What Preparing Means

5 Jun

So I bought nursing bras today. And nothing bad happened. It was weird, but it had to be done since I’m popping out of my bras and there’s no point in buying regular ones at this point.

That, plus a few comments on my last post made me realize that this whole decision to “prepare” kind of needs clarification. For me and for you guys, since after all I’m in Israel, and things here work a bit differently… Ok, very differently.

People here  (mostly I think due to Jewish tradition) are VERY superstitious. Nobody has baby showers. A party is usually thrown in honor of the Bris if it’s a boy when the baby is 8 days old, or in the case of a girl – sometime during the first few months AFTER the birth. So baby gifts are usually in the form of a check.

Very few people decorate the nursery before the baby is born.

In terms of purchasing necessities like a car seat, stroller, bottles, etc: The way it usually works is that the couple comes in and “orders” those things in advance. Then once the baby is born, the couple calls the store and they deliver those things to the home within 24 hours. So basically, with the exception of hand-me-downs from friends that may get to the home in advance, the home is baby-stuff-free until after a safe birth.

So with all of that – I’m pretty much in line with the way things are done around these parts. Everyone is scared, so my trauma doesn’t stick out as much.

But then comes the stuff that people do:

Childbirth Classes

Pre-Shopping for the Necessities

Hospital Tours

Self-Education About Caring for a Newborn

There are more abstract things of course, and things that are done in theory before they’re done in practice, but that’s basically it in terms of practical “preparation”.

So today, at 27 weeks, 1 day – this is where I’m at:

Childbirth classes: We found and hired a Doula that specializes in high-risk pregnancy pretty early on. I still don’t know whether I want her at the actual birth, but the idea was to have someone to walk us through the pregnancy.We have our first childbirth class with her, in our home, this Friday.

Getting private childbirth classes was a no-brainer for me. I knew I couldn’t stand taking those classes with normal, happy, blissfully ignorant fertiles in a more public setting. I also wanted to get these out of the way early in case B5 decides she doesn’t want to wait and evicts herself early. This time, I want to feel more in control of the situation. And more importantly even-  I want Shmerson to feel more in control. I know that no matter what, now that we’re in the third trimester things are vastly different than they were last time, and that will already make things easier. But right now, both Shmerson and I associate childbirth with the most traumatic event in our lives. Hopefully these classes, with a Doula who “gets” what high risk is, will make a difference in turning that perception around. At least I hope so, because honestly with all this PTSD action, I’m very scared of labor and birth, and what it will do to us emotionally because of all the trauma.

Hospital tours: We have a choice between 3 different hospitals in our area. I think I know which one I want based on a few factors, but I want to make a fully educated choice. My head says to go to the hospital where the Russian practices so there’s a good chance he’ll be available in case we have to go in for a C-Section (births here are mostly attended to by nurse midwives so the doctor on call is really only relevant if things go wrong). My heart kind of wants to go to the hospital where Nadav was born/died to have a healing experience (maybe?).  And the third option is the closest to home. Eventually I think the tours will be the deciding factor. I think we’ll wait until somewhere around 30 weeks to start those. Maybe even later. We shall see. I honestly don’t even know when the “acceptable” time to do hospital tours is. I’ll have to ask the doula on Friday.

Pre-Shopping: This is a tough one. I’m kind of tempted not to pre-order much. Really at the end of the day, we can buy most of this stuff once B5 gets here. I think the most we’ll probably do is a car seat, brea.st pump, some bottles and blankets, and a moby wrap. Diapers and clothes are going to depend on her size anyway, so I don’t see a point in buying any of that ahead of time since we’re bound to get the size wrong. I know that if needed, my mom will run out and happily be a clothes/diaper shopping maniac while we’re at the hospital, so we’ll be set. Am I being too blase’ about this? Maybe. But most parents I’ve spoken with have attested to the fact that this is really all you need in the first month. What do you guys think?

Self Education: Mrs Brightside left an awesome comment on my last post that really got me thinking about this. She shared that she was too scared to really prepare and educate herself before the birth of her son, and in hindsight she regrets it. I really appreciate her honesty, and I plan to take that to heart. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I can bring myself around to start reading a baby book without freaking out. Any recommendations?

So that’s where I’m at. I guess it’s lucky I live in such a superstitious country. That way people don’t look at me funny for being so hesitant (any funnier than usual, that is).

10 Responses to “What Preparing Means”

  1. Amy June 5, 2013 at 18:21 #

    This sounds like a good plan! The only thing I see missing is maybe some stuff for YOU, but perhaps the hospital will provide a lot of that? Some of those gel soothies nipple/nursling pad things would be a good idea, I think, along with some lanolin or other nipple butter/balm/cream whatever. Coconut oil works well, or even better, actually. You’re right – as long as you get some diapers to meet you at the house upon homecoming, you should be set. Blankets, burp cloths, diapers and your boobs are all you’ll really need for the baby at home, probably for a few weeks at least. It was plenty warm when Ike was born so he hardly even wore actual clothes, just swaddled on top of his diaper or kept him skin-to-skin with a blanket on top as much as we could.

