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My First Post-Baby Post

Four years ago, my husband and I were getting ready to welcome our first child into our family. We were still enjoying long nights of uninterrupted sleep and hours of free time spent preparing for our tiny addition. We were 26 and 27 – what many would probably consider young for having a child nowadays – but we were excited. With a few months to go, we couldn’t wait to meet our little bundle of joy.

Reality set in when we brought Greyson home from the hospital in February of 2012. We had no idea what we were doing. We were both overwhelmed and in over our heads. We missed free time, happy hours, and daily trips to the gym. And after eight months of feeling like an absolute mess of a mother, The Honest Mommy began.

My blog became a way for me to vent about my insecurities as a new mother. As it turned out, lots of friends and strangers began following my stories and I felt less alone – I realized that what I was going through, the feelings of being inadequate and frazzled, were more the norm than the exception.

Fast forward three years, I am back to working full time during the day, and recently welcomed our second baby, Gannon (which explains my absence from regular blogging). It’s not that I ran out of things to say, I’ve just run out of time to say them.  But last night, as I looked around my room at the explosion of baby gear, teething toys, breast pumps, overflowing garbages filled with dirty diapers, I started feeling the need to share my experiences of life with two. I can’t promise I will find the time to post every week, considering the majority of my free time now goes to shoving a quick meal in my mouth and catching up on as much shut eye as possible – but I’ll do my best to fill you in on the craziness of working full time while caring for two active baby boys.

So far, I’ve realized that caring for two kids is very similar to caring for one. However, life has become a game of carefully calculated choices. Let me explain.

After Grey was born, I definitely felt like my life was a shit show the majority of the time. Nonetheless, I did find the time to shower regularly, get dressed most days, and even got my hair cut and colored every so often. With only one child, you can utilize nap time – two hours of blissful child-free time and space each day. Additionally, it’s easy (and less expensive) to find a sitter to watch one child, so my husband and I even got out once in a while. I remember seeing a mother out in public whose children looked well rested and dressed adorably only to find that the poor woman looked as though she hadn’t slept in a decade even though she was wearing pajamas that look as though she’d been wearing them for days. It wasn’t until I had a second child that I realized the cause for such confusion. Life with two (or more) – it’s all about the choices. You dress the kids or you dress yourself. Clearly, that mom I witnessed – she chose the kids.

My days have become very similar. In the mornings, I have time to put on makeup or to blow dry my hair. I can shave my legs or brush my teeth. I can stop for coffee after dropping the kids at daycare or I can be on time to work. I can make them dinner or I can make myself dinner (because god forbid we all eat the same thing for once). I can grab a snack or I can pour myself a glass of wine. You get the idea. At this very moment, I’m deciding between finishing this blog or picking up the baby who is beginning to fuss in the swing. And in this game of choices, most of the time, the children win.

The work is similar – bath times, bed times, bottles, diapers – but the amount of time per day that I have to get anything done seems to have been cut in half. It may be a while before I leave the house in which myself and both my children are fed, dressed, and well-rested. I probably won’t have an evening when both the laundry and the dishes are done at the same time. And I may never again have the time to paint my nails and pluck my eye brows in the same week. But when it comes down to it, and I look at my boys playing together on the floor, I have to say that so far, it’s totally worth it.

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Is there a sexy side to pregnancy?

Maybe it’s just me, but pregnancy is not one of those times in my life when I’ve felt my most attractive. I’m sure there are women (and men) out there who find pregnancy to be very natural and sexy, but for the most part, I feel…. frumpy. To me, there is nothing seductive about elastic waistband pants and shirts embellished with stretchy seams to accommodate my ever-growing belly.

I find maternity clothes (and all clothes, really) to be constraining and uncomfortable during pregnancy, which means I typically end up sporting my bathrobe or the baggiest sweatpants I can find the minute I get back from work each day. Since I arrive home about an hour before my husband, he usually finds me lounging in my comfiest clothing while cooking dinner by the time he pulls in from work around 6:00. The other night, for some strange reason, I happened to actually be wearing jeans and a cute sweater. He commented on how nice I looked – and it totally hit me that he probably hasn’t seen me in anything but elastic for at least a month.

