The Obligatory What's In My Hospital Bag Post ;)

Ooof. See that face? That's not the I-ate-too-many-Reese's-Peanut-Butter-Eggs face. It's the CAN I PLEASE BE DONE WITH PREGNANCY face. They look eerily similar because both suggest that there's nothing more that can fit into this belly. It's true. Baby is almost done growing and my pregnancy app claims that I am done growing too. Buuuuuut knowing that Easter is next week, I have my doubts. Hey there, half-price Easter candy. How you doin?

What I am sure of is that not a thing more will fit into my hospital bag, which is teetering awfully close to my maternity weight gain amount of nearly 50 elle bees. 

Another thing I'm sure of? That it is every pregnant blogger's rite of passage to share the contents of her hospital bag, even though there is certainly no shortage of hospital bag posts and checklists, all of them pretty much identical. But just like wearing teeny tiny shorts in college or a big white dress and veil on your wedding day, there's a limited time and place when it is appropriate and even expected to do these things, and so we owe it to ourselves to experience the ritual. ;) That said, here's my obligatory post about what's in my hospital bag. I hope it inspires you to say, "Oh. Yeah. That's what Pinterest said too."

Oh, and there IS perhaps one fun slant on my post, and that is that when I went to the hospital to have Iris, I didn't have a hospital bag with me. Because of that experience, I've learned a LOT... and have quite possibly overcorrected this time around.

You see, when I had Iris, it was a surprise. At around 36 weeks + a few days, my right leg swelled up scary big like an elephant's (I'll spare you the pictures) and I was freaking out imagining all kinds of scenarios involving blood clots/strokes or morphing into a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon.

So on a Saturday afternoon, while Josh and his dad were mulching the yard for the season, and while I vegged out on the couch, feeling too puffy and crappy to fold the mountain of laundry on the chair or head out to buy groceries to stock our painfully empty fridge, I stared worriedly at my ever-inflating knee and figured I should probably phone the on-call doctor to inquire about my swelling.

The on-call doctor, who was my boss's step daughter, told me not to wait until my Monday appointment if I was concerned about a blood clot. She instructed me to head over to the emergency room at the hospital to be checked out.

If I wasn't up for a grocery trip, you best believe I wasn't eager to pack myself into the waiting area of the ER, but I really was nervous about a clot rupturing or a stroke or countless other fictitious conditions, so I hoisted myself off the couch to find Josh and my busy bag, if you will. Explanation below.

The month before, my 4pm regular doctor appointment earned me an unexpected and immediate visit to Labor & Delivery where I embarked on a 10-hour hospital stay and where it was determined that I had a bladder infection, elevated blood pressure, and some "very strong" contractions. A bit scary but the silver lining seeker in me was thankful for the dress rehearsal of contractions (not as awful as I imagined which is the upside of having a wild imagination) and even logistical considerations like getting in and out of the hospital bed to use the potty while enormously pregnant and tethered to an IV. I determined right away that the effort wasn't worth pursuing so an epidural and a catheter went on my Birth Plan wish list.

I also learned from that experience to always have a busy bag prepared as Josh and I were so mind-numbingly bored and hungry waiting for test results and the you're-free-to-go pass that night. Nothing worthwhile is on tv at one in the morning, and staring at the various faces on the pain level chart is only amusing for a couple of minutes, especially when you can relate to the level 8+ faces.

So another month later, and still roughly a month prior to my due date, me and my busy bag, filled with Sudoku, a favorite novel that I can read endless times, and a few thank you notes that I still needed to write for shower gifts, found ourselves sliding into the front seat of the car.

I had no idea that I would not return home again for SIX DAYS.

And oh yeah, I'd be bringing a baby home with me too.

Upon checking in with triage at the hospital, my blood pressure was in the elite neighborhood of 170/100, signaling that I likely had preeclampsia, so nurses whisked me up to Labor & Delivery for what would be (falsely) advertised as 24-hours' observation.

I was grateful for the upgrade to L&D since I knew it would be quieter and calmer than the ER, but the high blood pressure had me feeling very nervous, and rightfully so.

