My husband Rob and I tend to do things all at once. We thought our affinity for semi-controlled chaos hit its peak three years ago when, in the course of ten months, we got engaged, planned a wedding, sold our house, bought a new one, moved, had the first floor renovated from a condemned former pharmacy into a living space, and then got married. I’m choosing to look at it as poetic that three years later, in the exact same January to October timeline, we’ve put massive home-improvement projects on our plate while preparing for a baby and dealing with my pregnancy. At 32 weeks, we had our roof repaired and re-tarred, and now, at 36 weeks, we’re building a new bedroom on our third floor so we can clear out the guest room for the nursery.
And while these upgrades are needed and it’s an exciting time, I’m sort of stuck—I’m experiencing the late third-trimester urge to nest, but my nest is currently a construction staging zone. After freaking out and then wallowing in our lack of preparedness, I decided to redirect my energy. And that is why my soon-to-be family of three will have the most kick-ass hospital bags any maternity ward has ever seen.
I’ve spent hours researching and cross-referencing blogs and baby sites, and then hours more online and in shops around town. I’ve imagined many different birth scenarios and used these to evaluate the usefulness of each packed item. In making this list, I’ve also realized that I am in total denial about what is going to happen to me in the hospital, so I hope that if you’re reading this and you’ve given birth, you’ll be kind to my Pollyanna packing attitude. My fear of giving birth has buried itself deep within and given rise to uncharacteristic optimism, so parts of this list read more like I’m prepping for a long layover in an airport, and not like I’m going to be cursing up a storm in a Catholic hospital.
Robe/gown: Please know that I’m aware of the insanity in packing both a robe and the “birthing gown” I ordered off Etsy in a moment of sleepless vanity. Both purchases were cheap and made with the understanding that we may only know one another for the hours spent in Mercy’s maternity ward, but there is something very satisfying to my demented mind that I will have the option of a mid-labor costume change.
Slippers: Again, a cheap Target purchase, but this $7 investment means I’ll have warm toes and a layer of protection between me and floors that have most definitely seen some stuff my feet don’t need to know about.
Nursing bra: My nursing bras will pull double duty on the big day. I found a super comfortable sports bra/nursing bra hybrid, and one will be worn during labor and one will be worn post labor. Mine were purchased off Amazon, but I’ve seen great variations at Bare Necessities and, of course, Target.
Misc: Chapstick, sugar-free mints, Trader Joes electrolyte water, and purple Gatorade are apparently the only comforts I will be allowed during this process, so I have stocked up.
Bag: From local company Treason Toting Co.
Overnight stuff: Toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair ties, shampoo/conditioner/face wash, make up (I mean, reach for the stars, right?), deodorant, and lotion. There’s no shame in wanting your familiar smells.
Lint roller: We are filthy humans who are outnumbered by cats in our home and I refuse to be distracted by a cat hair on my spouse or me while I’m bringing life into this world. I just will not have it.
Pillows: I bought two pillows for $4 each at target, and covered them with the oldest, rattiest pillow cases I could find. This way, Rob will have something comfortable to take a nap on until my disdain for being alone takes over and I wake him up to hang out with me/share his pillow.
Snacks: Rob will be delighted to find some snacks in his bag, but he will be cautioned to eat them out of sight and to brush his teeth with his (also lovingly packed) toothbrush before returning to me, as I am an unfriendly, godless heathen when I’m hungry. Somewhere deep down, I will find a way to be happy that Rob has pretzel chips, Kinderhook cookies, and trail mix to keep his energy up.
Misc: Deck of cards, laptop, Kindle, phone chargers, and camera. The only thing worse than being around me when I’m hungry is being around me when I have no activities.
For the Baby
Bag: Nat and Matt from Trohv
Going-home outfit: A tiny hat and a warm going home outfit, which will be simple, footed pajamas. (Unless the paparazzi get wind of our departure, in which case I’ll pack something from the North West for the Upwardly Mobile Infant collection.)
Mittens: So he can keep his little paws warm and not scratch his face
Swaddling blanket: Because I hear you should always have one around as they are endlessly useful
Properly installed car seat: It’s the law and I’d like the hospital to let us take our baby home with us.