Courtesy of Mary Sauer

I Packed My Hospital Bag Way Ahead Of Time & Forgot The Most Important Thing

I'm not exactly what you would call an organized person. Honestly, I'm kind of a hot mess. Most days, I'm simply dealing with issues as they come up, with no real plan for what may need to be handled next. I make spontaneous trips to the store after using the last diaper. I sift through the refrigerator, throwing random ingredients together into a semi-nutritious dinner. I throw my kids in the car at the last minute, upon realizing I completely spaced a doctor's appointment.

When I'm pregnant, I'm a completely different person. I make lists and plans, and I follow through. I organize my house, cook extra meals for my freezer and stock up on the essentials I'll need after I give birth. Typically, during the third trimester, you can find me cleaning out closets I haven't touched since the last time I was pregnant.

During my second pregnancy, I even packed my hospital bag over a month ahead of time. My first pregnancy, I gave birth at 41 weeks, so packing so early was pretty unnecessary. Still, my nesting urge took over and I packed my hospital bag long before I needed it. I checked the contents at least 10 times, but I still forgot the most important thing.

Courtesy of Mary Sauer

Packing a hospital bag is an art form, really. My first pregnancy, I packed way more than I needed. Looking back, I feel embarrassed as I remember my husband and I needing two hospital dollies to move our belongings from my delivery room to my recovery room. Multiple trips were needed to get everything in our car when the time finally came to take our baby home.

When I started to think about packing my bag for my second delivery, I knew I wanted to do a better job planning what I would, and wouldn't, bring with me. I started early, making a list and even talking my husband through the essential items in case I went into labor without a packed hospital bag. I revised my list more than once, determined not to overpack again. I crossed off make-up, whittled my clothing down to one set of pajamas and one outfit to wear home. I left my laptop home, where it belonged.

By 35 weeks, I had what I considered to be the perfect hospital bag check-list and packed everything I could that week. I made a copy of my list for the refrigerator and placed the original on top of my bag, ready to throw in the few items left at the last minute.

Courtesy of Mary Sauer

Well, I didn't go into labor early and when I did, things progressed pretty slowly. Even so, it was nice to have my bag packed so I could focus on resting and working through my contractions. Once my contractions were a few minutes apart, we grabbed my bag and made our way to the hospital.

It wasn't until 12 hours later, when my doctor excitedly told me it was time to push, that we realized we had forgotten the most important thing. All of my planning and re-packing and I still forgot to check to see if our camera battery was fully charged. My daughter made her way into the world, and we were forced to capture her first few minutes of life with our crappy cell-phone cameras.

The thing is, even if I forgot a spare outfit to wear when I left the hospital or my toothbrush, that would have been OK. My husband could have made a trip home and brought back clothes, and most hospitals have toothbrushes available to their patients. But during labor, there wasn't a chance for my husband to run home or charge our camera battery. I could have forgotten anything else without any real consequences, but bringing my uncharged camera was the worst thing I could have forgotten.

During my next pregnancy, I wasn't as prepared. I didn't pack my bag until week 39 and there was no check-list on the refrigerator. I did, however, check and recheck my camera battery more than once in the weeks leading up to his due date.

Courtesy of Mary Sauer

To this day, I still look at the grainy and dark pictures from my second child's birth and wish I hadn't forgotten our camera. I wish I had a better shot of her and I together, when she laid on my chest for the first time, like I do with my other two children. I worry that it will bother her that her siblings have those first moments captured and she doesn't. But if there's any advice I could offer to moms-to-be, it's this: never leave your camera at home.