I delivered my baby at the University of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC. Prior to my delivery, I had been cared for by the doctors at UNC Maternal-Fetal Medicine, who were amazing – all of them, and I saw many! However, when you are delivering at a university-based teaching hospital, you get what you get when you go into labor, in terms of doctors. Therefore, the doctor who delivered Maddie was not one I had ever met before, but that was fine by me. As long as there was someone there to coach me how to do this and catch the baby, that was all I cared about. And as it turned out, all of the staff that I interacted with that day were great. I have zero complaints about any of the participants in our delivery.
What I found most interesting was this concept of “rooming in” with the baby. I understand the thought process: more bonding of mom and baby, including lots of skin-to-skin time; encourage breastfeeding and milk production; ameliorate the fear of lost/stolen baby; reduces incidence of SIDS; baby will rest more/get more sleep. These benefits have been studied and proven; see Separate care for new mother and infant versus rooming-in for increasing the duration of breastfeeding. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 9.Art.No.:CD006641. I believe all of those things.
Furthermore, this concept was not a surprise – my doctors had discussed that this was the hospital’s policy and I knew this was going to happen going in. What terrified me was that here I was, a brand new mom with a brand new tiny little baby, and they just kind of left us as if I had any clue what I was doing! Yes, you pick up on things fairly quickly, but I felt utterly helpless and worthless at several points in our three days in the hospital.
There was no teaching or assistance in the little, mundane things that I guess it’s just assumed as a brand-new mother you know. I found myself questioning myself on many things.
“Did I put that diaper on right? Is it too tight? Too loose? Too high? Too low?” “Do I have to hold the bottle at a certain angle?” “Why is my breast pump not pumping anything?” “How in the hell do you swaddle?” “Am I holding her right??”
Secondly, I didn’t get any sleep, because Maddie didn’t like sleeping in the bassinet and would only sleep when held. That was all fine and well, but I was terrified that if I went to sleep too I would either drop her or smother her. So…. I stayed awake for the most part. There were a few glorious hours where she did sleep in the bassinet and I did doze off, but of course those would fall during the times when a nurse or tech or housekeeping or food services or whoever would stop by and need something from me or her.
Oh, that brings me to another point: there will be more people concerned with more of your bodily functions in the days after having a baby than you have ever experienced before or ever will!
“Good morning, just need to take a peek down your pants!”
“I’m just going to need you to pee and poop in this ‘toilet hat’ so that I can track your output.”
“I just need to massage your uterus for a minute.” [hint: this is not the pleasant kind of massage you’re thinking of]
Luckily, Daddy, who knew far more than I, was there most of the time, and taught me much very quickly.
It was amazing to my how quickly you catch on as a new mom, though. By day two I had learned to put baby in a onesie and how to use our “cheat swaddler,” though not nearly tight enough, as she broke out every time!
I became more adept at tracking her food intake and diaper contents. And then, by day three, they let us put her in our hospital-approved car seat and take her home. That was another moment of panic. The first thing I said when we got home was: “How did they think it was a good idea to let us take this thing home???” And some days, I still feel that way!
Overall, our hospital experience was excellent. I can’t recommend UNC Hospital enough.