Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hospital Packing Part 4-The Stuff You Shouldn't Bother With

In posts 1 through 3 I shared the items that I packed for Mom, Baby, and my own Comfort.  This list is the stuff you shouldn't even bother with putting in your suitcase. They're items I frequently see on suggestion lists and I completely disagree about packing them. Here's why...

  • Stuff for Dad. Mostly because, he doesn't really need much. Also, he's got the ability to leave the hospital for an hour or 2 and go home to take care of anything he might need. (Remember that down-time? When you are going to be sleeping.)  At most, I'd have him bring a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and some deodorant.  And he can leave them in the car until he needs them the next morning. On the off-chance the hospital allows him to use a shower (most don't because Dad's aren't patients) he can use the toiletries you've already brought for yourself. An exception to all this would be if you're at a hospital with a birthing tub or shower in your delivery room. In that case, throw a swimsuit for him in your suitcase if there's any chance he'll be joining you as part of your labor support.

  • Postpartum Menstrual Pads. I know. It's not pleasant to think about, but there's going to be some serious bleeding going on.  You'll be soaking through them so fast that if you bring your own you'll go broke from their purchase before the end of your first day. Use the ones the hospital provides.  They work better, plus you're already paying for them. Save the ones you like for when you get home.  You'll have the opportunity to use them for at least 4 to 6 weeks. Another reason not to bring them is for their size.  You're going to want the huge ones and a box will easily take up a quarter of the space in your suitcase.

  • Another waste of suitcase real estate is a box of disposable Breast Pads.* Your real milk doesn't come in for 2-3 days.  For most women that means it's happening after you get home, so you won't be leaking enough breast milk to warrant dragging them around. The box is going to sit untouched in your suitcase until then.  I have a zipper pocket on my travel boppy pillow that allows me to stash some nursing items. I placed 3 pair in this pocket for "just in case" rather than bringing a whole box like I did last time. If you do happen to need breast pads before you leave, the hospital will be able to provide some or you can stash the box in the car and have somebody run out to grab it.
*It's uncommon, but some women start leaking breast milk before they deliver.  If this is you, obviously this item gets moved to the Mom's Essentials list and you'll definitely want to pack a box if you have a preferred brand.

That's all of it! The stuff you need and the stuff you don't! Bring as little as possible with you to the hospital and you can't go wrong.  Things don't get lost or forgotten and someone you love doesn't have to keep dragging it around whenever you switch rooms.  May your labor and delivery run as smoothly as your packing!

Hospital Packing Part 3-Creature Comforts

If you haven't yet, please check out my packing list for Mom's Essentials and Baby Supplies.

So this is my list of not-so-essential supplies that are being packed this time around.  It's also the section of items that will likely be a lot more personalized when you pack your own bag.  But, I promised you an explanation of everything that went in my bag, so on we go...

  • Cell Phone & Charging Cable. Not only will I be able to contact family and friends after delivery, but my smartphone is what I used to take the majority of the newborn photos of Avery when I was still in the hospital. It's a lot smaller than my camera, so it's easier to have next to me in the bed and it doesn't take up a bunch of room on the bedside table. (Which is where everything seemed to naturally accumulate during my last postpartum stay for fear of it being lost.)  The smartphone also allows me the ability to stay connected to the internet if I have some down-time where I don't want to sleep (more on this in a bit). Having the internet connection also allows me to instantly upload all those adorable photos to excited family members so I don't have them popping by to see me before I'm ready. (But I'm sort of weird and don't want visitors when I'm in the hospital.  Remember this post from the last visit?) One thing to remember though, MAKE SURE YOU TAKE YOUR CHARGING CABLE BACK HOME WITH YOU.  It seems common sense enough, but my nurse told me it's the number one thing parents forget in the room when it's time to go.  They unplug the phone but leave the charger in the wall.  And sure enough, my husband was one of those people. (I happened to catch it before we left though.)

