My Minimalist Hospital Bag

My Minimalist Hospital Bag

I will be heading back to the hospital in a few days and I am in the process of packing my minimalist hospital bag for our (hopefully) three day stay.  I have a unique view point on the subject of what mom’s really need to pack in their hospital bags 2 reasons:

  1. I have spent a lot of time working on a large postpartum unit with families after their deliveries.
  2. I didn’t have anything with me except for my purse when I was admitted to the hospital to have my daughter 2 years ago.

I am a registered nurse who has spent a whole lot of time at the hospital.

My minnimalist hospital bag

Many moms bring way too much stuff into the hospital.

Way back in nursing school I was an assistant nurse and I spent a lot of time working on the postpartum unit at our hospital. I loved the experience! Who wouldn’t love being around newborn babies all day long?

But I was always shocked at the ginormous amount of stuff some families would bring in with them prior to their deliveries!  Sometimes it felt like they were planning to move into the hospital for weeks.

They brought bags full of stuff:  sets of clothing (for mom and baby), multiple different electronics,  receiving blankets, pacifiers, robes, sets of shoes, tons of toiletries, diapers, a personalized delivery gown (or even 2!), baby toys, boppy pillows, bed pillows, blankets, snacks and drinks.  The lists could go on and on.

It looked like some moms packed every item they received from their baby showers (with the exception of the crib!).  They had food and drinks to last weeks.  You name it, I probably saw it in someone’s room.

Then when they were discharged (usually 2 days later) the husband or partner would have to make a dozen trips to the car, often with an assistant nurse to help bring all this stuff they never even needed in the first place.

There is always a lot of talk among moms-to-be about what they should pack for their hospital deliveries.

My minimalist hospital bag

One bag is usually all you need to deliver a baby at the hospital.

In fact I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter feeling a little stressed out about it.  Everyone I talked to had a different set of things that I needed. And the lists were so long!

The planner in me even started researching on Pinterest (don’t go looking there, please).   There are endless different “hospital bag checklist essentials for the Mom-to-be” lists.  Even I found myself overwhelmed by what I actually needed to pack.  I am not joking when I say some of these lists covered an entire page in 12 point font!

Do I really need my own embroidered birthing gown? Breastfeeding shirts? My computer?  Outfits for each day?  Snacks and drinks? (doesn’t the hospital serve food?)

My biggest question of all:  If I am only going to be there for a couple days, why on earth did I need so much stuff?

Then I ended up delivering our daughter at hospital early without a bag at all!

I had nothing with me except my purse when I delivered my daughter (not on purpose, I had an emergency c-section at 33 weeks).  And you know what?  It was completely fine. The hospital had everything I really needed.  There wasn’t a need for me to pack a single thing!

Now that I am going back into the hospital soon to deliver our son I became inspired to write a new kind of list called:

What You Don’t Need To Pack For The Hospital:

  • Your computer: you will be so tired or busy bonding with the baby that you won’t have time to use it.
  • Pre-pregnancy clothes:   sorry, but they won’t fit yet anyway.
  • Your pillow: the hospital has plenty. And you will likely forget it anyway.
  • Breast pump, nursing pads:  in California, the hospital will give you a breast pump to take home with you (I’m not sure about the rules in other states).  Also, you will have several visits from a breast feeding consultant who will supply you with any breast feeding items you need.
  • Formula
  • Pajamas/ birthing gown:  if you really want to bring these then fine.  But you don’t need them.  They will likely end up getting yucky after birth so just beware.
  • Underwear/ socks: you will be wearing cotton postpartum panties and the hospital has no-skid socks.  Again, these things get yucky, you should just use the hospital stuff.
  • Diapers, blankets and baby clothes (except for what you plan to bring the baby home in).

