I must be completely honest: I am writing to you for reassurance, which may seem silly, and I understand if there’s not much to say. But I love your advice, and generally find your logical approach to highly emotional problems very calming. I wrote to you in May at the early stages of my second pregnancy in a panic about possible girls’ names, but sadly miscarried. Thankfully this letter was NOT posted, as I would have been even more sad getting advice when the pregnancy had not worked out. The gist of my (very) long letter at that time was that I wanted a name that had a story behind it that was somehow connected to family. For multiple reasons, a flower name made sense but I couldn’t pick one from our short list. Well, since becoming pregnant again my husband and I have settled on a name that was not even on our original list: Iris. The “rainbow” meaning and flower connection ticks the boxes for us. We love how it is a simple, straight-forward, relatively nickname proof name, easily spelled and pronounced, and relatively uncommon. Our first child is named Pearl, after her great-grandmother Margaret whose name means “pearl.” I think the two go nicely together. We have had our boy’s name picked out for some time, it is an unusual and short Scandinavian name connected to my Dad, and we are 100% settled on that.
Unfortunately, I am now feeling doubts about Iris. I think my problem is insanity and hormones, but… Iris is the name of my mother’s current boss. This is not a terrible association, but still feels a bit weird. I have met this woman very briefly a long time ago, and she seemed nice. I honestly forgot her name altogether, until two weeks after we chose the name and my Mother casually mentioned her boss. My mother does not dislike her, but I worry my Mother may react oddly to the name and not really like it, which feels important to me. I also have this weird obsession with looking at all the other famous Iris’s in the world and in history, and don’t really feel connected to any of them. This is nuts, I know, but I remember liking the book “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck and knowing that my literature loving mother would appreciate that reference, which she did. I cannot and will not talk to my mother about this- my husband have an iron-clad policy that we do NOT discuss names with family prior to naming, for many reasons, and frankly the risk is too high- if she DOES say that she doesn’t like the name, I have nothing else. Once the baby is here, there’s no going back. If my Mother doesn’t like the name, I believe in my heart she will still understand why we chose it and gradually come to love both the association of the name with her granddaughter and all of the thought we put into the name.
I think another part of my anxiety is that my baby is breech, which was only confirmed two weeks ago. The doctors tried to turn him or her with External Cephalic Version, and it didn’t work. Now I have ten days until a planned Caesarian which I am very comfortable with, but I only finished work today and am suddenly highly anxious about having a fixed deadline to have everything ready. I really thought I had more time, which is of course ridiculous as babies can be born at any time, but when I didn’t KNOW the date I could just assume I would be closer to my due date (I will be 39 weeks along for the Caesarian). With our first daughter I went into labour on my due date at 40 weeks and had her the day after by vaginal delivery. So now I am reading everything about Caesarians, and wondering about all of the after care for that, and what I need to bring to the hospital, or purchase for when I home from the hospital, etc. Unfortunately, I feel like everyone is telling me horror stories about birth in general, babies being stolen from hospitals (yes, really, one woman told me a horror story TODAY as I was getting blood taken- do people have no heart?), etc. So am now feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and having cold feet about all of my choices, including the girl’s name. There is no other name Swistle. I know, because I have now spent over a year in serious, daily pursuit of THE MAGICAL PERFECT GIRL BABY NAME and this is what we have. And I AM happy with it, but still feel on edge.
What I am hoping for is that you can give my anxieties a stern talking to, a “snap out of it crazy pregnant lady” lecture. And maybe some advice about Caesarian birth, and how 10 days is plenty of time to feel prepared, and how everything is going to be fine. Thanks for listening, Swistle. Would greatly appreciate any advice.
All my best,
I am rather late to this, as your c-section date is now only three days away. But I am here now and ready with the reassurances!
FIRST. You have thoroughly searched for a name. You have found an excellent solid beautiful choice with special meaning for you, and it goes well with your first child’s name. High-five me: you have done great and you are all set. I believe this to be cold feet and nothing more. It’s okay about your mom’s boss: if your mom hated her boss and ranted about her all the time, that would be one thing; I think in this situation it’s going to work out fine.
