Getting Ready for Baby: What's In My Hospital Bag

At 36 and a half weeks along, I have already surpassed the amount of time I've carried 2 out of 3 of my prior pregnancies. I carried Ethan until 37.5 weeks - but Aiden was born at 34.5 and Hudson at 36. While I'm happy to have made it this far - especially considering my scary episode at 23 weeks - I will admit without shame that I am beyond ready for Nolan to make his appearance. In fact, I came across this article the other day and feel like it could have been written by me. I think my body just reaches a point where it is so done with being pregnant. Here's hoping I survive these last few weeks...or maybe less? Yes, less would be nice.

In the meantime, while I patiently await his arrival I'd like to share with you my tips for what to pack in your hospital bag. (Pregnant but not quite ready to pack a bag just yet? You may want to check out: "My top 10 pregnancy must-haves" post from a while back.)

It's a good idea to pack a bag a few weeks in advance as sometimes baby gets anxious and comes a little early. Having it all packed up and ready to grab and run will make heading to the hospital a tad less stressful. Trying to describe your favorite comfy jammies or exactly which items need to be go in your toiletry bag to your husband/mom/sister will only result in having the wrong stuff brought to you. Which in your emotionally fragile, hormone-charged state during and after baby is born will not be a good thing for anyone. Anywho, as I'm heading into my 4th time birthing a baby, I present to you my tried and true list of what I find extremely important to have on hand at the hospital.
  • Blanket/pillow -- Set one aside or be sure to grab it as you head out the door. The scantily covered plastic pillow and sorry excuse for a blanket they provide you at the hospital is just.not.acceptable. You will want your own. Trust me. (Bonus tip: hospitals are germy...wash your pillow and blanket the minute you get home)
  • A cute maternity gown -- Although not essential, I thought it was going to be my last time having a baby when I was pregnant with Hudson and I wanted to look cute! I got this one as a gift from my sister and am so excited that I get to use it again!
  • New PJs -- I don't know why, but it has become tradition for me to have a new pair of jammies tucked away in my bag, saved to wear after baby is born. It's just a nice little pick me up to put on something new. For the winter time, I recommend fleece sets with a button up top (for easy nursing access if you plan to breastfeed) or even just a new pair of pj bottoms with a nursing tank.
  • Robe -- If you plan to breastfeed, you'll probably live in your nursing tank most of the time you're in the hospital. Or since you pretty much will have a small being attached to your chest around the clock, you may even get tired of wearing a top all together. In that case, you could wear a nursing bra and a robe. I typically purchase a new one with my new set of pjs.
  • Slippers and/or socks -- I'll say it again, hospitals are germy. And often cold. I highly recommend bringing along a comfy pair of slippers or socks. You know the really super soft fluffy kind with little rubber grippy stuff on the bottom? Yeah, those. Here are the ones I have in my bag.
  • Nursing tanks/bras -- Again, this applies only if you plan on breastfeeding. You can find these at Target, Motherhood Maternity, Babies R Us or other specialty baby shops. You can find my favorites here, here, and here.
  • Underwear, of the big and old variety -- Delivering vaginally? Word to the wise...don't bring your cutest, smallest undies. You know those large "period panties" you keep shoved to the very back of your underwear drawer? Yes, bring those. You just pushed a human out of your nether regions. You will bleed. You will bleed for days. You will be forced to wear maxi pads the size of a tennis shoe. So for the sake of being able to fit the maxi pad in your underwear and to avoid permanently ruining a cute pair, just stick to your oldest and most ready to toss. Or buy a cheap pack of XL undies that you can get rid of as soon as you're ready to. (Bonus tip: The hospital will provide you with a large swatch of mesh that is sewn to resemble some sort of underwear type garment. They are hideous. But they are actually what I wore until the time I was going home. Give them a shot.)
  • Comfy clothes to wear home -- You won't find any pre-pregnancy clothes in my bag...I am NOT one of those lucky ladies who seems to bounce back the minute my womb is empty. I remember walking down the hall to see my day-old Ethan in the nursery. I happened to be eating a popsicle and some well-meaning (but clearly uneducated) woman gave me a knowing look and said "trying to get things going by walking, huh?" Rather than get upset about it, I decided to make her feel as uncomfortable as she did me by replying "nope, had my baby yesterday." She turned bright red. I get it lady, I still looked pregnant. But that was not what a first-time mom wanted to hear hours after giving birth. Way to make my day! Anyway, I have always proudly worn maternity pants home from the hospital. If you have to as well, don't beat yourself up over it. (Bonus tip: keep those suckers around. I still have a few pair of maternity leggings that I wore for months after Hudson was born. That panel is great for smoothing out a never-really-the-same postpartum belly.)
  • Baby items -- You won't need to bring much for baby. He/she will pretty much live in a diaper and swaddle blanket the entire time at the hospital. With as much as they are poked and prodded and looked at and checked, they won't really need clothes. Only thing you might want is a few onesies and an outfit to bring him/her home in. Don't forget that you will need to bring or have someone bring a car-seat later. If your baby is born more than 4 weeks early they will need to pass a car-seat test at the hospital before going home (this is where they put baby on a monitor while they sit in their seat for a period of time to make sure they can keep their O2 levels and respirations where they need to be.
  • The obvious essentials -- cell phone, camera, video camera, ipad and any necessary charger(s); notebook and pen (I used mine to track feedings); toiletry bag with toothbrush/paste, deodorant, travel shampoo/conditioner/bodywash, brush, chapstick, rubberbands, headband (to hold hair back during labor).
  • Bonus tip: Things to pack when you leave the hospital (but you didn't hear any of this from me!) -- While the pillows and hospital gowns are not one of them, there are many items that you might want to consider "accidentally putting in your bag when you are leaving". Some of those items include...
    • one of the blue and pink striped baby blankets - I swear those things are unmatched when it comes to swaddling baby comfortably like a burrito. 
    • that blue bulb syringe thingy - you cannot find those sold at any store and they are life.savers.
    • baby's first shirt and hat - sometimes baby is dressed in a little hat and tiny shirt after birth and those make great mementos for their baby boxes. 
    • any extra diapers, unopened nipples/formula (even if you are nursing, as there are times you might need to supplement with formula), the baby brush/comb, unused baby lotion/wash. All of it is tossed after you leave, so might as well bring it home with you!
    • that squeeze bottle thingy they give you to squirt warm water "down there" to help with the pain and recovery. 
    • any leftover pads and/or mesh undies. 
    • ask for the witchhazel pads and antiseptic spray a few times a day and take home what you don't end up using. 
    • breastfeeding mamas, ask each and every nurse for lanolin and breast pads. Stockpile them in your purse to use at home later.
Well, I think that about covers it! If I'm missing something you think is essential, feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below. Thanks for reading and good luck mamas!

