So I've officially waddled into the third trimester and am now 28 weeks pregnant.
Little 'Baby A' is happily kicking and summersaulting and people are beginning to look shocked she's not due tomorrow (or yesterday). I'm also getting asked a lot if I'm sure she's not twins.
But I'm as sure as three scans and a NIPT blood test can make me. It's just she's my fourth and I have no tummy muscles left. (Or, as Beloved informed me in tones of interest, 'yeah I think I can see where the muscles have separated. You know, I think you might get a hernia later.' Noticing my look of distress: 'But if you end up getting a caesarean they won't have to rip the muscles apart now.'
I did not previously know tummy muscles were 'ripped apart.'
But, onto more cheery subjects.
I lurve packing my hospital bags and I have now given myself leave to officially start full on preparations for it. I won't actually you know, pack them until week 32, but I'll spend the next month fine tuning my list. My. Fav. Past-time.
I have literally been counting down to this moment since the positive test. Possibly before.
Going to hospital is the next best thing to getting on a plane (I am one of the few people I know who really appreciate hospital and plane food.)
And I've heard people say the hospital at night is so noisy they can't sleep but it's a heap more relaxing than being at home. 'Mummy, can you come with me to the toilet? I don't want the zombies to get me', 'Mummy, can I get into your bed?' 'Ooops. I've wet the bed.' 'Alright, let's all get changed and re-make that shall we.' 'Woof. Hey Human, there are things out there that need my urgent attention. Get to it. Oh? You delayed 30 seconds. I'll just flood the living room.' 'Mummy, I'm scared. I just had a nightmare.' 'Milk mummy? Please? Milk? Mummy?' Lights through window - front door opening. Husband home from night shift. Long debrief. 'Woof. Woof. Woof. I have found an intruder. Woof. Woof Woof. It has feathers and clear designs on our lives and property. Woof. Woof. Woof.'Get out of bed to call recalcitrant dog in. Five minutes later. Alarm goes. Stumble from bed feeling oddly unrested to start preparing lunches the kids won't eat. So yes. I think hospitals are beautifully quiet and relaxing places and the odd code call just adds to the ambience. I look forward to going with all the excitement I expect other people look forward to going to five star spa resorts.
There are a heap of hospital bag lists on the internet (my favourite are on pinterest, as they come with cute little photos, generally colour co-ordinated) but here are the things I have discovered through trial and (painful) error that I find crucial to have in my hospital bags. (And yes, I pack three largish bags. This is an EVENT. And you don't get to do repeats. Well, not that often.)
Face Spray - something refreshing like rose geranium. I've trialled a few as some of the scents are very washed out and I like something with oomph to it that really brings the outdoors in and gives me a bit of a boost when things get intense. Trilogy, Perfect Potion, Jurlique and a rose one my mum buys on line all work for me. (These are also great as a pick-me-up in the first sleepless weeks.)
Play Lists: I organise two - one of slow relaxing music for the time between contractions and the lead up, when I want to concentrate on resting and saving energy and a fast one for when the contractions hit and I need something to help stamp it out. I'm going to trial wireless headphones this time around after a few too many comments about music choices, although if I'm lucky enough to get bath/pool time I'll go back to laptop and speakers.
Chargers: For computers, cameras & phones. Also back up camera cards. This Stuff is crucial. Also check with the hospital their policy about plugging stuff in. Some hospitals have odd rules and you need to make sure you have a way to charge stuff properly or have everything fully charged when you head in.
Food: This is important. Barley sugar is recommended but I find that if you're in labour for awhile it all just becomes too sweet. With this one I want to bring in watermelon chunks, grapes and cherries. Because hey, cherries. It's always a good time for cherries and if there's ever a good time to splurge it's during labor. I'm also thinking I might go for some flavoured milks for a bit of an easy boost. I'm hoping this birth falls nicely within the 2-8 hours of active hospital labour, but you never know.
Partners are required to stay close and have their hands crushed, necks used as birth supports etc so can't really be sent on missions. Food for partner. See point above. Partners will prob. not be allowed to leave room in search of food so might become hungry/ravenous after the first 8 or so hours. By 24 hours without food they wilt a bit and fainting becomes a hazard.
