Thursday, March 11, 2010

So You're Off to the Hospital?

Packing, especially packing light, is not my strong point. I often get over-excited, forget important stuff and pack completely absurd things. I lived up to this norm when, in the middle of the night, I had to re-pack my go bag.

As faithful readers of the blog may recall, after I'd been in what we decided to call labour, but really wasn't, for about 24 hours, we got booted from the birth center and told to go have the baby in the hospital.

We were in no rush to transfer so we went home and napped for a few hours first. Or at least my husband did. I think I lay down for awhile.

And then I took some phone calls. And then I started repacking, as my go bag had been packed for a happy birth experience at the birth center, and a quick trip home afterwards. Suddenly a whole different set of rules would apply: I'd be stuck there much longer afterwards, I'd not be allowed to eat, etc.

So, from my go bag, I removed:
  • food that couldn't be eaten sneakily (glad I kept nuts and granola bars - the hospital rations were not enough to labour or start lactating on)
  • iPod and speakers (figuring I'd not be allowed to use them)
  • diapers (the birth center said to bring them, but I knew the hospital would be provide them)
I added in:
  • our last will and testament, our medical power of attorney and our medical insurance cards
  • my laptop (birth center has no wifi but I guessed correctly that the hospital would)
  • underwear and nursing bras
  • chargers for various devices (camera, mobile phones, laptop)
I was really glad I had:
  • chargers! The hospital kept the baby, and thus me, for 48 hours after birth, and I had a lot of calls to make.
  • laptop. The hospital had free wifi and for the few hours I wasn't sleeping and the baby was, I was glad to have some distraction from the sterility of the place and my anxiety about what to do with this gorgeous little creature.
I'm still not sure what I was thinking when I included:
  • underwear and bras. The hospital provided disposable underwear because, like a normal woman who's just given birth, I was bleeding a bit more than normal monthlies. And a bra? As if I'm going to put on a bra when I was in so uncomfortable that I was afraid to pass gas because I was worried my bits would fall out.
  • last will and testament. If I didn't survive whatever medical intervention they were going to inflict on me, I'm sure my affairs could wait until my husband located the document in the apartment.
Finally, I wish I'd had more snack food. The food served by the hospital unfortunately really lived up to the stereotype of hospital food, plus was exceedingly modest in quantity. I know I was looking forward to losing some pregnancy weight, but I wasn't ready to start just yet!

I'm glad to report that on a recent trip with the baby to see her great-grandmother, I packed much more appropriately. I wore all clothes at least once and the only thing I felt I should have brought more of was trousers for the baby. I don't think anyone else noticed she only had two pair for four days.

Got any packing wisdom to share? Birth or baby pick up hospital packing stories on tap?


Melodie said...

Great idea for a post CaroLyn. I had forgetten about those disposable undies. I LOVED them. I even stole a pair to take home because I wanted to wear them longer. And I went out and bought a couple pairs from a specialty pharmacy when I had my homebirth 2.7 years later.
You were smary to pack a bag at all. I never did, assuming I wouldn't be in the hospital. One thing I wish I had set aside though would have been a nice outfit for bringing baby home. My daughter came home in a red and white striped t-shirt, yellow pants and a pink toque (because Daddy was in charge of finding her clothes!)

TheFeministBreeder said...

Hrm... I'm at a loss. I can't remember needing anything I didn't have (which was clothes, makeup, laptop, chargers, iPod, baby clothes, etc.)

I do think it is laughably stupid that there's a company which sells "Birth Kits" for hospitals which include EVERYTHING they give you in the hospital for free (including diapers, a bulb syringe, and gauze.) Seriously?!?!? If anything that would be a HOME birth kit - but it's not marketed as such. I'd hate for unsuspecting parents to shell out $70 for that stupid kit only to realize that, not only does the hospital GIVE them every single last thing included in that kit, but that your insurance company has already been CHARGED for everything!

I suppose my advice would not be what to take TO the hospital, but what to take FROM the hospital, and that's everything that's not nailed down! Seriously - all the diapers and wipes and onesies and all. You've already paid for it, so take it!

CaroLyn said...

@Melodie - thanks for stopping by! Yeah, I wasn't planning on going to hospital either and still kind of kicking myself for letting that happen, since as we realized later my water hadn't really broken and the baby was in no danger from the GBS.

@Gina - thanks for stopping by! Birth Kits - I know, hilarious right? I thought I'd throw this out there, thinking back to being 8.5 months pregnant and being handed such a variety of lists of things to bring, depending on where you're giving birth etc... My midwife, who taught my prenatal class and ended up catching my baby, said the same thing you do: bring a bag to take home all the stuff in your hospital room! LOL - that was awesome. I wasn't planning on being in a hospital but I'm glad I remembered her saying that.