The Third-Time-Around Hospital Bag
May 13, 2011
So. You may be happy to hear that I finally up and packed a damn hospital bag. (You may also be mildly ambivalent, profoundly disinterested, or experiencing nausea and dry mouth. Side effects may vary, please consult your doctor.) Packing the bag, I believe, is the sure-fire way to prevent a repeat of Tuesday's events, and guarantee that absolutely NOTHING of baby-and-labor-related interest happens until June 1st, when we are scheduled to go in and get 'im.
The first time I packed a hospital bag I used one of those checklists from the Internet. (Many of which, I've noticed, still mention FILM. Like several times. Make sure your camera has FILM. Bring extra FILM. The hospital gift shop will overcharge you for FILM. It's like a glimpse into childbirth circa 1994!)
Anyway, the checklist I consulted was a very, very looooooong checklist, and I ended up hauling a tremendous amount of useless shit with me. And none of it was organized very well, and since we changed birthing venues multiple times during my labor with Noah (an extended stay in triage due to overcrowding, then a birthing suite, then the OR, then recovery, THEN my non-private, exceedingly small room), we ended up needing a hotel-bellhop-style luggage cart to haul all the various loose things we'd pulled out at various points in time but neglected to re-pack.
By the time we made it to the recovery room, Jason was wheeling around a giant pile of Random Crap, with expensive electronics shoved in tote bags underneath a precariously-perched Boppy while various charger cords dragged on the floor behind him. Once we were in my room I kept finding smashed-up granola bars ("BRING SNACKS FOR YOUR PARTNER") in my nursing bras and rogue tennis balls ("GREAT FOR COUNTERPRESSURE DURING LABOR") in my toiletry bag.
And then! VERY MUCH WORST OF ALL, IN FACT THE WORST THING EVER! In an attempt to streamline and declutter my room later, Jason packed up a bunch of the Random Crap and took it home, but accidentally took the bag containing everything I needed for a shower. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razor, deodorant, you name it. We didn't realize it at first, because post-c-section you aren't allowed to shower for quite some time. Which was awful. I felt disgusting. I LOOKED disgusting. Visitors came to see the baby and I couldn't stop thinking they were all staring at the oil slick on my head instead.
So when I finally got the all-clear that I was allowed to shower, I practically dove in headfirst. Only to discover that Jason had taken my things and I was limited to the hospital-supplied products, which included a horrible combination shampoo/bodywash, a bar of antiseptic hand soap and...nothing else.
Jason had just arrived for the morning and said he didn't feel like turning right around and driving allllll the way home, so just to "deal with it" and he'd bring my stuff back the next day.
To this day, you guys, I am still SO SO SO MAD AT HIM ABOUT THAT.
We were determined to Do Better the second time. Having the scheduled c-section meant we didn't need to worry about the tennis balls and squeezy stress fidgets or labor-coach snacks (plus I'd come to the realization that hey, Jason could PACK HIS OWN FUCKING BAG, IF HE WANTED ONE, WHY DID I CARE IF HE HAD FUCKING TRAIL MIX AND VENDING MACHINE CHANGE OR NOT, JESUS CHRIST). Plus -- with the exception of the toiletry bag, which I was determined to keep shackled to my ankle this time -- I'd learned that duh, you really don't need ALLLLL your things with you right from the moment you show up. Stuff can stay in the car! Or at home, even! Your partner will go home at some point, especially since you have an existing child, and stuff!
And lo and behold! THERE ARE ALSO STORES NEARBY. STORES THAT SELL THINGS.
This freedom -- this terrible, terrible freedom -- to not feel limited to packing One Hospital Bag To Rule Them All, did have its drawbacks. I did, in fact, leave everything in the car except for my purse and a camera bag. This meant we had no bag of our own to put our own clothes in, once I was in a gown and Jason was in scrubs. The hospital gave us plastic drawstring bags...one of which we lost completely between triage and the OR (Jason's clothes. They turned up HOURS later.) and the other of which contained my clothes but somehow was missing one of my shoes (MIA to this day).