What you actually should bring (otherwise known as “My Minimalist Hospital Bag”):

  • Photo id, insurance info
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Toiletries:  the hospital has toothbrushes, paste, combs, soap, shampoo and conditioner, razors, and shaving cream.  They may not be the most luxurious brand, however, they would do the trick if you didn’t bring any of these things.  It may be nice to have your own preferred things.
  • Birth plan: if you have one
  • Ponytail holder
  • Ear plugs and eye mask:  the computer lights are bright and hospitals can be loud.
  • A maternity bra/ breastfeeding bra
  • Loose going home clothes:   or you could wear the same thing you wore into the hospital if you want. It unfortunately will still fit so soon after delivery.
  • Makeup / Blow dryer (again, not necessary, but would be nice especially if you plan on having photos done before leaving the hospital).

As I mentioned, you still don’t really need all this stuff. But some of it is just nice to have with you for comfort.

When people ask me what was most important to me during my stay, it is this:  an eye mask and ear plugs.  Those were the only things I had that I realized I could not have done without during my stay.  Many hospitals even have those too if you forget to bring them.

My minimalist hospital bag essentials.

The most important cargo of all!

For baby:

  • car seat (installed in car):  this is non-negotiable,  legally you cannot drive the baby home without it.
  • coming home outfit:  the baby does not need clothes from home during their stay in the hospital.

The hospital already has diapers, formula, diaper creams, blankets, and every other item a baby would need while they are still admitted.

I want my time at the hospital to be about bonding with our son.

And maybe getting a teeny tiny bit of sleep too before bringing him home.

My husband will have to make a few trips home to bring our daughter in so if I happen to forget something he can always bring it then.

So there you have it: my own personal minimalist hospital bag list! I’ll be back home later next week with our son so I’ll let you know if there was anything I forget that I really missed having with me.

Wish me luck.  I’m having our son in less then 2 days!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

Nesting Goals Before Baby Boy Arrives

Nesting Goals Before Baby Boy Arrives

I am 5 weeks away from having our baby boy! Woo hoo! Unfortunately though, that doesn’t leave me with a ton of time to finish up my final nesting goals. So I have some work to do!

Several weeks ago I was in full blown nesting mode and I wrote a blog about it. Wow, was that a great feeling at the time! By if I’m being honest, I’m starting to lose steam. I’m getting a lot more tired and bigger all around, both of which make it harder to tackle my nesting goals.

tiny feet

I can’t wait to have another set of super tiny feet in our home again.

It also hasn’t helped that my toddler recently shared her cold with me and I have been fighting it over the last week-and-a-half. We have been working on her sharing skills lately, but this was not what I had in mind!

Nonetheless, I am officially on the clock now. I have at most 5 weeks to go until baby #2 makes his arrival. Our little girl made her surprising arrival 7 weeks early (due to a placental abruption) which reminds me that our son really could show up at any time.


In light of all this, I have created a “nesting goals plan of attack” for the next couple of weeks:

#1. The kitchen

I will not be taken over by baby dishware, breast pump parts, and tiny silverware in my kitchen! Therefore, I will be organizing the following:

  • Assign a space in the kitchen for baby items and breast pump cleaning supplies
  • Dedicate 1 cabinet to baby kitchen supplies
    • That way they don’t end up floating all over the kitchen and eventually end up lost.
  • Same for baby food
    • Assign a cupboard to store baby food and formula.
  • Baby dish rack/cleaning area
    • After cleaning I want to let babies bottles air dry in their own special place.
  • Purge old kitchen and pantry stuff
    • Get rid of old food and expired spices, ect..
    • Organize the adult food it the pantry.
  • Purge any old dishware or appliances that we haven’t used in years and are just taking up space.

#2. The baby’s closet and room

I will have a toddler and a newborn sharing a closet so I have divided their space right down the middle: newborn boy on left and toddler girl on right.

  • Organize the baby’s clothes into size and season
    • After baby comes home I know I will be way too tired to sift through onsies to find the right sizes.
  • Hang as much clothing as possible
    • I have found that it is so much easier and more organized to keep my kid’s stuff hanging up in the closet.
  • Things tend to get lost in the bottom of bins and backs of drawers. Hanging clothes on hangers makes them easier to see and keeps them from getting wrinkled.
  • Sort accessories
    • Assign drawers or use tools to organize socks, headbands, hats, mittens, and other tiny accessories in place.

