Why did we suddenly stop mothering new mothers?

Post Natal Depression

Living as we do in the midst of contemporary maternity culture, it’s difficult to recognize that that the beliefs and priorities that drive US childbirth care are not universal; indeed they are hardly more than a generation old. Our beliefs and priorities in regard to maternity care are particular to this time and place. Sadly they are more likely to reflect the needs of the natural childbirth industry and the hospital industry than the needs of women.

For most of human existence childbirth was recognized as arduous and life threatening. Although we’ve all heard apocryphal stories of indigenous women giving birth in the fields and going right back to work, cultural anthropology tells a different story. Most cultures consider new motherhood a special time that should be spent isolated from the larger society and nurtured by other women.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The natural childbirth and breastfeeding industries insist that childbirth is not an ordeal; women should room-in with their babies 24/7 since they need no rest at all.[/pullquote]

Many cultures and religions specify a period of “confinement,” weeks in which new mothers are relieved of their daily duties and allowed to concentrate on caring for a newborn. They don’t even have to take care of themselves; mothers, mothers-in-law and other women take care of them. Today women may not live near family members, but in some societies they can avail themselves of “baby hotels” to rest and recuperate after leaving the hospital.

Our own culture mothered new mothers until a little more than a generation ago. My mother spent 5 days in the hospital after each birth, and could send her babies to the nursery whenever she wanted to rest. By the time I started my obstetric residency, that period of nurturing had dropped to three days and by the time I finished my residency, “drive-through” deliveries (staying in the hospital for only one day after birth) were being promoted.

Why did we suddenly stop mothering new mothers?

It happened because of an unholy alliance between the natural childbirth industry, which sought to “normalize” birth, and the hospital industry, which relentlessly searches for new ways to save money.

Contemporary natural childbirth advocacy is to a distressingly large extent about wresting back economic control of childbirth from obstetricians. Midwives, doulas and childbirth educators have woven a convenient fantasy about how obstetricians “stole” childbirth (and the money it represents) from midwives. That fantasy rests on a profound unwillingness to acknowledge both historical and scientific fact.

It is a historical fact that women came to prefer obstetrician hospital care because of its safety and increased comfort. So the natural childbirth industry/midwifery has fought back by deriding both the safety and the comfort of obstetrician led hospital birth. The natural childbirth/midwifery plan to wrest childbirth back from obstetricians is predicated on the following:

If obstetricians and hospitals medicalized childbirth to make it safer, then midwives would de-medicalize it to make it more enjoyable, and, for added impact, would declare that childbirth was safe before obstetricians got involved.

If obstetricians offered pain relief, midwives would proclaim that feeling the pain improved the experience, tested one’s mettle and made childbirth safer.

If hospitals nurtured new mothers allowing them to recover from the physical ordeal of childbirth, the natural childbirth industry/midwifery would insist that childbirth was not an ordeal and that women should have their babies room in with them 24/7 so they could get no rest at all.

Obstetricians have resisted these efforts and in the beginning hospitals resisted them, too. But hospitals now receive global maternity fees from insurance companies instead of itemized fees based on services supplied. The only way for many hospitals to continue to operate is to cut services. The natural childbirth industry and breastfeeding industries have given them moral and intellectual cover. If childbirth is “normal,” why shouldn’t they force new mothers out of the hospital ever earlier? If the breastfeeding industry insists based on no evidence at all that mandatory rooming in increases breastfeeding rates, why shouldn’t they close well baby nurseries and recoup the savings for themselves?

The natural childbirth and breastfeeding industries benefit in other ways, too. Being forced out of the hospital early makes a postpartum doula and her fee more attractive. Being pressured to breastfeed makes a lactation consultant and her fee seem less like a luxury than a necessity.

So the hospital wins and the natural childbirth/breastfeeding industry wins and mothers lose!

We have stopped mothering new mothers NOT because they no longer need nurturing. In an age where many live far from family and where mothers are likely to return to work only a few weeks after birth, new mothers need nurturing more than ever. But no one cares about women’s needs, least of all the natural childbirth industry and the hospital industry.

The bottom line is that we stopped mothering new mothers in order to increase the profits for both the natural childbirth/breastfeeding industries and for the hospital industry.

I have no hope that the hospital industry could be brought to care about taking services away from new mothers, but the natural childbirth/breastfeeding industries are built nearly entirely on discretionary income and are therefore vulnerable to consumer pressure.

It’s time to push back against the natural childbirth/breastfeeding industries’ insistence that new mothers should be forced to begin the work of motherhood the moment the placenta detaches. We must demand that well baby nurseries remain open, that breastfeeding is treated as optional, and that women be allowed to rest after birth.

Simple human compassion mandates that we do at least that.

  • rachelmarie Acosta

    Mother is there for everyone and when she falls into darkness people treat her as a burden and walk ahead of her. Don’t leave mother behind when she didn’t leave you and your children behind. I felt a strong connection to my Mother who passed after both my children were born the hell you go through and then people just expect you to be waiting on them while they hold your baby and you pass blood clots the size of plums. No I don’t want to play pass the baby I want to play “pass me my medicine water pads and food and don’t expect me to do anything for you” ugh

  • rachelmarie Acosta

    I remember watching a video on replay in the hospital room after labor it was on post partum and the nurse said my husband needs to watch it. So we did, and I remember the man comforting his child’s mother and I said “you don’t do that babe are you going to hug me when I cry this time?!!”
    He agrees he would. Some men recoil when thier partner cries and view it as manipulation but I thought for sure post partum crying would be a special occasion.
    Nope! And so my post partum depression anxiety started.
    Would be Nice if they sat the whole family down and had a talk about invalidating statements vs validating statements.
    And men telling other men “this is real”

  • Magz Clifford

    I really appreciate this. I’m in the early stages of labour now, so if it keeps going I’ll be having the baby any day now. My midwife is helpful but an all natural type that opts to walk away if you choose an epidural. I think it’s this ‘natural’ approach also both infantalises mothers and chooses to ignore their needs, like you’re weak if you need pain control or that the pain is some how good? When is pain good? In what other context are you made to feel weak if you want relief from pain? Don’t even get me started about some midwives going on about the pharmaceutical industry and it’s evils while plugging ‘homeopathic’ alternatives.

  • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

    Why and when may have something to do with the rise of the suburban, Post WWII “nuclear” family. Multigenerational living became a thing of the past. Families became fragmented and physically distant. Families don’t connect to each other in person anymore. They do it online with Social Media. Grandparents no longer live in the same state let alone the same building. Younger siblings live alone or with unrelated room mates. But, hey, poverty and the gutting of the middle class is causing multigenerational living arrangements come back in style.

  • Margo

    In NZ today we are celebrating Mother’s Day. It would be nice to think that we honoured and celebrated motherhood every minute of every day but sadly in this busy world we have abandoned our mothers in so many ways from the get go…no rooming in, early discharge from hospital, a blanket ban on bottle feeding (formula) and pressure to be the perfect parent.

  • Meerkat

    Thank you for this post. Parenting has become a really lonely and competitive pursuit, and I think it hurts both kids and parents.

    • StephanieA

      It is so lonely. Some days I insist my son plays in the front yard with me instead of the backyard so that hopefully a neighbor walks by that I can talk to, just for some adult contact and a break in the monotony.

      Today there was a scary mommy article about a couple that sends their daughter to grandma’s every weekend. You can imagine the backlash and sanctimommy that followed. I have awesome memories of sleepovers with my grandma, and this little girl sounds like she’s loved by a lot of people, and her parents get a break. Not to mention that kids of divorced parents often have a setup like that. I’m not sure if I could send my son every weekend, but dang I’d love to have that option.

      • Meerkat

        If my parents were living closer, my son would be spending every weekend with them. They adore him and he adores them. I would get to relax and recharge, and would be a better mom as a result, more relaxed, less irritable. This idiocy with attachment and sanctiparenting needs to stop.

      • Roadstergal

        They would have had fucking conniptions about me spending time away with my godmother when I was a little girl – she’s not even related to me! (Despite the fact that she was my mother’s best friend from long before marriage.)

        Of course, when my mother died, my godmother was there for me. According to the sanctimommies, I guess she just shouldn’t have gotten cancer, so I wouldn’t have needed anyone else.

      • Who?

        I’m sorry, it can be very lonely. And you’re right, it’s great for the kids to have adults in their lives.

  • Lurkerette

    There’s something else going on, too. I have a five week old, and I’m now on maternity leave, finally (academic – had to finish the last month of the semester), and I can’t figure out how to ask for help, or what I’d ask for. I’m cop to being type A, and I’m solo breadwinner while spouse retrains for a new career, and I’m used to planning ahead and busting my butt, and all of the emotional second-shift stuff as we also have a three-year-old. But I don’t need meals, because we spent the last month before the baby showed up making double of everything and freezing it. I am good at getting work done in small increments of time because I already have to be. My friends are all professional women who have busy lives, too. Cleaning and laundry are tasks I’m already used to doing in between doing everything else, so it’s not particularly helpful for someone else to do that. Also not a terribly good housekeeper so slipping standards are not a concern. Baby eats a lot but nursing is going very well.

    My mom was here for a week and the result was that spouse got a break from his share of the housework as he was studying. I’m in that fun area of being exhausted and bored out of my mind. So what would I ask for? I don’t need a casserole. I don’t need a housecleaner. I don’t need soeone to go shopping because that may be the only chance I have to get out of the house. Baby is EBF and so I’m sort on the clock until she drops a feeding.

    I feel like I’m a victim of being competent, because what I need is about eight hours of alone time with a book and a coffee. (I should spend it sleeping, in this hypothetical universe, but I know I wouldn’t.)

    • moto_librarian

      There’s nothing wrong with some alone time! I hope you can get a few hours with a good book and a cup of coffee very soon.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Is there anyone who might be willing to come over for about 4 hours? You feed kiddo, hand baby over, and then go somewhere else in the house with a book/cup of coffee/bed/whatever makes you happy while someone else cuddles/plays with baby or puts baby down for a nap. In a couple of hours, you feed baby again, and repeat.

      • Monkey Professor for a Head

        I second that! Minimonkey doesn’t work me too hard, but there’s something mentally draining about always being at someone else’s beck and call. Once a week I try to give the baby to my husband or a babysitter for a few hours and go to a cafe. It feels a bit silly as all I do is have a coffee and read a book, but it’s definitely good for my mental health.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          I’ve done exactly the same thing on many occasions; it’s a huge mental health boost!
          We were recently down to one car for a few weeks, and as this area has no public transportation and isn’t walking-friendly, I had to wait ’til DH got home in the evening to do the weekly grocery shopping. I would combine that with a sushi dinner out just by myself with a book while DH wrangled the toddler and did bedtime; at the end of the evening, I’d be far saner than when I started!

    • Who?

      That’s hard. This time will soon pass.

      My one suggestion would be drop the ‘should’. It’s the worst word in the English language. You spend your down time, whenever you get some, exactly and only how you like.

  • theadequatemother

    When I was born my grandmother flew in from another province, stayed two months and looked after my older sibling and my mother.

    When my children were born my mother, who lives 20 minutes away, came by now and again between Pilates classes and lunches out to hold the baby, coo over the baby and ask me to make her a cup of tea.

    Then she left her teacup on the end table and went home. Many of my generation have similar stories about the complete self centredness and lack of help displayed by their parents.

    I’m not sure what is behind this but it’s something bigger than NCB and hospital cost cutting.

    • AirPlant

      I have a friend whose mother spend the entire three freaking week newborn stay imperiously yelling childcare instructions and criticizing my friend for allowing the baby’s nighttime crying to wake her up. My friend also has IGT and nursing was not going well, but her mother had apparently had oversupply and would go on ad nauseum about how she thought that breastmilk was a physical sign of the presence of a maternal instinct.
      .
      I spend 45 minutes in her company before I was ready to kick her out. My friend has the patience of a saint.

      • Who?

        Sounds like my SIL’s mother. Comes over, criticises everything, needs feeding on delicious home made food 3 hourly.

        Her low water mark was the day my friend was sorting a basket of washing, and folded the 3 year old’s tshirt, rather than ironing it. Her mother told her if she had let her standards drop that far, her mother didn’t know what to think.

