“So, what’s your plan for after the birth?” This was the question I was recently confronted with as the arrival of the latest addition to our clan draws ever closer. My initial thought was “uh, surviving,” but, as I allowed the question to fester in my mind I started thinking to myself should we in fact have some sort of a plan? And, if this is indeed the case – what should ‘the plan’ consist of? How long should ‘the plan’ be? Should we include others in ‘the plan?’ Perhaps most importantly, what do we call ‘the plan?’ I mean a plan has to have a name right? Ok, so I am getting off point.
The truth of the matter is the younger, fitter people (it’s amazing how nine months can age a couple) that came up with the initial ‘plan’ of bringing another mini version of ourselves into this world primarily just thought it would be nice for baby number one to have a baby number two to play with and ‘the plan’ kind of stopped there.
But, let’s face it – can you ever really be prepared for the magical, yet often overwhelming gift of parenthood, especially another round? As with most things in life, do things really go to plan even if you make one? A fine example of this is the all-important birth plan. Ah, the birth plan – an oxymoron if ever I heard one. I should not mock as I am sure it serves some purpose for many, but I shall anyway. Let’s start with music. Should we have some relaxing Enya playing at the time of the birth to create the right atmosphere or go more upbeat to keep the energy levels high? Let’s go with upbeat as the lavender oil will take care of the relaxation. I of course jest, we could have had a vat of lavender oil at the time of the birth and it wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference and as for the music you weren’t hearing anything over my impressive wailing. Moving on to labour positions (oh yes there are many to choose from). I picked my ‘favourite’ three and as I recall I did not move from the one position that allowed my lungs the space required to scream the loudest. Now let’s talk birth aids – exercise ball yay or nay? Suffice to say there was no ball involved. I now know the second time around my birth plan need only to consist of one big rubber stamped phrase that will get me through from start to finish: ‘GIVE ME THE DRUGS’.
Another seemingly menial, yet topical example of preparation going to waste during this special time is the good old hospital bag. With baby number one I did my research and read what feels like every blog, website and article I could on what the almighty bag should contain. I learnt the hard way that all I really needed was myself, the medical team assisting me in bringing a new life into the world and my other half for moral support. The six-pack of energy drinks I packed went unopened along with the copious amount of cereal bars recommended. I mean come on – how many cereal bars would it realistically take to get you through the task of giving birth? What was I thinking relying so heavily on Kellogg’s to help me deliver a 7lb package?? And, don’t even get me started on the quite frankly laughable suggestion of a book or a magazine to stop you from getting bored during the down time! If there is one thing I was not during my labour – it was bored, and if I had any downtime I would have been chomping down on those cereal bars washed down with one of the many bottles of fluorescent orange beverages stashed in my bag.
I packed enough change of clothes for a two week holiday and enough towels to allow for a shower on the hour every hour. Newsflash – hospitals have towels. The suggested slippers and dressing gown were a nice to have, but to be honest were purchased more down to the fact that they were the two items of clothing I could actually fit into by the end of my pregnancy.
Now, don’t even get me started on the superfluous baby clothes. Having packed all the cutsie, wutise newborn outfits collected over months that were adorned with animal prints we ended up having a baby half the size we were expecting and he was drowning in his first clothes. So, after a rush trip to Mothercare his first outfits were some not so aesthetically pleasing plain white toweling onesies – not a good look I assure you.
I am pleased to say I have now learnt my lesson and the hospital bag is packed, but this time I have taken a much more practical approach. There is only one week’s worth of clothes for me, multiple size clothes for the new arrival and not a cereal bar in sight.
Birth plan and hospital bag aside, there are of course some key things to think about with the arrival of family member number four. One of which is how will baby number one react to the new arrival? With nothing more than feelings of sheer joy I am sure – after all we did this all for him, right? With Tata on the scene (ah, yes this is the stand in name for the real one that is yet to be decided. Literal translation is a shortened version of the word for potato in Portuguese, don’t ask) he is either going to fall in love with his baby brother at first sight or be disappointed that a giant potato did not come out of mama’s tummy like he’s been led to believe all these months (note to self, stand in name could backfire on us big time and lead to long-term trust issues). Other important things I have been pondering are how do we now cope with the ratio changing from 2:1 to 2:2? The little ones are catching up with us, and with their high energy levels coupled with our ever-depleting ones this can only spell trouble. For instance, what happens when we go out for dinner? No more taking it in turns to shovel down a meal quickly while one of you entertains a cranky baby. Now there’s two of them. Does this signal the end of dining out? Surely not?
What about a simple trip to the supermarket. Does this now become a task beyond me as I try to manoeuvre a buggy and trolley around the aisles whilst trying to convince my 20-month-old to hold my hand.There are simply not enough hands for the job! I feel the panic start to set in, but then swiftly think back to my overriding feeling of how plans never really work out anyway and settle my nerves by burning some left over lavender oil.
So, back to the initial question of ‘what’s your plan for after the birth?’ Well the jury’s still out for me on the whole need for a plan thing, so I am sticking to my original answer – it’s all about the ‘survival plan.’ Well what do you know we do have a name for it after all, perhaps we are more ready than we think…