There are plenty of other problems beyond the issue of finding cute and comfortable clothing to accommodate the 20 extra pounds of weight around my middle. It’s pretty difficult to paint your toe nails when you haven’t been able to reach your feet in weeks. I mean, just getting socks and shoes on in the morning while a tiny human kicks me in ribs is challenging enough. And attempting to shave my legs is like an acrobatic routine that I’d just rather not endure on a regular basis.

I’ve seen some women sharing maternity photos on social media of themselves dressed in nearly nothing – showing off their gorgeous figures and their precious pregnancy “glow.” Check out this photo Vanessa Lachey shared on Twitter during her pregnancy in 2012.

Vanessa Lachey - Photo courtesy of http://blog.thebump.com/2012/06/21/its-a-boy-for-vanessa-nick-lachey/

Vanessa Lachey – Photo courtesy of http://blog.thebump.com/2012/06/21/its-a-boy-for-vanessa-nick-lachey/

I’m all for attempting to embrace my changing shape, but it feels like the only glow I’m sporting these days is due to the beads of sweating forming on my face from lugging around baby weight while dealing with constant back pain. And speaking of back pain – it doesn’t get sexier than the maternity support belt. Strapping four pieces of fabric and Velcro over my expandable pants definitely makes me feel desirable. While I’d love to attempt some sensual preggo photos, I feel this type of photo more honestly captures my experience with pregnancy:

 Doesn't get more seductive than a support belt. Am I right?

Doesn’t get more seductive than a support belt. Am I right?

After all is said and done, I know I’m fortunate to be able to experience pregnancy and to be carrying a healthy baby. I know the nine months of lending my body to baby will be totally worth it when we reach the end. Not to mention, I also know the first few months post-partum is probably even less sexy than the pregnancy itself (picture leaking breast milk, constant pumping, spit-up covered clothing, etc). So for now, I’ll continue to sport my support belt underneath my stretchy shirts and pray to god I get my sexy back somewhere in the near future.

Top 5 Ways to Piss Off a Pregnant Lady

For a lot of women, pregnancy is a miraculous, joyful experience spent planning and preparing to welcome a tiny life into the world. Some women adore their growing baby bumps and revel in the attention that is sure to come their way by practically every stranger on the street. They read the breastfeeding books, attend all the baby care classes, and decorate beautiful nurseries all while sporting that gorgeous pregnancy glow. And then there are people like me – who are pretty much uncomfortable, awkward, and irritated for the majority of the nine months. I want to be one of those perfect pregnant ladies, but I can’t help but think that having another human inside my body is slightly strange and frankly, planning for a new baby is nothing short of seriously stressful in my book. Between trying not to pee my pants every time I sneeze and not being able to pour myself a glass of wine after a long ass day, I’m pretty much just annoyed the majority of the time.

And as if simply being pregnant isn’t challenging enough on its own, I’ve realized that the people around me are only adding to my annoyed attitude. So today, I want to share with you the five most annoying things that people say and do that only further piss off an already annoyed pregnant woman. Here goes.

belly

1.) People who comment on my growing belly. At least a handful of people this week have commented on the fact that my baby bump is growing noticeably bigger. Thanks for stating the obvious, people. I’m six months along….. so… yeah, I’d say it’d be a major problem if I wasn’t getting bigger. But seriously, it makes me feel really awkward when people say shit like, “Oh, your baby bump is getting bigger!!!” Whether you’re my co-worker, my OBGYN at my latest monthly appointment, or some random ass stranger, I’d rather you didn’t share your opinions on my massive midsection.

2.) Random people who rub my belly. The only thing worse than people mentioning my expanding waistline is people who feel the need to actually touch it. I’m not walking around rubbing people’s beer guts, so I’m not sure why you feel the need to pat my belly because I’m pregnant. Not appropriate.

3.) People who share their labor horror stories. Listen, ladies. Let’s all make a pact to stop sharing the disastrous delivery stories. First of all, I’ve been through labor once before and I survived, so I don’t need to know the dirty details of how your own personal delivery when down. And secondly, if you can’t help yourself from discussing your own experience, then just fucking lie to me and tell me it was amazing. Let’s keep it positive and talk about how amazing epidurals are rather than comparing how many hours we all spent suffering through contractions before the anesthesiologist showed up. Am I right??

