Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Packing for the hospital

My purpose in writing this post is two-fold: First, I want to share about a "blog friend" of mine, Sarah. She doesn't know I'm writing this! I don't remember how or when I stumbled upon her blog (it must have been at least a year or two ago), but I do remember being attracted by her blog's name "This Girl's Life" because I used to have a blog by that title. So, I visited her blog and haven't stopped visiting since. Sarah struggled with the loss of a baby and then a time of infertility, and she shared her heart in her posts as she worked -- with GOD -- through it all, all the feelings of heartache and pain and empty arms. Her faith has inspired and blessed me so many times, especially when God answered her prayers...Sarah is now pregnant with twin girls due in June!!! I remember reading her posts leading up to the point when she conceived, and really feeling her heartache along with her. The Lord so laid her upon my heart that I prayed for her to conceive and kept her in my prayers, so when I read her good news, I was simply overjoyed! This is one of my favorite things about the blog-world: we really can make a difference in each other's lives, especially through the power of prayer. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to participate with many others praying for this special blessing upon her life.

Which brings me to my second purpose in writing this post. Sarah has asked that I help her come up with a list of things to pack for the hospital when she delivers the girls. I remember asking Kate for this very list, and actually following it religiously! Kate had the foresight to also include items that I would need should I go through a C-section, and I'm glad I also followed that portion of the list. You can't be too prepared going into the delivery of a baby/babies!

So, to this end, here is my list of necessaries to go in the hospital bag (I actually packed a whole suitcase and used EVERYthing in it, so I definitely didn't over-pack!). I would love it if everyone who reads this post who's delivered a baby could also contribute and possibly point out items I may have missed. Let's give Sarah a great send-off to meeting her precious daughters!

To pack for Mama (NOTE: there is lots of TMI here for the fellas, so read on only if you're prepared):
  • at least 2-3 pairs of very comfortable nursing pajamas (or just plain jammies if you're not going to nurse). You will want OUT of that hospital gown as soon as you're allowed.
  • a sweatpants/t-shirt outfit (or two) when you're tired of jammies. Again, think as comfortable as possible.
  • a robe for wearing over jammies when you want to take a walk. Marty and I walked down to the cafeteria about 36 hours after Will was born and it felt great to stretch my legs, but I was soooooo not ready to be out of jammies yet, so I just slipped on some flip-flops and my robe and didn't care what anybody thought!
  • the aforementioned flip-flops, or comfortable (washable!) house slippers. You might want both.
  • socks, socks, socks. I packed the fuzzy-wuzzy kind and used every pair I brought.
  • nursing bras, nursing pads, and older panties (if you're going to wear your own; this is not the time to break open some new pretties). Personally, I used the hospital stretch panties until I dressed to go home. They're disposable and you really need them and the way they fit pads until your bleeding has slowed some.
  • pads to use (NO tampons!) when you don't need the industrial-strength hospital ones anymore. Sorry to be so frank, but it helps to be prepared for exactly what will go down. You don't want to be surprised by the after-effects of giving birth!
  • elastic hairbands or anything you use to keep your hair out of your face. They will come in handy during labor and then later when nursing.
  • a birth plan. There seems to be lots of controversy over this, but I don't think it hurts to at least have a general idea of how you want things to go. My nurse, Shannon, asked me lots of questions as soon as she came on-duty and she stayed with me throughout her shift and did a GREAT job of following through on my expressed desires. For example, she helped me hold off on the epidural as long as I could, but then was ready with it when I said the word. I think any great nurse will be happy to do this very thing for you!
  • something to do during slow times. I had my labor induced and didn't feel any pain for several hours, so it got to be a bit boring. Take sudoku or crossword puzzles, DVDs (most rooms have players now), or whatever keeps your mind occupied, because you will end up doing a lot of this:

    Watching the monitors and just ticking off the hours!

  • makeup bag and any/all toiletries you'll need for a 2- to 4-day stay (vaginal delivery vs. C-section).
  • camera/camcorder. We got a great picture of Will sleeping as his first sunrise began to light on his face. Beautiful. We also did some late-night, post-feeding videoing, which we really enjoy watching again now.
  • a list of phone numbers for who to call when Baby has arrived (and a designated person to do the calling if you're not up to it -- I wasn't for the first full day).
  • your baby's memory book (again, you might not feel up to writing but you can also use this opportunity to have a nurse make the handprints/footprints directly into the book).
  • a going-home outfit for yourself. Get dolled-up before leaving because you will feel so much better!

