How To Be The Best Labor and Delivery Assistant

My sister just had a baby. Her name is Valentine Greer and she’s 7 lbs of pure awesomeness. I didn’t think I’d get to see her birth, but the one night I was staying in town, my sister saw fit to go into labor. So there I was. Getting a call at 1:30 a.m. to come to the hospital and assist her. Gosh! Labor is so intense. There was a lot of freaking out, yelling, and trembling involved . . . until her husband told me to pull it together.

So now that I’ve experienced one labor and delivery (I don’t count my own), I think it’s only right that I share my wisdom with the rest of the world. Here’s some tips for everyone out there who might one day be asked to be IN THE ROOM as a baby is being born.

#1: The drive there. This is your chance to drive any way you want to. When I was in labor, my husband drove like Yoshi in Mario Kart, dodging and spinning and laughing in a high pitched voice. I did not appreciate this, I’d much rather have more of a steady but fast Ryan Gosling-esque experience like in Drive. Actually, no . . . maybe it was just that I wanted Ryan Gosling to drive me? I don’t remember. Anyways…

[insert obligatory picture of Ryan Gosling]

This is your one chance to go fast and furious. To be the ultimate transporter. To be like Jason Bourne and race your car backwards through traffic. Because if the police stop you all you have to do is shout, “MY SISTER’S HAVING A BABY!” At least, I think it works that way.

#2: Labor starts out pretty slow. There’s the sudden rush of excitement when the water breaks and you rush to the hospital, but then things get pretty boring as the heavy contractions don’t start until later. So this is when you step in and liven things up. Some fun activities during this time are:

-playing basketball with the birthing ball, using a trashcan strapped to an IV as a hoop. This works especially well if there are several laboring mothers with you in the hall, because then you can form teams.

-set up video game consoles and play some games to get the mother’s adrenalin up. Postal 2, Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, and Madworld give some precious background ambience as the child enters the world. Sometimes the mothers might want to play, but usually the real entertainment value is watching the ladies screaming at their husbands to stop playing and get back to the labor room. Sometimes this excitement is enough to get real heavy contractions started, and I’m surprised more Doctors don’t recommend this method.

-have a spicy pepper competition between the laboring mothers. Whoever eats the most peppers gets first dibs on the big jacuzzi.

-hire a clown. Or rent a bouncy house. However, I suggest asking the mother first which one she wants, as you don’t want to waste your money on both, just in case she doesn’t like bouncy houses or clowns.

Bouncy Houses. Clowns. Always Fun. Better yet . . . a clown bouncy house!

#3: When heavy contractions begin, this is when things start to get intense. if you don’t concentrate on relaxing, you might lose it altogether. So if the groaning is starting to wear on you, just turn up the music. If the screams make you lose your cool, jump into the jacuzzi for a bit (if there’s a laboring mother in there just ask if you can share or something). If the constant walking is making you tired, eat something (note: don’t offer the mother anything to eat because she’ll probably vomit it up later and the meal will be wasted). But most importantly, don’t freak out. It would most assuredly not be good for the mother to see you freak out. Anyway, she’s probably doing this enough for the both of you.

Labor is starting? Hold ON!

#4: Listen and obey the mother’s every word. If she wants a blanket, give her a blanket. If she wants you to knit her a blanket from toilet paper, knit her a freakin’ toilet paper blanket! If a second later she wants you to take the blanket off and burn it in the trash can, then burn the darn thing. If she doesn’t like your perfume, change clothes (if you don’t have extra clothes put on a hospital gown). If she wants you to massage her left big toe, do it. If she hates the color in the hospital room, paint it. If she wants some warm, fresh goat milk then go milk a goat! Basically, obey her orders as if your life depended on it. Because you never really know what a laboring mother is capable of. And also, because you love her.

#5: Do NOT say what you are thinking. They call it the miracle of birth because there seems to be no physical way this baby is coming out.

Saying: “You’re doing great!”   Thinking: “How the heck is this going to turn out? I know anatomy but . . . it might as well be pulled from her belly button . . . how is this going to end well?!”

