Packing a Hospital Bag – for the Dad

There are countless posts on what Mom’s should pack in their hospital bag, so I won’t repeat any of those lists. I DO however want to focus on the Dad list, because it’s unique and different:

  1. You will be driving your wife and freshly delivered, beautifully created, gorgeously designed, unique genetic combination of you and your wife, child home somewhere between 48 to 72 hours after you enter the hospital. You need to get them hope safely, and the car seat will need to be safely installed in your return vehicle. I recommend you do this shortly after your second trimester, since you have no idea when your child will come. We did a lot of research, and landed on a European brand that isn’t sold widely here in the US called Nuna.
    • Few reasons I liked Nuna:
      • Easy of installation with solid LATCH anchors, which most cars have, and what’s awesome is that the Nuna anchors have a red and green setting, so you KNOW if you’ve installed your seat correctly (pictured here in our 2010 Acura RDX rear seat here, where it fits perfectly)
      • If your cars seats, like those in the back of my 2012 BMW 335i (F30 body style) are too sloped to put in the seat with the LATCH anchors, you will have to use the seat-belt lock feature, which allows you to get the seat in relatively flat, and minimizes seat belt movement (no more than an inch)
        nuna1 nuna3
      • Another neat feature I love about the Nuna, and what actually swayed me in the end, was the fact that it has a solid, single foot that braces the car seat against the floor in front – this feature is seen in many european car seats, and hasn’t made it to the states just yet, but makes good common, physics sense (and yes, it click green like the solid LATCH anchors so you know you’ve done it correctly)
      • There are a few other good add ins, like the newborn insert, a built in mosquito vent, as well as a rear flap that vents, that made this seat a no-brainer for me,nuna5 nuna2 Nuna
  2. Your pediatrician’s information – since within 24 hours, the labor and delivery team will need to let them know about the birth of your child, and there can be many pediatric groups with a similar name (last thing you need is to have your wife scream at you for the wrong pediatric office coming to the hospital, or not coming at all if they don’t have hospital rights!)
  3. PJs/socks/shorts/T shirts for lounging day and night in your wife’s room managing your new born (jeans aren’t recommended since you’ll be falling asleep at all odd hours in whatever you’re wearing), along with sneakers/flip flops for the walking in the halls you’ll be doing with your wife (required in order to discharge your wife!)
  4. A men’s Dopp kit – your wife probably packed her bathroom stuff (whatever she uses), but you may want to shave and/or not smell like BO when family and friends are dropping in for photo-op’s with you and her.
  5. Last, but NOT least, is the Operating Room list:
    • Your cell phone (charged and ready as a back up for pictures to send to family members)
    • Your camera with a spare battery (if necessary, also make sure your external mic has a spare and/or new battery if you’re using a DSLR)
    • Your Cord Blood Kit – we used CBR, just keep in mind the kit needs to stay at room temperatures at all times, so don’t throw it in your car and hope that you will remember it on the delivery day, just keep a small bag with it in there, along with the camera and other items.

We made it, one month old!

I’m sure we’ll look back at this past month years from now and remember it as a complete blur, but I will have to admit, no one EVER warned us how difficult it would be.

There are countless things that we learned with our son this first month, so hopefully I can add some insight for other fathers so they won’t be as surprised as me the first time around:

  1. The first few weeks of your child sleeping doesn’t mean they’ll always be like that – turns out babies are as dynamic as adults, and every week is a different hallmark with their development (duh), which then impacts their sleep, eating, and diaper-creation patterns. how?
    • We went from waking our son up every few hours to remind him to eat, to him doing the duty himself – we were thrilled to know he could start expressing his needs, not so thrilled at the inconsistency of his reminders.
    • Bowel movements went from literally every few hours to…once a day. THRILLED that it’s not as often, but it surprised us, and obviously concerned us.
    • He’s truly my son now – he farts all the time, and needs to be burped more frequently. Thrilled that he belches as loudly as me! However, the fussiness and gas led us to do what most parents that are supplementing with formula to do – the dreaded formula dance. We landed on Similac Sensitive, but the process was truly trial and error, nothing scientific about it. We also realized quickly that the powder form, which is a bigger pain in the ass to prepare, was easier for him to digest with even less spit up than the bottled form that is pre made (he spit up much more with Similac Advance). I’ll have a whole separate post on Formula later.
    • Acid reflux reared it’s ugly head around week 4 – we initially thought it was gas or something else, but some tell tale signs that Mayo clinic and WebMd don’t share with you:
      • he will arch his back
      • cry when there’s a bottle or nipple in his mouth
      • reach for his ears/eyes indicating pain after eating
      • The Zantac that is given at pharmacies is horrible tasting, try it – it’s literally worse than most things adults have to stomach. I still need to see if it can be flavored, but the .75 ml’s he takes twice a day are a struggle, because on top of him suffering from some acid kick back, he has this vile tasting stuff coming back up.
      • How will he sleep with minor acid reflux? This will save you hours of sleep, the Fisher Price rock n’ play has a nice 45 degree incline that will let the contents of his stomach stay down there, and it is slightly “fitted” so that he will feel comfortable and coddled without having to do a tight swaddle (more on swaddling drama later).
  2. Breast pump rental: do this before you go to the hospital. A separate post later will detail intricacies of this – the pump matters, because regardless of whether you’re exclusively breast feeding or not (if you are, get a scale for home so you don’t have to go to the pediatricians office for weigh-ins every week), you’ll ultimately need a strong pump to get things flowing so that as your baby’s jaw gets stronger over time, your wife has adequate flow.
  3. Car seats range in prices and safety – get the one that fits your car correctly and fits your budget best; a separate post will detail the car seat we decided on, and why it’s part of your hospital bag the day you rush to the hospital.
  4. Bottles – you can either buy a dozen of one, or experiment with 2 at a time and see how your baby reacts. I’ll post more about that later (this was an adventure for sure!)
  5. Diapers – you can either double down and commit to one brand and stock up (like we did), then realize he’s not chubby enough and you have to return all of them one evening at Baby’s R’Us and buy a whole new set of another brand. I’ll post more about this adventure as a separate blog too (I’m starting to realize a trend that each one of these numbers requires their own entry!

This post ended up being an introductory post to a number of other entries I’ll make, so check back for new links that I’ll add over time.