#3. Purge stuff and deep clean

De-clutering is great. It is so much easier to keep an organized house when you dont have a bunch of extra stuff you don’t need or use all over the house. My philosophy is that if it’s not serving a purpose or bringing me joy in some way then it’s got to go. Physical clutter just makes things more stressful because it makes the house messier and harder to keep picked up.

  • Stuff to organize and purge
    • Go through bathrooms, kitchen, toy stations, bedrooms and even garage.
    • Donate old toys that are no longer being used.
    • Donate our daughters clothes that she has grown out of to other friends having little girls.
    • Anything that doesn’t have a purpose and we haven’t used in two years needs to be donated to someone who will use it.
  • Deep clean the kitchen
    • Get rid of old food and expired spices.
    • Organize the pantry.
  • Hire a house cleaner
    • I really want to have the bathrooms cleaned really well, specifically the bathtubs.

#4. Other random stuff

  • Make and freeze foods
    • Prepare and freeze frozen lasagnas and crock pot cooker ingredients.
      • Note: Cooking is not my thing. We will see how successful I really am at this task. My idea of cooking has always been to throw a bunch of things in a bowl and mix it together. That is why I make a lot of salads and smoothies in my nutri bullet. However, I don’t want to have to keep running off to the store with two tiny humans in tow. I’ll give it my best.
  • Big items I still need for the new baby
    • a double stroller

      My most important final nesting goal is to spend as much one-on -one time with this adorable unicorn as possible.

    • a second sound machine
    • a second video camera for viewing baby in crib.

That’s it! Phew, I’m getting tired just looking at all these nesting goals. We will see how much of this I can actually get done in the next five weeks. I need to keep in mind that I still have a two-year-old to care for and I am scheduled to work until 6 days before I give birth. So, it is probably a good idea for me to keep my expectations within a reasonable range.

There is a saying: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll end up among the stars.” (I work better with positive motivation if you can’t tell already by my other posts). In other words, I can just do the best I can and surely I will get a large chuck of this done in time.

Thanks for reading!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

Pregnancy Kick Counts:  What I Just Learned About Fetal Movement

Pregnancy Kick Counts: What I Just Learned About Fetal Movement

*This post contains an affiliate link.  For more information about my disclosure policy click here.

I was not feeling the baby move as much for the last two days. So I did what I knew I was supposed to do: I laid down for an hour and started doing “kick counts.” After 1 hour of counting less then 10 fetal movements I was not reassured.

My husband drove me to the labor and delivery unit at our hospital. I called them first to explain the situation and they told me to come in and get checked out.  I am only in my 33rd week of pregnancy.

As I have written about before, I had a placental abruption when I was pregnant with my daughter at 33 weeks pregnant. We were able to have an emergency c – section and get her out safely in time (thank God!).

That is one of the reasons I am such a stickler about doing daily kick counts. They are the only way to determine fetal health in between doctor’s appointments.

(I have also been using an at-home fetal dopplar since I was 13 weeks with both my pregnancies. It definitely helped minimize my stress levels!  However, doing daily fetal kick counts is still the number one way to assess if the baby is in distress.)

I admit, I am probably getting a little paranoid considering the circumstances that happened during my first pregnancy. But I figured it was better to be safe then sorry, even if the staff at the hospital thought I was totally overreacting (which they didn’t).

My trip to the labor and delivery unit was relatively fast and saved me from many days of worry.

Fortunately, everything looked great! The trip calmed my nerves so that I could get through until my next appointment in 2 weeks (they were so booked I had to wait 5 weeks in between appointments this time, which I think is way too long at this point anyway).

Of course once the baby was placed on a fetal monitor he started kicking, turning and jabbing. He was bouncing around and showing off like a good, healthy baby should.

The midwife even told me our baby “had the strongest heartbeat of all the babies on the unit.” I’m not sure if she was just trying to reassure me or she really had some difficult pregnancies to deal with at the time, but I was so glad I went in.