4.) People who ask me how I’m feeling. I know, I’m being a bitch here – and I know you mean well when you ask how I’m feeling. But most of the time, people who ask this question don’t actually want to know the answer. They ask it because they think it’s the polite thing to do. But do you really want to know how I’m feeling?? I mean, I guess I could be honest and start telling the entire world that I’m exhausted, sweaty, sore, cramping, achy, huge, and nauseous. Other than that, I’m fucking great.

5.) People who ask if we are going to try for a girl. For god’s sake people, let me push out baby boy number two before you start asking if we are going to have baby number three. I’m not even 100% convinced I’m capable of handling two children, so the fact that people are already asking if we are going to have another one is laughable. And even if we have a third child, the answer is NO – we are not “trying” for a girl. We are going to thank our lucky stars that so far, we will never have to face dealing with an emotional, hormone driven, drama-filled teenage daughter.

So there you have it. And while I’m sure there are many other things that I could continually add to this list of shit people do to piss me off on a regular basis, I’m going to stop there for the moment. And please, if you know someone who is pregnant, escape adding to her daily annoyance levels by avoiding the items on this list.

Life with a “Threenager”

I read an article the other day called “10 Signs You are Living with a Threenager.” If you aren’t familiar with the term “threenager,” just picture an irrational, raging, unreasonable, infuriating teenager inside of a tiny three year old body. Yup. Writer Kristen Hewitt hit the nail right on the head with this one. And after reading her article, I am most definite that we are embarking on the threenage years. God help me.

When my son was about 18 months old, I feared the approaching, so-called terrible twos. He was always such a sweet baby, but he was showing signs of stubbornness and persistence even then. I thought for sure we were totally screwed. But to my surprise, my sweet baby turned two last February and became this awesome, hilarious toddler that had so many funny things to say, and for the most part, was pretty easy to handle. He was still young enough in which he loved me more than life itself but old enough for me to be able to take him to do some really cool stuff – we spent our summer together playing outside, swimming, riding bikes; we even took him to play mini golf for the first time. It was a pretty awesome time. And it was somewhere during these enjoyable months that I became bat shit crazy and had the bright idea that because my son was so cool, we should definitely have another child. (Slow head shake).

Fast forward several months later. Mommy is currently six months pregnant and Grey is about three weeks shy of three years old. And it’s happening. My lovable, happy-go-lucky boy has slowly turned into an independent, bossy, know-it-all, relentless threeanger.

Here’s the moment I realized that age three was most definitely going to be more challenging than age two. He woke up from his nap, like any other day, asking for juice. Fine. Totally normal, besides his slightly demanding tone. I poured the kid a cup of OJ and handed it to him, which was followed by full on, toddler-crazed tantruming, ear-splitting screaming, and some pretty impressive flailing around. I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor as I watched what was happening before my eyes. After several minutes of deciphering the high-pitched shrieks, I realized that apparently, I had chosen the wrong cup. That’s right – all this insanity over the wrong fucking cup. Let the games begin.

What’s amazing is that these episodes are often mere minutes of possessed preschooler behavior before he quickly returns to his typical, easy going self – which is sometimes even more terrifying than the actual tantrums.

And tonight was no exception. My happily playing three year old turned into a total banshee at the mere mention of bath time. I’m so mind blown by the castastrophe that occurred that I won’t even go into the details, but picture my three year old attempting to trash the shit out of my bathroom while I stripped him and quickly tossed him into the shower just long enough to soap him up and drag him out. The neighbors probably thought I was attempting to torture someone in my tiny bathroom. Seriously, I was just trying to wash the Play Doh out of his hair, god forbid. Somewhere during this outrageous episode, I told him he wasn’t allowed to watch a TV show before bedtime due to his insane behavior, which just further infuriated his tiny threenage soul. After saying that, I had to chuckle to myself. I had just grounded my kid for the first time and he’s literally three years old. I’m so screwed.

