The ultrasound tech slathers clear gel upon my wife’s pregnant belly and readies the machine for another look into our twins’ world. The machine can seem alien with its different probe sizes, large screen, and a keyboard with roller-ball mouse.The screen comes to life, first by showing a black and white blob. With a quick twist of the wrist and slight press of the probe, the image starts to reveal limbs, hands, feet, and a head. Moving from baby A to baby B, they move and twist to escape the probe. We all smile. By now at 35 weeks, we’re quite used to these appointments.
Aside from feeling our babies with my hand pressed against my wife, ultrasound appointments are by far my favorite thing during pregnancy. At the appointments, my mind often drifts to thoughts about what our new rivals will look like. I ponder what activities we’ll do as they grow up, and of course the impending stress of bringing newborns into the world. It is then that it hits me, especially with this being one of the last appointments.
Are we ready?
Are the car seats in properly? Is the hospital bag packed? Do we have enough diapers? What are we doing just sitting here? I must prepare! My thoughts are broken briefly by the thudding sound of our babies’ heartbeats through the ultrasound machine.
Time flies and babies come quick, so don’t get caught unprepared! It is never too early to get started. Here are 6 things my wife and I have been doing to not only prepare, but help calm the anxiety of waiting.
Whether you are waiting to have a baby shower or you already have items for the nursery, spend time getting the space ready. If you’re starting off with bassinets in your bedroom or going straight to cribs, get your space ready along with a designated changing station. Once that’s done, test out your space. Can you get to the changing station easily from the cribs or bassinets? Speaking of a changing station, make sure you choose changing pad with an easily washable cover. Have diapers, wipes, and rash ointment easily accessible. Wash all the clothes, swaddles, burp rags, and blankets in a baby safe laundry detergent ahead of time. Finally, keep lots of plain onesies on hand, as you’ll be using those the most!
Infant Car Seats
Always buy a new car seat, never buy used. The seats lose integrity and become unsafe after a car accident. You’ll never know if a used one has been involved in an accident, or not. Car seats also have expiration dates. When buying a car seat, always check for recalls. Use resources such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website to find ratings and recalls, as well as other information on car seats. When you purchase the car seats you want, read that manual. Learn how they function, and practice putting them in your vehicle. You’ll want them ready for the day your babies come home.
Know Your Hospital
Most hospitals offer tours of the maternity ward. Here you can see and learn how to check in, where the triage rooms are located, and where the labor and delivery rooms are. Also note the location of the nurse’s station, and the locations of the operating theater and where the waiting rooms are located. Being familiar with your surroundings will help ease some of the anxiety on the big day. If an official tour is not possible, most hospitals keep a map of their facilities on their website. Grab those maps and plot your course to labor and delivery!
Family and Friends
If you already have children, be sure to have family or a sitter available. Preferably one who can come at a moment’s notice, or at least meet you at the hospital. If you have pets, find a pet sitter, friend, or family member ready to come to your home, or be prepared to board them if necessary. Be sure to have any instructions and contact information typed and printed before the big day to help those keeping a eye on children or pets. Make it known that on the big day, you’ll update friends and family when you are able and after the babies are born. I learned this the hard way with our first child. The last thing you want are 10,000 texts asking how everything is going. In our world of social media, everyone expects up to the minute and live broadcasts of everything. I do not recommend doing a live broadcast of your partner in labor! This is your day with mom and the babies, everyone else can wait.
Pack Hospital Bags
Help your partner put together her hospital bag with a couple sets of comfortable clothes, nursing bras, nursing pads, slippers, and some reading material. She’ll also need personal care items and any medications that she takes. Put together a small bag for yourself that includes a change of clothes, personal care items, reading material, and device chargers. Even though you’re packing chargers for cell phones, e-readers, and tablets, make sure to keep those charged as you get close to the big day. You’ll also want to setup a diaper bag not only for practice, but to also include a set of clothes for the babies to go home in.
Create a Birth Plan
Search “birth plan” on the internet. You’ll come up with a plethora of resources on creating a birth plan worksheet. The birth plan is exactly that; it details the specific actions that you and your partner would like to take during labor. This includes whether to have an epidural, if you plan to circumcise your son(s), or other items, like if you’re going to use a birthing ball. It helps the hospital staff know what you would like to have happen during labor. Even with a plan, remember than plans can always change. With our first child, my wife decided she would not have an epidural. About half way through labor, she was begging for it. The nurses asked if that was still o.k. because it was not on the birth plan. We decided that’s what needed to happen. My wife then received the epidural and not too long after, we had a screaming, healthy baby.
Remember to breathe. It is easy to get caught up in the moment and get anxious about the big day. Take some time to sit back with your partner and watch the babies move around in their cozy womb. Know that soon everything will change, but enjoy this time and how far you’ve come.
I am lucky enough to have drawn experience with our oldest child. These steps will help you be prepared for when your little ones arrive.
Share with us in the comments what YOU did to prepare for twins!