Labor logistics with Baby #2

How do handle logistics of taking care of Thing #1 when you are in labor with Thing #2? PSP members share their advice.



Original Poster:


 "I would love to hear what your plans were while laboring and getting to the hospital when you had child number 2 (or more) - what you did, what you wish you had done - anything you would have done differently, what didn't work, etc. Our daughter will be almost 4 when baby #2 arrives, and we don't have a reliable babysitter (we're boring and never go out on our own).

My in-laws live in Poughkeepsie so they could be here door to door by MetroNorth in say 4 hours max (normally less but we'd have to plan for the longest trip time) but they wouldn't be available in the middle of the night. My parents are a 10 hour flight away, so though I'd be more comfortable with them at home while I'm laboring, I'm not sure if it makes sense for them to book their flight say a week before my due date to be around for the event as we'd still need a backup plan should I deliver sooner.

Most of our local friends are so busy working and looking after their own kids that it's hard to ask them for help."




Set up childcare with a "round robin" style arrangement with friends:

"My kids are 3 years apart. My family is in Philly (probably about same travel time as Poughkeepsie) so we had to rely on local friends- yes it's hard to ask for help but we promised to repay the favor if it was ever needed!! Everyone is busy but people get it, especially if they have their own kids.
I had a detailed list of about 6 friends that included both partners' names and phone numbers, and their addresses (including cross streets) just in case one family needed to hand off my daughter to another. I also included information if they were going to be out of town on a given weekend around my due date. I emailed the list to everyone who was on it and also left a hard copy in my apartment. If people still have land lines, definitely get those numbers too. And on the list I put stuff about my daughter like what she enjoys eating, favorite toys, ped's phone number, etc.
In these days of cell phones and fewer land lines it's important to keep in touch with people if you are counting on them because they won't necessarily have their phone turned on- one of my friends slept with her phone on her nightstand when I was showing signs of early labor that ended up not progressing. Another friend of mine told her that if I couldn't reach her, as a last resort I should just come to her apartment and buzz until she answered, which I thought was so generous. Also my landlord, who lives one flight above us, offered to come down and stay with my daughter if we were in a pinch.
What ended up happening was that I went into labor at night and our part-time babysitter happened to be with us that day so she spent the night. If she hadn't been there I would have asked my friend who lives nearby to come. The sitter needed to leave the next day so my husband asked a friend to come stay with my daughter during her nap (she was on maternity leave with her own second baby!), and then by that point my family had made it from Philly.
Also- if you are in a pinch, you can bring your daughter to the hospital until say a friend can pick her up. It happens- they don't love it, but it wouldn't be the first time and they are prepared to deal with it.
Good luck!! It was so stressful not knowing how it would go down, but it will work out. 4 is a great age because they are somewhat independent!


"I honestly don't think that it's a big favor to ask  -  and it's a problem that many many families face.  We have 4 kids and every one of them involved a middle of the night trip to the hospital for delivery.  In each case, we called upon a friend that had a spouse/partner at home.  One of them came over to our house and one of them stayed with their kids. Depending on friends' work schedule that day, the plan in the morning was for the friend caring for our child overnight to pass them off to whichever caregiver we knew (from that family or another) that was available that day (a stay-at-home parent, a nanny, etc.). In the mean time, we had the grandparents on call to get on the road when they woke up so we were really only asking the daytime caregiver for a 1/2 day of help."


"One thing that someone suggested that we should've done, but didn't, is to have different friends on call different nights and to maybe text them before going to bed and give them a heads up if it seems like anything is happening. That way, they can plan (in terms of being on call) a little better if need be.""


See if your nanny can be on call too:

"We had our nanny and a few friends in the neighborhood on call who would be able to come quickly for a few hours while our family from Pennsylvania had a chance to drive in."