If you aren't familiar with preeclampsia it's when your blood pressure reads too high and you exhibit signs of damage to your kidneys or liver (flashback to the bladder infection and the puzzle pieces are beginning to fit...). Preeclampsia often comes with a side of extreme and sudden swelling on the level of Violet Beauregarde bloat, which explained my puffy knee--another clue, zoinks!

Preeclampsia actually has the potential to be fatal for Mom and Baby, which is very scary indeed. There are a handful of causes of preeclampsia, which you can read about  HERE. Often, as in my case, it is associated with first pregnancies. 

Over the next few hours, my blood pressure reads were consistently sky-high, and because my amniotic fluid showed a little low via ultrasound, and because there was protein in my urine, I was told on Sunday that I would NOT be going home until after having the baby via induction, as delivery is the only cure for preeclampsia. I would start my career as a mom with an empty fridge and a mountain of laundry. Welcome home, Baby! Your mom is a slob. #awesome ;)

The on-call doctor said my induction would likely begin on Tuesday night so that Baby would be 37 weeks, or term, at birth. She gave me the all clear to text her stepdad and let him know that my maternity leave had officially begun. Thankfully I had left things at work better off than I had at home; however the surprise exit meant that I didn't have my out of office phone or email messages set.

All that is to say that I was NOT prepared for a lengthy hospital stay, and my actual hospital bag was not entirely assembled when I was told that I wouldn't get the chance to fold that mountain of laundry or make a grocery run or have a last date night with Josh before becoming a mother. 

People had warned me about first babies running late so I was caught entirely off guard. The takeaway is have your bag packed very early. Whenever week you think you need to have it packed by, subtract 2-4 weeks just to be safe. 

Once we knew that I wasn't going home before Baby arrived, Josh had to go home and gather my things while I sat in the hospital, nervous, anxious, and not the slightest bit interested in Sudoku or novel-reading.

Via text I sent Josh a list of my essentials with *helpful* hints like, "you might see it on the drying rack in the laundry room... or if not, look under my pillow. I may have left it there last time I used it..." and "check under my bathroom sink, beneath the pile of towels, and see if you can find xyz. OR it could be on my dresser OR the nightstand. OR in the kitchen on the counter. Just look around and see." Poor guy. 

When Josh arrived back at the hospital an hour and a half later (we live 10 minutes from the hospital), he walked in hoisting a Glad Flex garbage bag filled with my things. I've never felt more like I didn't have my life together, and it wasn't Josh's or the trash bag's fault. I reminded him of this while working on this post and he can't remember why he didn't use a tote bag but I feel sure he had no clue where they were kept because I am just not super organized.

Or rather I wasn't before mom life made me have to be sharper. 

I'm still a work in progress but this time around, I've definitely got it a bit more together, as evidenced by the week's worth of dinners are already cooked and frozen for when baby arrives and the labels and instructions taped all over the house to help my mother-in-law find everything she will need to care for Iris while I'm in the hospital.  

Knowing that ANYTHING could happen, I've had my hospital bag packed for over a month. Which probably means that this Baby will refuse to budge until exactly 40 weeks. No matter, I'm ready when he/she is. 

Here's what's in my hospital bag:

A bathrobe. This is THE item that I am most looking forward to using this time! I treated myself to a new, cool-touch jersey fabric robe from Milkmaid Goods and it's so pretty!

There's a lot of quick covering up when visitors come so a robe is a really good thing to have. I learned this last time when my pastor walked in behind a nurse who held the door for him while I was nursing Iris in just my postpartum mesh panties. Not cool, Susan. Not cool.

Actually it was no big. It's true that most of your modesty is expelled during labor along with the baby. Here I thought it was the placenta all this time. Nope!

Also, this robe will likely be what I wear at home everyday for the first month or two when sleep isn't happening and showers aren't happening and changing clothes isn't happening (just like fetch; stop trying to make it happen). So the robe is definitely a worthwhile investment! And, it has pockets!

I chose a dark color on purpose since birth and recovery involve blood (I seriously hope I'm not the first person to tell you that news) which can get on your clothes... Conceal it, don't reveal it, to paraphrase Elsa. I also have dark pajamas in my hospital bag too.