        • Dr Kitty

          Ironing I’d for my husband’s dress shirts only.
          Everything else gets worn as is.

          • Who?

            Life is so much too short to iron.

            Using time and electricity to achieve something that will be undone in moments.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Ooooooh, may I pass on something I discovered a couple of years ago?
            No-iron/”traveler-style” men’s dress shirts.
            I don’t know if they have them in the UK or what they’re called locally if they do, but were it me, it’d be worth paying the shipping to the UK! DH works in a very conservative environment, so wrinkled isn’t an option, but we also live in a sub-tropical region, so neither is rewearing clothes. I’ve found that these http://www.josbank.com/traveler-wrinkle-free actually live up to the name: wash as you would most light-colored stuff, throw in the dryer, haul out promptly, and you needn’t so much as wave an iron in the vicinity! And they look very nice and professional.
            I have since also found dress pants that needn’t be ironed, either, which means I only break out the iron if I’m doing some sort of fun sewing project, not because DH has had the sheer nerve to wear more than one outfit per week. :p

          • Roadstergal

            Oh lord yes. My husband only buys those shirts. That’s because there are two types of dress shirts that can exist in our house – wrinkle-free and wrinkled. “Ironed” does not exist, because I’ve got better things to do…

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Ditto! I simply do *not* have time to iron, and when I had to make time, it just led to a lot of resentment. Discovering those, in an admittedly small way, actually helped our marriage because I wasn’t feeling the pressure of “MUST USE KID NAP TIME TO IRON” anymore.

    • Dr Kitty

      Thankfully my MIL and my parents are excellent. My parents take my kids one day a week (dad is retired, mum still works part time), and my MIL will happily help out with overnight baby sitting, but lives too far away for a regular gig.

      My mother is a firm believer that “dull women have clean houses”, so is useless at housework, but is also half Jewish, so will turn up with food and nag me until I eat it, before involving my children in some educational and improving activity.

      My MIL, being Irish, will also turn up with food, and will probably clean things when I’m not looking, then takes the kids to a toy shop- usually retuning with something decidedly NOT educational and improving.

      My father will tell tall tales to amuse small children, dandle babies on his knee, and can keep anyone under 10 enthralled for hours at a time. He brings wine, or interesting local beers he has discovered.

      I’m very, very lucky.

      I have visions of being 65, still working, with aged parents and young grandchildren to care for. I can’t say the prospect appeals.

    • Meerkat

      It depends in the mother, I guess. My mom spent her entire vacation to help me out after my son was born, because I was nearly incapacitated after a difficult C-section. When she had to go home, I cried for an hour. She is my son’s favorite person in the world now, they have a special bond.

    • Sarah

      Me too. One grandmother feels she has rights to see my kids but no responsibility to help – retirement for her is a time to enjoy herself. The other grandmother feels a responsibility to help (but sadly can’t due to disability). In our case, I think its in part due to lack of appreciation that help is needed (can’t relate to having to work full time and raise kids without support as she never did); and in part seeing retirement as a right not to be interrupted rather than a luxury few achieve (a generatiobal thing?), especially combined with an attitude born in feminism (but actually working against younger women) of why should the woman yet again make sacrifices and be expected to work for free. It’s really hard.

    • CanDoc

      Yes! This. My kids are 4 and 7, and my parents are from an older generation (in their mid-70s now), and although they talked a good talk about helping, this is EXACTLY what happened. My mom said, “Oh, I did all the hard stuff before, now I can just relax and enjoy the grandkids.” Maybe my husband and I brought this on? Maybe I did something to indicate I was getting by just fine and didn’t need or want help? I don’t know.

    • demodocus

      My in-laws weren’t too bad. They didn’t do much to help, but they were careful not to make any more for us. They were also coming down with a nasty cold and preceeded to give it to us. I knew they would when BIL stayed home from his nasty cold, but it was their very first long-awaited, unexpected grandchild and I couldn’t tell them to stay home.

      Mom’s life insurance paid for our IVF, so obviously I’ve no first hand experience, but she was pretty involved in helpful ways with my sister and her son. Sib’s metastasized cancer meant she’d barely recovered from the birth when she was being treated for it.

      My father and his girlfriend actually stayed away mostly, so they ‘wouldn’t overstay their welcome’ but they did make tea and dinner.

    • Puffin

      Yup. When each of us were born, my grandmother came in and took care of everything for at least a month so that my mother could focus on the newborn. When each of mine were born, my mother made us a pot of soup and some biscuits, complained about my messy house, and invited people over that I didn’t want there, while I was spending half the day with my boobs out.

      We’ll be having our third soon and don’t actually expect to see my parents until kiddo is probably 8 months old since we live far away now and have nearly no contact. A friend is coming here to help out in the immediate period around when baby is born.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    This is completely off topic, but I’m curious about something and was wondering whether any of the OBs here or someone in research knows…

    You know the phenomenon of menstrual synchrony, where women in the same household get on the same menstrual cycle and all have periods at once? I don’t do that. I consistently lag behind the other women (or adolescent girls) in the house. I noticed this first when I was a kid living at home: my mother and sister would get their period and just about the time theirs were ending, mine would start. Now, I’ve got the same thing going with my daughter. I can’t really remember if I synced with women in my dorm in college or coop in residency or anything like that.

    Anyone have anything on why I should apparently consistently sync off, like a clock that always returns to being exactly one hour late?

    • canaduck

      I think the idea of menstruation synchrony has been more-or-less debunked, honestly. Or to quote this particular article I found with a quick google, “…if it exists it is certainly not ubiquitous.” It’s a pretty interesting read. FWIW, I never experienced it with my fellow female family members or friends (that I know of) but obviously that’s just anecdotal.

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-women-who-live-together-menstruate-together/

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        Yeah, looking into it further, I came to much the same conclusion, especially since it hasn’t been pursued any further I think I’ll write it down to confirmation bias and forget about it.

  • Sean Jungian

    You know, I’m glad you wrote this post when you did. Our neighbors across the street have 3 under 4 yrs old, they JUST had a new baby about 2 months ago. I don’t know them very well, they recently moved to our tiny town (he’s the youth pastor at one of the churches). Their grass has gotten a little overgrown so when I saw them last night I offered to send my teenager over to mow for them (it keeps him out of trouble!) but the young woman declined saying they just got a mower and she was looking forward to doing it.

    I said okay! And assured them I wasn’t trying to be like, “why don’t you mow your dang yard already?” snooty or anything, just that I knew what it was like to have to keep up with chores with such a young family.

    WELL, it hit me this morning – DUH – I should have offered to watch her kids while SHE gets out of the house to mow! She obviously is kind of looking forward to some yard work. Or they can come over to our house across the street, or whatever. I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me, and I’m not sure it ever would have, if I hadn’t read this. So this afternoon I’m going over there and offering!

  • Irène Delse

    I feel lucky I’m in a country where penny-pinching hasn’t completely invaded public hospitals – yet. I’m currently in recovery are home for an uncomplicated knee operation. Everything went fine. The prescription of opioids for post-op pains was matter-of-fact. Everybody was professional, even if they were obviously understaffed and overworked.

    When my sister gave birth to her first child, 5 years ago, they kept her a few days even though the delivery was textbook and uncomplicated, but they wanted to be sure the baby gained weight before being sent home. And there was a nurse LC who was, according to my sister, really helpful for getting a breastfeeding relationship under way.

    So far, quality still trumps money, but I wonder for hire long.

  • mabelcruet

    This is probably why ‘lotus birth’ was invented. Keep a rotten, stinking lump of maggotty placenta attached to the baby and you can lie in bed with it for a few days and keep everyone away. Guaranteed to give you some peace and quiet…

  • ChemMom

    OT: Advice needed! I have a friend who is 16 weeks pregnant and is experiencing debilitating pain from a pinched nerve in her neck. Tylenol is not helping and her OB refuses to consider other meds because they are not safe for pregnancy. This cannot be the first time a pregnant woman has been treated for severe pain. After reading this blog I hate seeing women’s needs and comfort minimized. Are there other options and what are the risks? Thanks in advance!

    • Sue

      There is nothing wrong with using opiates (morphine and related) in early pregnancy – the only issue is at birth, when the sedative effects might need to be modified.

      Non-steroidals like Ibuprofen (Nurofen), aspirin and Naproxen are NOT recommended during pregnancy, though the evidence is being questioned.

      It;s also worth looking at physical modalities like physiotherapy and local heat or stretching.

      Here is a good reference article:
      http://www.australianprescriber.com/magazine/34/1/8/10

    • mabelcruet

      I’d agree with Sue below-physiotherapists work wonders in this area (but definitely avoid the bone-cracking chiropractic bunch, a proper physio can do a lot for neck pain.

    • Marie

      I had a pinched nerve in my back from 20 weeks on and can appreciate her pain! Mine was worsened by sitting and so I spent the majority of the second half of my pregnancy either standing up or lying down – not fun at all!!! Couldn’t even sit through a meal etc it was so bad, and my 20 minute drive to work was torture. However, my OB was happy for me to occasionally take tramadol. I didn’t end up using it much (maybe on 3 occasions?), but it was nice to have that option. Heat packs helped a tiny bit, and at one stage I hired a TENS machine when I had a 2 day work conference which I knew I would struggle with. It worked like magic the first 24 hours I wore it, and helped slightly but not enough after that. Physio wasn’t much help for me but they were the ones who recommended the heat pack and trying TENS. Fortunately it seemed to resolve at about 36 weeks, maybe because I was so swollen with fluid by then. I hope it also resolves for her soon! Compared to the back pain, c-section & recovery was an absolute breeze for me!

      On the subject of mothering mothers, I feel like I was so fortunate with my hospital experience. I was able to stay for 7 days after my daughter (planned c-section). She had initially spent a few days in the special care nursery, and after that we struggled initially with breastfeeding – I wanted to stay in for the 24/7 breastfeeding support, which I found really helpful. Also I don’t have any family support except my husband, so being able to stay in and have meals brought to me, no cleaning to do, etc was bliss while I was in hospital! I also took the opportunity while in hospital to invite visitors in to see bub while I was there so I didn’t have to deal with an endless parade of guests once I got back home. I was fortunate though that my (Australian public) hospital puts almost all new mums in private rooms, so I actually found the hospital stay very restful! I know how lucky I was though compared to so many who get pressured to be discharged so quickly after delivery. My experience is not the norm, but I was very grateful for the care I received in those early days of recovery. I do have a health condition of my own though which no doubt gave me a lot more leeway to advocate for a longer postpartum stay for myself.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Okay, so there are effectively no class A (proven safe) drugs for pregnancy because no one’s willing to do that study, but the available evidence suggests that many pain medications, including some opiates, can be used relatively safely. Ref: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2809170/

    • Irène Delse

      Add one for consulting a physiotherapist. They can offer local relief (be it heat packs, massage, TENS) and also treat the pinched nerve via gentle mobilisation of the offending body part. (Emphasis on gentle, because unlike chriros, they don’t want “crack” anything in you!)

      • Roadstergal

        PT FTW!

      • Squillo

        Second this. I had bad pain from a pinched cervical nerve a few months ago, and PT really helped resolve it. FWIW, during my last pregnancy, I was very ill with complications from flu, and my OB had no problem with my other docs providing narcotic pain relief. She consulted with them, and I ended up taking oxycodone for a few weeks during my second trimester.

    • ChemMom

      Thank you all so much for the info! I passed it all along to my friend.

  • Felicitasz

    Well, I don’t know. Back in those historic times when new mothers were expected to rest (the first six weeks is a time period still called “gyermekágy” in Hungarian, which literally translates to “childbed” referring to bedrest, actually) the birth belonged to midwives and not OBs. Then, just as you tell, childbirth went to the hospital – and yet your mom, too, was resting and taken care of.

    I would look at the workforce, job market, welfare – related societal changes in the United States, not the natural birth industry. This latter is increasingly strong all over the world, however, young mothers are not out of the hospital within 48 hours and then left on their own everywhere; they do have family members, neighbours and government paid visiting nurses helping out.
    However, if you are expected to go back to WORK within weeks after childbirth, there is not much time to relax and be mothered by others, no matter what your opinion is about the “work of motherhood”.

