Sunday, June 29, 2014

On Hospital Bags And Books

So I'm working on putting together my hospital bag - all the stuff they tell you to take to the hospital for when everything goes crazy and you somehow end up with a baby - and even weirder, they let you take it home with you.

First off, the lists of "what to bring" you find on the internet are just insanely long and full of things that mystify me. But it seems like they want you to way overpack. Maybe some people are having babies in resort-spas or something, I don't know, but my hospital is like fifteen minutes from my house.

If there's traffic.

And it's raining.

And also my in-laws live close by to us and hopefully my parents will be in town for the Main Event (which they may wish they had missed, if they really are there to see me fulfill my promise to scream as loudly as those women on those awful Baby Story shows my mother used to force me to watch with her - in her defense they did act as incredibly effective birth control for a squeamish teenager), so I imagine if we forget anything somebody can go get it.

But still.

I want to be prepared.

I want to be punctual.

Honestly, if I could somehow go in fifteen minutes early for labor, I would. I'm always on time! I don't like having to wait until things begin before being somewhere! I'm even fifteen minutes early to every doctor's appointment with a doctor who has literally never seen me any earlier than thirty minutes after my assigned appointment time.

(I do a lot of texting in the waiting room.)

I mentioned to a friend the other day some of the things I was thinking of packing in my hospital bag, one of them being a couple of books - probably some sort of unrelated fluffy memoir and then this book on parenting that looks awesome that I'm saving for my New Mom Sanity Kit.

My friend scoffed at me. "You're not going to have any time to read whatsoever. Why would you bring a book to the hospital?"

I blinked.

I have never gone anywhere in my entire life without at least two books on hand, not since I learned how to read. I keep at least two in my car just in case I forget to pack any in my purse and/or tote bag, which I think has happened exactly twice. I took books on a cruise when I was 18 (my mom has a photo of me, my older brother, and my brother-in-law all standing in line reading intently, in our own little universes). I take books on vacation and routinely have to buy more while I'm in whatever location because I finish what I took.

I take a book if I'm going to meet a friend I think may be late.

I take books to family gatherings.

I take a book on a walk if there's a possibility I will stop for more than three minutes.

Books come with me to work. They go with me on road trips. They are the first thing I turn to if I have nothing to do with my brain. I've been known to reward myself for doing chores by letting myself read a chapter, then finishing another chore, then repeat the process.

So I wasn't sure how to answer her or deal with the sort of faint sense of judgement I felt coming off of her words.

"Well... I'm bringing a book because that's what I do," I finally settled on.

It's not really adequate, I guess, but I'm not sure how else to explain it.

Having a book in hand is a basic fundamental part of my being.

I may not have time to read while I'm at the hospital, this is true. It's likely that I will be a mix of sleeping, holding a baby that seems eminently prone to breaking, trying to calm a crying baby, trying to calm a crying myself, and convincing people to sneak me venti lattes when Jason's back is turned.

But if there are five minutes, even just five, wherein there is the slightest chance of me getting to read a paragraph or two...


I've never gone without a book before.

I'm definitely not going to start now.


  1. I think since you're clearly not expecting a leisurely spa day with a side of infant, do what makes you happy.

    1. Go in to give birth, come out with a manicure, a pedicure, and a seaweed mask!

  2. There is definitely going to be a minute or two to read. Hospitals are incredibly inefficient. I love having the Kindle app on my phone, because I can tote around all the books that I want, even giant ones where the physical version would be awkward in my purse!

    1. I have never bought into the e-book stuff, so all my books are still books! But that is why I always have giant purses, haha. Jason swears eventually I'll have to pick up an e-reader, but so far I've successfully held out. It does mean that our bookshelves groan sometimes...

  3. I'm with you, I've always got a book in my purse. Even if it's just a random 10 cent garage sale paperback that I only read if and when I'm stuck waiting somewhere, I'll lose my mind if that book isn't there when I reach for it. I can only imagine being in a hospital -- where you not only might have moments of waiting, but you also might have moments where you want to be able to distract yourself from anxiousness and/or pain! People's birthing stories are all over the map, and some of those stories definitely include waiting around for dilation. I'm totally with you.

    1. People are just weird about books. I think so many people grew up with reading being some kind of punishment/only happens at school thing, and they never quite get the "I do this on purpose for fun" thing.

  4. I literally walk whilst reading, so I 100% see your point of view!


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