A few days ago, I was talking to a co-worker who was about to become a new grandmother.
“When’s the baby due?” I said.
“My daughter’s due Sunday,” Leslie said. “But if the baby doesn’t come by then they’re going to induce on Monday.”
“How’s your son-in-law?”
“Is this their first child?”
I leaned forward. “Can you give your son-in-law a piece of advice from me?”
“The night before he takes his wife and baby home,” I said. “Tell him to go back to their house and sleep in his own bed.”
“You know,” Leslie said. “That is good advice.”
Somewhere it is written that a new father should stick by the mother’s side for every second of her hospital stay. I did that when my daughter was born and can now say with absolute certainty that’s complete bullshit. Of course, I was with my wife every moment of her labor and delivery, but hospitals are not restful places and I only got seven hours of sleep over the course of three days. So, when It came time to drive my wife and precious newborn home I was the functional equivalent of a drunk driver. Not good. And, when we finally arrived home my wife, weakened by the ordeal, crashed into bed for two days. Because all the feeding and diaper changes fell to me, my sleep deprivation continued until I was certain psychosis was imminent.
As a result, I always tell expectant dads to go home the night before they drive mommy and baby home. Even if your partner, parents or in-laws protest – ignore them. You need to take a shower in your own bathroom, eat something not prepackaged from a cafeteria, and get a solid eight hours in the comfort of your own bed. That way you’ll be frosty for the drive home have the energy to take care of two people.
And trust me when I say this, after the drama and high emotion of childbirth your partner, even if she won’t admit it, probably needs a break from you.
Enjoy the ride guys.
Lousy one-size-fits-all advice.
Do what works for you and your family and your situation and what makes you happy.
Lol, I knew some people were’t going to like this!
And please note, I said for the father to go home when he knew he’d have to drive his newborn home – not to leave the mother when she needs him or to skate out for beers!
Yeah, there would have been some serious problems if my husband had left me alone in the hospital on the last night (you did say to ignore the partner even if she protests!) Your writing is usually so thoughtful, this is a strange departure. The problem is not everyone has the same experience you had. I never once “crashed in bed for two days.” Like, not even when I had the flu. And I had a c-section wound to care for. My husband had a tough job, but I don’t think he ever thought he had it tougher than a first time mom with wounds who is trying to figure out breastfeeding. You’re in this together (unless you leave your partner at the hospital without her blessing, then good luck)
Even though I don’t agree, I do understand the point you’re making. Thank you for sharing it, it’s always good to hear different points of view!
Not pregnancy, but I’ve been there. The ambulance pulls away from the house — my wife’s inside. She’s had a grand mal in the middle of the night and, a while later while I was trying to comfort her, another one. It’s been a rough and frightening two hours and I’m not going to get any more sleep this night. So I don’t jump right in the car. I sit back in the recliner. I breath. The cat comes over and I pet her. I get dressed; eat a snack. Breathe a little more. Watch the pre-dawn rise. And then get in the car and be there for her. Makes all the difference. Sadly, practice makes perfect.
My best wishes to both you and your wife. I hope she is doing better.
This is excellent advice. Luckily we were five minutes from the hospital and I was more than happy to have my husband go home for long naps.
I’m a year late to comment.
As a mom who has delivered two babies–this is absolutely great advice.
What is it they say on airplanes? Put on your own oxygen mask first, so you are still conscious and can help the ones traveling with you?
Hanging around the hospital room doesn’t really help anybody much.
(I think you have some stray words–“frosty for the drive home have the energy.”)
I think you are the only woman who has had a baby that agrees with me!