Plus, I hadn't done a very good job of making sure that if there WAS anything I really, really wanted right away, that it was in my purse, and not in the suitcase in the trunk of our car. Because apparently, "riding down the elevator and walking to the parking lot" was the new "I don't feel like driving all the way back home so just 'deal with it'" moment for which I still harbor a great deal of unresolved anger towards my husband. He was too preoccupied with the fact that we'd just had a BABY and look at the BABY and I want to hold the BABY and take pictures of the BABY to understand just how hysterical I was getting because I NEEDED MY HAIRBRUSH AND LIP BALM. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE GO GET ME A HAIRBRUSH AND SOME LIP BALM.
So! Good God. Hospital bag angst. The most first-worldy problem ever. Other than maybe your cleaning service forgetting to dilute the floor cleaner properly before mopping and LOOK AT ALL THESE OILY RESIDUE FOOTPRINTS WTF NOW I HAVE TO MOP GAH GAH BZZZZTTTT NESTING OVERLOAD.
(I mean, not that that last bit applies to me and my spoiled little life, or anything. Was just a figurative example.)
So we have one final chance to Get It Right. I would very much like to Get It Right. Or at least not verbally abuse my husband in a drugged-up hormonal haze over some trivial item that I have suddenly decided is the most important thing in the world go get it gogetit GOGETIT.
Here's how the bag is shaping up so far. I think it's at least, a pretty good start, and acceptable should we have another rush-to-the-hospital emergency because OH, I DUNNO, I COULD PEE MYSELF AGAIN, OR MISTAKE GAS FOR CONTRACTIONS, ANY OF THOSE NOT-AT-ALL EMBARRASSING THINGS.
In My Giant Ass Purse, On My Person At All Times:
Cell phone with all possible needed phone numbers, iPod selections, lifeline to Twitter, Google, blawwwwgs, etc.
Flip video camera
Kindle (book selections still TBD)
Fancy outlet splitter with USB chargers for all of the above
Lip balm, assorted varieties
Nail file (for me or baby, but probably mostly me because my beautiful pregnancy-enriched nails have a history of breaking into stubby, uneven shards within 30 minutes of giving birth)
Hair brush and small variety of hair clips/bands/restraining devices
Oil-absorbing pressed face powder, because I clearly have Priorities
Laptop. I think. Not definitively sure which bag this will get shoved in, but I solemnly swear to not deprive the Internet of a prompt, timely posting with a baby picture and name information, no matter what.
*shakes fist at sky Scarlett-O'Hara style*
In Small Tote Bag, On Jason's Person At All Times:
The "real" camera, the big SLR one
Zoom and 50mm lenses
Extra memory card AKA NOT FILM
Room for those plastic drawstring bags of our clothes, provided everyone dresses seasonally appropriate and does not wear exceptionally clompy shoes.
(Note that Jason has also been informed that IF we are heading to the hospital *in labor* and a VBAC appears to be at all a possibility, it is his responsibility to handle all the Labor Coach supplies -- tennis ball, bathing suit, snacks -- and also I am not reminding him about bringing his toothbrush or a change of clothes or whatever, YOU GO WITHOUT SHIT YOU WANT AND SEE HOW YOU LIKE IT.)
(Wow. I know! I should probably see a professional about this.)
In Small Suitcase, To Be Either Left In Car Trunk Or Hauled With Us, Depending On How I Feel That Day Oh Who Am I Kidding I Will Probably Tether It To My Ankle:
Nursing sleep bras
Lanolin, package of gel Soothies, small travel scissors for cutting said Soothies in half because those suckers are expensive and like, four times the circumference of my actual nipples, HEY-YOOOO.
Mother's Milk teabags to kickstart boobs into production
Gorgeous embroidered shawl a friend brought me from India to use as an alternative to frumpy bathrobe and/or impromptu nursing cover in case of visitors. (While EXCEEDINGLY VAIN, I'm not particularly shy about breastfeeding, but still don't really want to make like, the husbands of my friends and/or Jason's coworkers or whoever else feel weird, but bringing an full-on classic "nursing cover" to the maternity ward seems kind of excessively fussy.)
