the one about the hospital bag

Oh. Em. Gee.

I am a hot mess.

One day, I'm all "Yeah, my life has taken a turn toward Suckville but I'm ownin' it and taking it in stride."

The next day (or minute, or hour), I'm crying into my pillow, blathering on about how everything is so unfair and my hair is ugly.

Most days, I try to stay somewhere in between of those two extremes, but…hormones.

So, my point is that I have been wanting to get back to blogging like the good ol' days, which I will lovingly refer to as P.C. (pre-cervix). These A.C. (after cervix) days have been downright depressing, and I'm sorry.

This blog is called Heart of the Mama for a reason, and this mama's heart has been all over the place for the past several weeks. I wish I could say my moodiness will only get better from here, but ((laughs hysterically)).

So for now, I'm in a good spot, so I am going to do a whole post that doesn't even mention my shrinking, bitchy cervix! There…I said cervix for the last time this post! All done with cervix talk (sowwy).

Since I am now 31 weeks pregnant (WAHOO!), I do have my hospital bag packed and ready to go. My best friend had a baby a few months ago, and I harped on her for weeks prior to her delivery to get her bag packed because at any of her regular OB appointments, they could say, "Well, we need to send you over to Labor and Delivery," and I knew she'd want to be prepared.

Did she listen to the seasoned Veteran mother friend? Nope. She did not.

And she was sent over to L&D unexpectedly, a few weeks shy of her due date, with nothing packed in her bag. Her husband was left to do the dirty work, and although I am sure he did the best he could…let's just say that husbands have horrible ideas when it comes to choosing things for their wives to wear.

I'm thinking if I left it up to Luke to pack my hospital bag for me, he would probably throw in some athletic socks, a semi-formal dress (that fit 2 babies ago), a pair of his basketball shorts, and a strapless bra.

There's no way I was going to risk that happening, so a couple weeks ago, I started gathering items that I thought were necessary.

There may be some things on my list that you don't feel are necessary, and that is A-OK with me. I'm just giving advice based on my experiences with my past two deliveries.

I have a rather large travel bag that I like to use, and it is plenty large enough for my things, my husband's things, and a couple little items for our baby. If you don't have a bag large enough, feel free to divide the items up appropriately. I just like to have as few things to keep track of as possible…i.e. I don't even carry a purse.

My List of Hospital Bag Essentials

1. Travel toiletries. These are important because, well, the hospital ain't the Ritz Carlton. They don't have wax paper-wrapped soaps and spa samples in the tub. Bring your own stuff so that the first shower feels extra nice. I recommend the travel size toiletries so that you aren't lugging so many large bottles in your bag, and so that if when you leave them at the hospital, it isn't a big deal. Buy an extra toothbrush and toothpaste for you and your husband so you have it in your bag and ready to go.

2. Slippers or flip flops. I kind of hate wearing socks, and walking around barefoot in a hospital room is probably not the best idea, so slippers or flip flops would be very helpful.

3. Clothing. I truly believe you should feel as good as you can following the birth of your child. You will no doubt have tons of visitors, and I always felt so much better when I was out of my hospital gown and in something I could, you know, stand up in without people seeing my butt. I recommend bringing 1-2 pairs of stretchy, black yoga pants or leggings, 1-2 nursing tank tops or loose-fitting shirts, and a light weight wrap sweater/robe that goes long enough to cover your rear-end (more on that later).

I think the yoga pants/leggings are self-explainatory. You want things that are stretchy and comfortable. I hate to break it to you, but you will most likely still look very pregnant immediately following childbirth. Those kinds of "I lost all of my baby weight instantly" miracles only happen in Hollywood and that small corner of your Facebook for your "friends" you secretly hate.

Nursing tank tops are great, but if you aren't comfortable in those, I would look into those long, drapey, loose t-shirts. I emphasize loose and drapey because, if you are breast feeding, you need to be able to easily nurse a baby without having to hike your shirt up over your head. If you read my childbirth post, you already know that someone very well could open your shirt and slip your baby inside through the neck hole, so a loose-neck shirt will allow this to happen easily.

I also emphasize long because you want something to cover your butt. You will basically be wearing a diaper following childbirth comprised of a puppy training pad, an ice pack, and medicated gauze out the wazoo (literally). This amount of bulk is quite obvious from the back, and it can make you feel a bit uncomfortable when you get up to walk around if everyone can stare at it. A long shirt will help this to be less obvious.

This is also where the light weight wrap, sweater or robe can help. Not only does this help to cover you up a little more, but it also covers the junk in the trunk.

You will want to bring a nursing bra, or at least a sports bra, if you're not going to wear the nursing tank tops.

You do not need to bring your own underwear. Really. I had a girl in my childbirth class ask if she "had" to wear the sexy mesh underwear they give you following childbirth. The nurse leading the class laughed in her face and basically said that if she insisted on wearing her own underwear, to go ahead and try, but that it is better if you just give in and wear the mesh boy shorts. Don't be one of those people. You're not better than the rest of us. Mesh underwear for life for the win!

4. Nursing supplies. If you have a breast pump already, I recommend bringing it so you can learn how to use it and get help from a nurse if you're a little intimidated. They have pumps at the hospital, but bringing the one you will use at home is nice. You can just keep it in your car and then if you decide you'd like to have it brought in so you can use it, it's there.

