Along for The Ride: Packing for the Hospital

 

Packing for the birth of a surrogate child is vastly different from packing fr the birth of your own child. It’s kind of silly, isn’t it? I mean, not much has changed. You’ll still show up at the hospital in “I don’t care WHAT I forgot to pack” condition, you’ll still have the baby, and you’ll still wind up with something to wear home. Even so, planning for and packing that bag, no matter how many times you’ve done it for the births of your own children, makes most surrogates feel like first timers again.

Here are a few of the differences that stand out to me the most.

Paper

Not like the USA Today paper, but like legally binding court documents types of papers. I think with my own girls I showed up for the birth with a paper insurance card (because I think they were paper back then) and maybe a five spot in my wallet.

With each of my surrogate births, I’ve dang near needed a briefcase for all of the paper I need to take with me to the hospital. While GG is great about making sure the hospital has all of your paperwork on hand and filed with the social worker well in advance of the birth, it just feels smart to me to have copies of everything with me… just in case “We should have that,” turns into, “Ooops, we don’t have that…”

So. In my “go-time” bag I have:

  • Our legally binding surrogacy agreement: roughly 40 pages
  • Our establishment of parental rights: roughly 20 pages
  • Our birth plan: 5 pages
  • Our insurance information and contact numbers: 5 pages
  • Placenta encapsulation agreement and information: 4 pages
  • Cord blood collection papers, instructions, information: 6 pages

We’re closing on 100 pages. That’s almost a quarter of a ream of paper. In short, we are *not* saving the rainforest in my hospital bag.

 

Baby Clothes

Here’s an area where being a surrogate actually saves you some space in your bag. With my first born I think I packed 6 outfits for what I anticipated as a 48 hour stay. Now, before you go jumping all over me for that, there’s a reason. I didn’t want her to have to wear a hospital gown. I wanted her in something soft, cute, that smelled like “home.” I also had heard through the grapevine that babies dirty their clothes. A lot. I also know I’m a woman, a hormonal one at that, and I’d probably change my mind six times per day (I did). So six outfits was about right.

But with my surrogate births, not a single baby clothing item to be packed.  It makes room for the paperwork.

 

Nursing Items

I actually pack more breastfeeding supplies each time I have a baby. This has nothing to do with surrogacy though, more breastfeeding experience. I have creams that I prefer, bras that I want, and products that just make life easier. So I pack them now.

 

Entertainment

When you birth your own babies, they are the entertainment.

When you birth someone else’s babies, you wind up with a lot of quiet time to yourself.

 

I get that, to some, this may sound like a sad thing. But trust- those 48 hours of (mostly) child free, uninterrupted, guilt free “me” time? The days wherein someone else brings and removes my cooked to order food, cleans my room, and asks if I need help in the bathroom? That parade of nurses who continue to praise me like a goddess for helping someone else have a family? It doesn’t stink at all. I cherish those days. They’re pretty cool. Don’t feel badly for me!

For entertainment, I typically pack my Kindle and my computer — so that I can write, shop on Ebay, and binge watch an entire season of a show in one day on Netflix. And don’t forget to pack your chargers! I also sleep. For fun. In the middle of the day. It’s pretty awesome.

 

Other Things

I like to pack my own pillow. It just makes me feel more at home. I also prefer to labor in an aftermarket gown that covers my rear end. It just feels more modest when you’re laboring with IPs in the room.

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If you’re an IP dad to be, don’t forget to wear a button up shirt, it makes that first skin to skin contact much easier!

Resources:

Labor Gown Alternatives

What to Pack for Labor- IPs

What to Pack for Labor- Surrogates

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: An Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Red Wheel Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.