22 Items for the Hospital “Dad Bag”

ryk hospitalEvery movie or TV show with an expectant mother talks about “The Bag.” You know, the one that is packed and waiting by the door for Momma Bear’s water to break while she is sitting on the toilet, so you can then fight city traffic to get to the hospital, with her screaming in pain and you screaming in fear? Duh.

Spoiler alert: Real life isn’t quite exactly like that. [However, that happened with our daughter – a GREAT story for another time.]

In reality, “The Bag” may be more than one actual bag. And for good reason.

While Momma Bear is by all definition a patient at the hospital, you, my friend, are a visitor. Your comfort is last on anyone’s to-give-a-crap-about list.

The time you spend in the hospital will be hectic and restless, as you try to contort yourself into a position to get a few minutes of rest on the Least Comfortable Surfaces Ever. I used capital letters, because I’m certain it has to be trademarked. Hospital visitor couch/beds are the worst. Know it. Acknowledge it. Move on with your life.

Putting comfort to the side, you, pops, have a lot of responsibility as a documentarian (just be careful where the lens is pointed at all times), advocate, and part-time medical assistant (trust me, it will happen and you will go pale. Suck it up.)

So, let’s assume that you read and did the 7 Things Dads Must Do Before Baby Arrives and present the follow-up list of items for the “Dad Bag.”

  1. Cell phone
  2. Cell phone charger
  3. Laptop computer
  4. Laptop charger
  5. Video camera
  6. Video camera charger
  7. Bluetooth/wired speaker
  8. Speaker charger (notice a pattern?)
  9. Deodorant
  10. Protein snacks – for the long-haul
  11. Sugary snacks – for the bursts
  12. Sports drink (like Gatorade) – Momma Bear will want it after delivery
  13. Toothbrush
  14. Toothpaste
  15. 24 hours worth of any medication you take
  16. Dollars and coins (for vending machines)
  17. Written Birth Plan – have it in writing in case your brain goes blank. It happens.
  18. Pediatrician’s number – you’ll want to call them soon after baby arrives
  19. Reading material – bring a magazine or book, but you’ll be too amped to actually read it
  20. Comb/brush/hair product – you’ll want to look as human as possible in pictures
  21. Sneakers – if labor is extended, you’ll be walking around the hospital to get things, uh, moving
  22. Anything else Momma Bear wants you to pack. You did this to her. The least you can do is carry some stuff to the hospital.



7 Things Dads Must Do Before Baby Arrives

The end stage of pregnancy is strange for everyone involved. Momma Bear is uncomfortable (at best). And Poppa Bear is waiting on pins and needles for the new Baby Bear to arrive.

For Dads, it can feel like there is literally nothing to do at this point, as you wait for active labor or a scheduled Cesarean. [All of our kids were delivered via active labor, so that’s the perspective I can share.]

electronicsCharge Everything Every Day

Phones. Cameras. Laptops. Portables Speakers. Make sure that every device you will need on-site for delivery is at 100% charge. Also, put all of the cords in a bag you will take to the hospital/delivery center. Highly recommend a “dad bag” for such things.

Clear Device Memory

Memory cards, device memory – clear it all. Who wants to see “iPhone Memory Full” when you are taking pictures of your new bundle of joy? We have an external hard drive for all kid-related photos and videos. Makes it so easy to clear devices.

Just Choose Sleep

You’re holding on to the last vestiges of no children (or just one less than you currently do). I get it. But this is no time for binge-watching House of Cards, bud. Trust me, you will have plenty of time in the coming weeks, as babies LOVE letting you stay up all night. Keep your latest obsession for then. Plus, let’s just say Momma Bear is in active labor for a long time. You’ll wish you slept tonight instead of staying up to watch literally anything.

Bathe, Ya Filthy Animal

Once it’s go-time for delivery, you switch into Dad Mode. You’ll be at the hospital/birthing center where you are NOT the patient. They do not support you there, nor should they. Plus, after the baby comes, you won’t want to leave. So stay clean…it may be a while before you can freshen up you musk. [Note: toss some deodorant into the Daddy Bag. Please.]