Saying: “Take a deep breath and push. You’re almost there.”   Thinking: “This baby better be the size of a pickle or this is gonna get really messy.”

Saying: “I see the baby’s head!”   Thinking: “Oh my gosh this child doesn’t have a face. I’m seeing a head and no face!”

Saying: “Oh wow.”   Thinking: “Aaaaaaaaaaaagh. It’s cranium is made of jelly bones!”

Saying: “IT’S COMING.”   Thinking: “Don’t lock your knees. Think about drinking a cold beer on a beach. This is incredible but I’m going to faint.”

Saying: “You did it! Beautiful! What an amazing baby girl!”   Thinking: “Totally purple skin. Wrinkly scrunched face. Big head, little legs. She’s going to have a hard time in Jr High.”

But then the Doctors wipe up the baby and she takes deep breaths and the baby skin isn’t so purple and they are lying skin to skin and the air seems to glow with pure life and joy and you’re crying and saying how much you love them and the world and then you give the nurses kisses and chocolates and then collapse in a puddle because your adrenalin just ran out.

#6: After the birth, you are not done yet. CARBS! Bring the new mother a lot of carbs. Anything she wants, this first meal is important and should be memorable. My sister asked for “something with a lot of carbs” so I made her a roasted strawberry, dark chocolate, and brie sandwich. I thought it fit the bill.

Click for Recipe

So there you go,

good luck in the most intense and rewarding experiences of your life. Now begins the best part: giving that new baby a thousand kisses and whispering “i love you” in her hair. Also, baby breath. Can’t beat it.

Picture by Maria Casteel

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45 Comments

  1. Absolutely hilarious and 100% true!! Congrats on your niece! :)

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 7, 2012

      Thanks Ginger! We’re quite thrilled she’s here.

      Reply
  2. Love it! Especially “she’d better be the size of a pickle” part. Thought that each time I had a baby, LOL. (3x)

    Congrats! You did great, Auntie!

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 7, 2012

      Thanks K.B. Anything bigger than a pickle is a complete miracle!

      Reply
  3. I remember the drive! Usually a 75 minute commute cut to 25 minutes at two am. At the last minute I was not allowed in delivery. I had to be content with watching the sun rise from my seat in the waiting room. Now,, 30 years later, those are my memories.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 7, 2012

      Oh it was too bad they didn’t let you witness it. It’s a crazy experience! And completely unforgettable. But at least you got to hold the baby and that’s the best part, anyway.

      Reply
  4. Sweet Jaysus, I hope this gets Freshly Pressed. I think you pretty much nailed the role, ma’am. Also? This: “if there’s a laboring mother in there just ask if you can share or something”. If you don’t mind floating in uterus water, bring margaritas, and it’s pretty much exactly like a party!

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 7, 2012

      You know what they say. “There ain’t no party like a laboring mama party.” Or…something like that… ;)

      Reply
  5. Absolutely hilarious, Ellie, and oh, so true!!! I know God set the timing for you to be IN THE ROOM just so you could gain the experience to entertain all of us. :) Congratulations on your niece.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 7, 2012

      I’m happy I was there. I don’t think I could handle more than 1 a year, though.

      Reply
  6. Michael S.

     /  June 7, 2012

    Shoot, Yoshi would destroy Ryan Gosling in a driving contest any day. He doesn’t even have turtle shells to fire…

    Reply
  7. What an ordeal! I love the games idea, that might be fun to do while waiting. Also the recipe sounds amazing, will be trying soon. Thanks!

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 7, 2012

      Everyone should try that recipe once before they die. In fact, I hope it will be my last meal. ;)

      Reply
  8. This is fantastic all around, as usual, but I love that your go-to game was Postal 2. Well played.

    Reply
  9. Coleen Patrick

     /  June 7, 2012

    Congrats Ellie–and her name is beautiful!
    :)

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 7, 2012

      Isn’t it great? Have you read the Enders Game series? There’s a character in there named Valentine who is absolutely amazing. Makes me think of her.