Coming-home outfit for baby. Okay, maybe two outfits. I haven't decided yet. Plus one is a newborn size in case of a 7-pound Ezra Variety of Baby, and one is 0-3 months in case of a 10-pound Noah Variety.
Soothies pacifers, because the ones the hospital offers are crappy and never work to stop the screaming and/or endless self-soothing on Mama's increasingly battle-scarred boobs.
Toiletries, including dry/powdered shampoo, actual shampoo and conditioner, body soap, razor, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, makeup bag, all packed directly INTO the suitcase's interior pockets so there will be NO REMOVING ANY OF IT FROM THE ROOM WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE.
Outfit for me to wear home, UNLESS I happen to be wearing my black dress from Old Navy when we arrive at the hospital, because then I will just wear that home as well because it's my best option right now because it fits and it's black and slimming (SHUT UP) and comfy and every time I've tried to wear pants home from the hospital I've ended up kind of maybe crying over said pants and how they fit and look so FUCK IT, I'M WEARING A MUUMUU BUT WE'RE ALL CALLING IT A DRESS, OKAY?
Ample extra space for robbing hospital room blind. Boo-fucking-yah, free diapers and disposable mesh panties for everyone!
In Secondary Shopping Bag, Out In The Car, And I Promise To Be Okay If These Items Are Not Within My Possession Within An Hour Of Giving Birth Or Maybe Even Two But Three Is Probably Pushing It OH MY GOD GO GET THE BAG JASON:
Nursing pillow. I gave away my Boppy but that's fine since I never particularly loved the thing, so this time I bought one by Balboa Baby. I bought it 100% based on the fact that the cover was cute. I know absolutely nothing else about it. It may in fact turn out to be the worst nursing pillow in the history of the world, but dammit, it's cute. I AM EDUCATED CONSUMER WHO MAKES EDUCATED CHOICES.
Two full-sized towels, because the hospital only provides tiny little handtowels, which, COME ON, I need like 17 of those to properly dry off after a shower. (Why yes, I AM obsessed with the postpartum showering process a little bit). Both towels are old and disposable in case of horror-movie-like grossness* but still totally Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy approved.
Big Brother gifts for when Noah and Ezra arrive to completely ignore the new baby while we try in vain to take Incredibly Preshus Life-Affirming Photographs.
DVDs, because the hospital rooms do have DVD players but last time ours was missing the remote and didn't really have working external buttons that made any sense, so the DVDs we brought mostly just sat there taunting me. Except for Iron Man, which Jason managed to get to play at fucking 11 pm the first night while I was trying to sleep and was the reason I suggested that hey, I know we have a private room this time and all but I think it might still be better if you don't stay over again. Go be with Noah or something. I also fucking hate Iron Man to this day as well.
(Really, you do NOT want me to develop a grudge against you at any point during the immediate days postpartum. I will take it to my GRAVE.)
*Okay, this might very well launch us into another whole blog entry here, or cause a significant portion of the reading audience to head for the fucking hills**, but OMG. The Grossness. The Bloooooood. I am guessing -- like everything -- the whole lochia thing varies from person to person, but I am a bleeeeeeder. Some of this probably has to do with having c-sections -- you are confined to bed with a catheter for quite some time afterwards, so I guess maybe it all just...pools and stores up more than for someone who is allowed to get up and out of bed right away? Because the first time I get up to use the bathroom and get cleaned up, it really, seriously is like a slasher film set in an abattoir. For this reason, I DO NOT pack my own nightgowns or underwear or maxipads or any of that sort of thing. I am a believer in the hospital-supplied Giant Mesh Disposable Panties and Two-Foot-Long Rectangular Pads. If my (cheap, cheap) bathrobe and slippers survive the stay, I consider that an unexpected bonus.
**I'M JUST TRYING TO BE SERVICEY HERE! For anyone else packing a hospital bag! I was caught so unprepared the first time! Like this:
OH MY GOD, COMBINATION SHAMPOO AND BODYWASH?!?! WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?!?! THE HORROR, THE HORROR!!