    If you want votes on having the doula present at your birth, I would vote for YES. Especially as she will know (as much as possible) how traumatic Nadav’s birth was for you, and having worked with you through this pregnancy with B5, I think it could end up being invaluable having someone present who can try to help calm you and Schmerson both if things get really overwhelming, as you expect they might. I love the idea that the doula’s job is to “hold the space” for you, regardless of how the birth ends up going. It’s like a semi-invisible buffer zone between what can be a chaotic hospital environment and the bubble around your own experience, which will hopefully help it feel more healing than frantic by the time it’s over. This sounds really metaphysical, which I usually think is nonsense, but the concept worked for me. Even though our doula ended up actually DOING very little beyond snapping some photos and handing me water to drink, it was very helpful when I couldn’t maintain my concentration to be able to look at her and see that she wasn’t at all alarmed, that someone with so much birth experience could see that what was happening to me was all very normal.

    I can also relate to brightside’s comment. I was able to read a lot about birth and got very into that part, but I had a huge mental block against anything beyond that. While I eventually came to grips with being pregnant and the idea of giving birth, at least hypothetically, I never really could imagine actually having a baby, in my care, and didn’t read any books about that part. We did take an infant care class through the hospital, and a breastfeeding one as well, so I figured that between the two classes and access to Google, I would be okay, and if not, I would ask for help either from my mom or girlfriends who’ve had kids. The idea of picking out a book just didn’t appeal to me, so I didn’t, but I have heard good things about Happiest Baby on the Block.

    I must quit rambling, but I have to say how positively warm and fuzzy I feel to read your writing about things like this! You have come so far, even though it has felt like the opposite of fast, so just keep trusting yourself to do what is right for you, and it will melt right into doing whatever is right for B5, too.

  2. missohkay June 5, 2013 at 18:21 #

    I was terrified of even reading baby books too. I ended up with What to Expect in the First Year, which was overall useful but perpetuates some food myths that were thoroughly debunked in online articles I read. I can imagine that pre-shopping will be a little stressful. I still hate shopping at Babies R Us and give the happy glowing preggos the side-eye. (Because I am evil, apparently.) Good luck with your modest preparations. And a little hip hip hooray for the third tri!

  3. Amy June 5, 2013 at 19:03 #

    I have thought about you living in Israel and the custom of not preparing ahead for baby in relation to myself. Part of me felt so superstitious and I only have loss to blame, not custom or surroundings. In fact, I think DH’s and my lack of early dreaming/scheming/planning has been really exasperated some of our family members. I did have three showers, but we started remodeling the nursery and guest rooms so late (mid-April) and are so slow to make decisions that I literally now have nowhere to put all the stuff I’ve gotten…or the clean baby laundry I’ve taken care of. I regret this now. My mom and stepdad are coming to paint both rooms on Saturday, and the carpet we finally ordered last weekend should be installed late next week, and at the rate things are going, we’re going to be lucky if this baby doesn’t come before we’re finished and organized.

    A friend told me all we need are my nipple, our arms and diapers, and that’s true…but *I* need to feel organized or I might go insane!

    As for hospital tours, we haven’t done one. We’re delivering where we delivered our twins in 2011. We’ve decided to forgo the rooms with Jacuzzi tubs for labor because there are only two, the one my twins died and were delivered in, and the one across the hall. I’ve been back to the floor for a friend’s labor and postpartum, and for three non-stress tests. We hired a doula, too, and will have her present for the delivery…can’t wait. We feel like we need her emotional support badly. We took her 2-day birthing workshop mid-May with 5 other couples, and while we were the only ones with the trauma of loss, we were free to talk and cry about it, and it was very therapeutic.

    Love to you, dear one! ❤

  4. Alissa June 5, 2013 at 19:21 #

    Oh my friend. You know I was right where you are at with Raz. I didn’t read and prepare for a newborn as I should have and I also regret it. I think I made things so much harder on myself after the birth, plus I was having a hard recouperation.
    I did my hospital tour around 33 weeks along in case he came early, which he did. 😉

    All you will need is: carseat, swaddle blankets, pump (maybe), a cradle or Rock N’ Play, newborn diapers, wipes, onesies or jammies (depending on the weather), moby, a couple bottles in emergency, and a changing table will save you a backache.

    For soothing we used a few things because newborns are so stimulus sensative: swaddle (or blanket), paci, fan or white noise machine, and the moby. Ergos are good for after 3 months.

    I know how scary it all is – the idea of delivery and birth…we have only bad associations with it. But you know what? I got through it with only mild PTSD and my baby was alive and healthy. Your B5 will be too.

    E-mail me if you need anything. Or call – I can give you my #.

