I just finished packing my bag to take to the hospital. That means that mentally, I have admitted to myself that babies will be happening to me in the very near future. The first time I ever packed for the hospital, I filled a rolling suitcase full of crap that my husband dutifully dragged around the maternity ward behind me. I probably only used about half of what I packed. The second time, I used the same suitcase, but only filled it about 2/3 of the way. This time? I used the same bag I took to the beach with me a few weekends ago. I’m either better at packing, or the “fuck it” factor has skyrocketed dramatically in the last few weeks and has now affected my judgment in this area. Take your pick.
Since this is the third time I’ve passed this milestone of pregnancy, I thought I’d put together a handy little guide for any first-timers out there, or for those people who have done it before, but might be a little rusty:
1. If you have other children, remember, you are actually packing several bags: one for yourself, and one for each child that will be spending the night somewhere else. Pack their bags first. Believe me when I say that the last thing you want to be doing between contractions at 3am is trying to find a clean pink shirt for your four year old who will only wear pink shirts. Make a list for each person, and then just go down that list, packing each bag.
2. Purchase a present for each child to open while you are away. Label it “To: (sibling’s name) From: (new baby’s name)”. Then, try to wrap these presents while your children are in the next room. The game is to see how many times you have to do the panicked grab-all-the-wrapping-shit-and-the-present-and-hide-it-in-the-closet thing when you hear them head for your room before you actually get it wrapped. Under five times: YOU WIN!!!1!!
3. Let me just list the items on most standard “what to bring to the hospital” lists that you don’t need: massage oil, a cute nightgown/pajamas to wear during your stay, fancy outfits to dress your baby in during her stay, a change of clothes for your partner. The massage oil will be either forgotten or drop-kicked out of your partner’s hands when they offer to use it on you during labor, you’ll be too busy nursing or changing the most disgusting diapers in the universe to worry about cute outfits (for you OR your baby) and seriously, clothes for your partner?! FUCK your partner. You’re wearing a green bedsheet with snaps on it that definitely doesn’t fit and fishnet granny panties; that asshole can go home and get their own goddamn t-shirt if they want one. NOT YOUR CONCERN.
4. Pack light. Seriously, you don’t need that much; the odds are good you won’t be staying more than one night, and even if your stay is more extended, again, that is why you have the person who got you into this mess right there with you. Send them home to get you more stuff. That is their job. Pack as if you’re 16 and going to spend the night at your friend’s house, except you’ll be coming home with a newborn this time (I really hope that’s not how your typical teen sleepovers went, or else, uh, awkward.). A change of clothes for you and your baby, a camera with extra batteries, your pillow, your toiletries, your purse, and baby wipes (apparently, at my hospital, it’s still 1955 and disposable baby wipes haven’t been invented yet. Paper towels and water are NOT going to work on meconium.) That’s really all you need; anything else you really won’t miss if you don’t bring it.
5. Bring your laptop and a few DVDs, and perhaps your digital camera cord. This way, you don’t have to pay to turn on the TV (trust me, there will be NOTHING to watch on the bullshit cable the hospital provides), and you can share pictures of the new baby right away. Once everyone goes home after visiting hours, and it’s just you and the baby, you’ll need something to keep you entertained until the baby wakes up and refuses to sleep all night. It might as well be dumb videos and pictures that remind you that the baby you just birthed is indeed cute and happy sometimes.
OK. Good luck with your individual hospital bags, ladies. I’m personally hoping to use mine in the next week, but now that I’ve packed it, I’m positive it’s going to sit in the closet mocking me for at least the next three.