Gauge receptiveness of helpful friends and don't be shy asking friends for help. That's what friends are for!:

"For us, the care of our older children was our biggest stress leading up to delivery.  My advice is to be honest with friends and acquaintances about your concern about the need for care of your older child when you head to the hospital.  We were in a similar boat as you; we did not have a babysitter and helpful grandparents were 4 hours away.   In the weeks leading up to delivery, friends invariably ask "are you ready", "do you have the baby's room ready", etc..   We used these as a lead in to not only say that we were ready (or not!) with those things, but also as a way to say that what was really on our mind was the care of our older one.  We had many friends offer (including many we didn't see that often or who didn't really know our kids) and it was obvious over time who the folks were that were most eager and available since they usually mentioned it to us again.  In the end, we had long lists of trusted folks that could help. Sure, only the top few were close family friends that knew us and the kids very well but that's okay.  Toward the bottom of the list were lovely folks that we knew that had literally never been to our house or met our child but, for whatever reason, we knew them well (or close friends knew them well) and we of course trusted them.

"I would ask your friends. We were busy with our own kids too, but when some old friends asked us to be on the list, we didn't hesitate to say we'd be happy to serve as a backup. When their first 2 on the list ended up being out of town, we were happy to help.  I think you'll find that people who have been through it really do understand how hard it can be and would be happy to take a shift as needed. Go ahead and ask.  Your friends with kids (particularly those with more than one who had to deal with the "what do I do when #2 comes?") question will be happy to step up."

"For the middle of the night our plan was that either the husband or the wife of our friends would come over to our house and stay there with our daughter asleep. I was hesitant to ask for help, since they are also busy and have two kids, but in the end they were more than happy to help us. I think you'd be surprised how willing people are to help in such circumstances."

I was really worried about this too as we don't have family anywhere nearby and have a 3 year old daughter. What I ended up doing is just sucking it up and asking for help from friends/neighbors (I'm not very good at asking for help, especially when I think it'll be inconvenient for the other person). And to my surprise, even friends with kids were willing to help out. I also had my sister sort of on call towards the end. She lives in Dallas, but has a flexible schedule and a lot of air miles. I was especially concerned about labor happening quickly b/c my first came pretty quickly.

In a similar situation (our closest relatives were, at best, 2 hours away - we had no babysitter), we asked friends to be nighttime or evening backups. I just don't think there's any other way. Basically the plan was that if I went into labor while our son was at daycare, relatives would pick him up that evening. If I went into labor outside of daycare hours, or later in the day when pickup was looming, friends would get him/pick him up and relatives would get him from our friends ASAP. This is, at most, something that will only happen a few times!  Don't be afraid to ask your friends help. My 2 cents."


Friends can help make a great birth story for your eldest:

"We reached out to close local friends (maybe a month out from my due date) and asked about whether they might be available to host a sleepover/care for my son when the time came, and what hours would be ok, if their babysitter would be ok w pitching in until the grandparents arrive. Then you can have a plan A B etc and start making calls when the time comes. People will show up for you & probably feel honored to help on the big day! And you might be able to return the favor & help them out in a pinch. My kids are 8 & 5 now & still love the stories of how our friends took care of my son while my daughter was being born, he ate pancakes for dinner etc."

 "My (childless) first cousin and her husband lived in Brooklyn when my #2 was due, so they were our round-the-clock on call people. And then a bunch of friends who have kids my #1's age all offered to take #1 as needed. I
ended up sending #1 to our friends for a sleepover when I first started thinking I was in labor and my cousin picked #1 up the next morning and took her all day, bringing her back home about 4 hours after #2 was born, just in time to meet her new sister and go to bed.
I really recommend asking friends if you don't have family in NYC (or even if you do!). I was so overwhelmed by how much our friends wanted to help and were excited for our family, it was such a gift. And #1 had *the* best time on her first sleepover and with her adventure with our cousin. Anyone who loves you will be happy to have one interrupted night of sleep as you welcome a new baby, really :-)"


See if a friendly neighbor can help:

The first thing to note, and I think it's true of most people, is that #2 comes way faster than #1.  We labored at home with #1 for hours, for #2 we didn't labor at home at all.  Our plan basically was to hope that labor started when #1 was in school/daycare (it did).  Call friends/family otherwise.  If it was middle of the night, our neighbors in the building had volunteered to watch the monitor.  Not sure where you're delivering but since we were at Methodist, I also felt confident that after the birth, I could run home and help with #1 for a little if needed.
I will say that while all our friends have their own kids too, all of them we talked to were willing to take a call in the middle of the night or help out.  Same goes with the neighbors in the building that we were friendliest with. It's only one day that happens once every few years.  that's what friends are for.  heck, we even were willing to do the same for one of the other parent's at daycare whom we are friendly with but not friends. I wouldn't feel bad about asking your friends is the point, that's what they're for. "

"Do you know anyone in the building? Anyone who can keep an eye on your 4 yo if it happens out of the blue? (if she's sleeping - maybe you can carry her into their apt?). Just until your in-laws get there.

" In the end, early labor was long. I ended up utilizing a neighbor to watch my daughter while I was dealing with labor at home, then my sister came and took over those duties and stayed with my daughter when we went to the hospital."


Set up as many back up plans as you can:

"I suggest to have plan A, B,C & D for the birthday of baby #2 and a list of people you thrust with your oldest.
my second baby came 2 weeks before of my due date, the day I was all alone with my first born, i literally call 10 people while checking on labor and delivery room, and my husband was one hour away, so my 3 year old daugther Witness all the procedures on the labor and delivery room, while sitting on a chair next to me, eating a donut for breakfast that i got for her, from the car outside the hospital before I went in.
Thank God a relative pick her up just before I started the big contractions.
Next day she came back to meet her baby sister with a gift that we bought for her before and her baby sister have a gift for her too."

"Not sure that my situation would be helpful. My son was 22 months old when my daughter was born. I had a nearby friend stop by and wait with him when I went to the hospital, until my sister could get there, and my sister was about 20-30 minutes away. This all happened around midnight. If it had been daytime and weekday, there would have been daycare and then we'd have arranged to have someone pick him up from there at the end of the day. But the point that might be useful for you is that my labors were different from each other and if you're expecting the same clues or experiences with #2 as you had with #1, it might not go that way. (And you know they say the 2nd is faster than the 1st, right?) So I'd love for you to be able to be as prepared with back up as you can be, even if that means having some (very busy, I know) friends nearby who can jump in and rotate (at their place or yours) until you can get family to arrive (in 4 hours or less)."


There might be time for a relative to still help:

"Your labor will probably not start immediately, so you can alert your in-laws as soon as you are feeling something is going on. This would give them the time to get to you. "


Worst case scenario, you can always bring your eldest to the hospital:

"At very worse, you can bring the eldest with you to the hospital until your in-laws arrive. It helps if you are delivering in Methodist (close by)."

"So, to be honest, I can’t remember all of our contingency plans (kids are now 8 and 5) but I ended up going into labor a week early on a night when we had planned for my in-laws to come over and babysit so we could go out one last time before the baby came! So at first I was having mild contractions, and my OB didn’t think we’d be at the hospital until the next morning, so we told my in-laws not to come over (they lived in Queens at the time so about a 45 minute drive away) but to be on standby. Then as the contractions got stronger, we told them that actually, they should come over after all. And then my water broke and my contractions were suddenly 3 minutes apart so we threw our then almost 3 year old into the car and rushed to the hospital, telling my in-laws to meet us there.
At the hospital, my husband dropped me off at the emergency entrance where my OB met me and whisked me away, and my in-laws hadn’t arrived yet, so my husband waited to meet them and I was concerned he was going to miss the birth… but he didn’t! Our youngest was born an hour after we got to the hospital and our oldest was safely with my in-laws at that point… but I agree that if you end up having to having to take your oldest with you to the hospital or birthing center, it’s not the worst thing and you can always have a relative, friend or caregiver meet you there.
I think my biggest recommendation actually is… be prepared that second births can go quickly, and much more quickly than the first. I’ve heard all kinds of stories about this, and I was not prepared for that because foolishly, because our first was born via c-section, it didn’t really count in my mind… but my body (and/or my son) had other ideas!"