Stay tuned for more Getting Ready for Baby posts including: Making a Birthplan, Labor & Delivery Music Playlist, and Newborn Essentials.

** There are affiliate links included throughout this post. If you purchase any of the items I've linked to above I receive a small % of the purchase price from Amazon (does not affect the price you pay at all). I appreciate your support!

2013: A Year of Change

2013 was a year of change for our family in many ways. From a fast-forward move back to KY to finding out we were expecting yet seemed to throw some unexpected curve-balls, keeping things exciting for sure, but also somewhat stressful.

Below are some of the blog posts from 2013 that have documented our year of change. If you are a new More Skees Please reader, these posts will get you up to speed on our little family (click the title to read the post).

I Survived the Dr. Oz Detox
At the beginning of the year I was determined to make small changes to better my health and the health of my family. I started following the blog 100 Days of Real Food and slowly eliminated processed foods from our diet. It was quite an undertaking but over the course of a few weeks, our pantry and refrigerator looked very different - and nobody in my family complained a bit. To kick off my own transformation, I decided to attempt a detox as a way to cleanse my system and I wrote about my experience. This post continues to be the #1 source of traffic on my blog to this day. If you are considering doing this or even another detox, I recommend you read through this post for some encouragement. Because believe me, if I can do it, anyone can!

I Wouldn't Have You
This post came to me as I reflected on how our little family came about. While it's true that our expectations are not always so obviously met, I realized that in the end, things turn out exactly as they are meant to be. I experienced heartache many times in my journey to finding love and having children. But God knew what he was doing when he placed Ricky in my life. And each of our children have been blessings in their own unique ways.

When Mama Bear Comes Out
After 5 years of raising a child who "looks different", I was no stranger to noticing the stares and comments from others in social settings. However this year brought about a sense of confidence in dealing with these types of encounters head on. Whereas before I might have chosen to ignore these situations, only wishing later I had spoken up, now I find being assertive is much easier. Not only am I standing up for my child, but I'm also teaching people to confront their own behavior while raising awareness for others with physical differences.

Introducing apertOWL
After becoming a stay-at-home-mom in 2008 when Aiden was born, there was always this part of me that wanted to get out of the house and do something. I started volunteering much of my time to nonprofit organizations and loved what I did. Before long, I began to dream of starting my own nonprofit dedicated to helping other families touched by Apert syndrome. I talked it over with another mom with a similar passion as me and together we cultivated the idea into reality. This is the story of how it started to come together.

