Being pregnant

My bags are (almost) packed!

Karen shares a few not-so-obvious suggestions for packing the all-important newborn essentials hospital bag.

Photo: Karen with baby's going-home outfit, knitted by Barry's great-great-grandma.

The past few days I’ve been stressing about this baby coming early. (What if we don’t have the car seat installed? What if my hospital bag isn’t quite ready? What if I’m just not ready?!)

With four weeks to go until D-Day, I’m trying to get everything in order for that inevitable trip to the hospital — whenever it might happen. I’ve been using the essentials list provided by my midwife, along with Today’s Parent’s Newborn Essentials Checklist, but a few smart moms have recommended some additional items that I think I’ll pack, too:

  • Flip flops to avoid any icky contact with hospital floors.
  • A bed pillow with a distinctive pillowcase to use instead of, or in addition to, the hospital pillows. (The bright pillowcase is to ensure we don’t leave it behind.)
  • Old socks that can be tossed post-stay (also for avoiding icky contact with hospital floors).
  • A towel that can be used in the bathroom or to drape over a questionable chair, arm of a couch or even a hospital pillow.
  • Lip balm to avoid chapped lips. As one mom so cleverly put it, “Enough is going on during labour, you don’t want to be annoyed by dry, cracked lips!”
  • Snacks and drinks for my support people I’m stashing cans of coconut water, bags of trail mix and granola bars in my bag.
  • Swim trunks for Barry so that he can climb into the shower or bathtub with me.
  • A few makeup essentials. I admit that this one sounds a bit trivial, but as one mom said, “I look like hell in all of the hospital photos with my first, so I’ll definitely be packing some makeup for baby number two.” I’m thinking that some powder, cheek tint and lip gloss should cover it.
  • A going-home outfit for baby that she’ll have her very first photos taken in.

Some people say not to sweat this first ensemble too much, but I knew I wanted to dress her in something special. Until recently I had no idea what it would be, though. Then my mother-in-law surprised me with this lovely sweater and cap that her great-grandmother, who lived in Scotland and whom she never met, knitted and shipped to Canada for her to wear home from the hospital. My husband and sister-in-law both wore it for their trips home, too. I’m a sucker for sentimental stuff like this so our little girl will definitely be making an appearance in it. I’ve even carefully hand washed it already so it’s good to go. (See, I’m not so disorganized!)

My baby books recommend having the hospital bags packed and by the door by week 35. I’m week 36 as of today and I still don’t quite have it all together. There’s a pile of stuff on the floor of the nursery, but it has yet to find its way into a vessel. Mostly because I want to use my husband’s big leather duffel bag and he wanted to use it this weekend to take to the cottage. Now that the long weekend is over and we’re settled at home for the foreseeable future, I’ll be nabbing his weekend bag and filling it up. The thing is, I still don’t know if I’m ready. Dear baby, please don’t come early!

And since I’m still in packing mode, please let me know if there are any other not-so-obvious things you think I should add to my hospital bag!