Packing a Hospital Bag for Someone Else’s Delivery

birth clipartMy niece should be here anytime in the next three weeks. As the birth photographer, I’ve got my camera battery charged and a wide open memory card ready to go, and I realized today that those should go into a bag placed near our front door with a bottle of water or something because I could get the call any time.

I have two kids, but this is all new to me. My daughter was born via emergency c-section at 35 weeks exactly. I didn’t even have my wallet on me, as it was supposed to be a routine nonstress test, but instead turned out to be a revelation that my organs were shutting down due to severe preeclampsia. With my son, based on my history, I had a scheduled c-section, but I don’t remember bringing anything to the hospital, other than a hair band. I’ve never looked at a calendar and thought, “it could happen at any time.” For someone who loves a plan, the uncertainty is a little frightening.

I watched enough episodes of A Baby Story to know this can go on forever, which reminds me I need to pack my phone charger because if I lose internet connection, I may cry more than a newborn. I know not to bring in food that would torment my sister. As a good guest, I always feel like I need to bring the hostess something, and it feels remiss to not bring my niece something for her birthday, like candy or Lego. Gum. I should pack gum.

This is a strange position to be in: I’m on call, but I’m not the person trying to interpret their own pains and discomfort that determines if the phone tree gets started and we hurry over to the hospital. Maybe I should keep the bag with me at all times? Maybe I’ll wait a week before going to the 24/7 readiness plan. That probably means having an outfit ready to go in case the call comes during the night. My fear is that I get the call during school carpool and have to figure out how to ditch the kids and get myself to the hospital. There’s a lot of stress in being the person on call, much more than I’d expected.

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