While I was pregnant with Michael, my 14 week old, my husband and I made plans to have a friend from church watch our two toddlers. The toddlers are 3 years old and 2 years old. However, as my delivery date drew closer, we started having second thoughts about being away from the boys. After a lot of prayer and thought, the decision was made that they would stay with us. Here is what I learned from the experience.
Take Advantage of Classes
Most hospitals have classes that will help siblings to deal with the things that happen during labor and delivery. In our case, we didn’t have a chance to go through the classes, but I did get to read over some of the materials and I think the boys would have benefited from the class.
Getting snacks from the cafeteria and vending machines gets expensive. We packed Ziploc bags of Kix, cheerios and pretzels for the boys. We also had individual serving size containers of applesauce and pudding. I packed the snacks and some juice and milk in a small ice chest. The only thing my husband had to buy was actual meals.
Pack a Change of Clothes
Kids, especially little boys, can get dirty even when there isn’t any dirt around. Having a change of clothes is handy just in case the need for clean clothes arises. If you have a child that is potty training or in diapers, be sure to pack accordingly. My 2 year old was potty training, so I opted to use Pull-ups while we were at the hospital. I brought a timer and set it to 45 minutes so that he could try to potty when the timer went off. Luckily, he did just fine and only had one accident the entire time I was in the hospital.
Keep Them Entertained
I packed a lot of small, quiet toys and books for the boys to play with while I was in labor. I also brought my computer and movies for them. I bought movies they had never seen before so they would stay interested in the movie.
Explain What is Happening
Before I had my epidural, I was having to breathe through contractions, so I explained that I had an ‘owie in my tummy’ so they would know that I was okay. I had them help me breathe through contractions. Coincidentally, helping me breathe is the only thing they remember from the entire ordeal.
When I had my epidural, the nurse explained that they were going to give me medicine to help my ‘tummy owie’ and she let them ‘help’ her by squirting water from empty syringes into a cup. There wasn’t really a purpose for that other than to keep them entertained.
When it was time for me to push, we put the boys’ chairs near the head of my bed so that they couldn’t see what was going on. I kept the sheet over my knees as I pushed just to be sure they didn’t see anything. When Michael was born, they got to help the nurse wipe him off. She put gloves on their hands and gave them each a blanket to help.
We had a wonderful experience with the boys being present at the delivery. Shortly after, their older sister-who was in Chicago at the time-joined us. While some people thought we were crazy for keeping the boys there, I wouldn’t change a thing. A family birth is a wonderful thing if you plan it properly.