  • Digital Camera with extra batteries. Yeah, I can use my cell phone for a lot of photos, but sometimes it's nice to have something with a little better picture quality or functionality (think low-light photos during that 3 a.m. feeding). And, you only get one opportunity to take those first precious shots of your little one. It's best to make them count by using the best equipment you have available to you.
I'm going to stop here and note that these are the most valuable items price-wise that will ever make it into my hospital room. Even then, if they are not directly next to me or my husband they are placed out of sight. (Yes, EVERY time you need to get up to pee! And don't forget that wallet you brought while you're stashing stuff.) While I'm trusting of the staff in my hospital, the maternity ward is constantly full of visitors...even if they're not my own. Bringing pricey items with you just invites trouble. It's like leaving valuables visible inside your car and parking it at an amusement park.  You have a higher probability of a broken window when you return than for your stuff to be sitting in the front seat where you left it. Besides it being in the way, I just don't want to babysit it.  Would my laptop be easier to use than my phone for browsing the web when I'm bored? You bet! I'd much prefer it!  But I'm more comfortable replacing a $200 cell phone than a $1200 laptop.  Same thing goes for jewelry.  Not that my wedding ring has fit for more than a couple weeks of this pregnancy, but any jewelry items have to be removed in the event you go for a C-section.  I do not want a small (a.k.a. easily lost), valuable, and sentimental item like that to go missing because I have to remove it. Best not to risk it and leave it at home.
  • Next item...SNACKS! A lot of hospitals have weird times for their cafeteria to be up and running.  Some close down entirely after a certain time, others offer a limited selection.  My hospital offers only deli sandwiches after 6:00 pm...the ones that were made around noon and have been sitting in a fridge all day getting soggy.  When you're not allowed to eat during labor (and you spend an extra 12-24 hours in the hospital before that for an induction...where you're also not allowed to eat) and you deliver your baby at 6:38 pm not having food is a MAJOR problem. Did I eat the nasty sandwich from the cafeteria? No.  Because I came prepared with food I actually like.  This time around I packed a couple of those tuna and cracker "meals" where you can mix it up how you like it, some trail mix and a few cheez-its in snack-size Ziploc bags, and 1 little Debbie snack brownie for good measure. Fruit is always a good choice too, but I packed early and wanted things that wouldn't spoil in my bag over the remainder of my pregnancy. 

  • ONE (small) form of entertainment. This time I chose to bring a deck of playing cards. Last time I brought along the cards, a knitting project, and a book. I took them because a lot of moms said there was a lot of down-time during the day where baby is having tests done, or getting a circumcision, or some other procedure.  That's true, but I spent the majority of that down-time SLEEPING.  Your body just underwent some MAJOR trauma.  You're going to be exhausted and not feel up to doing anything besides laying in a lump on your bed. Of the things I brought last time the only one I touched (except to curse its existence when trying to fit everything back in the suitcase when we were leaving) was the cards.  Hubby and I played a couple of games while I was in early labor to help distract me from my contractions. I'm bringing them again for the reason that it entertains both of us, they're small, and light-weight...making them perfect to shove anywhere in the suitcase. The book and the knitting project took up too much valuable space and I didn't want them anyway.  If I really want to read I'll just download an e-version on my phone.

  • My own pillow. The hospital ones are like sleeping on cardboard.  You need to wrangle 8 just to get a decent sleeping height and then they crunch under your head every time you move.  Don't forget to put a bright colored pillow case on it so it doesn't get mixed up with the crummy ones. Depending on how long you'll be staying, this can be left in the car until you're ready for it.  When I had Avery I stayed at the hospital the night before my induction.  Since I was sleeping there, I took it in with me right away.  Had I just spontaneously showed up when it was "time"  to have the baby I'd have left it in the car until I was moved into my postpartum recovery room.