After several similar incidents over the past few weeks, I came across Kristen’s article and it hit me. This is it. Buckle up everyone. Not only are we entering the threeange years, but in just four short months, there will be a newborn in this house as well. Say a prayer for me.

Maternity Meltdown

A few weeks back, I set out on a mission to buy myself some maternity clothes. I’m finally giving in – my pants don’t zip, my belly band is too tight, and as my four year old Pre-K students so bluntly like to remind me, my “tummy is getting very big.”

On a normal day, most women would relish in the opportunity to head out on a shopping spree spending some money on themselves for whatever it is they might need (or want, simply) at that exact moment. For some women, shopping is a hobby and spending money is a practiced skill. Some women shop so much that they are forced to hide their habits from their husbands by stuffing their bags into the back of their closets and wearing new their purchases slowly so that their significant others don’t notice how much they actually spent in one trip.

So when my husband actually encouraged me to go spend some cash on myself a few weeks back, you’d think I’d be thrilled. Here’s the thing. If you’ve read my blog before, you might already know that I’m not a huge shopping fan in the first place. I try to avoid the mall for the most part and I hate the process of picking out new stuff, trying it on, and so on – UNLESS of course, I am at Target. I can walk into Target for a bag of dog food and literally leave after spending $250 on a slew of shit that I surely don’t need. But for the most part, shopping is on a need-to-only basis.

As if I don’t already dislike shopping enough, shopping for maternity clothes is last on my list of things I ever want to do (except for shopping for post-partum clothing – that definitely takes the cake for the shittiest task ever). For living in a decent sized city, you’ll be shocked to find out that there are really only a small selection of stores in the area that even carry maternity options. I was set on the fact that I needed a decent pair of jeans and a formal dress to wear to some upcoming events (two of the hardest things to find, even when you aren’t preggo).

I stopped into the local maternity store thinking it was a sure thing. I mean, it’s an entire store devoted to maternity clothing, right? The first thing I noticed is that the jeans section was almost completely bare. Where the hell were all the jeans? There were only a few different styles in the first place and the majority of the inventory looked picked over. There wasn’t one pair of jeans in my size. Fail #1.

At that point, I was slightly disappointed considering my currently ill-fitting, unzipped skinny jeans were cutting off the circulation in my legs. I was really looking forward to sporting some spandex around the waist. But I shrugged it off and moved on. I headed over to the “dress section,” or really, the six different dress options that the store carries. I swore I looked online before entering this shop and saw tons of super cute stuff – so why wasn’t any of that stocked in this location? I realized it didn’t even matter if I liked the dress or not. I had two weddings and a work event to attend and I needed something ASAP. I decided to just grab a bunch of stuff and starting trying it on. Unfortunately, out of the six dresses that might actually be formal enough for what I was going to, they only had three in my size. I put on the dresses one by one – too big in the belly, too big in the boobs, too short on legs. Fail #2.  Somewhere along the line, the saleswoman (who had been previously busy chatting with her friend on the phone) decided to attempt to help me, but it was too late. She should have known the minute I walked in door that as a hormonal, emotional, pregnant woman, I needed help well before this point. I was overwhelmed, disappointed, and in a full pregnancy-induced sweat. Thus, I walked out.

And where should every woman go when you’re feeling depressed and in need of some serious retail therapy? You guessed it – Target. Thankfully, I knew Target carried a line of maternity clothes (plus I could buy a bunch of other random crap while I was at it). I walked straight back to the maternity section only to find a similar situation. Very few style options, very limited variety of sizes. I spotted one item of clothing that somewhat resembled a dress and made my way over to it. As I got closer, I became more and more…. confused. Was it a dress? Was it a shirt? Was it supposed to be pajamas? What the fuck was this thing?!?! It was like a gray, cotton, three quarter length sleeved potato sack.

Unidentified item of clothing....... WTF is this thing?!?!?

Unidentified item of clothing……. WTF is this thing?!?!?

Sometime after the potato sack encounter, I began to have a full on maternity meltdown. I may have blacked out, wandered around Target for another half hour, and then sobbed into my steering wheel after a day filled with shopping failures.