    • AnnaPDE

      Hi fellow Hungarian!
      It just all dovetails together nicely, how the hospitals save money and the NCB crowd can push their preferences on everyone because it’s cheaper to not help. Or rather, their services are out-of-pocket for the mum in most cases.
      Interestingly, my cousin gave birth in Budapest six weeks ago, with a not-quite-planned C-section a week before her due date because the baby’s heart rate was a bit high for two days in a row. Baby girl went to the nursery the first night just to be on the safe side, but was rooming in after that. Lucky the dad could stay too, because mum wasn’t getting any pain relief apart from paracetamol — that doesn’t quite cut it for surgery. And they got sent home after 3 days anyway. My aunt could take time off work and was there full days, looking after her daughter and grandchild.
      Compare that how my mum gave birth in the same hospital 35 years ago: C-section, proper pain relief, 10 days of hospital, with me spending most of the nights in the nursery. Babies whose mum wasn’t producing enough milk (yet) were supplemented with milk donated by mums who had too much (like my mum had with my sister). Ok, that was socialism when putting a price tag on health stuff was regarded as massively unethical.
      Or compare that to me having a C-section here in Australia last December: The default stay for that is planned as 5 days, the excuse for it is “to make sure breastfeeding is established well”, but really it is because you just don’t send recently cut-up people home too early. Of course, this is the private hospital that can charge insurance per day for stays, as opposed to getting paid on a per-case basis.

  • surfergirl

    I was glad to be out of the hospital 24 hours after giving birth. Being forced to room in, AND them not letting my husband stay and help plus being up for 48 hours before….I hadn’t slept in three days. I got home, husband took the baby and told me to get my ass to bed. I slept for 13 glorious hours. Not breastfeeding or pumping, which made life much easier. After my husband wen back to work 2 weeks later, my mother came to stay for two weeks, then my MIL came for two more weeks after her. I credit loving those first six weeks and actually remembering them because I actually got to sleep. Then I was lucky enough to have friends who would come over to watch the baby for a few hours while I got me time. And you can bet I reciprocated. Just got back from watching a 2 week old for an hour while Mom took a long, hot bath.

  • Fleur

    In the UK, the policy now appears to be to discharge mothers from hospital 24 hours after a c-section, as long as the section was planned rather than an emergency. Thirty years ago, when my mother had her c-sections, the norm was to discharge after ten days. The new policy is described as the “Enhanced Recovery” pathway, which strikes me as bordering on Orwellian. Cost-cutting and lack of beds dressed up as ideology/ best interests of the mother and baby… A friend of mine who had a vaginal delivery was discharged after 6 hours, despite having bled heavily due to a retained placenta.

    • Anna

      That’s just crazy, isn’t it? You can’t make cut tissue grow back together faster than it can physically (and this refers to vaginal birth as well).

      • sdsures

        When I had abdominal surgery many years ago for my cerebral shunt, nurses and my doctor stressed the importance to recovery of getting up and out of bed as soon as I was able, but at the same time, don’t go bananas in terms of walking speed.

        If memory serves, I shuffled slower than a snail because I didn’t want to tear my stitches. I shuffled for a few weeks when I was home, but breathed easier once the stitches dissolved. But they sure as heck didn’t kick me out the same day.

        • Guest

          Are you in the US? I’m glad you were kept there for more than a day. I swear hospitals in the US have become penny pinching to an embarrassing extreme.

          I’m in the US, and was sent home from my ectopic pregnancy removal after 12 hours; it was a laparoscopy that turned into a laparotomy, so I was both heavily inflated with air and recovering from a uterine resection/open abdomen surgery at the same time. The recovery area nurse also scoffed at my desire to take something heavier than ibuprofen, saying I probably wouldn’t need it, but if I really FELT like it I could take an oxycodone (that had been prescribed by my surgeon, I wasn’t begging for mystery narcotics). When I took my first steps, after around 8 hours of recovery from general anaesthesia, the nurses aide didn’t help me up or over to the bathroom, and told my husband to not help me either. Nothing to lean on either, just me and my grippy socks and open-backed gown. I nearly fainted. It was terrifying, and made me scared to walk on my own for days. My husband helped me after that, thank goodness.

          I have no doubt that it was a cost-saving measure to kick me out as soon as possible. I have no complaints about my surgeon or surgery, they saved my life and did an amazing job while having to think on their feet (the laparotomy and uterine resection weren’t planned, they figured out that was needed in the middle of the surgery, and I healed just beautifully). But the aftercare was pretty paltry at best.

          I have to have a c-section for all future pregnancies as a result of the ectopic, and am 10 weeks 1 day today; I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll get amazing care during the surgery, but I’m planning to have as much help as possible in the hospital afterward, and will bring my own formula to the hospital just in case, as they’ve started the whole BFHI thing there and are already pushing breastfeeding expectations on me (they gave me their “expectations” at my 6 week appointment!!).

          I’m so glad I found this blog, I’d have just absorbed all they told me and thought jaundice and major weightloss were totally, completely normal, that I should be sort of ashamed of having to have a c-section, and that if I can’t breastfeed I’m a failure (my mom has already told me I HAVE to feed formula if breastfeeding is too hard for me, so at least I’ve got people on my side). Thank you all! Even Brooke for bringing up all the nonsense woo, so I can see good arguments against it!

          • Megan

            They actually called them “expectations??” That certainly doesn’t sound like informed consent, that sounds like bullying.

          • Guest

            Yup; they expect 3-4 good feedings in the first 24 hours, and 5-6 wet diapers. That’s how they phrased it, “we expect”. I think they got rid of the nursery too. Thank God my husband is already planning how he’ll pitch in, and my parents will be there too to help I’m so angry on behalf of women who don’t have that kind of help, and I’m already thinking about what I’ll have to do if/when I have a second kid.

          • Mrs.Katt the Cat

            Wow. Is that hospital your only choice?
            I am lucky, I live near several and selected mine based on the reputation of the nurses.

          • Guest

            It’s an amazing hospital for the most part, and the OB’s are beyond parallel, which I care more about due to my previous ectopic. They have hustled me into early ultrasounds and made sure I get what I want, when I want it in terms of care. They even offer a c-section class, apart from the L&D class, so they aren’t full on woo/NCB. The nurses are just sometimes lackluster.

            The breastfeeding thing will probably depend on the nurses/LC’s I get, but I and even moreso my husband aren’t scared to stick up for ourselves, so it should be all right. It’s just exactly like what I’ve read here about the BFHI hospitals, bullying about breastfeeding. Worst case, I get home after 3 days and shove a bottle in the baby’s mouth, but I plan to bring formula anyway so we may supplement even earlier if needed. And hey, if breastfeeding works out, awesome.

            I could choose from one other hospital, but they’re an hour and a half drive in State capital traffic, so I’d worry about going into labor and having difficulty getting to the hospital in a timely manner. They’re also BFHI; my former supervisor’s wife was in tears because she couldn’t produce milk, and I’d bet that hospital contributed to that strife for her, as she gave birth there. Again, they loved the doctors, didn’t especially love the nurses.

            It’ll be all right, but the breastfeeding thing and the “get out you’re fine” thing are both kind of ridiculous. Again, mighty fine doctors and nurse practitioners, so-so nurses.

          • Megan

            I guess if they push you out earlier it’s more likely you won’t have begun supplementing. Then they can count you towards their fate of exclusive breastfeeding at discharge and save money. Win win for them.

          • Mrs.Katt the Cat

            I hope all goes well for you. Bringing support is a must, even with good care. I had my hubby, mom, and sisters. Grea experience, overall.
            I also had a great OB. She let me stay an extra day. The hospital was ready to discharge me at 24hrs but they keep babies 36hrs. I was breastfeeding, it would have been ridiculous. I joked they could if they didn’t mind me camping outside the nursery.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            I don’t suppose that giving them a list of your expectations (fed baby, mom cared for appropriately depending on how you’re feeling, help as necessary, et all) would be considered appropriate? Cos I would be sorely, sorely temped to give them one.

          • AnnaPDE

            Haha, what a friendly way to put it, no pressure at all!
            But at the same time, a “good feeding” also counts if the kid is just desperately sucking your nipples sore for an hour or so instead of actually getting anything out. And yes, it’s perfectly possible for newborns to pee lots without having drunk. Insist on before-after weighs if you have any doubt whether it’s working well. I wish I had.

          • Guest

            That’s a great idea, thank you.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            FYI, you may need to raise a bit of hell to get them, depending on how “baby friendly” your hospital is. Apparently giving mom actual data is considered “discouraging to the breastfeeding process” by many hospitals.
            It’s considered much better to, as they did with me, refuse to give me any actual numbers beyond “she’s lost a little weight, but that’s normal and fine” until a nurse came in and chewed me out for “letting” her lose over 10% of her body weight and threatening to not let her go home with me if she didn’t regain some soon, followed a few hours later by the LC who likewise got snippy because, per the pediatrician’s orders, I supplemented with (horrors!) formula via a tube on my breast. *facepalm*

          • Charybdis

            You can just tell them that YOU, the actual patient, expect that they will be there to take care of you after abdominal surgery and that yes, the baby will be getting 3-4 good feedings in the first 24 hours because you will be feeding formula (supplementing or not, as you choose, if you are going to try breastfeeding) and using a bottle to feed your baby. I wouldn’t go for the cup or syringe feeding nonsense, but that’s just me.

            Decide what you want to do, make a plan with your support folks and stick to your guns. Don’t let them ride roughshod over you.

          • sdsures

            I was born in Canada and had most of my shunt surgeries (including the abdominal bits) there. I now live in the UK, and have only had surgeries dealing with the proximal end of the shunt here.

        • mabelcruet

          UK based? I had abdominal surgery last year for ovarian cysts. Immediately postop, drip in, drain in-the nurse asked me if I was in pain and if I needed anything for it. I said yes, I was in a lot of pain actually and could I please have something for it. Her response was ‘well you’ve just had surgery so what do you expect? I’ll come back in an hour or so to see if its settled’. Not my idea of appropriate analgesia or post-op care-I checked my drug chart (at the end of the bed) and the anaesthetist had written me up for loads of lovely drugs on a PRN basis, none of which I received.

          • Dr Kitty

            At least you had a nice anaesthetist.
            At the pre-op CS clinic, when I expressed concern that the new “no take home opioids post CS policy ” I had a (male) SPR tell me that
            A) Maybe if I didn’t expect pain, I wouldn’t feel it.
            B) CS were completely different to all other abdominal surgeries, and women just didn’t need opioids after 48hrs
            C) Perhaps if I was less anxious about the operation, knew what it involved and watched a few YouTube videos about CS I’d be in a better state of mind and feel less pain.
            D) Wasn’t it worth avoiding opioids to eliminate even the tiniest risk to my baby?

            I’m afraid I was rather rude to him.
            A) Not my first CS, entirely accurate expectations of post op pain.
            B) What is this misogynistic, non scientific crap?
            C) I chose to have both my CS, watching YouTube videos would only have been useful if I had had my eyes closed during all the CS I assisted with as a junior doctor.
            D) Not in my view since I’d taken 5 days of opioids after my previous CS without problems under the previous hospital policy of 1 week take home opioids. I knew from audits that this hospital didn’t have any serious adverse incidents associated with neonatal opioid toxicity from maternal oral opioids in the last 20 years.
            E) I really think you need to read your patient’s notes and know your audience before you start with this nonsense.

            I got an apology and he turned bright red and clearly wished the ground would swallow him up, which is the only reason I didn’t make a formal complaint.

            He wrote in my notes I could get opioids to take home. The anaesthetists who did my spinal and reviewed me post op wrote I could get take home opioids. The consultant who did my CS wrote in my notes I could get opioids to take home.

            Somehow, the midwives didn’t tell that to the junior doctor writing my discharge letter, and they tried to send me home without any.
            That did not fly, and I got what I wanted.

            Admittedly, I don’t think I made any friends, but my pain was properly treated, so I consider it a success.

          • Who?

            I doubt you were rude, just very direct. Sounds like you set him straight and perhaps even provided him with a useful lesson in not being a moron.