Some important advice:

  • Go in looking cute and take pictures. This is the last time you'll look cute for a few days (if not a few weeks!). Be prepared to look like a train wreck. It just happens.

Above: The morning of delivery.
Below: About an hour after giving birth.

  • Leave your dignity at the door. You won't just have to endure the poking and prodding by various strangers (oh heavens, having your water broken...), but you'll need help getting to the bathroom, undressing/dressing, taking a shower, etc., especially if you have a C-section. I needed major help the first 48 hours or so, and there just is no place for uber-modesty.
  • Help the Daddy prepare, as well, and encourage him to pack anything that will increase his own comfort during the hospital stay, like snacks or a pillow from home (those fold-out chair thingeys are super-uncomfortable).

To pack for Baby:

  • hand mittens or onesies/sleepers that have the fold-over flaps to cover Baby's hands so he won't scratch up his little face!
  • sleepers/sleeping gowns. Just as with Mama, you will want your baby out of the hospital-issue clothing as soon as possible.
  • swaddling/receiving blankets. One word of advice: make sure if your baby goes into the nursery wrapped in one of your blankets, that he/she comes out of the nursery with that blanket! I lost a cute receiving blanket this way because a nurse changed it out and didn't return it to me.
  • a couple of hats to keep Baby's temperature controlled (infants don't maintain their body temperature very well at all; that's why it's important to cover them head to toe, but don't smother them either!).
  • socks. You will especially need these when using the sleeping gowns, as they have elastic bottoms for ease of diaper-changing but they will not keep Baby's feet warm.
  • a special outfit for the official hospital pictures. I bought this monogrammed sleeping gown for Will:
  • a going-home outfit that's cute and comfy and decently warm with full coverage (lightweight cotton) even if it's summer. This was Will's:

  • your Boppy pillow. Because breastfed newborns will nurse on demand every 2 hours or so, I kept my pillow close at hand and often also used it to make a nest for me and Will where we stayed between feedings, too. I love, love, love my Boppy!

  • your infant carseat. A nurse will check to make sure that you strap the baby in correctly, and also check that you have the base installed correctly in your car.

Some important advice:

  • You will NOT need to pack any diapers, wipes, or any sort of baby hygiene/personal care products. The hospital will give you loads of freebies.
  • Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy this time as much as possible. Try not to fret about the learning process of caring for an infant -- it all comes with time and experience, and nurses and parents and friends are great resources, so ask any/all questions that you might have. Don't be afraid to sound ignorant -- we all are new at this once!!!


Kristen said...

What a great, and comprehensive, list! I would add that I always pack a large ziploc or two for the little things that come home with baby - tags from his/her bassinet, footprints, cards, keepsakes of all sorts. Matt brought our laptop to keep busy and to post photos, etc. The boys don't get much to do and I was zonked for a while after birth. Amen to the pj's and fuzzy socks, sister! We didn't bring any clothes or blankets for our babies except for the "going home" outfit because of the issues with losing items in the nursery. They will provide you with everything for baby's stay. Take advantage of their hospitality (you're being charged for it anyway!). Nurses are your best friends - treat them sweetly and they'll carry out your every wish down to a Diet Coke right after delivery (I swore off caffeine my entire pregnancies, so I CRAVED that first bottle). Oh, and even if you don't nurse, bring the nursing pads - you'll need 'em.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, seeing those pictures just brings it all back! Was he ever that little? I'm so used to thinking of him now as a little boy who can roll over and sit up on his own and who looks at everything with curious eyes and the most adorable grin. -Katie

Sarah said...

Becky!!! Those sweet words made my morning! I am so glad to have "met" you through the blog world, and feel so blessed to have you as a friend.

This list was awesome! It was such a help and made me think that I need a bigger bag! Ha!

ashley @ twentysixcats said...

Aww this is bringing back so many memories! :-)

I stayed in my hospital gown until they sent me home. I wasn't up for changing and it didn't bother me. :-) I'd suggest to bring soap/shampoo for that first shower after delivery... My hospital didn't provide any so I just rinsed and had to wait to wash myself until I got home. I'd also suggest any other toiletries (deodorant, facial wash, makeup) to make you look pretty because you will definitely be aching to "clean up" as soon as you feel up to it!

I'd always thought that you couldn't leave the hospital unless you had a carseat, but as soon as Paul pulled up in the car, the nurse with the wheelchair left me and Savannah. I guess that hospital didn't care as much!