Needless to say, it was a miserable day for finding any clothes. After going home, drinking several mocktails, pounding some chocolate, and sleeping off my meltdown, I did end up finding one pair of jeans in the very small section of designated maternity clothing at Old Navy. I can officially hang up my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans, until further notice (hopefully).

A win for Old Navy - jeans in my size with a nice, stretchy, elastic waistline.

A win for Old Navy – jeans in my size with a nice, stretchy, elastic waistline.

The moral of the story is this: In order to avoid any maternity store meltdowns, if you encounter any clothing resembling a potato sack while shopping for clothing, give up, go home, and shop online ladies. And hopefully, you have better luck than me!

5 Things that I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming a Parent

A few weeks ago, a friend suggested that I write a post sharing “what I wish I had known” before becoming a parent for all those people who read my blog that might not yet have children. It sounded like an awesome idea, but I have to admit that I struggled with it. In a nut shell, here’s what I wish I had known: EVERYTHING. Parenting is a seriously overwhelming undertaking and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what information would have helped. However, there are a few things that I wish I had better understood and here’s my attempt at trying to share that with you.

wish-even-clue-baby-ecard-someecards

1.) Parenting is Mentally Exhausting: It’s common knowledge that parenting is physically exhausting. I won’t even bother boring you with the lengthy details. Waking up with a newborn is the most tiring task you will ever endure. If you are as lucky as I am, then the exhaustion will continue right on into toddlerhood. I’ve had a few parents that tell me that their toddler sleeps until 10, and honestly, I want to punch them in the face. Unfortunately, my kid is an early riser. 6:00am is now considered sleeping late in our household. But just like everything else that comes along with parenting, you get used to the exhaustion. Your body adjusts. Being tired is just the norm.

But what I was really unprepared for is the mental exhaustion. Having a newborn requires being on high alert at all times. You are constantly checking on your child. You analyze every facial expression, every odd movement, even the color of their poop. When you finally get them to sleep, you’ll spend your time glued to the monitor, making sure you can hear them breathe. I thought this mental exhaustion would pass, but then my child became capable of moving and I was constantly chasing him and childproofing things and making sure he didn’t fall down the stairs or smash into the coffee table. Once he became more stable, I again thought this stage would pass, but then he learned to talk and he wants to converse with me about everything under the sun and ask me 4000 questions for the entirety of the day. Here I am, at this very moment, thinking AGAIN that the mental exhaustion will pass, but then I know at some point soon he’ll be in elementary school and I’ll spend my mental capacity organizing his sports schedule and forcing him to complete his homework every night. It’s probably safe to say that I will be mentally exhausted for a very long time. At least until he’s married, I’m sure.

2.) You Will Have No Idea What to Expect:  There’s really no efficient way to prepare for parenthood. And no, having a puppy is not at all like having a child. As a dog lover and owner, there’s a chance I uttered that phrase before I became a parent. It is true; a puppy may require you to get up now and again at night to let it outside to pee. However, a puppy won’t latch itself to your breast and suck the life out of you for 45 minutes at least three times a night. Additionally, you can’t just open the back door and let your newborn out into the yard to take a shit and then conveniently lock him in a crate while you head out to run a few quick errands.

You can enroll for all kinds of classes about how to care for a newborn, but that doesn’t entirely guarantee that you won’t put the diaper on backwards during the first mid-night change in the hospital. You can read 14 different breastfeeding books, but that doesn’t ensure that you will be able to breastfeed successfully for the minimum of 12 months, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. And you know what? That’s totally fine. Parenting is a learn-as-you-go kind of undertaking. And as unprepared as you feel, don’t worry. You’ll figure it out.

Similarly, I can’t say that having one child has prepared me in how the hell to handle having another one. I’m guessing that the transition from one child to two will be just as insane (if not more so) as welcoming the first child into our family. But like I said, I’m sure I have no fucking clue as to what it will really be like until we get there.

Come to think of it, it’s probably a good thing that we go into parenthood without really understanding what is about to go down. Otherwise, we might just be smart enough not to have children at all.

3.) Parenting Doesn’t Change You: When you hit a milestone birthday, like 21, 30, or 40, people always ask things like, “So how does it feel?” or “Do you feel older?” And the answer is this: “No, dumbass. I feel the exact same way that I felt yesterday.”

