The hospital bag.
When you’re a first time mom you give that one issue a lot of thought, am I right? I know I did. For months leading up to the birth of my first child I searched the online checklists, frequented baby boards, quizzed veteran mom friends, and packed and unpacked that sucker at least one hundred times.
It seems a little funny to me now, but at the time it was something that I could control in a situation I had little control over.
And while certain things came in handy (breastfeeding-friendly nightgown splurge FTW) and others DEFINITELY did not (like those books I’d packed for all that “leisurely reading” time I’d have), one thing stands out.
What was the one thing I’m still so glad that I packed in my hospital bag?
You might be surprised to hear that the one thing I’m glad I packed was this: an indulgent collection of shower gel, sugar scrub, and body lotion that had been given to me at a baby shower.
The day following my son’s delivery I was sore, tired, and a little stressed. I’d insisted on having my baby room in with me the night before, and we hadn’t slept much at all. I wasn’t prepared for how difficult breastfeeding was or how painful those first few attempts would turn out to be.
I knew we’d likely have visitors, though, so I grabbed my toiletries when I had a moment to myself and took a hot shower. Granted, the sterile hospital bathroom was not spa-like and serene (large mental bars and emergency toilet-side telephone, anyone?), but I took advantage of the moment and made the best of it.
Using those bath products made me remember who I was, and reminded me of all of those other important times in my life when I’d gone out of my way to pamper myself: before prom, before my wedding, or any other special occasion when I needed an extra bit of TLC.
I still remember the scent of the shower gel as the steam rose in that tiny hospital bathroom and clung to the industrial-sized mirror above the sink. I remember the feeling of the sugar scrub: it invigorated me. And the sweet, slight fragrance clung to my skin as I nursed my newborn later in the hospital bed.
Now, every time I smell lavender I think of my son.
As a new mom, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself, even when your focus in on your baby. That’s why I now love giving my expectant and new mom friends a bath and body set, and I talk to them about the importance of taking time— even just a moment— to do something to pamper themselves.
What one thing are you glad you packed in your hospital bag?
Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. She writes about all things toddler at Babble’s Toddler Times. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.