Alice in Parenthood (Down the Rabbit-Hole)
The original Alice could not have been any less prepared for her magical fall through the rabbit-hole. She could never have guessed that a well-dressed and talking little White rabbit with a watch would run past her as she sat on the riverbank. Real life however, is quite different. Not only are you aware of the possible outcome before you partake in any relations with little White rabbits and rabbit-holes, but sometimes you do so with the goal of entering the rabbit-hole.
Our fall thus begins with labour, as aside from the little allusion I made up top, we cannot discuss the "vertical mambo." This is a family show people, what were you expecting? Note that from here onwards, everything written is directed at women... as most of Alice's comments were directed at them. However, the people who need to learn about labour the most are the guys, so it will serve you well to read this even if you are not female.
First and foremost, The original Alice's fall took quite a long time, and so does labour. It lasts several hours and it is not over once the baby or babies are born. Several hours more are spent on post-op procedures and this will vary depending on how smooth the delivery was. Our Alice's labour was pretty rough, so she was there awhile. Therefore you may want to decide beforehand whether your *husband will stay until it's all over.
During this time, fights may break out between him and the doctor concerning your well-being. Let them fight, focus on pushing. Understandably, you will not be in the best mood yourself, so you are allowed to shout, curse, scream, and whatever else makes you feel better. You're going to do this anyway due to the pain, but it's good to know you will be forgiven in advance.
Before you even go into labour, make sure you know your hospitals policies, who can be in the labour room, and how long it takes to get there. Chances are that some rules may be broken for you, but don't count on it. Also make a choice between bottle and breast feeding, because you will have to start nursing within an hour of delivery. Decide whether you want an epidural, and most importantly decide on a labour coping strategy because you will be in a lot - and I mean a whole lot - of pain.
After labour, you will feel very unpretty. Your feet will swell, you will have trouble walking and you won't be allowed to wear shoes. All this will last for quite a while and even if you remain the most beautiful woman in the world to your husband, you will not want him to touch you with a 10 foot stick.
At the end of the day, your fall down the hole will be a lot like the original Alice. You will be confused, you will laugh, you will talk nonsense, some parts of you will grow in size while others will shrink, and when you finally land at the bottom you will be left in wonderment - ready to begin your journey through your own personal wonderland; and for a long time after, you will consider it the proudest moment of your life.
Now the truth of the matter is that you have plenty of time to prepare for your fall down the hole. Even after you fall, it takes up to 9 months before you land, and labour is really just the consummation of that fall. So there are quite a few other things you can do to prepare in this time.
Starting with your baby shower, you want to make sure you make a baby registry: That is, a list of things that will be useful for your baby which you would like to get for your shower. This will force you to think about what your baby needs and possibly inspire decisions such as whether you want to use cotton nappys as opposed to diapers. Make sure that people conform to this list, otherwise you are likely to end up with tons of baby clothes that you will never use and diapers that you may never open. Just like our Alice did.
Setup a nursery for your baby or babies, and buy stuff for their basic necessities... and your own baby nursing tools. For example, you will want to get a breast pump, baby clothes, cradle, etc.
Secure help for when the babies come. You will want another parent - If not your own mother, then the mother of your spouse. They will be glad to help, but you still ought to make the arrangements beforehand.
Finally, make sure you do the research. Watch videos, take classes, ask other parents for advise... do it all. All you need to know is already out there. After all, people have been giving birth since Adam & Eve. Alice personally recommends the video - Laugh & Learn about Childbirth for learning about labour.
Every baby is different, and their needs are too. So you will need to be flexible. Don't over prepare because no matter how much you prepare you will still not have everything you need, and you will probably end up with a few things you don't.