Labor Pains: I Packed My Hospital Bag As If I’d Be Spending Weeks At A Five-Star Resort

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I’m not sure what’s worse: Packing your child up for her first day of school after Labor Day or packing up your bag for labor. Since I had a planned c-section, I had a lot of time to pack for my daughter’s birth. She was born almost eight years ago and all trips and vacations I’ve taken since, I can genuinely say I’ve packed lighter for the two of us than I did for those two days in the hospital.

Yeah, I remember packing Ann-Marie MacDonald’s The Way The Crow Flies, which, no kidding is, more than 800 pages long. What the heck had I been thinking? That I could somehow start, get into, let alone finish an 832-page novel around having a baby? I seriously didn’t know. No one really told me what to bring to the hospital. Sure, I had a list that I kept losing. And that list, like buying school supplies from the list of the school supplies, I found confusing, to say the least. (Number 7 pencils? What kind of markers exactly? Do they even still sell Bristol board anymore?)

The list of what to bring to the hospital had me angst-ridden. First, I needed pads. No one told me why I needed pads and I really didn’t know why I would since I was getting a c-section. But mostly since I hadn’t used a pad since I was 16 years old, I was more than flummoxed when it came to knowing what kind or type of pads to buy. So, of course, because I didn’t want to screw up my labor day packing, I bought practically ever size, shape and brand of pad on the market. I bought extra long, super sleek, super size, wrap around….

Eight years later, I still have three packages of pads from that hospital stay. In fact, I recently gave one to my boyfriend’s daughter, who may or may not be starting or period soon. (I don’t think they have expiration dates, do they?) But with buying pads, I also needed underwear. The underwear I had back then, all thongs, would not work for the pads and so I also had to go underwear shopping. The truth is, I hadn’t gone underwear shopping for years (I rarely, if ever, wear underwear.) Living in a new city, I had no idea even where to buy underwear. So my fiancé and I hit a department store, where I looked over underwear that would go with my pads, underwear I wanted to be comfortable, but also inexpensive, because I knew that I would never use the underwear again.

Again, I bought 18 pairs of underwear, all of which I also packed in my hospital bag, along with the cartons of pads, because I had no clue what to expect after my daughter came into the world. Along with the huge novel, and enough pads to hand out to an entire all-girls high school, and underwear to last me four years, I also packed a large-size bottle of shampoo, conditioner, a bar of soap, toiletries as if I were going away for vacation for a week, and enough “comfortable” clothes to last me through a winter season in Canada.

I brought slippers and two robes and numerous pajamas (which I never got into) and sweat suits. And that was just for me! For my new daughter, I also had a freak out over what to pack. We had a “leaving the hospital” outfit from one set of grandparents and another “leaving the hospital” outfit my mother had knit. We had enough onsies, newborn diapers, soothers, bibs, wipes, cloths and blankets to last us months.

We just didn’t know. It is easy to screw up, as easy as it is now when I have to get my daughter ready for her first day at school. I over pack her pencil case, because last year – as stated – I bought her a ruler, but that ruler didn’t turn out to be long enough. So now I buy her three rulers, because I don’t want to be the one mother who doesn’t seem to be able to buy the right school supplies.

When my fiancé saw the packed hospital bag, he told me that I wasn’t going on vacation. He nearly threw out his back when he picked up the massive duffle bag that looked like I was going away for overnight camp for a month. But he didn’t really complain, because he was as clueless as I was. I remember walking into the hospital and asking directions for where we to go and whispering to him, “I think they’re laughing at how much we brought.” But, better safe than sorry, right?

And, yes, aside from the few diapers and swaddle blankets and a pair or two of underwear, I didn’t use much. The book was never opened, as with the shampoo and conditioner. It was never even taken out of the bag, along with most of the stuff I packed. Even after we got home, my hospital bag remained at the door of our then condo, unpacked, for more than a year.

Eight years later, I have yet to read The Way The Crow Flies. I have more pressing things to do, like buying my daughter the right markers.