            Let’s hope he’s bright enough to learn it.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Sounds to me like with friends like him, you wouldn’t need enemies.
            With any luck, though I won’t keep my fingers crossed, he might have even learned something useful.
            ETA: this is also one area in which I do prefer the US model of care. Cynically enough, they’re so obsessed with good customer service–I mean, “patient satisfaction”–scores that at the moment, pain is taken very, very seriously, or at least it is in my neck of the woods. Idiotic that that has to be the reason why, but as long as I don’t have to argue about whether or not I get appropriate pain relief after major surgery, I’ll take it.
            (That my OB is a man and has odd notions about patients recovering faster if they aren’t in agony may also have something to do with it–from what I hear anecdotally, male OBs around here tend to be less inclined to brush off complaints of pain. Could be coincidental, though.)

          • Charybdis

            I *might* have been tempted to beckon him closer, like I had to tell him a secret, then grabbed his crotch region and given the contents a really good, hard squeeze, yank and twist. Then tell him that what he was feeling was pressure and not *actual* pain, suggest that perhaps he relax and breathe through the pressure and that it only hurt because of his preconceived idea that his penis and testicles would be painful if they were traumatized. Then suggested that there were plenty of YouTube videos of males getting their junk punched, hit, and otherwise racked right properly and if he would only watch those, he would not be as concerned that being hit in the crotch would hurt.

            Oh, and that a little bit of ice and some Tylenol would be sufficient pain relief for his ruptured testicle. (I would have squeezed HARD).

            What a condescending, misogynistic jerk.

          • sdsures

            No, in Canada.

          • sdsures

            I believe I alreay said it was done in Canada.

          • sdsures

            The response to that kind of treatment to the nurse would be to page the doctor. He’ll be very angry at the nurse for not following his instructions, which no doubt will have taken him away from something else he considers more important (than policing nurses’s jobs).

      • sdsures

        Maybe it grows back together faster if Jeremy Hunt threatens it loudly.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Don’t ask me why–pregnancy brain, didn’t sleep too well last night, lack of chocolate?–but for some reason, my eyes read this as “Jeremy Clarkson.” Which led to a hilarious mental picture of a very rude, middle-aged man setting a bunch of suture material on fire before pushing it off a building and announcing that Audi made better catgut, anyway, but at least it wasn’t a ’73 Volvo nylon suture. Or something.
          Have I mentioned that pregnancy does very weird things to my brain? Because it does.

          • Who?

            Menopause brain is just like pregnancy brain, without the permissible weight gain. But you do get hot flushes.

            Waiting for the HRT to kick in.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Oh, that *does* sound like fun, I don’t think! Permissible weight gain or no, passing the chocolate along seems like a wise idea for those in the vicinity who want to live.
            (I read a hilarious blog post once by the husband of the usual blogger on surviving your wife’s menopause. Apparently, he kept an emergency “good chocolate” stash on hand for when she had a bad day, and recommended this practice strongly. Given that they’ve been married happily for 30+ years, he knew of which he spoke. :D)

          • BeatriceC

            MrC joke around about “just throwing chocolate and slowly backing away”.

          • Charybdis

            Wise man.

          • Who?

            My poor husband is treading on eggshells.

            I don’t know if it is placebo or coincidence (because they do come and go) or what, but only a day or two into the HRT the hot flushes are almost gone. More interestingly, the fog that had descended on my brain and has been there for months-before I even realised I was menopausal, I now think-has lifted.

            It is the weekend now, and it is a medically proven fact that no food or alcohol has any calories at all in it between 6pm Friday and 6pm Sunday. Yay for icecream.

            And a qualified yay-to be made a full yay if this continues-for HRT.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            *eats more coffee-flavored ice cream, agrees wholeheartedly regarding the calories/weekend sentiment*
            And may the HRT continue to work well, for both your and your DH’s sake. 😉 My best friend still recalls with a sort of quiet, amazed horror the year that she and her twin sister hit puberty and their mom hit menopause simultaneously. At one point, they were apparently “grounded from doing chores” because their mom was convinced that they couldn’t do any chores correctly, leading, hilariously enough, to the girls deliberately waking up early in order to empty the dishwasher because they felt so guilty.

          • Charybdis

            I was told that foods that are mostly air (cotton candy, whipped cream, mousse, etc) have less than 5 calories, because air has no calories. Broken cookies, pastries, candy etc don’t have calories because they have leaked out of the break. Tasting food you are preparing has very few to no calories became you aren’t actually eating anything. Ice cream has calcium, so it is healthy and good for you. Chocolate comes from a plant, so it counts as a vegetable.

            Although I heartily approve of the No Calorie Weekend plan as well.

          • Roadstergal

            I’m frankly scared of the brain-fog. I know I’m worrying too early, but I turn 40 this year, and it’s a Milestone…

    • sdsures

      I live in the UK, and my husband and I want to have kids at some point, maybe a few years from now. The NHS policies on rooming in, C-sections (which we know I will medically need) scare me to death.

      “Enhanced Recovery”? Right, anything to cut costs. 🙁

      • Roadstergal

        We have Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, you have Enhanced Recovery. I think they have similarities.

        • sdsures

          With posher accents, wot wot!

        • Erin

          Does sleep deprivation fit into both categories by any chance?

          • Charybdis

            I should think so!

      • Fleur

        If you need a c-section in future, just keep pushing for it and making a nuisance of yourself. My midwife hated my guts by the end and she would barely even speak to my mother/birth partner when she bumped into her after the birth, but I got an elective c-section in the end. I don’t know what happens in the alternate version of history where I got forced into a vaginal delivery, but I suspect that the very best case scenario would have been an emergency c-section and thinking about the worst case scenario gives me chills. Best of luck!

        • Roadstergal

          “With woman.” Yeah. :

          • AirPlant

            well, with woman parts for sure…

        • sdsures

          The squeaky wheel gets the grease!

          • guest

            At one point in my postnatal recovery, I started bawling to get the nurses to pay attention to me. It felt icky (it wasn’t fake crying, but I hate crying in front of people) but it worked.

      • AA

        Dr Kitty has some good advice on how to make your wishes clearly known to NHS staff.

    • CharlotteB

      I do not understand this. My mom had my sister and I around 1am, and at breakfast the next morning, it was discovered that she’d hemorrhaged–she’d been telling the nurses that something wasn’t right, but it wasn’t until she almost fainted that they took her seriously–she ended up with a blood transfusion, etc. Anyway, point being, if breakfast was served at 7-8am, they didn’t discover the problem until 6-7 hours after we were born!! How do they know you’re stable unless you stay for a bit?

      I seem to remember Hillary Clinton criticizing “drive-by deliveries” in the 1990s, when mothers were kicked out before 24 hours, and it seems like it’s still happening.

      • Fleur

        Agreed! It’s frightening. My blood pressure was only taken once on the ward. The reading was (just) within normal range but it was very high by my usual standards. When I queried whether that was normal, the midwife said that it had probably gone up because I was nervous and that she wasn’t worried. God help me if there had actually been an issue and they’d sent me home like that.

        • guest

          I was sent home 3 days postpartum after a vaginal delivery with high blood pressure, which for me was unheard of. A nurse came to the house on day 4 and it was still high. Her advice was to not do any strenuous activity, stairs and such and have it checked at my 6 week appointment. I look back and think I was lucky it resolved on its own.

    • Erin

      My mother was in for 5 days after a straight forward easy vaginal birth, I was in for 3 after an emcs after 75 hours of labour. Had my son not been in NICU, for two of those days, I would have been home a lot sooner. However whilst our hospitals are such horrific places (I had three meals in three days…asked for tea at breakfast and was brought cold coffee and that’s ignoring all the other rubbish I had to put up with), who wants to stay in? Should I have another, I want out asap. Once I got out of recovery, I don’t recall anyone checking my vitals at all…had a student Doctor take bloods at some point but that was it. My husband could have monitored me as well as the Midwives did, if not better.

      • Fleur

        I can sympathise with that – I was glad to get home and away from the midwives who wouldn’t let me supplement my very hungry baby with formula until my milk came in. As a single mum, though, I’d have been stuffed if my own mother hadn’t managed to get compassionate leave from her job to look after me. I wasn’t the only lone mum on the ward so goodness knows how the others coped.

        • Erin

          The girl in bed next to had a horrid time convincing them to let her stay. First baby, turned up early. Dad was offshore, Mum coming from Poland but hadn’t arrived yet.

          Definitely should be an option to stay for as long as you need I think.

    • Who?

      I had my two in the UK in the early nineties. #1 was born after midnight, I went home at 4pm the same day; #2 was born at lunchtime, they wanted to send me home that afternoon but my mother put her foot down and said she wanted me to stay overnight, so I went home the next morning.

      The midwives came to the house for 10 days, longer with #2 as it took a while for her to regain her birthweight-curiously no one was recommending bottles, just lots of breast time.

      Hospital was busy, noisy and understaffed, and I was in a 4 bed ward, so home seemed okay. I do look alarmingly pale in the photos though.

    • Sue

      Overly-short hospitals stays after Caesarean are not ideal, but long lie-ins aren’t either. IN the days when post-operative people spend a long time in bed, rates of pulmonary embolism (blood clots to the lung) were much higher – especially post-deliver, when the body is in an enhanced clotting state.

      Each case should be managed on clinical need and benefit vs risk.

      • Dr Kitty

        But that only assumes that mum won’t be lying in bed at home, incapacitated by post-operative pain or a wound infection.

        Clexane, TEDS and encouraging women to walk up and down the ward is a less drastic solution to thrombotic events than discharging women home D1 post CS without adequate analgesia and support.

        • Fleur

          Agreed – I certainly wouldn’t recommend lying in a hospital bed for ten days but, in an ideal world, hospitals wouldn’t be drastically understaffed and women could be supported on the ward to get mobile. There’s no guarantee that a woman sent home after 24 hours isn’t go to lie in bed at home with her baby for a week, provided she has someone to help her out. There’s also no guarantee that she won’t ditch the TEDS as soon as she gets out of hospital (my midwife was amazed that I was still wearing mine after five days) or that she’ll continue to give herself injections at home if instructed to do so (the woman in the bed next to me wasn’t planning on doing so).

          (Unfortunately, I think the biggest risk of blood clots as far as I was concerned came from the fact that the ward staff were so overstretched that they forgot to give me the Clexane or to replace my TEDS when they had to be removed after I had a big bleed. I love the NHS but what’s being done to it is a crime.)

  • Brooke

    Wow this is a bunch of bullshit.

    • Megan

      Boy, you’re in top form today, Brooke.

      • AirPlant

        You know, at least I don’t have to fight that little bug in the back of my head claiming that if I just explain things the right way she will come around.

      • Roadstergal

        0 out of 10 for style. Usually she tries to pretend she has some kind of point.

        • Megan

          She must’ve been busy today.

        • Who?

          It has the advantage of brevity, though. Which is a definite improvement.

    • guest

      What an insightful critique, Brooke.

    • indigosky

      Yes, your response is a bunch of bullshit. Thanks for finally noticing.

    • Azuran

      Yea, letting mothers rest after birth? taking care of new mothers so they can recover? How dare anyone suggest that we should help new mothers, such bullshit. What next? Letting women vote?

    • Sue

      Suggest we respond to the person posting as ‘Brooke’ as follows:

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I realize I have been slacking in my responding to Brooke with random passages from The Lost Princess of Oz. Someone else wants to pick it up with some other book, go for it.

        • Bombshellrisa

          I was going to answer with this

  • BeatriceC

    Middle Kid Update: I know lots of you are waiting for updates, so I’m taking a few moments to sneak in and do so. I’m bouncing between being so busy I can’t see straight and surfing the web while waiting for something to happen. This is one of those times, so I thought it would be a good time to update.

    Last night’s MRI wasn’t able to fully visualize the mass, which they now think is a tumor. They’re starting a 24 hour urine collection to look for the hormones that some types of tumor will produce. The GI specialist is also going to go back over the images and see if she thinks she can access the tumor with a camera through either end, but she’s not hopeful. If they can’t see it that way, then they’re go in surgically to both look at it and probably remove it. They don’t really want to cut into him until they have a better idea of what it actually is, but due to its location, they might not have a choice. There’s still roughly equal chances that it’s benign vs cancerous, and we won’t know that until they can actually biopsy it.