Snacks. Lots of them. Food comes at regular intervals after delivery but I was busy being poked and prodded and before I knew it, the food people came back to collect my tray often before I got to eat much. This time I've got almonds, Luna Bars, and for fun, Twizzlers, which I eat when celebrating finishing half marathons and other noteworthy life events like birthing a child.

I also packed Jolly Ranchers to suck on during labor since you can't have much other than ice chips and maybe a Popsicle IF you can convince your nurses to let you have one AND they actually have some on hand and didn't eat the last one themselves. Thanks for nothing, Susan. ;) 

Shampoo, conditioner, a disposable razor, brush and hair dryer. The hospital isn't the Hilton. They will not have these items available for you unless you are at a super posh maternity center. My friend Jen was just at a super posh one that offers massages and Maryland crab cakes. I will be giving birth in the woods by comparison. ;)

Lip gloss, mascara, tinted moisturizer, aka my Human Face Kit. Just the makeup essentials to look presentable when visitors arrive and photos are taken. I've got Burt's Bees lip balm too for labor because all that huffing and puffing can really dry out your lips.

Ponytail holders. Travel-size mirror. Comb/brush. Dry shampoo. 

A big bath towel. Because hospital towels aren't very generous. Flip flops too because of germy floors.

Socks or slippers. Sometimes you get chills during or after labor.

Breast pump and parts. My first delivery, the hospital supplied me with a new pump kit and let me use their pump, but I think that's just because I forgot mine. This time I'm all packed up with pump, tubing, valves, membranes, bottles, etc. Nursing begins right away, with Baby attempting to eat AND Mom pumping after to get out all of the nutrient-packed colostrum for nurses to feed to Baby between nursing sessions. Since Iris was early, she didn't have good latching skills yet and pumping the colostrum and feeding her by syringe was the best way to get the super food in her system.

Nursing bra and top, plus nursing pads and lanolin. 

Boppy pillow. This isn't essential but I remember all the effort it took nurses and me to use bedding and towels to prop up Iris for ergonomic nursing so I'd rather just bring the Boppy this go 'round.

Loose, dark clothing to wear home. It's good to pick items that fit you at around 6 months pregnant since you'll likely be about that size upon leaving the hospital. Maternity pants/leggings are really a nice option since they won't put a squeeze on your tummy. A loose top and easy shoes help too.

Also, think big comfy panties OR the hospital will give you some mesh recovery undies, which are like really soft, really stretchy boy shorts. Or you can wear Depends. This info was so disturbing to me when I read about having a baby, but once you give birth, you become the girl who shamelessly asks the nurse on every shift if she can hook you up so that you have a month's supply of meshies to take home. No shame at all, I promise. Psst, Susan, can I have another box of meshies, pleeeease? I'll give you a Twizzler.

Phone charger. Hospital equipment and wifi can put major strain on your battery so bring your charger with you. If you have a longer cord, that's really helpful so you can still reach the phone from your bed while it is plugged into the wall.

Labor Playlist. Entirely up to you. I brought my ipod and had my phone's music library last time. I listened to some music in the hours that I waited to be fully dilated. It kept me calm but sometimes I was glad for the quiet, plus you'll be hearing baby's heartbeat on the monitor, and that is excellent music to relax by and a sound you'll want to savor.

Book/Magazine. I won't need a busy bag this time but may have a magazine to flip through. I fully intend to REST all that I can before bringing Baby home, and I highly suggest letting Baby sleep in the nursery some so you can sleep since the nursing staff will not get in your car and come home with you the next week.  Seriously, Susan, get in the car. We have a spare room! And a Keurig!

A collapsible, expandable tote to bring home the extras you receive like your peri bottle, pads, and mesh undies for you, plus formula, diapers, wipes for baby from the isolette cart, plus gifts that friends and family bring to the hospital. Some visitors gave us plants and flowers when I had Iris, so it isn't a bad idea to have an empty box in the family car to make it easier to carry them out.



Baby has a bag too. Here's what's inside:

Little hat, booties, onesies.