Also, do not forget the nipple cream. You laugh now, but you will need it, and sending your hubby out to buy nipple cream is probably a bad idea. Who knows what kind of store he will end up in.

I am not a huge fan of the flamboyant nursing covers, but I love the Aden + Anais large muslin blankets because they double as a swaddle blanket and a nursing cover. Either way, I would bring something to cover you while nursing, especially if you're a first-time mom and you are worried about being exposed. Remember, lots of people will be in and out at all hours, and I always like to have a blanket there in case I am nursing and someone drops in to say hi.

5. Make-up and hair items. You don't have to dress up for Prom, but I am a make-up wearer, and after I was able to take a shower, I felt so much better with a little make-up on. With people taking pictures and coming to visit, I wanted to feel good about myself. Just mascara and lipgloss helped a bunch. The same goes for hair items-- I didn't bring a bunch of stuff, but I at least had a headband and a few bobby pins to get my hair back and mildly presentable. If you don't think this will be important to you, that is totally fine! (but don't get pissed later when you say, "Why didn't anyone TELL me my hair looked like that!?")

6. Technology and entertainment items. If you're staying 2-3 days in the hospital, it will get a little boring from time to time. I woke up the next day after my 2nd daughter was born and was ready to go Target. We ended up signing out early because I was itching to get back into civilization. Whether you stay the full time or not, you will probably want some sort of light entertainment like a book, magazine, iPad, or a laptop. Make sure you have all the chargers for your phones and other electronics! Maybe your hospital room will be fancy and you can bring DVDs. I would definitely check first.

When we had Charlotte, the Mother-Baby recovery rooms were all full, so we were placed on the pediatrics floor. When we asked about movies (they only had VHS), they gave us a list of what they had on the floor. Let's just say that our options were any Disney movie created prior to 1998. So….we wished we at least had our iPad. Or pencils to stick in our eyes.

Also, don't forget your camera (charged and ready with a memory card)! So many women groan at this thought because they can't fathom taking pictures right after (or even during) childbirth, but this is like a wedding. You can't redo it. Even your 2nd, 3rd, or 4th childbirths will not feel like your first. Take pictures, please! Even if you don't show them to anyone-- please take pictures of you with your baby, your husband with your baby, the three of you together. You don't want to regret this later.

7. Snacks for after childbirth. You can't eat during labor. This sucks. So bring a couple of treats you can eat in your room after the birth. I had my 2nd child at 9:30 p.m. There wasn't any food being delivered at that hour, and I was awake nearly all night while we waited to be put in a recovery room and doing those initial feedings. I was hungry! So, snacks are good! But if your husband tries to eat while you're in labor can't eat, so help me, God…!

If you don't have snacks, at least bring a couple of bucks worth of change for vending machines.

8. Husband clothes & toiletries. Remember that guy? He will need at least 1-2 changes of clothes, too. Hopefully he can use some of your same toiletries so you don't have to bring too much stuff with you. I never wanted my husband to leave me while at the hospital, even if it was just to run home and shower or change clothes, so bringing this along helps to avoid that if at all possible.

9. Childbirth aides. If you are planning to use some sort of a back massager or special therapeutic birthing rock that emits natural pain medication and/or vagina healing powers, make sure you bring that.

10. 1-2 outfits for baby. They have basic onesies at the hospital, but if you want your baby to be in his/her own clothes from the get-go, make sure you bring some along-- but don't go crazy. You're not there for very long. A lot of people bring special going home outfits. I love the long-sleeve newborn gowns. The long sleeves fold over to make mittens to keep him/her from scratching the face, and the gowns are handy because you don't have to mess with snaps in the middle of the night.

If you're having a girl, a cute little hat or bow is fun, but keep in mind that lot of the time, the baby's head is way too small to wear those and the bow can take over her head! Check for headbands/hats that are made specifically for newborn babies.

11. Swaddle blanket. The hospital will give you the universal hospital baby blanket, but I don't think you're supposed to take those home, and they aren't that cute. Bring a cute swaddle blanket or the one you have chosen to be the baby's blanket.

12. Pacifier. Our hospital is pretty strict on pacifiers and won't give them out, so if you want your baby to take one or at least try to take one, bring your own just in case. I'm going to bring a couple extra this time to sell on the black market to the moms who forgot to bring one.

13. Items for siblings. If you have older children who will be visiting, you may want to throw in a couple of coloring books/crayons, a few of their favorite books, the cool Big Sister shirt you bought on Etsy, or a game you can play together. These items may be best to placed in a separate bag and left with whoever is caring for your kids while you are in the hospital…but either way, make sure you think about them and their needs!

You do not need to bring diapers or wipes! The hospital will take care of these for you, and enjoy the freebies while they last. You also don't need to bring bath items for the baby. They will have all that stuff there for you to use (and take home).

Now, my pregnancy has been particularly stressful, so I plan to sneak in a few items such as booze, lots of donuts (for when the diabeetus goes away), and I may even take up smoking cigarettes (just kidding…lighten up a little).

I'm hoping I won't need my bag for at least another 4-5 weeks, but at least I'm prepared if something crazy happens. And why would I think anything crazy would happen in this pregnancy? Oh wait...

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