    Edited for typos.

    • Karen in SC

      Still scary but I’m glad you are closer to an answer. Hoping for a benign cancer and hope the surgery is the least invasive possible.

      Related anecdote – a friend lost weight, had pain, and a stomal tumor was found, I think that’s the right term, and I think it was in the small intestine. Very rare, but she’s the “one.” It was benign. She was offered a surgery that would keep her ten days in the hospital but traveled to a higher level hospital and it was less invasive, four days and much better recovery.

    • Amazed

      Still thinking of you. Fingers crossed for benign!

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Thank you for updating! Hoping for benign tumor or something non-tumorous like an ulcer or infection that looks like a tumor on MRI. The small intestine is an annoying monster: hard to access from above or below.

    • guest

      I am keeping my fingers crossed for your son (my equivalent of prayer as an agnostic).

    • Megan

      That sounds so scary. Praying for the best. Thanks for updating us!

    • BeatriceC

      And now he’s melting down. One of the doctors told him he’ll probably be here until at least Monday. He’s not handling it well. Though right now there’s a room full of teenagers helping to keep him company.

      • demodocus

        poor kid, who can blame him. *hugs*

      • sdsures

        *hugs*

      • PeggySue

        Aaaaawwww. This is awful. For him and for you. Love and good thoughts continue.

      • Irène Delse

        It’s hard to be that age and n hospital. Luckily, he has you and MrC, and a amazing bunch of friends and relatives, by the sound of it.

    • An Actual Attorney

      Prayers and thoughts with you.

    • Valerie

      We’re all hoping for the best for you and your son. In case it helps to keep tossing alternative and rare diagnoses at you: I know of a case similar to your son’s that ended up being a piece of constricted, inflamed small intestine that had somehow worked its way through a hole in the mesentery. The doctors were similarly clueless about what was wrong (they thought probably tumor) until they did the exploratory surgery. They removed that chunk of intestine, and he recovered great.

    • AnnaPDE

      Poor kid, I really hope it’s all benign and he’ll get better soon!

    • Erin

      I suck at knowing what to say in situations like this, but I’ve got my fingers crossed for the benign. I know that you like me are no longer Catholic but I found myself in Church yesterday, lighting a candle for some divine intervention for my Dad and I lit one for you too.

    • Mrs.Katt the Cat

      Sounds like they are making progress towards getting him on the mend at least. Hoping for the best.

    • Who?

      Glad he’s getting good care, I hope you have people supporting you-it’s very hard to watch.

      • BeatriceC

        MrC has been awesome, and one of his daughters (the one that lives somewhat locally) has been helpful as well. She came down today to sit with the kid and a bunch of his friends (an adult has to be in the room if he has visitors under 18) so I could get a little bit of a break. MrC has been holding down everything at home and coming to see us for a little in the evening and bringing the other kids here to visit.

        • Who?

          You picked a good ‘un there.

          Nothing for it for now but to keep breathing. It’s a crap situation.

          • BeatriceC

            Yeah, he’s a good guy. I could’t help but laugh though. The dryer broke yesterday (needs a belt, should arrive tomorrow), and his car broke down today (needed an O2 sensor, which he got replaced already), so he’s had his hands full at home, on top of making sure the other two kids have what they need. I feel kinda bad because he was trying to get all my laundry done when the dryer broke. And he’s managing to keep kids fed and the house somewhat clean in between all that. And yeah, the waiting game part of this sucks. The weekend is going to be long.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            That man is a keeper, no two ways about it.

    • momofone

      I’ve been thinking about you today and wondering how things were going. I hope the wait for answers is as short as possible. You’re in my thoughts.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Upvoted not because tumor (eek) but for the info and to let you know I read and that I’m glad it sounds like they’re narrowing down some answers for you. May it be both benign and simple!

    • BeatriceC

      Newest update: There’s another small mass on his spine. I’m starting to get really, really scared.

      • Who?

        Thinking of you.

      • PeggySue

        Crap. Dammit. Deep breaths, OK? Lots of people thinking of you though I know we are not in your shoes.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        I’m sorry to hear that! Is there anything that would be helpful to you at this point? Medically, my instinct is to say “tissue as soon as possible” because then at least you know what you’re dealing with and can make a plan. Knowing only that there are masses there is…too uncertain. Uncertainty is the worst!

        If he has to stay in the hospital over the weekend, is there any chance of his getting permission for an outing while not much is going on? Is he feeling well enough to do so? When I worked in a hospital, I found weekends to be a bloody nuisance, because they slow “non-emergent” tests down by two days. I wish we could go to a system where people who work in hospitals work 5 days out of 7, but rotate the days off so that the hospital itself treats each day as a weekday. Sigh. But that would require a very small amount more money and might cut into insurer and hospital CEO profits.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Good ideas on all fronts! Even just springing him from the hospital for a few hours might make a huge difference in his outlook.

        • BeatriceC

          Unfortunately because of his attitude on admission (he got scared and threatened to leave) they have him on the medical/behavior unit. His attitude is a lot better yesterday than it was on admission, but they are still a bit worried that he might take off and not come back if they let him have an activity pass. He’s also still passing out from time to time, so there’s that safety issue too. They are letting him go outside a couple times a day, so that helps.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            I’m sorry. That sounds not so good, especially the passing out part. I hope he feels better, mentally and physically, over the weekend!

      • Dr Kitty

        Sending prayers for you all.
        I hope you have answers and a treatment plan in place very soon.

      • Mishimoo

        Oh damn! Thinking of you all, that would be terrifying.

      • demodocus

        *hugs*

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        Ugh, that’s good reason to be scared. I’m sorry!
        I know I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but don’t forget to take care of you! I’m sure he’s scared and stressed and quite possibly being rather difficult (well, he’s a teenager…;)), but he needs you to be his rock right now, and the only way you can do that is if you take care of yourself. Eat. Drink plenty of fluids. Get what sleep you can. Take a shower. Etc. You may well be doing all those things already, and if so, good for you!!! But sometimes moms need reminding of this stuff.

        • BeatriceC

          This hospital is great for both patients and parents. We are at Rady Children’s in San Diego,CA if you want to look it up. The nurses on the floor are awesome and there’s a Ronald McDonald house on campus that provides meals, showers, a nap room, laundry and other services for families even if they aren’t staying in the mini-hotel part of it. I’m currently there now, eating breakfast in peace before I head back over to the floor.

          • Glittercrush

            Im so sorry to hear things are getting more uncertain for him. As far as helping him stay sane, are video games an option? I know it has to drive him insane to be stuck someplace for the weekend, but they can be a nice distraction if he is into that kind of thing. There are some older games for pc that can be played on a laptop that are cheap online. They have low key graphics but awesome story lines to get lost in.

          • BeatriceC

            The hospital already has an Xbox 360 in the room for him, but being a children’s hospital, their selection of games isn’t exactly his taste. I’m considering bringing in our PS4 from home, so he can play the games he actually likes, but his brothers are not thrilled with that idea. His girlfriend has put some feelers out among their friends to find out who has Xbox 360 games that he might like that they’d be willing to loan. He has a Macbook Air, and he has it with him, along with his phone. Yesterday I spent more money than I should have with my cell phone provider. His girlfriend lost her phone. I have a line on my account that’s not being used (I got it for a reason that’s no longer necessary, and the phone that was being used for it was broken, but I’m obligated to pay for the line through November). I bought a cheap flip phone to stick on that line and gave it to her. Then, as my laptop is dying (MrC spilled iced tea on it about a year and a half ago and while I was able to salvage it, it’s been slowly dying ever since and it’s crashing about twice a day now), I’ve been looking into getting an iPad to replace it, but I haven’t gotten around to it. My cell phone provider had a promotion going on which makes the total cost about 75% of the full price. So I got an iPad pro and a sturdy case and loaned it to the girlfriend so they can FaceTime at night. Once he’s out of the hospital I’ll take that back. A couple of his friends drive, and a few of them are in online school, so he’s had friends visiting him as well. More should be able to come over the weekend.

          • Glittercrush

            Well, if the PS4 makes it to the hospital my PSN tag is GlitterCrush. I play a lot of Destiny and would be glad to keep him company if he plays that game. And it is lame that the laptop is fritzing out, although your salavaging it for so long is remarkable! I dont know if you have heard of Steam or GOG, but they are both reliabe safe ways of getting PC games online. Steam requires a little more setup to use, but GOG (it stands for Good Old Games) can be used to simply buy and download older games. The sites should tell you if any particular game will work on mac products. I am glad his friends have been able to stop by and visit. I hope they are able to bolster his spirits.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Wow, that’s a brilliant setup! I’ve heard all sorts of good things about RM houses, and this pretty much confirms my impression that while I hope (like most parents) never to have to use one, I am oh-so-glad they exist.

          • BeatriceC

            When they first got started they would buy a house near the hospital and operate it more as a bed and breakfast just for the families staying there. In the last ten years or so, they’ve been working towards making all their facilities like this one, with services for families that aren’t staying there, but who have children who are inpatients. My favorite RMH is at Gillette Specialty Children’s in St. Paul, MN. The hospital itself only takes neuro and ortho patients, so it’s small. The RMH is correspondingly small, but there’s also a fully stocked and open kitchen for families to use wheneverin addition to full meals being provided. Plus the local Girl Scout Council kept them stocked in cookies year round, so that was a bonus. They really are a good organization.

      • MaineJen

        Oh no Beatrice…I hope you all get some answers soon. Thinking of you…

      • Squillo

        So sorry you and your family are going through this. Here’s hoping it’s an “incidentaloma.”

      • Charybdis

        Oh damn. I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope they get things sorted quickly, so you can at least have a bit of peace of mind. Not knowing is the absolute worst. Once you know what it is, then you can form a plan and begin to cope with the situation (not that you’re not coping now, but it’s different when you are waiting for a diagnosis). I’m sure he’s freaked right the hell out, especially since he’s the “healthy” one- he doesn’t have the bone disease, he’s an athlete, etc. And facing a weekend in the hospital is just terrible. It is the worst of the doldrums. Slower pace, etc.

        It’s your family that does the official “Pity Parties/Wallow in Misery” party thing, right? Maybe an occasion to wallow, cry, scream into a pillow, throw a proper fit over how much this sucks and naming the All The Ways In Which It Sucks might help blow off some steam?

        Is he able to eat anything and keep it down? Will they let him eat ice cream/frozen yogurt/sorbet or other favorite food that doesn’t contain tomatoes (can’t have you going down to anaphylaxis, even if you ARE already in a hospital).

        Gah, this sucks on ice. Please take care of yourself and Middle Kid and update when you can. More candles will be lit when I go pick up DS from school.

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        Not trying to downplay this at all but since I’ve had similar scares with the words “mass” and “tumor” I thought I might say something. Any possible way that the mass on his spine is just an incidental and harmless finding?

        Just bringing this up since two years ago when I thought I was having a gallbladder attack I got a CT scan and the rather scary news of having a tumor in my kidney. The exact wording from the report was, “There is an 11 mm hypodense but apparently irregularly enhancing rounded lesion related to the inferior pole the right kidney. A cystic renal cell carcinoma is a possibility and ultrasound imaging with Doppler evaluation is recommended.” As I’m sure you can imagine I kind of had a freak out.

        So one inconclusive untrasound later an MRI is recommended. So I jump on that ASAP while getting a nephrologist. The MRI findings also came back with the results of tumors in my liver. So, yeah, I’m having a nervous breakdown at that point.

        My nephrologist believes the tumor in my kidney isn’t cancerous but we’ve been doing surveillance first every six months by MRI to check on it. No changes. It’s looked exactly the same each time. I need to go in for another one this month and we expect no changes. So it was just a really scary sounding finding.

        Oh, and the liver tumors? Entirely benign. My gynocologist was the one to give me the answer. Women on long term birth control can develop these benign tumors. But they can get relatively vascular so don’t get hit in the liver. They probably far too small to cause problems but don’t get hit in the liver is probably good advice in general. They’re also nowhere near large enough to contraindicate pregnancy, which was my other worry.