Chalkboard sign with Baby's name for photo op.
(since we don't know the gender, we have one with our girl name and one with our boy name. They were under $5 each from the craft store- see Iris's below)

Favorite stuffed animal to put in Baby's isolette also for newborn photo op. :)

Baby book if you are going that route so the nurses can add baby's footprint to the book. I didn't do this with Iris and won't this time either probably. You'll get a paper with baby's footprints.

Swaddle blankets. The hospital gives you flannel blankets but I packed the ultrasoft ones I got as a present since they can also make for great nursing covers and don't scream hospital-issue.

Outfit to wear home.

AND Hubby has his own bag as well. I'm counting on him to pack it (this time in a sleek black backpack versus a Hefty), and he will bring:

Snacks. Lots of them. The hospital will feed Mom, but not Dad, though there is often a family snack room with some items available. One of our favorite visitor gestures was when our Pastor and his wife brought us Whoppers, fries, and milkshakes from Burger King the night that Iris was born. They didn't bother asking for particulars like flavor choices or if we wanted cheese or pickles, and it was awesome!! We didn't mind picking off any items that we didn't like and were instead SO thankful to eat a yummy, indulgent meal that required zero decision-making on our tired parts. 

A hoodie. The temperature at which you will feel comfortably hot during labor, is the temperature at which your hubby will die of hypothermia.Make sure he dresses for success.

Change for the vending machines. I'm only listing this because I think it may be code for something else. It's on everyone's hospital bag list. We had change for the vending machines, but we never actually saw or made purchases from vending machines. So I don't know what it is code for, but on the list it goes. Maybe it is just to give him something to jangle to work out his nervous energy waiting for baby to arrive? Maybe it gives him an excuse to wander the halls so he has a break from the intensity of becoming a dad? Just be sure your man has some change, please.
Phone and charger. For all the picture taking and family updating he may have to do.

Change of Clothes + Toileties. Dad is an active helper in labor, often holding one of your numb and surprisingly heavy legs. Then there's the new baby holding. Which means he might get some biological matter on him. An extra outfit is good.  

That's my list. Did I leave off anything crucial? 

Darling Duds: My favorite sources for cute kids clothes

How I've missed you, friend. I've been trying to write this post for over a month! This last trimester of pregnancy has felt like an exhausting and exhilarating uphill climb, packed with preparations like dusting off the infant car seat and washing the sweetest little onesies (neutral since we have no clue what our baby's gender is. Read more about how we do that on the blog next week). 

Finding uninterrupted time to write is definitely an Easter egg hunt right now, and most days I'm so excited about Baby that I catch myself walking in circles, burning nervous energy without actually accomplishing a whole lot apart from chewing off my fingernails. BUT, on the positive side, I have my hospital bag packed, the diaper caddie stocked, and the first week's dinners tucked in the freezer. And, I've already purchased the bulk of Iris's clothes for the spring/summer season so her clothing needs won't get neglected in the flurry of new Baby's arrival. 

Can you believe this sweet girl is turning two this week?  Iris was overjoyed to wear her new dress for her birthday dinner over the weekend. Dressing her is getting more fun all the time as she develops an interest in learning to dress herself and appreciates when I get her new clothes. This morning she proudly waved her newest Osh Kosh dress around on its hanger and let her church friends know she just got it and had a headband to match. 

If you're a new mom or just looking for some ideas of where to find cute clothes for your cuddle bugs, I've put together my list of favorites. You probably know many of them already but hopefully you'll find a new gem or two on this list to add to your shopping faves. 

I'm always looking for new brands to try out too so be sure to share your faves with me.  

Best Bold Yet Simple Styles:  Primary 
Primary is a fantastic source for basics for baby and kids, boys and girls alike, in mix and match pieces. Everyone doesn't love a unicorn graphic tee or bodysuit, and Primary answers the need for cool solids with a stunning array of shades to pick from. Their price point is under $25 with free shipping all the time, so it's pretty affordable too. 

Primary offers cardigans, dresses, onesies, shorts, skirts, pajamas, and swimwear in a literal rainbow of colors from pastels to brights. Their sale section is good too and sometimes you'll find cute stripes in their mix. Primary also offers a lower price when you purchase 3 or more of an item PLUS 20% off your first order and free returns. 

