Friday, September 12, 2014

Packing for the Hospital: What's In My Bag?

As of Saturday, I'll be 34 weeks pregnant. Meaning in have six-ish weeks until this little nugget makes his or her arrival. Woosh.

If you don't know by now, I'm an avid over-preparer...I think it's a Taurus thing. I need to feel prepared and I like to feel in control. List making, packing, planning...I love it all. So naturally, packing my hospital bag was a necessary moment to give me some control in what is going to be an event that I am not in control of...because going into labor is all up to the nugget. 

Everyone has their own preferences as to what they put in their hospital bag and you'll likely hear different things from different people. But for those who are curious and/or want a list that's easy (or so I think) and a little bit fabulous (you'll understand at the end of this), here's what you'll find in my pretty Vera Bradley duffle :) (oh, if you didn't know this either: I'm addicted to Vera).

Toiletries and Makeup
I scored my toiletries bag in one of those $2 grab bags at Michaels last year. It was kind of an awesome score. My makeup bag (with the V on it) is actually from and is from my wedding! It matched the bags I gave my bridesmaids. The little brush bag is from MAC.
In with my toiletries you'll find:
-Toothbrushes for hubby and I, and a tube of toothpaste
-Face wash (I like Saint Ives grapefruit's salycilic acid-free, so it's pregnancy and nursing safe)
-Shampoo and conditioner (I've packed the Neil George samples I scored in my latest Birchbox. They smell great and are just the perfect size)
-Bodywash (I grabbed a really yummy smelling bottle of Suave from the commissary!)
-Travel-sized lotion
-Chapstick (a labor MUST for me!)
-Nursing pads (just in case I'll need them and the hospital can't provide them)
-Hair ties and bobby pins
-Contact lens case (in a cute little Vera case, of course) 
-Contact lens solution
-Neutogena face wipes
-A hairbrush 

I've also packed a couple of my own towels, so I don't have to use the non-fluffy hospital towels when I shower. Oh! And once they arrive, I'll be adding a few Earth Mama Angel Baby goodies to my bag as well :)

Before you judge my makeup case...let me make my case (see what I did there?! Ha!). I looked like absolute hell when Conner was born. I was exhausted, swollen from heavy antibiotics, woozy from my surgery and hungry from not having eaten for over 18 hours. It wasn't pretty. The pictures I'm in from the hospital make me sad and I hate them and the only people who've seen them are myself and Derek. This time around I decided to pack a small bag of makeup so that I could freshen up at some point if I want to...and hopefully not hate the pictures of myself and my new nugget. In my makeup bag you'll find:
-Tinted moisturizer (Aveeno Positively Radiant)
-Benefit Hula bronzer
-Clinique powder blush
-L'oreal Voluminous mascara
-Urban Decay's Naked Basics palette
-A few clean makeup brushes (in the purple MAC bag)

What else will you find in my hospital bag?
Clothing etc.

I pack relatively lightly (well, for me it's light haha) when it comes to clothing for the hospital. I've got:
-Underwear I don't care about. (Actually, it's a few pairs of maternity underwear. I learned with my C-section that maternity underpants are the most comfortable because they fit a bulky pad well and sit well below my incision. I've got a few pairs packed this time, too, whether I rock a VBAC or a CBAC)
-A nursing bra. (From Motherhood Maternity. My milk didn't come in until after I went home from the hospital with Conner, so I pack a bra close to the size I'm currently wearing)
-Nursing tanks (I like the Gillian & O'Malley tanks from Target)
-A light cotton robe and nightgown that will be easy to nurse in (again, I bought a nice little Gillian & O'Malley set from Target)
-A nursing cover...I learned quickly with Conner that being a Military family, we had a lot of uniformed, male visitors at the hospital. Leadership from my husband's unit visit new babies in the hospital and for my own comfort, I packed a nursing cover in case a visitor pops in during a feeding.
-Shower shoes
-A going home yoga pants and a cotton sweatshirt-ish top

And the most fabulous part of my bag?

Yep. I'm packing ruby red slippers. RAD.

On the way out the door I'll grab a small bag that I'm adding my affirmations book and some snacks to, and will toss in my iPad, charger, glasses as well. And you'll probably find me scrutinizing my hospital bag until the day I take it with me...because that's what I do :)

In another post I'll talk about what I'm packing for baby, since that's a separate Vera bag...

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Getting Personal: My Journey to VBAC

I'm 32 weeks and 3 days pregnant today. I'm getting closer and closer to baby's arrival and I couldn't be more excited. But as I get closer, emotions are rising for me as I reflect back on Conner's birth and visualize what I hope for with this baby's birth.

Conner was born via emergency c-section on November 6, 2011. To make a long story short, I developed an infection during my labor and after hours of being on oxygen and antibiotics, it was no longer safe for Conner or myself to continue the laboring process. I can honestly say that my C-section was truly necessary. I have no regrets or what-ifs about it. I wasn't treated poorly in labor...I wasn't bullied, like so many women can be. I was treated well by my entire care team and spoken to honestly when my surgery became an emergent need. And throughout my surgery I never felt alone or mishandled.

But even so, while I know my experience could have been so much worse, it was still a devastating blow to me, and I am very open about that. Feeling like my body had failed me was a hard thing to get past, especially because my failing body had landed my newborn in the NICU for several days with an iv in his tiny arm and heart monitors on his chest. I often reflect back to the moment I was taken to recovery. Alone, besides a nurse who came to "massage" my belly every 15 minutes, my first view of my son was a picture being sent to my phone by my husband from the NICU. I bawled at the sight of it. He was beautiful. But it would be four long hours before I could look into his beautiful eyes, kiss his sweet cheeks and finally hold the little person I had gone through so much to meet. I grieved the lost experience of my just born baby being placed on my chest...I yearned for the skin-on-skin time we couldn't have because of his wonky heart rate...and I envied my husband, who went with Conner immediately to the NICU and made happy phone calls and texts to family and friends that our boy had arrived.

Almost three years later, I have no shame in admitting that it's still hard to process. And while I am so grateful that Conner is healthy and was born safely, my emotions about his birth are still very raw and very real. 

I have found a lot of solace in connecting with other c-section moms, ICAN, a VBAC support group and other caring, kind parenting groups. It's been quite empowering and healing. And as the days go by and I come closer to birthing another beautiful baby, I've been able to break from the jealousy I've experienced when my friends would talk about their own wonderful births and focus on the experience I want to have.

A VBAC to me isn't necessarily a second chance. I'm not looking to replace my C-section experience or discount it. It's made me stronger, it's taught me to allow myself to feel things when I just need to feel them...and it's given me the privilege to open the door and speak honestly about my emotions with it. And I think opening the door and allowing women and mothers to talk about it is SO important.

But what a VBAC does mean to me is the chance to heal a bit. It's the chance to know that my body isn't broken and a reminder that neither is my spirit. It's the opportunity to experience something new and hopefully wonderful, and the chance to be an even bigger cheerleader for other VBAC hopeful mommas in the future.

I'm trying hard to focus my emotional energy on positive thoughts...picturing myself pushing my baby out, breathing a sigh of relief when I hear a sweet cry and looking into the eyes of a just born babe laying on my chest. I'm reading positive affirmations and finding strength in hearing other VBAC success stories. I'm fighting to keep myself in the light, beautiful space of what a VBAC can be for me...and out of the dark fears of a repeat C-section.

I don't know what the stars have lined up for me...I'll roll with the punches of life as they come, because what's else can you do? But I'm hoping so much to end my journey with a sigh of relief and a great big "I DID IT!"

So here's to it.