Groom, Ya Filthy Animal

Chances are pretty damn high that over the next few weeks, you’ll be taking pictures you will cherish for a lifetime. Every day when you wake up past, say, 36 weeks into the pregnancy, you could end up meeting your baby for the first time. It’s an event you’d want to remember. So if you were thinking about getting a haircut, do it. If you were thinking experimenting with a new facial hair style, this may not be the time.

Stock the House

Hunting and gathering is part of our instinct. We want to provide for our families. And a new baby kicks those hard-wired instincts into high gear. However, this is the 21st century. As a modern dad, you want to bond with your baby over those precious few hours and days. The last thing you want to do is stand in line at the grocery store. Also, when the influx of friends and family come to see the baby – let them help you so you can stay home.

Support Without Overwhelming

Like I said above, this is a strange period of time in a woman’s pregnancy. Something little can mean EVERYTHING. And something that feels big can mean NOTHING. And since each pregnancy is different, even on Baby #3, like us right now, there are new experiences to be had. Your job is to support. Be calm. Ask questions. But don’t be annoying about it. Momma Bear likely has as many questions as you do. You aren’t a doctor (…unless you are, then, apologies, doc), you’re a dad-to-be. Enjoy the ride.

Questioning Others’ Fitness As Parents (AKA The Prenatal Hospital Tour)

Taking a tour of the hospital you will deliver in is legitimately important. Are you learning to actually BE a doctor on this visit? No. But spending an hour to reduce stress on, let’s call it “Game Day,” is worth the investment.

Truthfully, on “Game Day,” dads have a billion things going through their mind, from getting to the hospital to the health and well-being of mama bear and soon-to-be-birthed-baby-bear. Do anything that can declutter your brain so you can focus on the tasks at hand.

What do you get from this hospital tour?

  • Practice your driving route to the hospital (because…on “Game Day” you can’t waste a second using Google Maps. No parent wants a Car Baby.)
  • Get familiar with the parking procedures (because…hospital parking lots are uniformly THE DIRT WORST)
  • Understand how to best check-in (because…again, on “Game Day” you’ll want to shout the three words they need to hear at the front desk before letting you up to the Labor and Delivery Ward)
  • Visit all the rooms! (because…well, there isn’t much snark there. It’s good to see where your bundle of joy will pop into the world.)
  • Hear the idiosyncrasies of the hospital and how to avoid them (because…knowing they will charge you $20 for cable TV unless you tell them not to is a big deal, dammit!)
  • Learn what you need to pack in “the bag” (because…again, this is a lovely thing to review. Case in point, the hospital where #3 will be born changed what they provide since #2 was delivered there.)

IMG_2376We have now done three hospital tours, one for each kid, and have collected a treasure trove of stories. To wit:

  1. One father looked at the couch in the recovery room and repeatedly asked if he could bring in his own inflatable bed. And then started measuring the space. The dumbfounded tour guide stumbled through various versions of “no.”
  2. One mother complained that while she was delivering her first child, she was surrounded by doctors the whole time. THAT’S WHY YOU GO TO THE HOSPITAL! IF YOU DON’T WANT DOCTORS CHECKING ON YOU, HAVE A HOME BIRTH!
  3. One father asked “for a friend” about how the hospital handles some truly horrific health conditions, while the smiling mother gave no craps and sucked on a lollipop. We moved a few steps away from them.
  4. Too many families deep into the final trimester hadn’t yet begun to think about a pediatrician for their kid. [Hint: you need a pediatrician within like, two days of birth, so knock this out early.]

The stories go on. These true examples are universally horrendous, right? And these don’t even count the people that make “valid” parenting decisions that you and your partner disagree with vehemently. Like, things they are legally allowed to do, but the sheer thought of doing that with your family is nauseating.

Note: When you go in on “Game Day,” you will forget 99% of the things you learned on the tour. Don’t sweat it. Just remember to tell them no cable TV. Who wants to pay $20 for Law and Order reruns?