Similarly, I think a lot of people assume that becoming a parent will change you. Let me fill you in here. Just because you carried a baby around in your belly for 40 weeks doesn’t mean that in the exact moment your child enters the world, you become a more responsible, more knowledgeable, more capable person prepared for raising a baby. Surprisingly, you are the same clueless, naïve, inexperienced person you were the day prior to giving birth and it will take many months (or years) for you to actually feel like a parent. On the day we brought my son home from the hospital, my husband and I sat in the kitchen eating lunch like normal. Then, we laughed and laughed at the hilarious, weird fact that there was a newborn sleeping in the next room. And not just any newborn, OUR newborn.

In addition, just because you enter the world of parenting doesn’t mean that you ultimately want to give up your pre-baby hobbies, like drinking wine or getting your nails done (though you may do these things much less frequently). Depending on your personal interests, becoming a parent doesn’t mean that you can’t still be a marathon runner, or a career driven woman, or someone who enjoys some alone time now again. You don’t have to replace your monthly book club meetings with mommy and me classes or your weekly date night with your husband for catching up on laundry and a good night’s sleep. You will still be the same person with the same hobbies and interests as you had before you had a child. It’s totally acceptable to still make time for those things (and very healthy, too) and you don’t have to feel guilty about that.

4.) It Doesn’t Get Easier: Every time I see a new mother struggling, I immediately feel the natural need to try to comfort her by assuring her that in time, it will get easier. However, I have to stop myself. The truth of the matter is this: it doesn’t actually get easier, ladies. But don’t get discouraged. Let me explain.

Every stage has its challenges and its perks. Having a newborn is a total pain in the ass because you’re up all night and the breastfeeding can be really tough. Then again, newborns are pretty portable since they will pretty much sleep wherever for long stretches of time. Now that my son is two, it’s so much easier because he’s a little bit more self-sufficient, but at the same time he is sassy and stubborn and energetic almost to a fault. I’m sure that when he’s a teenager, it will be so nice to have finally passed the needy newborn thing, but I bet waiting up all night praying to God that he’ll make his curfew without crashing his car will be super stressful. So here’s the deal. It doesn’t get easier, but you get better at it. You get better at managing the chaos and anticipating the challenges. You get better at staying organized and being prepared. You learn to stay patient and to handle your anxiety. Parenting is a lifelong process and it will always be challenging, but just like all the other parents in the world, we will be just fine. With that, I’m going to go refill my wine glass before I continue on here.

5.) It Doesn’t Always Come Naturally to Mothers: Many people assume that women are born with a natural maternal instinct that immediately kicks in as soon as they become pregnant. One person actually told me that women become mothers when they get pregnant and men become fathers when they meet their baby. Here’s a more realistic version of that statement: A woman becomes a mother when the baby is born because she doesn’t have a choice and she is the only person who can provide breast milk at 2:00am. A man becomes a father when his wife finally threatens to divorce him unless he starts helping with the baby.

Additionally, they say that women begin nesting even before the baby is born because of this natural motherly instinct. The truth is that not all pregnant women want to take on the task of researching and registering for 4000 baby items and washing bins of baby clothes, but that shit has to get done before the baby is born and someone has to do it. It doesn’t automatically mean that she is more prepared or more “ready” than her husband.

On the same topic, I’ve heard a lot of people talking about the instant motherly bond during that skin to skin contact right after the birth of a baby. I only know my own experience and I’m hoping you won’t judge me for this, but I’m not exactly sure I felt that “instant” connection. Here are the honest thoughts that went through my head immediately after giving birth and they occurred in this exact order: “I’m so thankful my son is here and healthy. It feels SO amazing to have that weight of a massive baby out of my body. I AM VERY HUNGRY.” I didn’t cry tears of joy or feel like I had become a mother instantaneously. And you know what? I think that’s perfectly fine. Maybe it took me a few weeks (or months….) to settle in to my new role, but I don’t feel guilty about that. I think it’s normal and honest to need some time to adjust. In my experience, it turns out that parenting was not a “just add water” kind of concoction and that’s totally acceptable.