We weren't planning on moving back to Kentucky from Texas until this coming summer 2014. However things were sped along when Ricky's employer asked us to come back a little earlier. In a matter of days, we had listed our house, packed half of it up and the boys and I relocated, leaving Ricky in Texas to tie up loose ends. Little did we know that a week later, I would find out we were expecting baby #4! Talk about piling on the life changes! I hadn't yet shared the happy news in this post (hesitating because of my 2 prior miscarriages), but here I write about the whirlwind move and setting down "temporary roots" at my parents house.

Everything's Changing
The big pregnancy announcement post :)

New school, new staff, new kids...Aiden starting kindergarten was exciting, sure, but this transition to a new city where we really didn't know anyone made it anxiety-ridden as well. I wanted so badly for Aiden's 1st year in school to be a positive experience for him. I wrote this letter to his classmates and shared it with his teacher. Soon after I learned that I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Aiden was doing great. Making friends, having fun, what a relief! This post was later printed in the October issue of Cincinnati Parent Magazine :)

At 23 weeks I learned that I might have a placental abruption. I was put on modified bedrest which quickly turned into hospital bedrest and a very scary situation. You can read my related posts with subsequent updates about the pregnancy here, here and here. In the end, all has turned out well. As of now I am 35 weeks and although I've experienced my typical preterm labor issues, the abruption has not been an issue - if it ever existed at all. I spent almost 6 weeks on bedrest (1 in the hospital, 5 at home) which was extremely challenging. But we got through it and now we are just patiently waiting Nolan Alexander's arrival :)

Stay tuned for a look ahead at the many exciting adventures 2014 is sure to have in store!

How a Mouse Helped Save My Sanity Over Winter Break {and a Giveaway!}

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Congratulations Audrey Cannon Lillpop!
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12-month subscription to

The first few days of my kids winter break from school was ah-mazing. I loved not having to get up at a certain time (even though they have yet to learn the value of "sleeping in"). I looked to my Pinterest boards for cutesy ideas for holiday crafts. And the excitement as Christmas approached was enough to give me butterflies. Between cups of hot cocoa and spending time with family, we made so many lovely memories.

Then...bam! Christmas was over and the excitement began to dwindle. Post-holiday pregnancy-enhanced exhaustion set in. And the cold. The brutal cold that seemed tolerable days earlier with twinkling Christmas lights to distract us suddenly seemed to suffocate us. There were few reasons to bundle up and brave the frigid temps so we ended up staying in. All. Day. Long.

And because we didn't want to open all the new toys they received here and risk losing pieces in the few short weeks we'll have left here at Nana and Grandpa's before we move, we boxed most of their Christmas gifts up to send down to the new house with daddy leaving little for the boys to do to avoid boredom.

Rather than counting down the days until Christmas, it shifted to how many days until the kids go back to school???? The snow and ice were thick outside, while their poor minds were surely melting inside from the amount of television and MineCraft they were exposed to.

That's where a little gray mouse came to the rescue!

A few months ago, Aiden, 5, reminded me about - an educational website he had utilized frequently as part of his curriculum based learning at his preschool the prior year. We logged on and signed up for a 3-month subscription this past fall. Both he and my 6 year old Ethan would take turns "playing" on the site. While I try to limit their time on technology (iPads, my phone, watching tv, etc.), the quality of the content on left me feeling like they were actually learning and not just playing.

On you can create a "user" for each child, and customize the content based on their level of learning/grade. Within that portal, they have access to all kinds of educational content - from e-books to math facts, spelling games to science activities. For each activity completed, they earn tickets that they can then use in a virtual store to purchase novelty items within the site (not real products).

Plus, all of their activity is logged and can be accessed, monitored and customized further using parental controls.

My kids genuinely love this site - and the best part is that they are enhancing their learning, which I think any parent would agree is well worth it! Especially when extended breaks from the school environment leaves you feeling like they might forget everything they've learned so far that year.

Want to check it out for yourself? is giving one lucky More Skees Please reader a 12-month subscription! Just follow the super simple steps below -- a winner will be randomly chosen at the conclusion of the contest on Sunday, January 12th.

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DISCLOSURE: I was so happy with this product that I reached out to asking if we could partner on this project. In addition to the 1-year subscription for one of my readers, was kind enough to provide me with a 1-year subscription for myself as well. With that said, as always, all opinions in this post are genuine and my own.