        So six months of my life was spent freaking out over what turned out to be incidental findings. And the initial pain that brought me to the ER? Adhesions from a previous surgery for endometriosis that wouldn’t have shown up on imaging in the first place.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we investigated them but it’s kind of a similar case with fetal monitoring and routine mammograms. There’s going to be more than a few false positives. My gyno explained that with any kind of imaging but especially very sensitive imaging there’s almost always some kind of benign mass that shows up. So hopefully that’s all it is for your son and it’ll be ruled out quickly.

        • BeatriceC

          Oh, of course there’s a chance that these things are totally benign and unrelated, but there’s a slew of other symptoms that point to a larger problem. What that problem is, precisely, is another matter entirely.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            And that’s the worst part. Not knowing if it’s all related and going to get worse or just a bunch of harmless stuff distracting you from the real answers. Hope he’s not going too crazy in there. Or you!

      • moto_librarian

        Oh, BeatriceC! Thinking of you and your son, and hoping for the best!

  • namaste863

    In all fairness, a lot of this can be tied to a culture (In the US at least) that combines the protestant work ethic with rugged individualism, An “Idle hands
    do the Devil’s work” type mentality. Things have gotten particularly difficult since the advent of modern mobile communications divices. We’ve become a culture in which we are all basically “On call” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Sick? Too bad. Just had a kid? Woman up and get in here anyway. My aunt actually went to the office the day she delivered my cousin, and he was in the neighborhood of 11 pounds (A trait he passed down to his own son).

    • sdsures

      Wow! (regarding that last bit)

    • fiftyfifty1

      “a lot of this can be tied to a culture (In the US at least) that combines the protestant work ethic with rugged individualism,”

      Except that we’ve been a protestant-majority nation that values rugged individualism from the beginning, but it’s only in the last generation that new mothers have been expected to be super heroes. Something has shifted.

      • Jules B

        What has shifted is women’s increasing power and education etc etc. That makes some folks nervous, and they started pushing for things to go back to how they were in a mythical Golden Age.

      • PeggySue

        Can we not blame religious people for *everything?* 🙂
        One thing that has shifted is that the folding green ($$$) is now the god in health care and business, and aggressive marketing means that in some cases more effort goes into creating the appearance of good care than providing good care. Other things that have changed are the comparative social isolation many people feel who have moved far from extended family and who don’t have a strong connection base through a neighborhood or some sort of affinity group. Even, dare I say it, a church.

  • Elizabeth Neely

    amen!!

  • anotheramy

    A-fricken-men, Dr Amy! The pressure to be supermom begins right away, and that is wrong.

  • guest

    I was afraid to even ask for help in the immediate postpartum period. Luckily, my mother felt it was necessary for me to have help and offered. She flew across the country and lived with me for two months. And she worked. She cooked and did laundry, ran errands, and got up at night to help with feedings.

    I heard all about women who live in these great communities where friends and neighbors organize trains and come over with food and housework assistance, but I wasn’t part of a community like that. I think that’s the way to go, though.

    • Mac Sherbert

      Yes. Having a larger community of support is wonderful. My mom and mIL came to help us out and it was still so very nice to have the women at my church bring meals by. I’ve always thought about how hard it would be to not have that kind of support. I try to the same when I’m able, but I’m still just doing good to get food cooked for own family.

      I love the “grandmother” who saw my exhaustion and said “I don’t mind rocking a baby. Call me.” It just made me feel like what was feeling was somewhat normal.

      • guet

        I was conflicted when people I knew in the neighborhood started having second kids. I wanted to go over and help, but when I’m not at work I’m taking care of my twin toddlers, and they are NOT wanted when you go to help out someone with a new baby. I tried offering to run errands out of the home for people – pick up diapers, or whatever, but no one took me up on it.

        • An Actual Attorney

          Fwiw, the day after we got home from the hospital, I loved my neighbor for dropping bagels and cream cheese on our porch and texting us that it was there whenever we were ready to open the door. No pressure, no germs from their three, and I never would have asked. But it was really nice.

          • Kelly

            That is perfect. I have decided that I will not be allowing meals from church the next time because it was too much. One woman got mad at me because I had told her I would be home for her to bring the meal over but I forgot a doctor’s appointment for the baby. My mom was home but she did not hear the door until she was out of the shower. I had only been home a few days and I was tired. Plus, I hate that I feel like I need to give a thank you card but I completely suck at thank you cards.

          • An Actual Attorney

            Wow. Talk about help that is not at all helpful. People sometimes have their heads up their butts.

          • guest

            I wish people had porches around here, but no – it’s all apartment buildings and co-ops, and often a doorman making sure you’re allowed in. You can still drop off food, but it requires more coordination of schedules.

        • Kelly

          I have that problem too. I want to help people out but a lot of times I will be more of a hindrance than a help because of my young kids.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          I’m in a similar situation, albeit with just one toddler. (Twin toddlers? I’m mentally handing you a giant glass of wine right now!)
          What seems to help people around me is a) meals left on the porch via prior arrangement (“Hey, if you’ll be home at about 8 PM this evening, I could drop a couple of freezer meals on your porch, and don’t you dare write a thank you note, spend that time sleeping instead”) and b) when baby’s enough older that germs are less of a concern, offering to have mom (assuming I know her well enough) get a couple of hours of sleep on my couch while I take her kid with mine to the walking-distance park.

    • Mrs.Katt the Cat

      I quickly stopped asking for help- from professionals anyway. Every time I mentioned not being able to do everything with 30mins sleep in 2 days, or even how I thought she was so beautiful and the hormone love was intense, I got the “don’t kill your baby” speal.” Yes, thank you, I know PPD is real and there is a big push to increase care for it. I am asking for help because I am so tired I am about to hallucinate and I need things done with mental clarity, not because I am about to flip and hurt anyone.”
      It made me feel both that I wasn’t being trusted to have the Mini’s best interests in mind, and also that help was unavailable unless I didn’t. Not wanting to be seen as unstable, I just stopped talking.

      • Jules B

        Me too! I remember not-so-truthfully answering certain PPD-related questions on the public health nurse questionnaires, because I knew I didn’t have PPD – I was just freakin’ exhausted! (But I knew if I answered those questions truthfully I would have been flagged, then I would have had to jump through all sorts of hoops to prove I was OK and not gonna start shaking my baby etc…and I was too tired to deal with that crap, so I lied).

        • Mrs.Katt the Cat

          I answered honestly and had to talk to a psychologist before discharge. Took less than 5 minutes. Convinced him that with all else that was going on at the time, it would be unhealthy to not acknowledge I was stressed but rightfully so.

          Although, my almost degree in the topic may have helped.

          Sad that there seems to be no middle ground. You can either handle it all, or can’t.

        • guest

          I don’t remember being screened for it in the hospital. I do remember being screened at my 6 week post visit, so maybe the first screen just wasn’t memorable.

          • Jules B

            I was screened for it a few times, the first being a couple of days postpartum – I am in Canada, so I got a few home visits from public health nurses, to check on baby (weigh-ins etc) and myself (basic health check in, including the PPD screening).

      • demodocus

        i don’t think i was screened, though the kid’s doc did ask me several questions (baby blue hit hard, but it was only blues) and double checked with me at the next couple well-baby checks.

  • Marie

    When my son was a few weeks old I joined a babywearing group on FB to ask for help getting him to like the Ergo carrier. It was full of NCB/AP types but that’s another story for another day.
    I’m reminded of one woman who posted a picture of her wearing her newborn in a complicated wrap carrier while doing housework. The caption said “just 16 hours earthside!” the comments were along the lines of “you go mama!” and “don’t let it slow you down!” It was appalling. Apparently childbirth is so “natural” that you can just get up and clean your house not a day later.
    I’ve since left that group.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Yeah, no comments asking, “What are you? Stupid?”

      • LaMont

        With stuff like that, I wish the value-judgment side would fade away so I could just view it like those people who lift trucks as stunts. Like, “huh, so that’s a thing a person can do, in theory. I’ll go back to not being able to curl 15 pounds or touch my toes now.”

    • anotheramy

      Yeah…. I was heavy into the woo after my second was born, and believed “childbirth is not a disease”, “hospitals are for sick people, you’re not sick”, “people with natural childbirths recover quicker” and I left the hospital early, did too much too soon at home, and my bleeding and pain got much worse, which I believe made my recovery last longer than if I had just rested in the first place.

    • Rose Magdalene

      Don’t you know that women in Africa grunt a few times, pop out a baby and go back to tending the garden immediately? (Serious sarcasm here.) In all seriousness, I think I read a story like that in an Ina May Gaskin book back when I was into the NBC stuff.

      • Liz Leyden

        I read an interview with a woman who just that. She was a slave in Yemen, and she gave birth while tending goats. She had no choice but to go right back to goat tending right after birth.

    • CharlotteB

      Obviously, it’s great if women feel good 16 hours-post delivery, but my God, if you can’t have a rest after having a baby, then when can you???

      • Kelly

        I have felt amazing after delivering but I still feel as if my uterus is falling out of my vagina for about two weeks afterwards if I stand for longer than 20 minutes.

    • mabelcruet

      But is this not completely in line with Grantly Dick-Read’s ideas about ‘real mothers’? He is one of the natural parenting community’s gods, and said that childbirth wasn’t painful, that ‘primitive’ women gave birth in a ditch then got on with getting the harvest in so modern ‘western’ women should emulate them. Complete codswallop, obviously, but from NCB/AP types, completely understandable considering the indoctrination they’d had.

  • I was in the hospital for a full week with my first (ugly C section followed by NICU followed by jaundice and feeding problems). Late in my second pregnancy my mother-in-law asked how long I was going to be in the hospital *this* time, and did I know Kate Middleton went home after only 10 hours?

  • AirPlant

    My friend has a son that she adopted as an infant. The birth mother didn’t decide on adoption until the baby was born so my friend literally got a surprise 2 am call from the social worker telling her that there was a baby waiting for her.
    .
    She obviously was not even a little bit prepared for this news, so the baby was left in the nursery for a couple days until they were prepared to bring him home.
    .
    In lieu of a nursery what exactly was supposed to happen? Was the birth mother supposed to take care of the baby that she was giving up? Was my friend supposed to take the baby home sans carseat at 2am? Were the new parents supposed to bring baby to work the next day to explain their complete lack of childcare?

    • Roadstergal

      And how does that work with surrogates? Do they kick Surrogate Mom out of the hospital to recover somewhere else, and make Adoptive Mom (gotta have A Mom to bond and lactate and A Dad to bring home a check) room in for three days and EBF?

      • Zornorph

        I can tell you how that worked for me. Surrogate was able to leave after 24 hours (she was in a position to and wanted to – she had kids at home). Kiddo wasn’t able to leave for 48 hours. I was rooming in with him, but that was my choice. The nurses did take him a couple times when I needed rest. IIRC, I don’t think the surrogate HAD to leave after 24 hours – she had a different room than me, but the birth had been fairly easy and she was ready to go. They didn’t know how to handle Kiddo leaving without mom – I had to ride in the wheelchair with him, it was quite funny.

    • Hannah

      When my mom was a teen, she knew a girl who was forced to give up her baby. Not only did she have to care for it for the first few days, the social worker made her be the one to carry the baby out of the hospital and hand it over to the new parents personally. Some sort of “punishment” idea for getting pregnant in the first place. Ideologies are not kind to anyone who doesn’t meet their demands, and with how things seem to be going in the natcheral community, it wouldn’t wholly surprise me if birth mothers are eventually put in this position again. Except under the guise of “best for baby” rather than punishment.

      • Zornorph

        Yeah, make the birth mothers give up their colostrum to the children they are about to abandon. It’s the least they can do!

        • CharlotteB

          I know somebody who knows somebody who adopted a baby. Even though the adoption was planned pre-birth, and the nurses, etc., all knew about the adoption, they still had the birth mother breastfeed so the baby got colostrum.

          I guess the adoptive mother wasn’t thrilled about that…

          I don’t know how the birth mother felt, either. Had that been me, I’d have been LIVID. But then the thought of giving my child donor milk makes me physically ill, not because of the risk, but because I just couldn’t handle it. It’s hard to explain, but even thinking about it is like a punch in the gut.

          • Zornorph

            Somebody pushed me to consider having my surrogate mother pump her colostrum. She didn’t call it ‘liquid gold’ but you could tell she thought it was. I politely ignored the suggestion, but it annoyed me.