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All in all, there’s nothing that I (or anyone else) can say that will prepare you for parenthood. Plus, everyone’s experience is totally different. I’m kind of an anxious, frazzled hot mess in general so taking on motherhood has been an adjustment for me. But trust me ladies, if I can do it, you can do it. And in the mean time, after our babies are born, we can drink as much wine as we need. Thank God for that, right?

What You Wish You Had Packed In Your Hospital Bag

Six weeks before Greyson was born, I began packing hospital bag. I admit, it was a little early. Maybe it was the crazy-pregnant-lady-nesting that urged me to get packing more than a month before my due date.  Then again, maybe it was just wishful thinking that the kid was going to come sooner rather than later.

As I grabbed my hospital bag, I sat in my room, unsure of what the hell to pack. I was sure I had about 400 pregnancy books somewhere in my house that would put me on track – if only I could have found those books underneath the mountain of baby gear and crib assembly instructions and breastfeeding supplies and so on….

I remember Googling a few articles for advice and while some of the things on the list were helpful, some suggestions were just downright ridiculous. One article actually proposed bringing a basket of goodies for the hospital staff. Umm, really? Is that expected? Don’t get me wrong – I was thankful for the great care I was going to receive. However, I could barely find the time to do anything except work, sleep, and pee; The thought of whipping up some damn homemade cookies was less than realistic.

As shocked as you may be, I decided NOT to bring any home baked desserts for the staff. And even after all my planning and research, I did end up sending my husband home to pick up some things that weren’t on any hospital packing list that I had come across.

So today, I am going to save you some time and get straight to point about what you will really wish you had packed when you finally reach that much anticipated hospital stay.

The Essentials:

  • Pads – Yup. This is the very first thing on my list. Unless you want to use a maxi pad circa 1960 that feels pretty much like sticking a brick in your undies, then I suggest bringing your own pads (and buy extra long, with wings).
  • Large Undies – While some women apparently rave about the hospital provided “mesh underwear,” I have to admit that I hated them. Before delivery, I bought a pack of large, comfortable granny panties that I didn’t care about ruining and used those in the weeks after giving birth. I really wanted to include a picture of the mesh underwear, but I don’t want to scare you….
  • Ziploc Bags – The hospital that I stayed in ripped open the side of a newborn diaper and stuffed it with ice for me to sit on. Between the large brick-like pad, the mesh undies, and the ice-stuffed diaper, I was a hot mess. Next time, I will bring some Ziploc bags for make a proper ice pack.
  • Toiletries – I am definitely one of those people that hate going 24 hours without a shower (and sadly, motherhood sometimes puts a damper on that). I brought travel sized toiletries with me to the hospital. After two days of labor and delivery, I was finally free from IVs and monitors. And in case you didn’t already know this, having a baby is….well…messy. I was very thankful for a long, toasty hot shower.
  • Shower Towel – While we are on the topic of showering, the washcloth-sized towels provided by the hospital didn’t stand a chance in covering my 24 hour post partum body, so my lovely hubby went home and brought me back a normal sized towel (and flip flops so I didn’t have to face the hospital shower barefoot – what a good man).
  • Slippers – If you aren’t into rocking the halls in the socks with grips that the hospital will gladly give you, then toss your own comfy slippers in your bag.
  • Wipes – Unbeknownst to me, wipes are not recommended for newborns and are generally not provided by hospitals. (I know – you’re as shocked as I was). However, I’ve never cleaned a baby’s ass without wipes, so we brought our own. Look at that – I was a rebellious mother from the beginning.
  • An Old Robe – I packed a bunch of clothes for myself, but honestly, I spent the majority of my stay in my hospital gown and an old bathrobe. Whatever you decide to bring, just make sure you bring items that you don’t mind staining (yeah, sorry to be gross). Also, make sure you bring maternity clothing. Shockingly, you will still look just about as pregnant as you did around 5-6 months along. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, ladies.
  • iPod or Playlist – For me, this was the most important item on my list. I chose to listen to my favorite artist on Pandora, Amos Lee, while laboring. I had been listening this all throughout my pregnancy and it really helped me to stay (somewhat) calm throughout the delivery process.
  • Chapstick – If you are planning on doing all of the “heeee-heeee-whoooo” breathing, then you are going to need some serious Chapstick.
  • Headbands – Make sure to have several headbands and hair ties available. You are going to want your sweaty hair out of your face when you are pushing out that baby.
  • Baby Book – This sounds totally random, but the hospital asked if I had a baby book that I wanted them to stamp my son’s footprint in. I felt like a total slacker mom.  Obviously, it’s not essential, but if you want the hospital to do this for you, plan on bringing the baby book along.
  • Breastfeeding Supplies – If you are going to attempt to breastfeed, plan on packing some comfy nursing bras, breast pads, and nipple cream. You may even want to bring along a breastfeeding book for help. Our hospital had a lactation consultant available, but she wasn’t able to meet with us until our last day in the hospital. How convenient.
  • FOOD – This is BY FAR the most important thing on this list. If you didn’t already know this, they won’t let you eat once you are in labor. Let’s just say it was a LONG few days for me. I’m not even kidding, I called my best friend and she picked up a pizza for me immediately after my son was born. I was literally starving. I might have cradled that pizza in my arms before I even held my child. Plus, hospital food is horrendous. Plan to have someone drop off some sandwiches or have hubby run out to pick up some take out.
These are the hospital-provided non-slip socks. So yeah, pack your own socks and slippers....

