Emily woke me at 2 am last Sunday. She was on the phone with the triage nurse and before she even hung up, she motioned to me that we needed to get to the hospital right away – it was time to have the baby.
The experience of driving through the silent Charlotte streets at 2:30 am on the way to the hospital to have our first child is something I will never forget.
And if having the baby was not big enough, we also just moved to a new house that day. Literally. Saturday, moving. That night, having a baby.
“It’s like a movie script,” one friend said to me.
Horror movie, maybe.
We got through it all and now have a beautiful baby girl to bring home to our new house.
Here’s what I learned along the way:
(1) If at all possible, don’t have the baby the very night you move to a new house. We were lucky to have friends and family pitch in, smoothing the rough edges around the chaos. But for your own sanity, move to a new house either way before, or way after you have your first baby.
(2) If you don’t get to shower before you go to the hospital, and if you are prone to bed head like I am, have a nice hat ready, not the camouflaged one given to you as a joke at a recent company retreat. Golf shirt, jeans and Adidas? Yes. Camo hat? No.
(3) Get ready to wait. We were somewhat lucky in that Emily was only in labor for a half day. Still, there’s a lot of downtime. If I was really prepared, I would have put the Chromecast in the baby bag so we could watch Netflix. The DVD/VHS players in the room just didn’t cut it.
(4) Don’t be offended at what your wife says to you during contractions. She doesn’t care that you think the computer and printer in the delivery room tends to waste paper.
(5) Unless you have a high risk pregnancy, don’t expect to see many doctors. During our 2 1/2 day stay, we were with a doctor for a total of two hours. I guess it was a good problem to have.
(6) The nurses in the maternity floor at Carolinas Medical Center are phenomenal. From delivery to recovery, every nurse we encountered was not only knowledgeable, but caring and nice. There are few times in life you will find this kind of personalized service. Remember to thank them profusely.
(7) Speaking of CMC, the facilities are truly world class. Charlotte is very lucky to have it.
(8) The number of staff at CMC is mind boggling. Carolinas HealthCare System employees were everywhere, all the time.
(9) If you get the recovery room we had – the one almost directly under the helipad, don’t fret. It’s really not as loud as you might think. Plus, it’s cool to see a helicopter flying right outside the window.
(10) The food at CMC is actually really good. I chose to leave the hospital for the first meal. When that became logistically impossible, I had to eat in the cafeteria. And guess what? The variety and quality of food was pretty darned good. I recommend the gravy biscuit, sushi, sweet potato fries and Starbucks coffee. (On the other hand, the prices seemed a little steep for a nonprofit hospital.)
(11) CMC is a labyrinth unlike any other building – especially when you are severely sleep deprived. Concentrate on the direct route to the cafeteria and exit. That’s about all you’ll need.
(12) The visitor’s parking deck next to the main entrance is a nightmare. The spaces are narrow, the ceiling is scary low, and it’s almost always full. What a mess.
(13) Guys: If your room has a chair that folds out into a bed, and it looks terribly uncomfortable, don’t worry. You will be so exhausted that during the few hours you do sleep, it will feel like a king-sized bed at the Ritz.
(14) The art of swaddling is not as easy at it seems, so practice at home before you get to the hospital. Nothing soothes a newborn like a good swaddling, and a soothed newborn makes for a happy mommy.
(15) Learn how to install your car seat before you go to the hospital. Don’t be the guy watching YouTube instructional videos while cars zip past you in the worst parking deck in the world. In other words, don’t be me.
(16) If you are a Charlotte native, hitting the Bojangles’ on the way home from the hospital is a great way to welcome you new baby into the world! Delaney Rose slept her way through it, but mommy and daddy enjoyed chicken tenders, pinto beans and a salad.
(17) Finally, a wave of fear will hit as you, mom and baby leave the comfy confines of the hospital and all it’s helpful staff. But many, many people have taken newborns home before and done just fine. You will too.