The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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While many people are enjoying a "staycation" this year, I, myself, am looking forward to a little vacation of my own: my 48 hour stay in the hospital come delivery time. Even though the accommodations are less than ideal (think uncomfortable beds, bad food, and constant interruption), I'm still shamefully jonesing for two blissful days when all the attention will be focused on me and the new baby. And since it's my third time around, I now know how to make the most of my mini hospital vacation.
First off, I'm definitely packing a comfortable pillow and soft fleece blanket this time. It seemed like too much to pack when I had the girls, but now I realize it's worth the hassle (not to mention the hassle falls on Nelson since he'll be unloading the car, and I'm sure he doesn't mind). The cool rooms and flimsy pillows really reduce the quality of any sleep you might actually get. I've considered bringing a foam mattress topper, but that seems a bit over the top!
Next I'll be sure to pack lounge wear that is extra comfy and looks good. For nursing, I've found that the best shirt to pack is a nursing tank (like the ones made by Glamourmom). With doctors, nurses, and visitors popping in constantly, it's your best bet. A regular shirt that lifts up leaves too much fabric flopping around above the baby's head, and that is distracting when you're trying to first get the hang of breastfeeding. A nursing tank allows plenty of your skin to be exposed, while still covering you up. Plus, you tend to get hot when you're breastfeeding, so a tank keeps you cool. I also pack a favorite soft knit cardigan to layer over the tank for in between feedings (the cardigan won't get in the way if you keep it on while feeding either). I also have to pack my nursing pillow. It was indispensable the first two times around. Even though a newborn baby is so tiny, it's still really hard to position them correctly without the help of a breastfeeding pillow.
Next in my bag will be a good pair of slippers. Walking on the floors barefoot just feels gross, but flip-flops fail as a good option since you're sitting in bed a lot of the time. I'm also packing a beauty bag filled with some essential items. I found there's little time to apply makeup, but after the delivery you feel pretty scuzy, so it's essential to have a few products that will make you feel refreshed and looking effervescent. Of course, the basic toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash are must haves. But I also pack a mini bottle of luxurious shampoo and bodywash. I also pack a facial exfoilent, my Stila illuminating powder foundation, and a lip gloss. It's just enough to make me feel pretty without a lot of fuss.
Now to combat the food situation, I will pack a small cooler of goodies. Some good cheese, fruit, and crackers will be my first choice. I also pack things like hummus and carrot sticks. A bag of my favorite cereal will probably make it in the cooler as well. I'm also grabbing the menus from some nearby restaurants. Nelson has always been willing to run across the street to order me a good salad and pasta dish.
Even though I've yet to really read a magazine or listen to my ipod during a post-delivery stay, I will pack these two things just in case I end up in the hospital longer than expected. And I'll bring my camera, of course. I won't, however, be packing an address book or note cards despite the recommendation of some experts. I realize now that the hospital stay should be used to focus entirely on resting and getting acquainted with the new baby. It's the only time I'll really have that will be for just the two of us.
Lastly, I'll bring an outfit for the baby. I bought a cute one-piece newborn set complete with a hat and folder-over flaps that cover the baby's hands (those tiny fingernails are surprisingly sharp and can really cut up an infant's tender skin). I found with the girls that the 0-3 month size is too big for a first outfit, so I bought the newborn size even though it says up to 7 lbs (and so far I've delivered over 7 lb babies). I'll pack a larger outfit just in case, but I'm betting the newborn size will fit even a larger baby since infants like to curl up (and shrink away) from the outfit they are clothed in.
Now that my list is compiled, I can't wait to pack and have this baby. I know I'm still 8 weeks away, but just as it is with a real vacation, it's hard to suppress my excitement. Some of you may be wondering how I could feel so excited over a stay in the hospital, but I realize now if you plan accordingly, it truly is a time to get adjusted and catch your breath before the real work of caring for an infant begins.