  • My Boppy Nursing Pillow. This one will stay in the car until I'm ready for it in the recovery room. I didn't bring it with me when I had Avery.  Along with the normal struggles of learning to breastfeed, I could never get her propped to the right height for me to be comfortable sitting in the chair. (And nursing on the bed was even more of a joke when it came to comfort.) I used it the very first nursing session after coming home and told my husband, "Dude!  Why didn't we bring this with us?!  It's so much better!" It didn't seem to crush down under the weight of the baby like a stack of regular pillows did for me.  Since I have several of these pillows now (including a travel one that will be used for this visit) I won't be making the same mistake again.
In the next post, all the things I didn't mention!

Hospital Packing Part 2- Baby supplies

If you haven't read part one, check it out HERE.  It includes the essentials for mom.

This post will go over items you need to bring for baby.

  • 2 Outfits for baby to wear home. No more. No less. Why 2?  First off, it's not a fashion show.  There's plenty of time to dress up baby in cute outfits and take a million pictures, and those will turn out better with the lighting you have at home anyway. You don't need to take the lot with you. Secondly, as soon as you start sorting through your baby clothing and get everything washed pre-arrival you will notice that there is a great variance in the SIZE of baby clothing, even when it is labeled to be exactly the same. Since there's no way to tell exactly what will fit your newborn, take one newborn size outfit that looks like it will never fit the tiniest of dolls, and a second newborn size outfit that looks larger in comparison. And yes, I do mean newborn size and not 0-3 months.  Your kid will be swimming in a 0-3 months size. If they have matching hats, that's even better.

When choosing your outfits here are a couple things to think about.  First, the weather. Generally you want baby to be wearing one more layer than you are comfortable in. If it's 80 degrees outside you probably don't need a wool sweater for baby. Wearing a t-shirt yourself?  A newborn is usually good in a long sleeve t-shirt. You can always wrap baby up in a blanket if you feel they need more.

Next, try to find an outfit that is NOT a onesie, and opt for a t-shirt style top instead.  These can be difficult to find, but it's worth it.  The reason being is that baby will still have the stump of their umbilical cord. Onsies will press up against that wound and irritate it (and by extension, the baby and then you.) The cord stump also tends to ooze for a bit while it's drying and that goo gets all over the onsie and is a pain to wash out. The t-shirt style tops provide some relief from the rubbing and helps the cord breathe better, which promotes faster healing.

Finally, if you can find an outfit that has fold over cuffs for the top and attached feet on the bottom you've hit the baby outfit jackpot.  Baby's nails are REALLY sharp when they're born so you'll want to cover their hands.  The little scratch mitts that you can purchase separately don't stay on for beans, plus you can never find them in the suitcase because they're so tiny.  The fold-over cuffs give you the same protection without needing to track anything down. Baby Socks are problematic for the same reason, which is why the footed bottoms are perfect.
  • A blanket to place over the car seat. In my case an extra heavy one since it will be the middle of winter.  If you're having a summer baby, just a light receiving blanket is fine.  Something to block the sun and wind on your way to the car or to keep them warm if the snow is flying. (Remember, bulky coats and snowsuits are a no-no since they interfere with safety buckles in car seats. When in doubt, keep an extra blanket in the car for cold weather.)
    •  If you have pets: Pack an extra receiving blanket or a small scrap of fabric. Snuggle baby in this blanket as often as possible during your hospital stay. When it's time to come home have someone go ahead of you and let your pets sniff around this blanket for a while. Since it smells like the baby, it's a great way to help introduce him or her to your furry friends.
That's the list for baby.  Really.  I'm serious. That's it. Everything else you will need, diapers*, wipes, pacifiers, bottles, a small hair comb, circumcision care supplies, etc. the hospital will provide. Use their stuff since it's already part of your bill anyway. When you leave, take any extra baby supplies with you.  Just clean out the drawer of that bassinette and shove it all in your suit case. Again, you have already been charged for these supplies so don't feel bad about swiping them.  If you don't end up using them at home you can always donate them to someone in need.

In the next series of posts, extra comfort/convenience items and the things I left out of my bag on purpose.

