Saturday, December 01, 2007

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

So I have a post about Motherisk in my drafts that has been rewritten about 12 times, but I can't quite get myself to hit publish. I'm scared; just a big ass chicken shit even though I pretend to be a big ass brave chick, no shit to be seen.

So today I'm going to tell you all about my way of handling stress instead. You know all that one day at a time, prepare for the worst, hope for the best, zen, magical thinking be damned, sheer force of will, trust in fate/God/Doctors/the universe, cliche-o-rama I discuss? Chortle, yes I did make a joke about trust, har har.

Not even sure if it all works, but in the absence of a written guarantee I will continue to prepare for the worst and hope for the best and part of that is packing a bag.

A hospital bag.

I know, the rules of magical thinking say that we're only supposed to pack a bag for the hospital when we are about to deliver a live baby. That happy ritual is reserved for the normals, not the dead baby ladies like me.

And the result of that kind of thinking is that when we go into labour prematurely, or we get suddenly admitted to hospital, or we notice we are bleeding profusely, or we get a terrible ultrasound report, we are stuck depending on the kindness of others and the presence of mind of our spouses. And ladies, I have rarely if ever experienced kindness from others while a baby dies, and my husband? Poor darling has an absence of mind while grief stricken; I can hardly blame him. As a result, I have ended up during past hospital stays with no contact lens solution, a full makeup bag, some pantyhose, a floor length slip, and pretty much absolutely nothing I actually need like always pads, spare clothes, camera, emergency list of numbers, deodorant.

I'm 12.5 weeks, and at this point, no matter how this baby comes out in the next 27.5 weeks, dead or alive, there will be a hospital involved and I will be a patient in it. So I'm packing a bag, now. It will stay in the house, unless we go to the Doctor, or I get really really paranoid, and then I'll keep it in the car. My husband and close friends will know where it is, (the front hall) so if I don't have it in an emergency, they can come get it.

I've spoken to various relatives and close friends and warned them they are expected to help out if we suddenly call and need them to stay evenings or overnight with the kids in an emergency. I've warned the kids teachers and principal a while back that there might be an emergency phone call and I expect them to step up to the plate and take care of my kids when they burst into tears in class or worry about their mom or the baby.

I need to get our routines written out and posted on the fridge, and some more emergency meals in the freezer, and a hell of lot more house preparedness done. Time for a Costco trip, and I need to get the rest of my Christmas shopping done. I can't be worrying about groceries and laundry during any potential crisis. I just don't have enough ram to grieve and make lunches.

So far the bag has in it:
travel sizes of:
face moisturizer
body moisturizer
lip balm
cetaphil face and body wash
contact lens solution and case
(Toiletries won't save a baby, but they definitely make me feel less skeevy in a dry, less ventilated hospital.)

In my purse, I always carry my health card, my hospital card, a camera, a cell phone, most of my phone numbers, and a list of medications I'm on, if not the actual meds. I need to photocopy the paper stuff in case my purse doesn't come with me, and do up a one page medical history (she thinks she has a one page medical history - hardy har har) in case an ambulance takes me to some other stupid hospital. (If we go to any other hospital besides the two downtown ones, the baby will die, so I may pack a taser as well in case I need to force an ambulance to take me to the right hospital that can save this pregnancy, emergency room status be damned, momma's gonna taser anyone who tries to give dinkypie substandard medical care.)