Doing “kick counts” after 28 weeks is so important.

I thought I knew everything there was to know about doing “kick counts” because I had done a lot of research on it. I even wrote a blog post about it.

To do kick counts you lay down on your left side and count the number of kicks or fetal movements you get in one hour. Most providers says that once you get to ten counts then you can stop counting. Then quit for that day and start again the next day.

You are looking for a significant decrease in movement from a previously normal pattern.

The Midwife taught me a few new things about doing “kick counts” that are SO important.

#1. Babies in utero have 40 minute sleep cycles.

Which means that if you don’t feel any kicks for the first hour then the fetal movements should pick up in the second hour.

#2. Eat something while you are laying down to do the kick counts.

Eating will wake the baby up some you can feel more fetal movement. Don’t eat and then wait an hour, because it will put the baby to sleep and you will feel less movement during that time.

#3. If you are ever concerned about the health and safety of your unborn child, it is always the right thing to get checked out.

There is no benefit in sitting at home worrying that there may be something wrong. I was reassured many times that if at any time I felt a decrease in fetal movement or had any other concerns about the health of the baby that I should not hesitate to come back in. The staff reiterated that to me several times.

Oh, the joys of pregnancy!

I am getting large and even though I am pretty wiped out most of the time, I actually am enjoying this (when I’m not scaring myself to death, that is).

Even though the extra “nesting” energy I had a few weeks ago has dissipated.

And I’m also still experiencing foggy pregnancy brain symptoms.

But aside from all that, I am so grateful to be in the midst of such a healthy pregnancy. There really is nothing better. It feels awesome to know that our baby is doing so well and that he growing normally.

Baby boy is still measuring 2 weeks ahead! I’m shooting for a potential 9 pounder!

Thanks for reading!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

World Prematurity Day 2017:  Important Facts About Premature Birth

World Prematurity Day 2017: Important Facts About Premature Birth

November 17th is World Prematurity Day.

Sarah and newborn Zoe

As a premature infant, our daughter had to spend extra time in the NICU. We were so thankful for our awesome NICU nurses.

As the mom of a premature infant I have written a lot about our own pre-term birth experience. We are extraordinarily fortunate that our daughter was born healthy and does not appear to have any side effects

Created by European parent organizations in 2008, World Prematurity Day was designated to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that worldwide, 15 million babies are born preterm and more than a million die as a result. Babies who survive often have lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, and intellectual disabilities.

Why is it so important to celebrate World Prematurity Day?

By celebrating this day we can increase understanding of pregnancy healthcare and educate families about premature birth. With increased awareness about the importance of pre and post-natal care and supporting political action in women’s healthcare, we can help support healthy families.

What makes a premature baby?

A premature baby is one who is born before 37 weeks gestational age.

  • A full term baby is between 37-42 weeks
  • A late preterm baby is between 34-36 weeks (most preemies are born in this stage)
  • Moderately preterm infants are born between 32 and 34 weeks
  • Very preterm infants are born less then 32 weeks
  • Extremely preterm are born before 25 weeks

A few other facts about premature birth:

  • Premature birth is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five worldwide.
  • The closer a baby comes to full term, generally the fewer the complications.
  • Babies born too early may have more health issues than babies born on time, and may face long-term health problems that affect the brain, the lungs, hearing or vision.

Warning signs of pre-term labor:

Little Zoe

Born at 33 weeks, Zoe was a moderately preterm preemie. She did a great job in the NICU.

  • 5 or more uterine contractions in 1 hour
  • low, dull backache
  • menstrual like cramps in lower abdomen
  • pelvic pressure that feels like your baby is pushing down
  • leaking watery fluid (may indicate “water” has broken)

If you do think you are having premature labor it is critical to seek medical attention right away because there are often steps that can be taken to delay or prevent a baby from being born prematurely.

My experience:

My experience with premature birth was due to a very rare condition called a placental abruption, where the placenta separates away from the uterus.