  5. Vero June 6, 2013 at 01:38 #

    Recommendations! I will write this before reading the other comments so I apologize if there’s repetition here.

    For birth stuff… well if you have a doula I am sure she can direct you on the matter. I liked reading a book my Ina May Garten, but I just did what I learned on my birth class and took the drugs. Not sure how it works in Israel 🙂

    If you want to go the Attachment Parenting way any Dr. Sears book is great. Also, Mayim Bialik’s Beyond the sling is pretty good – mostly about her experiences with various aspects of AP and a bit on elimination communication. If you choose not to go that route I would recommend books by Gina Ford. She is a british author and actually has a schedule in her books of what to do with each moment of your day with baby. And changes the schedule every few weeks. The Gina Fords and the Dr. Sears crowd are totally different and that is why I liked reading both. The Happiest Baby on the Block is good too since there’s a DVD dads like to watch.

    I would read up on breastfeeding if you are interested. I love Dr. Jack Newnam. He has tons of breastfeeding info on his website. http://www.nbci.ca/ Needing new bras is a good sign.

    Also, check up on bottles. Mind boggling how many different kinds there are. And even formulas available to you (in case you either want to formula feed or need to formula feed). Also crazy how different they are and so on.

    Carriers: loved my sling for up to 6 mo and then Ergo was great. Carseat: make sure it has adjustable straps that you do not have to thread – makes life easier.

  6. jjiraffe June 6, 2013 at 08:32 #

    This is a really interesting post. My MiL didn’t want to do anything (showers, prepping the nursery) before the twins were born (she’s Jewish) and it made me feel both hurt and like she was expecting my pregnancy to go wrong. (It was high-risk.) This is the first time I’ve been able to put her beliefs into perspective.

    I would trust your gut about what you want to do and when. You’re absolutely right that lots of things can wait. Do what you are comfortable with. I hated all the pregnancy books except “Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy” which was snarky and fun. The other books (especially What to Expect) just made me anxious.

    • Ms. Future PharmD June 6, 2013 at 18:17 #

      Totally agree on Girlfriend’s Guide books. The one on the first year was very helpful (I read it at 41 weeks with the older kid because I was going crazy waiting, and what I recall was laughing a lot the most). I ordered a number of baby things while in labor and some in the week after, and the baby wasn’t naked or undiapered because a friend dropped off some outfits and diapers for us. We were totally fine being unprepared physically. I would say that it’s good to have a plan for getting all that stuff once B5 arrives (like Mo makes a list and someone else goes to get things, or all things will be purchased online so there’s no need to see the cheerful fertile crowd selecting crib sheets) but even that you could just wing it. Do read up on life with a baby at least a little bit so you have some framework for “is this normal?” questions in the middle of the night.

  7. mrs. brightside June 7, 2013 at 05:44 #

    So glad it was helpful! So obviously I’m not the best resource but… my hospital recommends the book Baby 411. I have a hard copy and also broke down and got the ebook when I broke down and got a Kindle. It’s pretty good – seems pretty current with other things I find (to Miss Ohkay’s point) and covers a little bit about everything. For breastfeeding I use the website KellyMom. For all the stuff, I love Lucie’s List (website) – snarky and funny and just enough information. (This is where I learned about the best thing ever – the Rock n Play rocker sleeper thing that was a lifesaver.) There’s a million sleep books, and I’ve been trying to read the No-Cry books. I never would’ve been able to predict what kind of “parenting style” I’d be, but turns out I lean more towards attachment, baby-led, what-have-you. And I have no stomach for things like “crying it out.” So much will be dependent on YOUR baby and YOU as a mother, that you gotta take everything with a grain of salt. But like the others said, having some reference for what info is out there, some basics under your belt, will make those crazy first weeks (months…) less stressful.

    As far as nesting, totally get not setting up the house. But what I found hugely helpful was that I prepared by cleaning and purging and making space. I may not have bought a ton of stuff ahead of time, but when it all started rolling in, I had spots in cabinets and closets and such to put it. And just felt that tiny bit less harried since I had already, i.e. cleaned out the crap from under my bathroom sink.

    Thinking of you, lady…

  8. marwil June 7, 2013 at 10:48 #

    I like the tradition where you live, and I think I will be in the same mindset should we get that far. It’s interesting that it is so different than the rest of the world (I think). And 27 weeks, that’s awesome!

  9. Wife June 7, 2013 at 17:55 #

    I personally loved having my doula at my birth I felt more confident less scared and I think it was good that my husband could take a guilt free break. As far as books the only one I read during pregnancy was “The girlfriends guide to the first year” I really liked the honesty in the book it had some humor and wasn’t scary textbooky. I agree I wish I would have educated myself on parenting when I was prgenant and had time to read but honestly I’m figuring it out day by day so really do what works for you and trust yourself that when B5 makes her arrival you will know what to do.

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