Things still to put in the hospital bag:
2 pillows - covered in waterproof, but not plasticky cover (blood and icky stuff is hard to wash out, and the pillows at hospitals ALWAYS suck)
slippers (cold germy floors)
shower shoes (MSRA, athlete's foot, etc....blech-need I say more?)
bathrobe (it can get cold in there, and the flimsy robes aren't enough)
extra underwear (do I have to explain this?)
always pads - ultra days with wings and ultra overnight with wings (I am not riding the bulky cheap cotton pony just because of goddamn budget cuts, I want dryweave dammit!)
eyemask (in case the curtains aren't quite room darkening)
spare baggy shirt, bra, and pants (maternity maybe, definitely not skinny-style, I'll still be swollen from the extra IV fluids I always seem to be gifted with)
travel size containers of shampoo, conditioner, & leave-in spray
spare glasses and set of contacts
A couple of good books, non-pregnancy related for distraction
A couple of books about pregnancy after loss and labour after loss
Web-enabled phone, hopefully with built in MP3 player, (so I can email and blog and listen to music)
sitz bath (for the hemorrhoids my peeps, the piley bastards are already lurking)
plastic pitcher for water and cups
protein bars, granola bars, restaurant to go menu (hospital food sucks in EVERY country)
cash for take out food, magazines, and to order phone for room and cable for TV
paper and pencil/pen (just in case I can't talk after intubation again)
updated Ontario power of attorney for personal care (so I don't get left to to mercy of some junior resident's ethics practicum)
phone number of medical litigation firm (in case I get the shitty anesthesiologist again, of course, in that case, I'll be dead, and unable to make that phone call, soooo never mind)
On second thought, make list of Docs and nurses who do not have consent to treat me under any circumstances, then deliver said list to hospital lawyers and CEO and my OB. That will truly relax me.

As time goes on, and weeks pass, I'll add a set of quick dry clay for recording hand and feet impressions for newborns (or stillborns as the case may be), a nice blanket to wrap a very very tiny baby in, a set of preemie clothes, and eventually a newborn size outfit. At 12.5 weeks, Dinkypie is too small to dress, but eventually it will be different, and I need to be prepared. I'm also going to pack a few breastfeeding books, and a few baby care items, just in case hope wins out over despair. Cause hey, you never know, I just may get an actual live baby out of this adventure!

Sooooo, any other ideas on what I should pack?

What did you all need in the hospital? What do you wish you had? What do you regret bringing?


  1. My digital camera, my journal, and my cell phone were the only truly important things in my bag (which I packed early like you, and updated as time went on). Everything else was just typical "suitcase/packing" stuff that, if forgotten, could be picked up by a relative or friend on the fly.

  2. I must admit your post kind of freaks me out... Then again, thank G-d I haven't been through what you have (save a m/c at 13 weeks).

    I loved my flannel pants because they meant I could sit any way I wanted to... Aside from that, just getting out of the hospital ASAP was good enough for me.

  3. Oh sweetie. Your list made me feel sad, but kind of proud at the same time. It's hard to explain. I can see why preparing for the worst is helpful, especially after all the horrid experiences you've endured.

    Faced with the awful circumstance of losing a baby, one certainly doesn't need added problems like no contact lens solution, eyeglasses, or other important items.... So, it's all a very good idea!

    It just looks a little stark when it is all written down like that -- but you are right to do it, that is a reality for many women, and, despite what you say, you really are strong and brave to write it down for the blogosphere to see.

    By the by, I don't know much about Toronto hospitals, so I can't comment regarding what you said, but I was curious what you thought (if anything) about Alberta (Calgary, in particular) sending women to MONTANA to give birth?!!?

    Over the last year or so, I've seen this story repeated SO many times on the news, I've actually started getting accustomed to hearing about it, sad as THAT fact is.

    But when my husband heard about it for the first time, HE FLIPPED OUT (we weren't even pregnant at the time -- we were in the middle of cycling for a FET).

    He actually said to me: "I REFUSE to have my kid born in the US!!"

    I didn't remind him (again) that he is half-American, LOL, but I have to admit that his vehemence sort of surprised me (I'm usually the one who has very strong opinions about well, everything).

    Although, I agree with him, don't get me wrong. In all the times I've been pregnant, it never dawned on me that I could be sent to the US to give birth.

    I recall one news story where an Alberta woman was having a high risk pg with twins. She was hospitalized due to complications and on bed rest -- AND THEY SENT HER TO MONTANA because Calgary didn't have enough beds/NICU nurses, etc, etc., to take care of her and/or her babies, if they made it out of the womb alive.

    The poor woman was BY HERSELF, in a foreign country, WITHOUT her husband, because 1. he had to work, and 2. he hadn't even been able to visit because he was still waiting to get a damned passport issued from the slooooooow government!

    Anyway, I thought the whole thing was horrific. This poor woman, with NO family or friends, no support network at all, stuck on bedrest with a high risk twin pregnancy.