SECOND. C-sections. All of mine were born that way, and I am a fan. I found the first one much harder than the others, because it happened after labor and I was so tired and everything was unfamiliar. The scheduled ones were…well, I don’t want to oversell it, but I would recommend it to anyone. If I’m remembering correctly, the first 24 hours afterward you stay in bed with the epidural and IV for pain management. It would be really good if someone could stay overnight with you to help with changing the baby’s diaper and bringing the baby to and from its bassinet, but with all but our first baby Paul stayed home with the other kid(s) and I was able to manage with the nurses’ help. Then the next morning they take all that IV/epidural stuff out and you switch to oral medication, and they boot you out of bed; it will feel as if you should NOT stand up with your tum feeling that way, but trust the nurses (and Swistle) that you can, and that you will feel better the more you move around. And then you will have the best shower of your life and the nurses will start to plead with you to come out and you will say sorry no.
THIRD. Getting ready. As an anxious person, I rely pretty heavily on Coping Thoughts. My Coping Thought for getting ready for a baby to come home was that everything DOESN’T have to be ready ahead of time. With my first, I went into labor at 37 weeks 6 days, the morning after I’d finally gone out to buy a car seat. But if I HADN’T gotten that car seat in time, Paul could have gone out to get one while I was in the hospital. If we hadn’t already gotten a crib, he could have gotten that too. Or we could have put the baby in a cardboard box for a few weeks until we had time to go out and let me evaluate the pros and cons of every single crib on the market. If I’d somehow forgotten all about diapers, we could have stopped at Target on the way home from the hospital. If I’d somehow forgotten clothes and blankies, we could have wrapped the baby in a pillowcase or one of our t-shirts while Paul went to the store. It isn’t a deadline as much as it’s an arrival time: arrangements can continue afterward.
It’s even more relaxed with the post-C-section supplies: lots of women don’t know in advance they’re going to have a C-section, so they don’t buy anything ahead of time and have to send someone else out for it once they realize they need it. You’ll need some pads and some giant pads; my hospital sent me home with a big package of each. Some of the pads are for postpartum bleeding; some are to place between the incision and your underwear, to keep the incision dry and protected. Your OB may also tell you to buy a few over-the-counter medications; it has been awhile, but I think mine specified a certain type of stool softener and a certain type of pain killer (I was going to say which ones, but suddenly that seems like a poor idea: recommendations may have changed in the last ten years). My OB also gave me a small prescription for narcotics; if you can fill that at the hospital pharmacy so you can bring it home with you and no one has to go back out for it after you get home, I highly recommend it (and get one last dose of oral painkiller at the hospital before you leave to go home, to bridge the gap). Also, I recommend loose comfy pants; I wore pajama pants for a week or two because I didn’t want anything pressing where the incision was. And I had a Boppy pillow; those can be particularly nice for keeping the baby away from the incision.
Comparing my C-section recovery with my friends’ non-C-section recoveries, I’d say one difference is that it takes longer after a C-section to be comfortably up and about: I spent a lot of time in a recliner, and I slept in the recliner at night for awhile. If you want to channel energy into something productive ahead of time, I recommend cooking/freezing meals and doing any cleaning that you can still do around your tum, and making plans/arrangements for other people to handle cooking/cleaning for awhile after the birth.
I hope people who have had a C-section more recently than I have can fill out some more details on things that can be purchased/arranged ahead of time.
Thank you so much to you and your readers for all your kind advice and reassurance. The caesarean birth was fine- everything people said was true. The shower afterwards was definitely a highlight! I used the pain killers early and often and was able to get on my feet the next day. The nurses were brilliant overnight and we managed fine. And as it turns out, we had a baby boy! His name is a short, uncommon Scandinavian name in honour of my Swedish Dad, who is thrilled. (For identifying purposes we wish to keep the name under wraps). Thanks again!
All my best,