These are the hospital-provided non-slip socks. So yeah, pack your own socks and slippers….

The Obvious Things:

  • Electronics – Don’t forget your phone, your iPad, or your camera plus any chargers you may need for your electronics.
  • Clothes for Baby – I let our son stay in the hospital provided clothing because it was simple and easy. We did bring one cute outfit because the hospital offered newborn photos, which by the way were pretty awful and expensive. We chose a really simple outfit to bring him home in, mostly because we had no idea how to dress a newborn.
  • Installed Carseat – If this item needs any explanation, you’re screwed.
  • Paperwork – Make sure to have your insurance information and your ID on you. Some hospitals will let you fill out paperwork a few weeks before your due date so that you don’t have to worry about it when you’re actually in labor. Very helpful.

Things You Won’t Need:

  • Diapers – The hospital will provide the essentials, like diapers. I tried to stash as many in my bag on our way out of the hospital as possible. Diapers are expensive, if you weren’t aware.
  • Diaper Bag – The hospital will probably have anything that you’d be packing in a diaper bag and most likely, you’ll be heading straight home so don’t worry too much about a diaper bag.
  • A Bathing Suit – One person told me to pack a bathing suit in case I wanted to sit in the birthing tub. Honestly, by the time I got to that point, I didn’t give a shit that I was sitting in a tub practically naked in a room full of people, as long as it meant that I was comfortable for a few minutes before my epidural.
  • A Birth Plan – I’m against the birth plan. I totally promote being informed about your options, but your little one will probably have their own plan in mind. Try to be as flexible as possible and remember that the only thing that matters is a healthy mom and baby.

Things to Have Ready at Home:

  • Advil – Lots of Advil.
  • Infant Ibuprofen – If you are having a boy and he will be circumcised, you will probably want some Infant Ibuprofen handy.
  • Stool Softeners – A reader suggested that I add this to the list and I totally agree. I was popping Colace like candy after my son was born.
  • Pads – I’m serious about the pads. Just buy a shit ton. They won’t go to waste.
  • Vasoline – Again, if you baby boy is being circumcised, your doctor may recommend applying some Vasoline onto the diaper for a few days to be sure it won’t stick to his wound.
  • Pacifiers – I swore I wasn’t going to use a pacifier, but I SWEAR, it got my through my first night at home. Luckily, my son only stuck to it for a few weeks before losing interest.
  • Food – Stock your freezer! You aren’t going to want to cook for a few days (or for a long time).

There you have it – the hospital bag essentials, with everything from pads to pizza. Like anything in parenting, you can prepare as much as possible but you won’t know what to expect until you’ve been through it. So good luck, keep breathing, and don’t forget your Chapstick!

Have a suggestion for an addition to the list??? Leave it in the comments below!