*I have heard a few stories from moms where their hospitals did not provide newborn diapers and they were required to bring a pack of their own.  This is really rare, but if you're worried about this or any other baby supply you might need, just give the hospital a call to double check on what specifically is provided.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hospital Packing List-Mom's Essentials

I just finished packing my hospital bag for baby #2. Even though I've had a postpartum visit once before, I still scour the internet to find out what other mom's pack to take with them.  I find the majority of lists to be very helpful and they help me to narrow down my own. Others leave me saying, "I feel sorry for that poor lady's husband." Mostly because MY husband was that guy the first time around...the poor schmuck dragging all that stuff that I just HAD to bring along with us. (And I'm sure cursing under his breath the whole time.) I thought I packed "light". I didn't pack even half of what these women tell people are essential. Still...the lists are fascinating to me so I thought I'd share what I put in my bag this time around and why. Some of these really are must-haves, others are my personal preference when being away from home. It's long, but hopefully a helpful read.

  • The very most important item. DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THIS. In fact, it's best to install it several weeks before you go to the hospital just in case baby comes early. (Bonus, you can get the installation checked, usually for free, by a member of your local police or fire department.) The Car Seat. You can not leave the hospital without putting baby in it.  That being said, don't bring this inside the hospital when you come in to deliver.  Leave it in the car until it's time to go home. No lugging it around when/if you have to change rooms and it won't take up valuable space in your recovery room. You will also want to be very familiar with adjusting the car seat for the proper fit.  Learn how the straps move into the different height slots, learn how to tighten them against your child, learn the proper way to insert or remove any accessories (such as head inserts) IF they are safely allowed at all. In most cases, if it didn't come in the box with the car seat, it won't be safe to use with it. Holding a wiggly newborn who is screaming because they don't like the car seat is not the time you want to be figuring these things out.
  • Your purse or wallet containing your I.D. and insurance cards. Even if you're pre-registered at the hospital you'll be required to show them to a staff member at least once.
  • A Folder. This is something that is optional, but I highly recommend it after wanting one during my last stay.  You get 8 billion pages of paperwork when you have a kid. Everything from useless pamphlets, to discharge instructions for both you and the baby, to those all-important keepsakes like hospital bracelets and baby footprints, and then some. Especially for those keepsake items, it's nice to have a place to store things where they can lay flat and not get mangled amongst all the other stuff you've shoved into your suitcase.
Okay, let's move on to things specifically for mom...
  • Flip Flops. Cuz floors.  Slippers would work too.

  • Pajama Set, with a robe, that is easy to nurse in. Last time I stayed in my hospital gown until I was able to take a shower.  It was nice to change into something clean and comfortable that actually fit me instead of drowning me in ample amounts of itchy fabric. Plus, it doesn't have that god-awful gap in the back that flashes your naked behind to the entire world!  You show off enough of your body during delivery. A bit of coverage feels really nice.  Makes you feel like you still have some dignity. Plus, if you want to walk the halls or take baby back and forth from the nursery it's nice to be covered. (TMI alert!) Also, as a girl who despises wearing pads (which you WILL be doing after giving birth, like it or not) I feel like I have a little more support when I'm wearing pants, even if they are loose comfy ones.  They help keep things snug against my body and I don't get paranoid about leaks as much. On this same note, these pajamas are also a set that I won't be devastated if they end up getting ruined from leaking through a pad. Yet another reason I'm bringing my pajama's my "in case I end up with a C-Section" going home outfit. It's loose and adjustable enough (thanks to a draw string) that it hopefully won't irritate an incision.

  • One pair of jersey knit shorts. These are thrown in as an emergency case of temperature control for myself and not necessarily something I'd suggest as essential.  After delivering Avery I was incredibly hot and uncomfortable and I could not stop sweating (and this was in an air conditioned room).  I was stuck with the temperature that the hospital set for the entire floor. These will allow me to be a bit cooler should the same experience happen again.