      Reply
  10. Congrats to you and your sister, Ellie. And as always, you’re way with words just totally cracks me up. And the Hold On! photo of the kids on the roller coaster . . . perfect!

    My daughter is due with her 3rd in a few days; I immediately passed this on to her. :)

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 7, 2012

      oh congratulations on a new baby!! how exciting. I hope the labor and delivery go SO well, and don’t forget to get her lots of carbs after the birth. ;)

      Reply
      • I passed this on to Meghan (my very preggers daughter) and she passed it on to all her friends, saying that she laughed SO hard and thought it was hilarious. I went back read it again. That “clown bouncy house” line: outstanding! And the Saying – Thinking reparté. Sooo good. Thanks again, Ellie.

        Reply
        • EllieAnn

           /  June 8, 2012

          Good luck to your daughter, I hope everything goes beautifully for her. I’m so glad you all enjoyed it!! =)

          Reply
  11. If I were to have a miracle baby, (it would have to be a miracle), I would want you with me Ellie! Wow! …off to knit a toilet paper blanket…..
    Congratulations to your sister!

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 7, 2012

      I’d love to be with you, Susie. It’d be an honor. But instead, we could just watch a JJ Abrams movie or TV show. There are always LOTS of births in those. Eesh.

      Reply
  12. Oh man…glad everything turned out all right. That’s one thing I hope I never have to experience either as the laborer or the assistant.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 7, 2012

      It surely is an intense experience coming into the world.

      Reply
  13. Made me laugh AND cry. You should be in the Life section of the paper. You are funny! Or was it just the miracle of birth that brought it out in you? I’ll have to check out more posts. (Thanks to Susie L. for providing the umbilical, I mean opportunity to link up)
    Julia W.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 7, 2012

      I’m so glad you’re here! I’m happy Susie brought you. =)

      Reply
  14. LOL, having had 5 children without an epidural or other pain inhibitors this made me laugh. A lot. With two of my babies I was having a hard time relaxing so they gave me something to help me relax. I fell asleep and woke panicking when the contraction was at its worst. I do not recommend this procedure. It made for a long labor for my ex who sat next to my hospital bed talking me through each wake-up.

    The most amazing thing about child birth is that once the baby is placed in your arms you immediately forget how painful the last few hours have been. The fact that women even consider going through this experience more than once is the miracle.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 8, 2012

      You had natural births? rock on! I also had natural births. It makes you feel so alive! Mostly because you’re screaming your head off, LoL. No, no, no, not really. At least, not for every second of the labor.
      I can’t imagine falling asleep during the labor! No wonder you were frightened when you woke.
      I agree. Forgetting about the pain and enjoying the baby is the one reason women keep having kids. That, and . . . well, you know. ;)

      Reply
  15. Hilarious! What a gorgeous niece you have.

    Reply
  16. This was hilarious — I envisioned the hot pepper-eating battle–and also very sweet at the end. I loved it.

    Reply
  17. Way to be a supportive sister. Seeing things through humor is the best way!

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 8, 2012

      One comment I left out was when my sister told my brother in law, “Take off your shirt, your cologne stinks!” LoL. It was great.

      Reply
  18. I’ve been there for a friend giving birth (before I had mine) and I’m surprised I wanted to even have children after having seen that….well, the ending, of course, is just beautiful. This was a great story and entirely true!! Loved it!

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 8, 2012

      The end does somehow make you forget the beginning. I’m not sure I could have handled this if I hadn’t already gone through the process myself, LoL.

      Reply
  19. That was awesome. Been there, too. And #4? Absolutely!!

    Reply
  20. Loved it, Ellie! Especially the last paragraph. I used to lean into my babies’ yawns just for a whiff of their breath….sweeter than Altoids or Tic-Tacs!

    Reply
  21. Super funny post! #5 was hilarz. Also, when I give birth, I will definitely have you there, so you can do #6 for me. That sandwich sounds so delicious!!

    Reply
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