It is very important that at 28 weeks pregnant women start doing “kick counts.” Counting your baby’s fetal movement is one of the best ways to determine fetal health inside the womb in between doctors appointments. It is what made us decide to go to the hospital and ultimately saved our babies life.

After spending some time in the NICU we brought our 4lb 3oz baby girl home and she has been keeping us on our toes ever since.

“There are two ways to live your life.  One is though nothing is a miracle.  The other is though everything is. ” – Albert Einstien.   Born prematurely May 13, 1879.

Join the celebration on National Prematurity Day!

Read other amazing prematurity stories at

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

What NOT To Say To A Pregnant Woman

What NOT To Say To A Pregnant Woman

As a pregnant woman, I have gotten some really shocking comments lately.

Here are just a few of the comments I got at work the other day:

“Have a little too much Halloween candy, Sarah?”

“Your are getting big!”

“No more food for you.”

Yes, you heard that last one correctly.

Mind you, I’m not really that big… Yet, anyways. I still have 8 more weeks. I feel huge but in the realm of pregnant largeness I still have a ways to go. However, I’m embracing this final nesting stage entirely.

I have recently “popped” though and apparently people are feeling the need to comment. Sometimes not very appropriately.

If I didn’t know better I may have started to develop a complex. But I know that there will always be people who don’t think before they speak.

My reply remained the same for each not-so-appropriate comment: a polite “yes, I am aware that I am pregnant, thank you.”

But what I want to say is “have you never seen a pregnant lady before, you idiot?!”

3 pregnant women

At a friends baby shower where I fit right in!

Pregnancy is NOT an invitation to negatively comment on my body.

(You could be passive aggressive like me and wear this funny t-shirt).

Here are a few other things to never say to a pregnant women that should be obvious, but for some reason are not:

  • “Are you having twins?”
  • “You are so huge!”
  • “Wow!”
  • “You are still tiny, is the baby OK?” (obviously not my issue at the moment but I did hear that a lot during my first pregnancy and it did make me unnecessarily concerned.

Here are a few appropriate, kind things to say to a pregnant women:

  • “You look amazing.” (Or any other body positive comment- pregnant women are amazing. We create and incubate a life for 9 long months. Pretty much the coolest thing ever).
  • “How are you feeling?”
  • “You are glowing.”
  • “Let me know if you need anything.”
  • “What are you looking forward to the most?”

There are so many pleasant, supportive things to say to a pregnant women. Or you could just say nothing at all. Especially in the case that you are not absolutely certain that someone is 100% pregnant. Talk about mortifying.

Common sense if the key here. When in doubt if something you are about to say is not appropriate, then its probably best not to say it.

Did you have people say things about your size or state of pregnancy that hurt your feelings? How did you respond?

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Embracing The Nesting Phase of Pregnancy

Embracing The Nesting Phase of Pregnancy

I’m officially in the “nesting phase” of pregnancy.

The American Pregnancy Organization describes nesting as when pregnant women feel the “overwhelming desire to get your home ready for your new baby.”

That is exactly me in a nutshell right about now.

Bird making a nest

I am “nesting” just like this mama bird trying to get her home organized for her babies

I had my 30 week appointment a few days ago. Our little man is measuring at 32 weeks and is already weighing in at a hefty 4lbs 7oz. That’s already more then our daughter Zoe weighed at birth and she was 7 weeks early! So it already looks like I’m going to have a big baby boy.

Aside from feeling like a blimp I would say everything is pretty great. I am still able to work without restrictions (I do however have to wear compression stockings to get through 12 hour ER shifts).

So now I’m embracing my new nesting phase.

Just in the past week I have really gotten down to business:

My house has never been so clean and organized.

Our house never really gets super messy, but I have been feeling the urge to clean and organize much more then usual. For example, before 7:30am this morning I had already vacuumed the house, finished a load of laundry and organized the kitchen cupboards.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a clean house. But I am way more into cleaning and organizing this week then I have been in a really long time.