The brainchild of two mamas who couldn't find what they were looking for so they made it happen themselves, Primary states its goal isn't to get your children dressed for the runway but to get them out the door. Cheers to keeping it simple. 

Primary is also perfect when you don't know what your baby's gender is. Just pick onesies in your favorite colors and you can be well-stocked in essentials that you can clip the tags off of before baby arrives. 

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For Iris's second birthday I got her a Primary dress that is reversible. One side is hot pink and the other is red so we really have two dresses in one (in this case we can be Red Minnie or Pink Minnie with a simple flip!). With 20% off my first order and free shipping, the dress was just $18. 


Best Quality and Global Styling: Tea Collection
Tea Collection is a brand that I became acquainted with through resale and hand me down items, and once I saw how well-made the items were, I happily shopped both their sale and retail offerings for Iris and Baby #2. Does it get any more fun than a tee shirt dress dappled with bananas? No, no it doesn't. :) 

Tea Collection has a fun global heartbeat, celebrating a variety of places around the world through well-made clothing in bold prints and rich colors for boys, girls, and baby. 

Their retail price point is higher than I like to spend (think $35+ for a dress and $25 for leggings, plus some pieces are just plain out of my budgetary reach), so I generally shop the sale tab of the site (leggings for $9-14 and dresses from $14). However, I was willing to pay full price for Iris's rash guard (pictured below with fish on it) because it was only around $5 more than what I paid for her Roxy one last summer and we will definitely get our family dollar's worth out of it. With a 20% off code, I was really comfortable with the price given how much time Iris spends in a bathing suit during the spring and summer. 


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I shopped Tea Collection's sale section last month for Baby #2 and lucked out with an additional 40% off sale promo, so I snagged very high-quality onesies and sleepers for Baby for just $6 each (pictured below beside the striped dress). Iris's striped dress was on sale for $14, and it will last for such a long time, going from dress to tunic paired with leggings. A smart choice for sure.



This rashguard was $35 and has built-in UPF. I did use my 20% first order discount as well so it was $28. Swim bottom was $19 less 20% so $14 and change. We usually add a second swimsuit option at a lower price from Target, Walmart or Old Navy so we can allow a suit to dry without missing a beach day. 

The colorful dress on the right is Tea Collection that I got at resale from my favorite high-end resale shop Fancy Sprouts, and this dress is in it for the long haul, first as a dress and later a tunic top. With its easy swingy cut, it will probably still fit until Iris turns 4. Crazy good and so worth it.  

Something else I love about Tea Collection is that their orders arrive with oversized coloring and activity pages included. I don't know who enjoys them more, me or Iris, but I think they are the cat's pajamas. A touch of something extra like that really makes my day. 

Best High Quality and Super Sweet Styles for the Girls: Matilda Jane Clothing 
I have a confession to make: I used to turn up my nose at Matilda Jane. The ruffled pants (pictured above with the rainbow Tea Collection dress) turned me off in a big way.  I am saltier than I am sweet and not much for rows of ruffles unless they are understated. But alas, I started softening up a little when our favorite designer/decorator Joanna Gaines designed a capsule collection for Matilda Jane. I like Jo's aesthetic and she doesn't seem super frilly, so I gave the line another looksee and found that I liked a lot of the styles. Even some of the darn ruffles.


Matilda Jane is big into pattern mixing, which is something I LOVE to do with my own wardrobe so I realized that it was time for me to stop resisting and get on board with the brand whose mission is to let little girls be little girls versus letting them be mini-me's of trendy adult styles that are too mature for their years. Jojo puts her girls in MJC and they are straight up adorable.

Last fall Iris and I partnered with our local MJC rep, Jamie Dalton, who was kind enough to ask us to serve as brand ambassadors for a quarter. During this time we got really well acquainted with the brand through clothes that we received for free and clothes that we paid half-price for and some that we paid full-price for. I'm pretty critical of anything I receive, free or otherwise, so I spent a lot of time analyzing the items for quality and style, and I'm a loyal devotee of Matilda Jane at this point. So far all of their products wash and wear really well. 