Shower Cap: Being in water works for me. Different things work for different people but being in the bath makes such a difference - the shower is a second best. But... birth is a momentous occasion and I tend to celebrate momentous occasions with a haircut and blow wave. (Those of us who only get our hair cut once or twice a year tend to want to make the 'hairdresser look' last as long as possible - three days is about as long as I can go before I have to wash it) A hair cut is also something to do that just involves sitting in the Long Wait if bebe happens to be late. (All three of mine.) And it seems a shame to ruin newly straightened hair in the shower or bath so a shower cap is a good idea. Of course - once labor is actually happening my hair isn't something I'm thinking about a lot... but still, it's good to have the option.
Instructions: It can be hard to talk in the later stages so it's a good idea to have gone over all possible scenarios - if you have strong preferences about anything make sure you've talked them over with your birth partner and the hospital have a written copy. My birth plan has shrunk from two tightly written pages (cringe) with my first to four main points for the fourth... But I will be very sure Beloved knows (as in, can repeat back and possibly has signed off in blood) the important points so if I can't talk he can talk for me.
Photo Instructions: This sounds a bit dippy but giving clear instructions about photos is important to me. Also the angles. Those first moments aren't ever coming back so I really want photos of my little one in those first new-to-the-world-moments - and not upside down. Also clear instructions as to when photos can be put on social media. (Not until I've vetoed them.) With baby no 1. photos ended up on facebook where I literally looked like the walking dead and it worried folk.
Hair Ties: Hair can be a pain - extra hair ties to keep it out of your face are essential. (Yep. I've forgotten them before and it was a pain.)
Vaesline/Lip Balm: It can all go on a long time and the last thing you want is cracked lips. Plain vaseline is one of the few that don't end up getting me into a vicious cycle of dry lips.
My Stay Bag
- wallet with medicare card, bank card, money, baby record etc. The hospital are looking after my baby record as I lose/forget everything. I first suspected I was pregnant when I stood in the supermarket with a full trolley of shopping and no idea of the pin I'd used every day for the last six months...
- 3 breastfeeding friendly nighties/ pairs jammies (this is a great excuse to buy new jammies.)
- 3 pairs comfy lounge/tracky pants
-3 comfy breastfeeding friendly tops
- a few cardigans
-flip-flops for shower room
-something with a loose waist to come home in
- maternity pads. More than you imagine it's possible to need. With no. 1 baby I was going through 2 pads in an hour and had to call for emergency supplies... Of course no.s 2 and 3 were way more civilised but it's not something you want to mess around with...
- largish undies - a gazillion pairs that can happily be thrown away
-bath bag with everything. I've forgotten tweezers before and there's few things more distressing than a random chin hair you can do nothing about, and it's not like the hospital cafe will sell them. Partners may not realise the crucial importance of tweezers if asked to bring them in (or be able to find them - male blindness is a thing.) Same goes for razors. If you're in the hospital awhile who wants to put up with scratchy legs?
-Smelly stuff - I like to splurge a little on shampoos and soaps (so not our normal two dollar stuff!) With no. 1 baby I'd read that the baby bonds better and finds the milk better if you smell 'natural', but I'm going to put it out there that if your present 'natural' smell is sweat and blood, you will feel better and more rested if you have your fav pick-me-up shower things/moisturisers and so far my babies have agreed.
-makeup - not something I normally wear, but odds are you won't be looking your best and it's amazing the pick-me-up a bit of lippy can be.
- laptop for getting in touch with folk, writing stuff down before you forget, watching movies etc. You might want to think about a dongle for internet access.
-notebook & pens (you know, the fancy ones to record intimate details of babys most amazingness, because momentous and you'll forget so much and never get it back.
-book(s) I tend to save a new release I've been waiting on for awhile. This time I'm lining up the fourth book in Sarah J. Maas's assassin series - if I can wait the month between it coming out and bebe (hopefully) arriving. These books have been complete lifesavers in the past.
-ipad (with more books to read. Be sure to download all the required books before you get to the hospital in case the internet is dodgy.)
