack a bag for both of you.
If she is admitted, she will likely be at the hospital for the duration.
In my opinion, if you are any kind of a partner, you will be spending many hours at the hospital; possibly even overnight.
I stayed in the hospital with Lynn for ten nights. So you both need bags packed for a couple of day stay, minimum.
It’s in the Bag
I recommend having the following items in your “go bags”
- Change of clothes (at least one)
- A nursing bra
- Cute, but ready for prime time, bedroom attire
- A robe
- Clothes hangers (our closet didn’t have any)
- A tablet and/or a lap top computer
- A deck of cards, Uno, a Sudoku/Crossword book, adult coloring books, DVDs, magazines, etc.
- Children’s books to read to your baby, in the womb and out
- Important phone numbers and addresses
- Thank you cards and stamps
- Blanket (I brought Lynn’s favorite blanket to help her feel at home)
- Essential oils, if you are into that sort of thing. They helped Lynn and her nurses were into it.
The Phone Tree
Understand that it is possible that your partner may have to be put under anesthesia during the delivery, especially if she has a C-section. If that happens, she may not be able to meet her baby (or others) for 10-12 hours or longer.
Decide in advance:
- Who gets called and in what order?
- Who gets to know what and when?
- Who will be responsible for calling others?
- When you’re going to tell the world on Facebook that you are a daddy and mommy?
- Explain to your friends and family that you want to be the ones who make the announcement.
Believe it or not, we had a family member upset that I withheld the baby’s photo and stats until Lynn got to meet him. This was something that we had discussed briefly, but had not finalized.
However, I know Lynn and I wanted her to be the first (besides me) one to know his weight, length, etc. and to see our baby’s beautiful face. (I took a picture as soon as we were settled in the NICU)
Trust me when I tell you that she (your partner) will appreciate that you made everyone else wait.
Ask the Hospital What ‘Comfort Items’ They Have Available, If Any
We didn’t even think to ask, but our hospital had these items available:
- DVD players and some DVDs available for use.
- We didn’t find this out until we had moved (snuck would be a better word) half of the electronics in our home into Lynn’s room. (A slight exaggeration)
- Special snacks
- Soft drinks
- Guest menu (meals available to be delivered to the room with the patient’s meal)
The last thing that you will want to do is cook (and clean dishes), while you are dealing with one or two loved ones in the hospital.
We have spent a small fortune, eating as many as three meals a day, in local restaurants and the hospital café.
I strongly advise you to fill your freezer with easy to defrost meals for when you come home, especially if you have to leave your baby behind. (assume that you will)
Buy Fast Food Booklets or Restaurant Gift Cards
Here in Southern California we have many fast food options and just about all of them offer pre-paid booklets and/or gift cards.
As soon as you find out you are pregnant, scope out the restaurants near the hospital.
Go to your favorite places and start buying one booklet or card every other week or so. This way you can spread out the expense of eating out during the hospital stay(s).
Lynn’s nurses could see that she was getting bored with her “hospital diet.” Trust me, your partner will, as well. We explained that she had been managing her blood sugar very well while pregnant, so they let me bring in a few meals from the outside world. It made a huge difference for Lynn’s morale.
Let People Help You
If your friends offer to take you to dinner or cook a meal for you, let them! That is what friends do.
While I am thinking about it, be that kind of friend. If you know people who have a family member in the hospital or who are having a baby, let them know that you are there for them.
Bring them food, offer to take their kids for a day or two, clean their house, assemble the crib, bassinet, baby furniture, etc.
The Golden Rule kicks in here; Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! Be the friend you want your friends to be.
I didn’t truly realize how many amazing friends we had before this experience. We are blessed.
Think About Your Work in Advance
Be prepared for the possibility that you may miss work for an extended period of time.
Be in communication with your boss and have a complete understanding of your company’s policies for maternity and family leave.
Understand what your boss can tolerate and how supportive they will be through your pregnancy journey.
Know what the policies are for your partner, as well. Understand, in advance, if your partner will be covered by disability during the pregnancy, hospital stay and the bonding time with your baby.
If you or your partner are self-employed, your partner may have to be covered by disability insurance well before she gets pregnant.
As a self-employed person, this is something which should be in their/your budget anyway. You are your business and if you’re not working, you don’t get paid.
Make a plan: who will cover you while you are away from work. If you have clients which you have developed over time, they will likely understand your situation.
Introduce to them to the person who will be helping them, in your absence. It will make for a smooth transition.
As long as your absence doesn’t affect their business, you should be fine.
I highly recommend that you stay in communication with your clients, during the process. Just call (text or email) to make sure they have no concerns and fill them in on the progress of the baby.
Trust me, everyone wants to know about the baby.
Family and Friends
Recruit someone to be a coordinator and hub of communication between your family and friends. This person can help arrange for people to bring meals, visit, take care of your children (or needy family members), post updates to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.
It is okay to set rules for visitation at the hospital and when you get home.
Believe it or not, you are not going to want everyone to come to the hospital. It is likely that she will not have done her hair in several days. She probably hasn’t showered in a week. She has no make-up in site and she is on serious pain meds.
She is not going to feel her best, so let her decide when she is ready for visitors.
Secondly, if your baby is in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), you may want to limit access, as well.
Preemies are very susceptible to illness, need lots of rest (they grow while sleeping) and can be over stimulated by too many visitors.
This time is about you, your partner and your baby! (in reverse order)
Use your coordinator to disseminate the rules to everyone who plans to visit. Let them be the bad guy.
Plan as if Your Baby Will be Premature
The moral to our story is: Be Prepared
As soon as you know you are pregnant, start getting a game plan together.
If you have any disagreements, come to a compromise prior to running to the hospital in the middle of the night.
If you know what the plan is, it will be easier on both of you.
By Bill Robertson