I organized all my to-do lists on Trello

I am 99% paperless and hate having lists floating around my house. If it isn’t able to be easily accessed on my phone then I might as well not even have it. Especially now that I am a mom. Paper lists just aren’t practical anymore.

Recently I discovered an amazing app called Trello and it has revolutionized my organization and planning skills. Trello basically allows me to organize and prioritizes my to-do lists and projects using boards, lists and cards. It’s all on my phone and easy to access.

I easily organized my personal boards by: grocery lists, random to-do lists, house projects, new baby to do-lists, and blog to do list. Each list can be broken down into separate cards and you can make notes on each one.

For example, my blog board is separated into 3 separate topics: mom, nurse and website to-do. I can further organize my mom board into additional topics : baby/kid, mom, pregnancy, health, environmental. Then each of those is broken down with individual “cards” that I can add specific tasks to.

It sounds confusing but it is seriously the best for people who like to be organized and efficient. It has really helped enhance my “nesting” abilities.

I am purging anything I dont’ use or need.

I am really trying to minimize the stuff in our house. If it is not serving a purpose of bringing me joy in some way, it is leaving the Jividen household.

This week’s priority was my closet. If I haven’t worn it in a year, it got tossed. In fact, I have never owned so few clothes in my life. And it actually feels really good. Everything I have now I actually wear (or will wear as soon as I’m not a pregnant mama anymore).

Next stop: the garage! That will be a much bigger task.

I organized my kid’s closet.

Our kids are going to share a room for the foreseeable future (wish me luck on this one). Fortunately, the room has a nice sized walk-in closet with plenty of room for both kid’s wardrobes and storage.

Each child now has there own very organized side of the closet, split right down the middle. I even organized all their clothing by size and season. Nesting win.

In preparation for baby #2 I boxed up all of our daughter’s outgrown baby clothes into large bins, and they are ready for delivery to my other soon-to-be mama friends. They surely must also be in nesting mode and organizing like crazy like I am.

I had a 2nd crib delivered tonight.

Thank god for Amazon Prime. What in the world did mom’s do before it existed?

I am only 2.5 weeks away for the time I gave birth to Zoe at 33 weeks and 7 weeks prematurely. So I really don’t see this as jumping the gun at all because babies really can show up at any time.

Zoe may be a little confused as to why she has 2 cribs in her room now, but that’s OK. It will give her time to get used to it before another small human comes in.

We are buying a new car this weekend.

A Subaru Outback to be exact. After about a year of research into what the safest automobile is for small children, the Subaru Outback keeps coming back as the clear winner. I had one once before when I lived in Denver and they really are dependable and safe cars.

We will be donating my husbands car this weekend too.

My Christmas decorations are ready to be put up.

Little Zoe smiling

My nesting list includes decorating for Christmas as soon as it is socially acceptable. How can I resist when this little face is so excited about decorations?

This one has been HUGE for me this week. In my nesting frenzy, I am so excited to get ready for the holidays. Especially now that our 2 year old daughter is so ecstatic about special events and decorations. It just makes it so much more fun for me.

Seriously, if it wasn’t considered inappropriate I would have starting putting up our tree tonight (3 weeks before Thanksgiving). I just ordered a new, much larger tree since we have the space for it now and it was just delivered this afternoon.

On my Trello app I have already listed which new tree decorations I will be purchasing this week. I am so excited to get them and decorate that I can barely wait.

I’m not sure where this burst of extra energy is coming from.

But I’m going with it until the baby tells me I’m tired again. It’s not like I have any extra time or anything. I’m still working almost 40 hours a week as an emergency room nurse and I have a very energetic toddler at home.

I have read that there is an evolutionary component to the nesting phase that women have during there pregnancies. Apparently there have been several studies done on this maternal phenomenon. I experienced the same thing during my first pregnancy with my daughter. Only I had way more time to do it!

Whatever it is that is giving my ever-growing body an extra kick, Ill take it. I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m too big to even want to do a lot of these things. Until then, I will continue nesting away!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love