First-time Mommies-to-be, you’re going to want to print this one out…
I wouldn’t yet compare myself to Michelle Duggar when it comes to birthin’ babies, but after popping out an infant once every two years since 2007, this ain’t my first rodeo. (I’ve been wanting to say that for a long time…it wasn’t as gratifying as I thought it would be).
And so, young mothers, I thought it important to share with you the knowledge I have gleaned about how to survive – and thrive! – during your hospital (I’m about to make up yet another “vacation” word!) lay-cation, separated into 3 easy-to-follow phases. Today we will review Phase 1, “the packing phase,” which will include the literal packing of your suitcase, as well as tips for how to arrive at the hospital in an organized and peaceful state of mind. Let us begin.
The packing phase…
* Don’t be a dummy about this. To fashionably survive at the hospital takes some major preparation, and since you don’t really know when or where you will go into labor, you need to start planning and packing well before your due date.
* Purchase a sweet new nightgown (at a real people store, not a maternity one) – with buttons in the front if you’re planning to nurse – and hang it in your closet. Every time a lady has a baby she deserves to come home to a clean, fresh, pretty nightgown. Do not take it to the hospital. I did this on my first go-round and was surprised that my hospital room was more like a busy dorm room than a private hotel room. Believe me, you won’t feel comfortable hanging out with your doctor and your relatives in your lacy little gown and robe. Pants are a much better choice, especially when you are awkwardly and painfully crawling in and out of your hospital bed.
* Find a nice compact suitcase on wheels and start filling it with the following, about a month before your due date:
- 3 or 4 new magazines that you haven’t peeked at, at least 2 of them of the fashion sort. It is so nice after having a baby to open up an issue and, saying good-bye to those final dreary months of pregnancy and your too-short maternity shirts, dare to dream of a new body, a new haircut, a fresh make-up palette, a real pair of pants! It is one of my traditions to read In Style the day after I have a baby…
- a good book that you’ve never read before – it’s wise to have a good distraction on hand should you have a scheduled delivery, as a “schedule” at a hospital is tentative indeed (and for good reason – emergencies always trump plain ol’ inducements, and rightly so). If you are not a reader, bring a portable DVD player and some favorite movies or playing cards or your I-pod…you get the drift.
- you’re going to have to read between the lines on this one because there are some things I just can’t talk about and some words I just cannot bring myself to say. So…buy a package of your favorite brand of lady products, the one kind…you know the long, flat kind, not the other…pointy…kind. They need to be for the heaviest you-know-what imaginable. Buy some for the house, too. And the car. (Just kidding, it’s not that bad. It’s worse. Just kidding. No, I’m not. Just…you’ll be okay.)
- Travel-size bottles and packages of all your favorite toiletries. Buy as much of your bedtime and morning routine products as possible ahead of time and have them packed in your suitcase, along with a list of what you will need to throw in at the last minute, i.e. glasses, curling iron, etc. The benefits of doing this ensure that you will not pack in haste and wind up at the hospital without your favorite moisturizer, plus you can just dispose of all those travel-size products before you leave the hospital and not worry about unpacking a million things when you get home. Everything will be where you left it in your bathroom and you can head straight to your shower without rifling through your suitcase first.
- A bottle of HPA Lanolin and a few nursing pads. I didn’t know the need for things like this existed, but a sweet lady brought me a care package to the hospital that included both. Trust me, you’ll need them.
- A pair of slippers, a pair of flip flops (for the shower), and two or three pairs of socks. Clean or not, it feels gross to walk barefoot on hospital tile floors.
- Packages of your favorite gum and candy, as well as your husband’s.
- Cash for the vending machine…if you’re lucky like I was, your local hospital vending machine might just surprise you with the first package of Hostess Dunkin’ Sticks that you’ve seen for YEARS, at just $1 a package. So you’re going to need at least $6.
- A coming home outfit for baby. This will be a keepsake outfit, so choose wisely…
- A blanket for baby. This should also be a keepsake. I’m of the mind that each baby should have at least one special blanket that was not handed down from brother or sister.
- What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It really does answer all of your questions, and you’re going to have lots of them, even after reading this most-helpful blog post.
*As your time gets closer, days before your due date, start packing or setting aside the following:
- 2 sets of your favorite comfortable lounging clothes, something you will be comfortable sleeping in and entertaining visitors in, with a very comfortable waistband. Key word: comfortable. But not shabby, or else this post would be titled “Mrs. Gore’s Tips for Surviving a Hospital Stay.”