Matilda Jane offers new releases each month so I generally wait until a couple of trunk releases have happened in a season before I make any selections since as a SAHM I watch my clothing spend very carefully. I have to pick and choose rather than say, "I"ll take it all!" and this way I don't pick an early item only to fall harder for the next month's release but not really have the budget for it. Following your MJC rep on social media generally helps you know if any item is getting low in stock so you can decide to place an order sooner rather than later.


Speaking of budgeting, with MJC, I carve out space in my budget to shop their big discount sales, called Good Luck Trunk sales that happen in July and January when you will find items up to 70% off. I also plan for a couple of full-price items during the season. So far we have enjoyed mostly dresses but also a couple pairs of leggings, a tunic, and accessories like lunch boxes and backpacks. I like to get dresses knowing that we wear them gently, and since they stay in excellent condition, they can be passed down to Baby #2 or I can resale them at a very good price to fund my shopping budget for the next sizes we need. 

By the way, Matilda Jane isn't just for little girls. They offer women and plus, tween, girls, and baby, as well as home decor and accessories, so all the ladies of the house are covered by their offerings. There's separates, great dresses, and even swimwear. Last Christmas you may have seen that I decked my halls in Matilda Jane stockings, which are the perfect size and so cute. They retailed for $28 and the stockings were half price in January so it isn't a bad idea to order after Christmas for the coming year. 




So as for those precious ruffled pants I mentioned that kept me away from MJC for so long...

I've only dabbled in one pair of them, called Bennys. When Iris put them on at Jamie's house, I couldn't help but think they looked cute and fun and decided why not give them a whirl? I'm actually eyeing another pair of Benny's this season. A coral stripe pair to layer under the cutest little peony dress ever.   



Best Source for Everyday Clothes:  Carters / Osh Kosh

Carters will always be my boo when it comes to affordable everyday items. Even so, there's a strategy to my shopping.   

One thing I highly recommend is creating a rewards account with Carters/OshKosh, and then sharing the login info with your mom or mother in law so you can both shop under the same account and accumulate rewards points more quickly. With the Rewarding Moments program, you earn $10 for every $100 you spend, and often you'll find sales where you will earn double the points, making it easier to get those rewards dollars. 

My strategy for shopping Carters/Osh Kosh is the keep an eye to their promo emails for the best sales and always have a list of my favorite items saved or sitting in my online shopping cart. And I don't pay full retail price for anything. 

One example I mentioned in a recent blog post was last summer when my mom and I were discussing some adorable strawberry embroidered overalls for Iris. When I first spotted them, they were touted as being a sneak peek for the upcoming season and listed at $36. My mom was willing to pay full price for them, but I told her there was no need to do that because soon enough they would be half off. The current retail climate is all about variable prices and perceived sales/value. Within a week and a half the overalls were on special at half off the MSRP, so we got two pairs for the price of one. Will some people pay full price for the items? Sure. I consider it if I have a feeling that the item may sell out, ie this season's 4-piece flamingo pajamas, which sold out in their first run but are now restocked and on sale for $13.97 with an extra 20% off, making them just $11.88. Why buy one pair of pjs for $34 when you can get 3 sets for the same price? Thankfully I didn't buy the flamingo pjs yet so I can take advantage of the better pricepoint.   

It also pays to compare the math. BOGO sounds like a bigger savings than an extra 25% off given that BOGO means 50% off and 50 is greater than 25, but you really do want to compare the details. 


Recently Carter's offered a sale that was an extra 25% off a purchase of $40 or more. Before that sale was even over, I received a mailer for the next sale beginning a week later, which indicated that shoes were buy one, get one free. Fine print said that the full-price pair was at MSRP. Looking at the shoes I wanted, I could get two pairs of shoes for $34 on BOGO the following week, BUT the extra 25% off sale currently happening turned out to be better because the shoes were marked $19 and the extra sale took them down to $14.25 each instead of $17 each. That's the stuff I pay attention to these days. #shopsmarter #everydollarcounts    

Another way that I shop smarter is to create mini capsules of clothes that mix and match well together. It takes a little thought on my part, but it's so worth it when I can make 22 outfits from 9 items, shoes included. Here are a few I made from our spring clothes. 




Where do you like to shop? Where do you find the best deals? Drop a comment and tell me your favorite place to shop for kiddos.