You’ve been to all the doctor appointments, the ultrasounds, read all the books and taken the classes, but now the time is here: Your wife is in labor. Hopefully both you and your wife have packed bags well in advance, if you haven’t, and you are close to week 37, PACK YOUR BAGS NOW! You may think you have plenty of time (hey at week 37 you still have 3 more weeks, right?), but as my wife and I found out, baby can come at any time. Luckily, we packed our bags the night before our fateful ultrasound appointment (read about it here).
So you are packing your bag. What do you, the dad, pack? Well, here is a list of items I found helpful, items I wished I would have had, and items that I didn’t need or didn’t care about.
Helpful and Required Items
Really you won’t need much. The Chromebook was good for sending out email updates to family and friends. Make sure you have some way of communicating; people will want to know what is going on. Also make sure you have a camera and/or video camera packed; you will want to make sure that your first moments as a father are captured.
- Change of clothes.
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
- Phone and charger.
- Camera and video camera.
- Chromebook (tablet, laptop, etc.)
- Car seat and carrier (you can’t take your baby home without these).
Items I Didn’t Need
I was mostly thinking about my wife and daughter during the hospital stay and didn’t need any distractions, such as books and other reading material.
- Books/Reading material.
Items I Wish I Had
- Piece of comfy clothing, such as a pair of sweats.
- Shaving implements (had to end up buying these at the gift shop).
- Log or journal.
- My Bible.
Other Comments of Note
Although your focus will be on your wife and child, you still need to take care of yourself during the hospital stay. I ended up staying in the same clothes for 3 days because it didn’t really occur to me that I needed to change. The days and nights seemed to blend together and showering, changing clothes, blushing my teeth, etc. didn’t seem all that important.
Also eating poorly, or forgetting to eat was a problem.. There was a Starbucks coffee cart in the hospital and my first few meals consisted of pastry and a large latte. Make it a point to take a 15-20 minute break and head down to the hospital’s cafeteria to get some “real” food. It won’t do you or your wife any good if you pass out on the floor of the delivery or operating room due to low blood sugar.
Sleep will be almost impossible both before your baby is born, and after (including after you get home from the hospital, but that’s a different post). Notice I didn’t need pajamas. This is mostly because I didn’t really get a chance to “go to bed”; sleeping in my street clothes was the norm.
Lastly, pray a lot. Pray with your wife. Pray with your family members. Pray by yourself.
I write about the rather unexpected journey of fatherhood, please join me!