      • Roadstergal

        That’s horrible. Just vile. 🙁 🙁

      • AirPlant

        God, that time in our history is just so shameful. A baby should never be a punishment.
        .
        The birth mother in my story did apparently visit the baby one final time before she was discharged. She apparently cried and asked the nurse if my friend would be a good mother, and just thinking about her pain breaks my heart. It is an open adoption so she gets updates and photos, but I cannot imagine how strong she must be and how brave to be able to do that for a stranger.

        • demodocus

          It was very hard for Mom to give up the twins, ‘though she kept most of that to herself and her close friends.

          • AirPlant

            In my younger and stupider days I would parrot “just adopt” in response to unwanted pregnancies like the conservative I was raised to be, but then my first friend actually gave birth and seeing her with her newborn in the hospital it was like a light went on and I realized what I prat I was being. In most cases there is no such thing as “just adopting”. Mothers are biologically wired to love their babies, and separating them is not a simple thing. It might be the right choice, but there is no “just” about it.

      • Young CC Prof

        Do they want babies delivered in public bathrooms? Because that’s how you get babies in public bathrooms. Seriously, people, someone who needs to give up a newborn is in a bad enough place already, let’s not make it worse.

    • Mel

      I had a friend in the exact same position as your friend. They were pretty much informed that they needed to pick the baby up in 24 hours. The baby was in a hospital across the state.

      The friend asked my mom what to do. Mom said to get a car seat, formula, bottles, diapers and a couple of outfits and get driving. I think the women at her job found a pack’n’play or a crib before she left, but I’d have to check.

  • Heidi

    I was personally glad to get out of the hospital less than 2 days after delivery, mostly because they didn’t let me get wink of sleep thanks to the “feed every 2 hours and your milk will magically be abundant but only after we take your baby’s blood sugar twice” (which resulted in a baby nursing over half an hour and still not getting near enough to eat to bring up his blood sugar),BUT you know what? I had my husband, my in-laws and my mom there to do anything and everything I needed to recover. Not everyone has that luxury! Both my husband and I most definitely needed as much help as we could get. To those that don’t have a family waiting at home, that extra hospital stay and a nursery should be there.

    My advice to new moms is take any help that is offered. Don’t even try to be a martyr. Baking a chocolate cake while in labor will do nothing for your child. Being dead exhausted can result in very bad things, though. Even with all the help I’ve gladly accepted and still accept, I’m still pretty tired but it’s manageable.

    • Megan

      You really don’t get any sleep in the hospital. Theres always someone knocking on your door: nurse, doctor, housekeeping, dietary, chaplain, LC (and no I don’t mean my “hundreds of visitors” like one other commenter posted about a while back. I only had two visitors my whole stay.) It’s irritating. I got more sleep at home than I did there, even with a newborn and a toddler to take care of. That was the reason I wanted out as early as possible too, well, that and the fact that my toddler got sick the day after I gave birth and I missed her and wanted to be home with her too.

      • guest

        And if you have a shared room in the hospital, double all those visits. 🙁

      • Old Lady

        This happened to me too. There was no nursery and baby didn’t want to be put down so we spent the whole night trying to put her down and the next day was constant interruptions. When I got home I was able to sleep during the day while husband watched the twins and then I could sleep some at night when baby would sleep in the swing.

      • CharlotteB

        I was left alone, pretty much, but I couldn’t sleep because I was too excited/anxious/hyper. I wasn’t prepared for that.

        Knowing what I know now, I’d ask for a bottle and sleeping pill.

    • Bombshellrisa

      It does depend on what help is offered. I can’t tell you how many times I was told “I can come over and hold the baby while you get stuff done”. My clueless sister in laws offered to come over “early” before the Super Bowl started so I could “cook and clean”. My son was two weeks old. I did love the friends who came over and actually helped me. One friend came over only to drop things off (food, wine, baby stuff) but would help me swaddle my son before she left. The friend who I appreciated the most was the one who insisted I nap, made me put the baby in his crib and then she and her daughter folded my laundry and cleaned my house. People who only come over to hold the baby and think that is helping really don’t do much for me.

      • Mac Sherbert

        I can do better. My own husband took up that attitude. My very nice MIL came to stay right after the baby was born. She came to work and was more than happy cleaning and cooking. My DH saw her doing all that work and got mas and told her too stop. When she asked him what she was supposed to doing he said holding the baby. She told him she had already done that! Then I let into him too! Still makes me mad just typing it out and if he hadn’t stopped being stupid…

        • Bombshellrisa

          Yeah, that is worse! Much worse!!
          I am still mad my husband wanted to have a Super Bowl party after I had a preterm baby and was healing from giving birth. And that he let his awful ex step mom into my hospital room where she spent an hour and a half gossiping about people and telling me how tired I looked. I love him so much but I wonder why what was so clear to me was lost on him

      • Megan

        Yes! I had family come yo help and then I was told not to “hog the baby” but they wouldn’t change a diaper either. That’s what I call “visiting,” not “helping.”

        • AirPlant

          So true questions: What is diaper ettiquite? I always feel super weird changing a kids diaper if I am not that close to the family, like they will think I am a weird pedo if I volunteer, but I want to help and am happy to do it, so I normally just bring food and a big fancy coffee and offer to do dishes.

          • Sean Jungian

            Bringing food and a big fancy coffee is great! I remember just wanted to take a shower and so taking advantage of my friends’ presence to do that. Changing the diaper is probably best if its someone your particularly close with, or a family member. Not that there’s anything pedo about it, just that I think I would feel bad that you were doing the onerous task lol. I’d say when in doubt, offer to do something else.

          • Megan

            I would not bat an eye if you offered to change my kid’s diaper. (Are you free tonight?) But honestly, even if you didn’t offer I would’ve just been thrilled to have someone bring a meal and coffee!!

            Funny side story: The other morning I had my first cup of strong french press coffee in almost 2 years. (Couldn’t have it during either pregnancy due to my blood pressure and then while I was breastfeeding it was a problem for my daughter.) Anyway, I was so jittery! I felt like I was on speed. I was sweaty, dizzy and had palpitations! Maybe my husband is making the coffee too strong? I guess I should’ve started with black tea…

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Anyone who brings me food and coffee and dish help is an Awesome Person in my book!
            I’d say offer, but in a way to give them an easy out: “Oh, Junior’s wet; want me to change him?” vs “Where are the diapers?”

        • Bombshellrisa

          Exactly! And who wants people just visiting when they are recovering from giving birth?

        • demodocus

          When Dad got sick and Mom and Gramma were exhausted after a day of caring for him and my toddler self, I was being held by Grandpa. He announced that I needed a diaper change and he was heralded with a “do it yourself”. First one he’d ever changed despite 5 kids and my own infancy. Apparently he was a bit shocked.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Yes!!!! When DD was a month old, a relative came to “help.” Relative is a nurse, but informed me that since she changes diapers while at work, she doesn’t when not at work. Also, she clearly felt I was being unreasonable in my view that a sleeping baby should jolly well be left alone, preferably allowing me to sleep/eat/bathe/relax for a few minutes during that delightful bit of peace: her idea was that as a visitor, she should be able to pick up DD whenever she wanted, get her good and wound up by playing with her, and then pass an overtired kid back to me when the guest got bored after ten minutes or so.
          Witch on a broom that I am, I nixed waking DD up from naps.

      • Sean Jungian

        I was pretty lucky overall. Not only did I have very generous paid maternity leave, but my in-laws actually left the farm to come out for a week to help out (not just hold the baby, but clean and cook and fold laundry). Then a week after they left my own mom came out for another 2 weeks and did the same thing. I did have friends stop by but not for great lengths of time, just to see the baby, check on me, drop off a gift or something. I would often use that time to take a shower.

        Now, later on, when I was a single mom working full-time, I had a friend who had her 3rd child. Her oldest was 12 and the middle one was 9, and she was married, working part time. I went over to visit, helped fold laundry, saw the baby, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, etc. But before I left, she brought out a notepad and said, “[Mutual friends] have all signed up for a slot to come over and help out with housework, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. What day and time should I put you down for?” I had a 5 year old myself, worked until 5 Monday through Friday – there was no way I was signing up for a shift. Take the help I offer, but don’t get so pushy. I didn’t even know her all that well.

        /end rant, I suppose it really wasn’t too much to ask, at the time I was pretty floored but I can see how useful it would be.

        • guest

          See, that’s why someone else should organize that sort of thing. If you’re going to have a meal or cleaning schedule, you shouldn’t have to decline to the recipient’s face.

      • Jules B

        That is the only kind of “help” I got after I had my daughter – just an endless parade of visitors (seriously, we started counting visitor numbers and reached the double digits in the first two months), who just wanted to hold the baby. Most expected to be treated like a guest too, it seemed (offered tea or whatnot). We had four separate sets of out-of-town guests come to stay at our house within the first few months, too. I cooked most meals for them all – no one offered to cook! One time my mother (long story about my issues with my Mom I will not go into) came over for a visit one day a couple of weeks after baby was born, and got all pissy with me that I didn’t have any food for her and my Dad for lunch.

        I eventually freaked out and told my S.O. to tell everyone visiting hours at our house were officially closed until I said otherwise. Some people got so offended at this, we lost them as friends entirely.

        I want to live in a place where people bring food and clean your house for you after having a baby!!

        • Dr Kitty

          Do you know the thing that pissed me off the most about the immediate aftermath of my FIL’s death and his funeral?
          The expectation of all the male visitors that my sisters-in-law and I would run around getting them tea and sandwiches.
          The women at least brought food and served themselves for the most part.

          I had enough and just pointed to the table with the tea pot on it after a while.

          When visiting new parents or the recently bereaved- bring food, don’t expect them to serve it to you, offer to do something practical in the house and don’t expect them to entertain you. Is that so hard?

      • Heidi

        That sounds infuriating.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        *stabby stabby stabby*
        I still remember one coworker of DH’s who came over for dinner one night while DD was about 2-3 months old and, as ever at that age, *crabby*. I finally plunked DD in the swing while I worked on dinner. Coworker sprawled on the couch to watch the game, not so much as an offer of help. She did, however, when DD was really getting wound up and I was juggling three different pans of food on the stove, get DD out of the swing and bring her to me, unasked–apparently the crying was bothering her?
        To this day, I count it a significant moral victory that Coworker didn’t end up wearing that pot of risotto.
        And yes, I have since learned a valuable lesson. Someone wants to come hang out while I have a small, fussy baby, they’re welcome to, provided they don’t mind pizza or are bringing dinner with them. Screw expectations!

        • Bombshellrisa

          I would have thrown it if I were you. That is messed up. People just don’t get it. The people who want to hold the baby BUT give the baby back the minute they start crying are also awful. My parents were like this! The teenage daughter of a friend was actually much more calm about it than they were. “Babies cry” was her answer when I asked if she was ok when i left him with her (to walk to post office! By myself! Freedom!). She just cuddled him and he eventually calmed down.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Sensible teenager! I don’t suppose you could express-mail her to me? I’d love a babysitter like that for the kidlets…
            Much like your above, another lesson I learned was to never underestimate the power of an outdoor walk by yourself when you have a howling baby at home and in good hands. There were some evenings that DH would get home, be handed a shrieking baby, be informed “she’s fed and dry and if I don’t leave for twenty minutes things will NOT be pretty,” and off I’d go for a power-walk with no one screaming at me or touching me–as you say, freedom!!!

          • Bombshellrisa

            She is an amazing young woman. I was her babysitter when she was in preschool and kindergarten, I can’t believe she is old enough to take care of my babies!
            Alone and quiet time was crucial for me. It still is.

  • 3boyz

    In the Hasidic community, they go to what’s called a “kimpturin heim”, which is Yiddish for “postpartum home” for a week or two, while relatives care for older children. I’m not Hasidic (just run of the mill Orthodox) but thought it sounded like a great idea and planned to go after my third child. It didn’t end up that way because I ended up on bed rest and hired full time help to take care of my family while I was out of commission. Since I had the help anyway, I just kept her until I felt sufficiently recovered from the birth, about 2 months.
    Also, I think it’s criminal how fast they kick you out of the hospital. In my state, by law insurance must cover 48 hours, so it’s something, and I stayed my full 48 hours after 2 uncomplicated vaginal deliveries. My third was a c section which brought me a grand total of 4 days, but the day of the birth counted as 1 day even though the baby was born in the late afternoon. I found c section recovery to be horrendous and like I should have at least gotten a week in the hospital,rather than 3 and a half days. To make matters worse, my baby was in the NICU for a week. I was hysterical when I went home without him.