- Several sets of undergarments.
- A decent going home outfit. Keep comfort in mind here, too – your body is going to be a little out of whack – but also know that you might find yourself in several photographs on this day. You’ll regret it if you dress like a cotton headed ninny muggins.
- Camera, camera charger, video camera, video camera charger, uploading cord and laptop. Because people want to see pictures of the baby the minute it lands in the doctor’s hands, and you really shouldn’t keep your public waiting. Or you might have one of those new-fangled telephones that can take pictures and send them to the “internets”. So take that thing and whatever you need to make it work.
- A carseat. You can’t leave the hospital without it.
*And on your way out the door, don’t forget:
- Your own pillows, if you are particular about things like that. I take 3 feather pillows – two for me, one for Mr. Gore. He always protests until he sees the plastic couch that will be his home for 2 nights, and then, he says “Thank you, Mrs. Gore.” Well…in my head he does.
- The last of your toiletries…make-up, corrective vision stuff, toothbrush, razor…whatever you need to make the hospital feel like home and to ensure that you look semi-dazzlingly beautiful in all your pictures.
*Oh, and one last thing – if you have other children at home, pack the following for them in your hospital suitcase (aside from the separate bags you’ve packed for them to take to Grandmother’s house):
- A box of animal cookies for each child, and other packages of treats like raisins or fruit snacks. It will give them something to sit down with for a bit when they come to visit you and see their new sibling, and they’ll see that Mama is still caring for them, even as a hospital patient. When children come to a hospital room, the room shrinks fast. They will most certainly need a distraction, and nothing works better than food.
- A couple of movies, just in case they are stuck in the waiting room with their grandparents while you are having the baby. You can lend them the portable DVD player that you packed for yourself.
*You will also need to make sure your husband packs his bag. It doesn’t really matter as much what he brings…like your wedding day, no one really will notice he is even there. But he will need day clothes and something comfortable and modest to sleep in. He also will need books, magazines and the like. It’s your job to tell him this or else he’ll be bored in your room and talk to you, interrupting your perusal of In Style.
*That’s a lot of stuff, isn’t it? And it’s very important that you pack it well, in as small a suitcase as possible. The nurses don’t want to be tripping over your bags and you will not enjoy carrying armfuls of stuff or having your husband go back and forth to the car, which could possibly be 1/2 mile away from your hospital room.
And other random pre-hospital preparations…
* Birthing classes are profitable with pregnancy #1, plus they are so hilarious and awkward. You should go.
*Take advantage of the supernatural nesting phase by cleaning and organizing every last corner of your house. You will not have the time or the energy when you get back home, and frankly, you won’t really care anymore about the junk in your filing cabinet or the dust behind your entertainment armoire. This is a once-a-pregnancy opportunity – don’t miss it!
*Pray for your child. When you feel worrisome about what is ahead or have a sudden urge to panic, place your thoughts instead on your sweet baby and lift him/her up to God. Your health and the health of your baby is very important and prayer-worthy, but bundled up in that tiny little baby’s body is an eternal soul that, more than anything, needs the grace and mercy of God – this should always be the focus of your prayers. Nothing is more urgent or important.
*As tempting as it is to focus on yourself and your aches and your pains and your discomfort and your looming monumental delivery, take some time to focus on your husband. The world tends to revolve around a pregnant woman, and it is easy to become entitled. But your husband still has needs…needs that are doubly hard to meet when you bring home an infant! Putting yourself aside and heaping love on him will honor God and will do wonders for the atmosphere of your home…aaaand it might just ensure that your happy man will bring you flowers at the hospital, along with dessert for every meal. I’m just sayin’…
*Pre-register at your hospital, if possible. Then you won’t have to fill out pages of paperwork when you come in to have the baby.
*Eat. Eat all you want. A whole watermelon…6 slices of bacon…a sandwich and chips at midnight…these last months of pregnancy are your last hoorah! Enjoy it. But don’t tell your doctor I said so.
Holy smokes! I’m exhausted now….so how about we all go take a nap? Which is the last (and mega-important) step to fashionably surviving at the hospital. Get your sleep, Mama. You don’t want to arrive at the hospital on the wrong side of the bed!
Any other words of packing advice from our experienced hospital laycationers? Did I forget anything? Leave your comments below. And stay tuned, pregnant ladies…phases 2 and 3 will be posted in the days and weeks to come!