- presents for the other kids. Probably a baby doll for the youngest with baby carrier etc, and please-don't-destroy-the-hospital packs for the older two
Cooler bag of snacks - I'm thinking all the soft cheeses I won't have been able to eat for the last nine months. Goats cheese. Brie. Camembert. I asked my beloved to bring me some when I was in hospital with baby no. 2 - and he turned up with all the hard cheeses I don't like and when I queried him said 'but you don't eat soft cheeses.' Uh-huh. This time I'll keep them in the fridge ready to go in with me. Obviously crackers and maybe quince paste to go with them. I'm also thinking panacotta and banana toffee desserts from the dairy section of the supermarket. As I said, I actually like hospital food, but this is because a. If you have the baby just after dinner and you haven't eaten a proper meal in say twenty four hours - you get a mite hungry and breakfast seems a looong way away.
and b. I'm also traumatised from my first birth when yes, baby came in the middle of the night, I'd eaten nothing for the previous twenty four hours, lost a few litres of blood and was feeling a little hungry (ie. I was ready to eat the next nurse that came to check on me) breakfast came to the other women in the room, but not to me. I did notice a trolley of food over by the ward door but while I was summoning strength to ask someone if this could be mine (a bit woozy due to lack of sleep, lack of blood, lack of food) another woman's hoard of kids came in and devoured the lot while I sat blinking in a dazed sort of way thinking 'surely they wouldn't eat someone else's food' 'that can't be my food, can it?'
Now, it might not have been my food tray, as it would obviously have been crazy to put the food of someone attached to a catheter and drip and who could barely sit up let alone walk, on the far side of the room, but there was no other food coming. Finally, when I was about gnawing on my own arm, I asked a nurse for something to eat, but they just gave me The Look and said breakfast was over and it wasn't their deal, and I couldn't phone Beloved as he also hadn't slept for 36 hours (poss. 48 as he'd been up the night before it all started playing WOW) and I'd been petrified enough about the thought of him driving home the night before.
It was a looooong, looong time until lunch.
So yes. traumatised.*
- Packet of dates. And prunes. Because. Well fibre. And mmm. That first trip to the loo can be rather unpleasant.
-heat pack (if hospital will warm them up - some don't like to) I find with each baby the after pains are a little worse so a heat pack for them. A lavender scented one is nice.
And the funnest one... Baby Bag
-6 little grow suits. Just in case of an extended stay. I used to take a mix of 000 and 0000 but I've accepted now that my babies are big. They go straight into the 000 and, lets be honest, it's better if the growsuits are a little big rather than two small and only getting to wear them for half an hour. The more simple and mainstream the better. I've brought in growsuits that in theory looked very easy to change, but were not what the nurses were used to and they got confused.
- little fluffy socks. I adore little fluffy socks. The fluffier the better. Cuteness overload. So a few more pairs than can be thought to be needed. I'm having a Queensland baby in October, so I don't want to cook my little one, but while she's newborn will prob. be her last chance of socks for another nine months, so I'll enjoy them while I can.
-a few singlets. I rarely actually put my little ones in singlets, (little merino thermals yes, singlets no) but I like to look like I'm the type of mum that does, so I do pack some for the hospital.
- nappies and wipes. At my last stay, the hospital preferred it if I used their nappies, as they had little lines on them to say if they were wet or not and the monitoring of baby's pee is very important, but in case this hospital is different - nappies and wipes.
- nappy covers. Because explosion. And meconium explosion. Aoiua.
- 4 woollen cardigans. Is there anything cuter than an itsy-bitsy little woollen cardigan? Big sigh. Church fetes are great for these, but check it's real wool not polyester.
- 3 muslim wraps/swaddles. My little ones don't get swaddled at home - none of them have needed it and have slept fine without, but I've noticed nurses/midwives like to swaddle babies so I bring some in for them. And lots of babies do love to be swaddled. (Although I think recent research is not to swaddle the arms once they reach rolling around stage)
- 3 woollen blankets
- I pair of mittens - in case they start scratching their face - although I really love the grow-suits with little sleeve turnover mittens
- coconut oil in case baby is a little bit dry and flaky)
- some terry towelling nappies - to put under baby's head if they're possetting, put over my shoulder for burping etc.
-little beanie there are contrary views on babies and hat wearing (particularly in warm places like Queensland) but as with the socks, this could be my only chance, and while they're incy-wincy newborns in the hospital is probably the safest time.
*Also, my last hospital stay was with Giggle-Bear when she got bronchiolitis and we were in for three days, and it was wonderful that they let me stay with her, but I hadn't been expecting us to stay so I hadn't brought food or even money, and of course they don't feed the mothers' of patients, so it was something like 24 hours later before I actually got food, and expressing every two hours, night and day, without food, makes one a tad hungry. Of course, it was still the most rest I'd got since she'd been born, as I got to stay in bed the whole time (albeit mostly attached to a milking machine) and my eye actually stopped twitching, but I do have issues with hospitals and Starvation.