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? 

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