    Can you imagine? How horrific that would be, to be sent away to a strange country/state, hospital, doctor, and then not have your family around you in your time of need.

    I never watched Michael Moore's film Sicko, but I wonder if he addressed the fact that Canadian women are being sent to the US to give birth?!?!

    Anyway, sorry for the overly-long comment -- I'll shut up now. :)

    I am really hoping for the best for you though -- you're doing everything you can, and just remember, NBHHY.


  4. It sounds like a hospital trunk, rather than a hospital bag. I can't imagine anything else you would need. We had much less than that, but then we live less than 10 mins from the hospital so H just bought stuff in for me every day, to whit:
    - heatable breast compresses to help the milk flow (didn't do me much good)
    - infacol
    - dummies (pacifiers)(I know you're not supposed to use them re breastfeeding, but we didn't know that)

    I also took several babygros as well as muslins, vests and socks for the baby, and given we were there 5 days we did use most of them.

  5. Um, how big is your bag? I'm so f'n sorry you need to do this. what a f'd up world that people are planning rooms and showers and people like you (us) are left planning for more dead. Although as someone stated above, it does show a great deal of levelheadedness, and for that I'm proud of you as well. But to point: I'm a minimalist, so my few times at this gig tell me robe, calling card, and granola bars are pretty much what I need to get through. If there's a next time (cease that laughing!), I've been told that the powers that be would really really like it if I actually delivered right in Children's Hospital, and they're shangri la. So I guess in addition to my few needs there'll be my pump set, and the numbers for the funeral name and my therapist.

  6. I'm so sorry Aurelia. Your post makes me sad. It feels difficult to feel hopeful when preparing like this right now. I can't relate to what you are going through, but I pray for you and I am hopeful for you and I do believe in miracles.

  7. Wow, this seemed really thorough to me. My biggest thing would be double and triple checking the eyeglasses and contacts -- but then I'm pretty blind without them.

    I too am sorry you need to consider these things. But I'm proud you've thought of so much. Especially informing the boys teachers and such.

    Hoping you have more days of hope now that you can feel prepared. *hug*

  8. I think you've got it all covered. Like Vanilla I am both impressed and saddened at the same time.

    My thing is to remain relatively unprepared because to prepare would be to admit I think things will go wrong and it is my way of pretentding that they cannot. Pretty stupid huh?

    You've been down this road a few more times and are exactly right. I ended up being admitted with nothing but the clothes on my back and my darling husband went home and returned with a full makeup kit lest I want to try to do myself up to detract attention from my frickin eye patch.
    But intubation? I missed that one. Holy crap.

    These are pure genius (and sadness) though:
    updated Ontario power of attorney for personal care (so I don't get left to to mercy of some junior resident's ethics practicum)
    list of Docs and nurses who do not have consent to treat me under any circumstances, then deliver said list to hospital lawyers and CEO and my OB.

    I found a visit with the patient rep prior to admission was effective but I see nothing to lose by drafting that letter. And the taser to redirect to women's. I'm so bitter at BAMH.

  9. Okay, this is a weird little thing, but whenever vanilla dreams has left a comment, my Firefox tries to get me to log in and authenticate as her! I think this has also happened on other blogs too, but can't be sure. WEIRD!

  10. Thalia, it almost IS a trunk, but that's why husbands exist right?


    I promise that's one that I have heard of and thought of, and might post on. The odd part is, if Alberta and BC would pay for free IVF single embryo transfer I'm betting they would have far far fewer issues with NICU admissions.

    Even for the babies who are natural triplets, it would make more room for them.

    Although my understanding is that budget cuts in both provinces as well as hikes in population have caused the biggest issues, and that your govt is quite desperately attempting to steal specialists from our province to make up for it. That's how Edmonton got a pediatric heart program expansion recently.

    I just can't believe that these idiots in govt don't get the bad press. You have a shitload in oil dollars, why not spend on this? Sigh....this is why I'm not in charge, I'm too too logical.