  • An Outfit for me to wear home, with a nursing tank as an under-layer. For me this means a pair of maternity pants, a maternity t-shirt, the previously mentioned nursing tank and a pair of socks. This "item" was actually one I went back and forth on since it takes up a good chunk of suitcase. I'm not opposed to wearing home the same thing I came to the hospital in, but there are 2 reasons I ultimately chose to pack it.  1. I wanted the nursing tank anyway just to have an extra (the top to my pajamas is actually a nursing tank) in case the other got wet from nursing or covered in some form of baby liquid. 2. I'd at least want to bring along a pair of pants on the off chance that my water broke on the way to the hospital. No thanks to putting on something soaked in body fluids. While I'd wear my pj pants in a bind, I am expected to give birth in January in Michigan. Something a little warmer is appreciated. Since 1 and 2 made up 1/2 the outfit, I just tossed in the rest.

  • A bag of Toiletries. Soap, Shampoo, Conditioner, Hair Ties, A headband to use during delivery, Hair Brush, Comb, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, deodorant, chapstick, breastfeeding lanolin, and makeup. Nothing ridiculous like a curling iron or hair dryer that eats up valuable space.  I want to take a shower and look like a human being in at least a few of my newborn's photographs.  The hospital will likely have supplies if you forget to pack things (or don't want to), but they're going to be the generic, multi-purpose toiletries that aren't very nice to use. Especially when it comes to things like soap & shampoo. (Which are 1 combined product at my hospital.) I could probably do without the makeup, but just putting it on helped me feel more "together" after having Avery so I tossed it in again.  This also might be important to you if you're having a lot of visitors. If you wear glasses or contacts bring supplies for both.  I'm lucky I don't need these but a lot of other moms have told me they were irritated by one or the other during their delivery, so it was nice to have the 2nd option.
I'd say that's a long enough post for now, plus I think it covers mom's "essentials" pretty well.  In future entries I'll share the other items I'm bringing for me, along with the supplies for baby.

Click HERE for the Baby Supplies post.
Or HERE for the comfort items I recommend.
Or HERE if you want to see the items I left out on purpose.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Xbox 360 Toddler-proofing

The main form of entertainment in our household is an Xbox 360. We use it for movies and Netflix, my husband plays games on it with his buddies, and we've recently started to use it for a connection to Pandora music in our main living space. If we're home, it's probably on in our living room. used to be.

Because it is used so much we don't dare put it inside our entertainment center behind closed doors.  To do so would risk extreme overheating and ruin the system. And that is just not an option! So, it sits up on top of the entertainment center...eye-level to a toddler.

Now I want you to take a look at the above photo.  See that green lighted ring around the power button. It's the equivalent of a bug zapper.  My girly sees the light and is drawn straight in. It's compulsive...she just HAS to push that button.  And once she does, she's rewarded with a pleasant little chirp to tell you the system has just shut off, or on, or off, or on, or off, or on... as she KEEPS pushing it in rapid succession. Yeah. Not cool. For us or for the electronic components.

I started browsing the web to see if I could find some type of guard to go over the front.  I did find a few (not specific to the Xbox but general ones for dvd players and such that would have worked fine), but they were at least $10 before shipping and all were just a cheap piece of plastic. Of course they aren't sold in stores, so I also couldn't just go out and get one.  So I started thinking...

Meet the bent acrylic picture frame!

A plain 8x10 frame, in landscape orientation. Normally $5 in JoAnn's framing department, on sale for half off. I flipped it around so it now sits like this on my entertainment center.
Avery can't push the button, it's clear enough that the remote and controllers can still be picked up by the sensor on the front of the Xbox, no airflow vents are blocked, and it's quick and easy to remove when we need to throw a disc in.  And again...$2.50.  You're welcome. Have fun toddler-proofing your own.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Invisible Mother

Maybe it's because I'm a hormonal, emotional mess of a pregnant lady right now, but I re-discovered this blog post titled The Invisible Mother tonight and started bawling.  As it always does on rough days, it put things back into perspective and I feel much better.  It's too good not to pass it along somewhere. Read and enjoy...