Consider arranging a sleepover for your eldest:

"We had our baby at home, so big sis (4 at the time) had to go somewhere else. It actually was awesome: she went to a friend's house and had her first sleepover ever. My cousin picked her up in the morning and they spent the day together (my cousin took a personal day from work) and then brought her home to meet her new sister. If you have friends with kids about her age, ask if they're willing to do a sleepover until grandparents can arrive. Our friends were so thrilled to be part of it and it's really only one night...I bet your busy friends would really love to help out. Have a roster of a few to call just in case, but I've found that most people, en very busy ones, are happy to pitch in when it comes to babies :-)"

"We had a regular sitter, but my son was due over the 4th of July weekend and our sitter had plans to go out of town. We asked friends to help out if needed (they have a son same age as our daughter - both 3.5 at the time. Since they play well together, we figured it would be a playdate / sleepover kind of thing)."


Have back up birth support to help you:

"We also hired a doula so that if everything else falls through and my husband has to wait for somebody to come and take care of our daughter, I won't have to be on my own at the hospital."


Find a sitter and resource with your daycare or preschool teacher:

"If your daughter goes to a daycare or preschool, maybe one of the teachers would be a good sitter for this purpose?"


Grandparents, grandparents, grandparents:

"We had all four grandparents hang out with #1 until they got the phone call. #1 was dropped off at our (baby group) friend's home, another (baby group) friend's family joined in for the night. They took our #1 out for dinner and had a celebration with her when they found out the sex of the new baby! So much fun!"


Plan ahead not just for the night/day you go into labor, but for the week following:

"We just had #2 in November. We were prepared to have a neighbor in our building stay with our 4 year old while my husband's parents made it over from their nearby brooklyn neighborhood. As it turned out I was scheduled at the hospital to be induced (went into labor on my own right before anyway) so this made it even more possible for us to plan. My parents came down from NH for the birth of #2. My mom got us to the hospital and my dad stayed with big kid and got him to pre-k in the am. This day 1 worked out pretty smoothly. I would recommend that you plan for the whole week following birth of #2. That was the part we didn't anticipate as much and arranging care for #1 after my parents quickly had to go back home was challenging. Since baby was born on a Friday, we had the weekend care of 4 year old to consider. In addition the following Tuesday was election day so there was no school. We had a good friend who my big kid loves take him to the park and lunch for the afternoon after she came to meet baby in hospital. That was huge because there's only so much hospital visiting a 4 year old can handle. We relied on grandparents while we were getting situated back at home and shuffling off to many doctors appointments. Our newborn had a few challenges so that complicated things. Also another thing I did not plan for that I recommend others do is getting help for mom if she is not able to care for big kid in same way after births. I had a c-section for #2 and being limited physically was really hard. Plan for help in whatever way you can-- grandparents, neighbors, nurse, mothers helpers in addition to parenting partner."


Avoid the problem entirely by having a home birth:

"I had number two with a midwife at home. We had a plan to call a friend and neighbor who lives nearby, but we didn’t need to—number one slept through the whole thing! (Baby arrived at 11 pm.) When my older son woke up the next morning and came into my room, his eyes grew large as he saw the baby snuggled up in the bed with me. “Does daddy know?!” He asked. I loved that—as though the baby might have just appeared instantly, maybe while daddy was making coffee in the kitchen, and he might not even be aware of this new development. Home birth was fabulous, by the way."


Find a PSP friend:

"My good friend M. who I met through our June 2012 Babies group took care of #1 when I went to the hospital for #2. My parents came to Brooklyn from California for two weeks around my due date but #2 was so tardy they had to go home and M. stepped up. 2. #1 even spent the night at her house -- a 2 year old sleepover. Thank God (and you) for PSP, on that and many other occasions since I joined the list in 2011."


Pay it forward and offer to help friends in the same situation:

"My husband and I always offer to pregnant friends to help with older siblings in this situation and we absolutely love to do it; it is such an amazing and miraculously time to be a part of. I think you might be surprised how many people would genuinely like to help."


Related reading:

Advice About Becoming a Sibling