  11. I suppose a bottle of Scotch, a tumbler, and a joint are out, huh? They're in my bag. :)

  12. I packed straws as drinking from a cup whilst in labour was hard. Oh and an extra toothbrush for Mr.

  13. I think you might need a steamer trunk!

  14. That's a very thorough list. After a live birth, JD needed a stiff drink. After the dead baby birth, he didn't take one-- said he was afraid he wouldn't be able to stop. I would also maybe add a nail file, as I have a tendency to break nails at the most inconvenient of times.
    No slipper though-- our hospitals have these really nice socks with no-slip bottoms that I love. And it's weird-- they give us sitz bath at the hospital, and you have to take yours in. :)

  15. Essential Oil of Lavender.
    A drop or 2 in a kleneex to inhale so you can calm the f*k down.

  16. I actually think you have all of your bases covered. I must say I am impressed, you have thought of everything. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a hospital without the necessary things to make you comfortable.

    You have thought of everything you will need if something bad happens, but what about if it doesn't? Have you thought about that, too?

  17. Oh wait, you have said you will get a few baby things later on - you are good. You have it all covered.

  18. There's a peace of mind in knowing all the practical arrangements are in place. Hopefully it'll be the baby gear you need in the long run.


  19. A portable radio/CD/MP3 player would be helpful, or at least the charger for the phone so your battery doesn't run out.

    Also, during both pregnancies I craved lemon ice pops, so we brought those the second time.

    Otherwise, between your list and the suggestions from others you should be pretty covered. Now just think positively that Dinkypie comes home with you in about 27.5 weeks, happy and healthy. :)

  20. You really *have* thought of everything. Me, I went to the hospital pretty much the way I left it, with nothing but the clothes I was wearing at the time.

  21. I am pregnant again.
    And the first thing I did after seeing the two pink lines on Saturday morning was to put a jumbo pad and my last, jealously guarded tablet of Ativan in my purse.
    (The only thing I plan to add to my massive rolling suitcase that you didn't mention is a death plan. For example, I don't want you to dress my stillborn baby in the hideous outfit smocked by kind but colourblind volunteers when I have a lovely one in my bag.)

  22. It's terrible to have such duality about your baby's anticipated birth. That said, I'm going to be optimistic with the do-and-don't take to the hospital list:

    If you have a breastmilk pump, bring that. I found that I was getting uneasy about how much my little ones were getting (even if it's only a few mils) and the hospital's pump had to be shared among too many women for both my comfort and convenience.

    Maternity panties were handy, as my usual ones would have irritated my c-section incision with the band lying right on the incision site.

    Pyjama pants were nice (I usually wear only a nightshirt), as it let me sit with my legs in any position and not have to worry about modesty. The bonus is that your legs stay comfortable while nursing (not having to hike a nightie all the way over your breasts).

    What I didn't need were all the changes of baby clothes. It was easiest to leave the little ones in their hospital gowns and swaddle them in hospital flannels. It made the unending diaper changes easier, and that counts for a lot when you have to climb out of bed (with a major surgical incision in your abdomen) a zillion times to change diapers and hunch uncomfortably over the hospital baby 'cots' to do the changes.

    Oh, and bring an emery board to deal with newborn fingernails.

  23. definitely take a camera. no matter when your baby comes you'll want it. if you're not ready to pack your "real" camera now, throw in a disposable one.

    i took crosswords and soduko b/c i couldn't focus on actual sentences in books. magazines were useful, too.

    i knitted ruby a small hat and blanket and took those, so i wouldn't have only the hospital clothes for her photos. turns out the hat was still a bit too big, but when a preemie comes it's hard to judge.

    i ended up taking my knitting needles b/c it's a relatively mindless activity for me. anything you can do to keep your hands busy while your heart is busy....

    do you have any totems of any sort for the baby? any kind of good luck charm can be nice -- at some point they no longer represent good luck, but they can be sweet reminders of and even stand-ins, when necessary, for the little one.

    i'm hoping my hardest that in the end none of this matters for you and bring home a fat and healthy full-termer.


  24. oh, and a photog's name, from this website, if you're so inclined:

  25. Oh Aurelia, I have got to STOP reading blogs at work... It's great to "Be Prepared", but this post brought tears to my eyes! Hang in there -- I skimmed your list quickly but it sounds like you have it all under control.