    • BeatriceC

      A friend of mine had her her postpartum stay and the actual delivery denied entirely by insurance because of the 48 hour policy. You see, she was in labor for about 50 hours before the baby was finally taken by emergency c-section. The insurance company tried to deny payment for everything past the 48 hour mark. They appealed, but it took almost a year before they got it covered.

      • Glittercrush

        I am convinced there is a special circle of hell for unscrupulous insurance adjusters and all their brethren. That is so awful. I wish there was a way to punish companies that pull crap like that. I am glad they got it covered eventually, but that is just whacked that they even had to fight.

      • Kelly

        I got told by my hospital that 48 hours starts when you deliver. Your insurance is evil.

  • Cyndi

    Excellent article! I was a Maternal/Child nurse a number of years ago in a high risk perinatal unit. We cared for high risk pregnancies, births and complicated deliveries. At one point the powers that be in hospital administration decided that all moms wanted rooming in, so this became mandatory, regardless of how sick mom was. Additionally, they closed the newborn nursery, taking away all options for moms just wanting some rest. We had some very sick new moms (Sickle Cell Crisis, Lupus, dehisced C-Sections), and these women were all responsible for caring for their newborns. Every night the moms would send their babies out to the nurses station, where isolettes were lined up in the station, and spilling out into the halls, likewise every night we had completely open visiting hours and would catch people wandering up and down the halls reaching down and snuggling with babies as if they were all on display at a store. We nurses complained constantly to administration about these obvious risks, but they turned a deaf ear toward all of us.

    • FormerPhysicist

      Yes, thank GOD for the nurses who took my baby, regardless of policy. And I only had post-partum pre-E and a healing C/S. (only compared to what you listed, but still too sick to deal. And partner was taking care of our other children.)

    • Dr Kitty

      See, this is the difference between “allowing rooming-in” (yay!) and “mandating rooming-in” (boo!)

      Some people might not be fit to care for a newborn.
      Some people might want to room in during the day, but not at night, or maybe just to have the baby go to the nursery for long enough for them to have a long, hot shower and a 2hr nap.

      If you have no nursery and no staff to care for babies, you have no safe option for well babies.

      You can say rooming in is “safer” all you want- but if it actually leads to babies left in corridors without adequate supervision, or being smothered or dropped by exhausted mothers, then no, it really isn’t.

      If mum is well enough and wants the baby in her room- baby should be in the room. If mum isn’t well enough, or alert enough, or just needs some alone time to get her sh*t together, the baby should be safely in a locked nursery with qualified staff- not in a corridor where a nurse can vaguely keep half an eye on it as she tries to do her paperwork.

      • Cyndi

        Exactly. I had some heartbreakingly sick moms who were in serious pain who then had to be responsible for a tiny baby, when they couldn’t even care for themselves properly. Leaving babies in the hallways was the last straw for me. Another hospital in town had a kidnapping and we warned administration the same thing could happen to our hospital. Our complaints fell on deaf ears; they were too busy designing the new Women’s Center and fighting about the color scrubs the nurses would wear to actually listen to real concerns.

        • Mrs.Katt the Cat

          Bureaucracy at its finest, eh?

          My hospital had a “baby lojak” device- went on the ankle and set off an alarm if it lost skin contact or got too close to the doors. Might be a useful investment?

          • Cyndi

            No doubt! This was almost 30 years ago,and community standards are to use these devices now. I practically had to give blood to see my grand daughter at Duke. Now you are buzzed in, and the babies have lojaks. Scary how easy it was to take off with a baby back in the day.

          • cookiebaker

            My last baby’s LoJack device kept falling off during our stay or would randomly issue a distress call to the nurses station and they’d come in to try to fix it. One of those times, I noticed it had fallen off, so slipped it back on. No stampede of nurses after it had been off, which was a little concerning.

            Still, I’m sure I left with the correct kid. All of mine look identical at birth. Whenever they’re born, we’re both: “Yep, looks like one of ours.”

        • sdsures

          ****!

  • Dr Kitty

    My mother had 7 days in hospital after each of her CS deliveries.
    That included her third delivery, when my sister died at 24hrs old from a previously undiagnosed severe congenital abnormality.

    I was talking to her about it, and she said that week, after my sister died, when she could lie in bed and cry and have no visitors except close family was a blessing. There were nurses to help her wash and dress and eat. When it all got too much she could just take a sleeping tablet and sleep.

    It was probably what allowed her to come back home and care for us (I was 4, my sister was 2) as well as she did. She’d had a week to grieve when she didn’t have to care for toddlers, and was being cared for herself.

    She thought that the fact I was home 48hrs after my son’s uneventful CS delivery was madness!

  • Amy M

    I read an article yesterday, which someone here posted, and Dr. Amy may have also posted on FB. It was about screen-time, and how things like iPads are just the latest in time/labor/suffering saving devices. The author of the article pointed out that throughout history, use of any such invention was deemed lazy, unnecessary, harmful to children or all three. Her point was that Western society has always pushed to keep women in the home and busy, so they stay out of the work force and out of politics.

    Today, the narrative is that a mother who uses a time/labor/suffering saving device is putting her desires (forget her needs, those aren’t important) above her child’s needs and is, therefore, a bad mother. Things like well baby nurseries and formula are time/labor/suffering saving, so they can easily be disposed of or discouraged because good mothers do things the hard way.

    Of course rooming in and breastfeeding should be optional and mothers should be allowed to rest after birth. But if hospitals can save money and NCB industry can earn it simply by reiterating the old (and anti-feminist) trope of “no shortcuts for good mothers,” it is unlikely they will suddenly develop compassion and that is just maddening.

    • Jules B

      ‘Twas I who posted that link to that article – since I read it, I keep thinking of other things in regards to motherhood that fall under the “no shortcuts” edict. It’s why the #shitmoms meme is so amusing, because *everyone* is ultimately a shitmom – cuz avoiding all of the shortcuts is impossible, even if you try you your damndest. It’s like beauty standards – no woman ever fits the physical “ideal” perfectly, because women are human beings, not plastic dolls.

      IMO, the sooner the NBC crowd and the lactavists realize that even they are shitmoms according to the impossible standard, the happier they will be, and the less they will feel the need to point judgy fingers at everyone else out of their own shame and guilt. Embrace the shitmomness ladies!

      • 3boyz

        Could you post the link again please?

        • Jules B
          • Mrs.Katt the Cat

            Oh, thanks. We have been hiding our Minis screen time from family. This view helps refame the topic.

            I love Netflix! Mini is 3 mo old, and gets to watch the nature shows on cold days when we can’t get out. I consider it green time plus music.
            She also enjoys ‘talking’ to Captain Picard while I cook. Or pee. Or take a call . . . 🙂

          • Liz Leyden

            When I had to take my daughter to the ER last month, I made sure I grabbed my Kindle on the way out. If I have to wrangle 2 toddlers in the ER by myself, I am going to do whatever I can to make things easier. The ER visit turned into a 7-day hospital stay. Between me and Hubby’s tablet, my daughter got a lot of screen time, mostly Wiggles videos and drawing with Peppa Pig. She even got some McDonald’s food, since she wasn’t eating much. She survived, and so did the rest of us.

          • Mrs.Katt the Cat

            Win! Glad you all survived, hospital stays are no fun for anyone.
            We have an old ipad with cat games- perfect for the little Mini. Tap the wiggly fish, hear a bloop and watch it disappear. Fascinating! She doesn’t quite have her aim down yet, but she is working on it

          • evilhrlady

            When I had to take my older daughter to the ER (two sprained ankles!) I not only grabbed the kindle fire, but my portable battery recharger. It kept my 7 year old entertained while waiting for his sister.

      • Megan

        We seriously do need T-shirts. Is #shitmom trending yet?

        • Jules B

          Not trending yet, but with that Bad Moms movie coming out, we may be able to capitalize…;-)

      • Amy M

        Exactly. It’s been great, the last 2 years, because my boys reached a level of independence that gave me back my reading time, and the ability to sleep in on weekends. They get up and dress themselves, they know how to get some food from the fridge, and they play together. I guess I’m a #shitmom for not making them a healthy breakfast, and for not playing with them every waking moment that we are all together. Sometimes, we give them lunch tickets to buy school lunch instead of packing their lunches—OMG, how lazy!!

        • Jules B

          I don’t know how you live with yourself 😉

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I guess I’m a #shitmom for not making them a healthy breakfast

          Point of clarification: do chocolate chip pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse count as a “healthy breakfast”? Because I am good at making those…

          Sometimes, we give them lunch tickets to buy school lunch instead of packing their lunches—OMG, how lazy!!

          We insist that our guy eat school lunches, except for up to one a week. I ain’t gonna pack no lunch every day. That’s what hot lunches are for.

          To be fair, our hot lunch program is good. I actually go in about once a month to eat lunch with the kids. Usually on Texas Straw Hat day. Delicious!

        • CharlotteB

          WAIT. Having your kids buy lunch, rather than packing it yourself, makes you a #shitmom???

          OMG, I have so much to learn. Then again, I joke that my goal as a parent is to raise a Gen-Xer.

          • Amy M

            I figure because the good moms make fancy bento box lunches with all the (organic) veggies cut into bunnies and flowers. I do like Dr. Kitty does—lots of pre-packaged foods (cheese sticks, fruit cups, etc), because its easier, cheaper and they eat it.

        • Dr Kitty

          My six year old wakes up with her alarm, dresses herself (school uniforms help), gets herself a banana and cereal while watching Princess Sophia or Curious George on TV and packs her own school lunch if she isn’t having a hot school dinner that day (depends on the menu).

          I buy things like grapes, mini packs of crackers, babybels, petit filous, cooked cocktail sausages and juice boxes. She just has to put a few grapes and a tangerine, some sausages, a mini cheese or yogurt, a pack of crackers and a juice box into her lunch box (I got one with lots of little compartments). Getting her to do it not only saves me time and effort, but means that she chooses how much and what to put in, which wastes less food and encourages her to eat more.

          I have my hands full in the morning feeding and dressing myself and the baby (as yet he can’t make up his own formula or pack his bag for the childminder).

          #shitmom or teaching my kid useful life skills and encouraging independence. Don’t care, it works for us.

          • Irène Delse

            And I bet the six year old must be rather proud to do these things by herself. Being a big girl, and all that.

      • Anna

        My daughter is going through a bad teething period and I let her watch Tiny Love to distract her a bit and have a break myself. It is extremely hard to have zero time for yourself and to be unable to plan anything not even going to the bathroom or eating. This video and the playard is my salvation.

        • Jules B

          Oh yeah, I had one of those huge play yards too! It was a series of interlocking sides/walls, and the inside space was about maybe 3 feet by 3 feet. I put it in the corner of my living room with a bunch of my daughter’s toys inside – I started “training” her to be OK in there playing alone for short periods by leaving the room for slowly-increasing increments (first for 30 seconds, then a minute etc). I had to do this for my sanity and my back health because I live in a five-level townhouse, so once she hit a certain weight it was very challenging carrying her up and down the stairs all day, every time I needed to do something in another room. (She hated all baby carriers…HATED em).

          Anyway, she loved it in her little play yard safe space – but ya know, I was a #shitmom for putting her in a “baby jail” I am sure hah.

          • CharlotteB

            I LOVE LOVE LOVE my baby jail.

      • Liz Leyden

        I frequent a message board where around the holidays, the “parenting toddlers” forum turns into recommendations for toddler apps. Hubby and I flew last Thanksgiving, and it was our twins’ first flight. They mostly slept, but I think they used our tablets more than we did. I got a Kindle partly for the parental controls. Hubby has a Samsung Galaxy, and can’t figure out Baby Safe Mode. And Southwest Airlines is awesome (we drove 3 hours to avoid flying United).