Hey everyone! Dale here! I’m taking over Ty’s blog today to share some Dad tips. More specifically, I’m helping new dads with the following question: what should new dads pack in their hospital bag.
What should new dads pack in their hospital bag?
Tyler shared her list with me, which got me thinking. What should new dads pack in their hospital bag? Because we don’t know when we’ll head to the hospital, I’m planning for an extended stay that could begin right away. After our scare at 33 weeks, I thought I better not wait to get my hospital bag packed for our stay in the labor and delivery wing of Mercy.
Hospitals are notorious for 1) being cold, 2) having bad lighting (hey… I’m a photographer and these things are important), 3) bland food, and 4) uncomfortable sleeping situations. I’m making every effort to combat these with what I think new dads should pack in their hospital bag.
How to stay warm at the hospital
I love cold weather, but hate feeling cold. Welcome to the paradox that rules my life. It’s the reason I drive with the windows down but the heated seats on. It’s the reason I leave the back door open with the fireplace on. Don’t judge me. Maybe it’s because viruses thrive at warmer temperatures (I’m sure it’s not), but hospitals are ALWAYS cold. I plan on staying warm so I’m packing a throw blanket (I might even take my gravity blanket), hoodies, and sweatpants. I also packed 2 nice outfits for when visitors arrive, but I’ll be in my cozy clothes most of the time. And for my toes, I packed my thick winter socks, and the hotel slippers I swiped from the Capital Hotel (are these free for the taking? I’ve never asked!).
How to take good pictures in a hospital room
Here’s something I know quite a bit about. I was the founder of this area’s Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep chapter, a non-profit that gifts bereavement photography to families in Northwest Arkansas. While I no longer take these sessions (they’re still available, but I handed over the reins to a fellow photographer), I learned a lot about how to take good pictures in a hospital room. I’m bringing my Canon R camera with 50mm 1.2 lens, my Canon 600EX flash, my Ice Light, plenty of batteries, and plenty of SD cards. I’m also bringing my card reader and laptop so I can edit during baby’s nap time.
We actually have our lovely friend, Anna, who is a birth photographer, coming to photograph Dilly’s arrival. My camera is merely for candids and maybe some newborn portraits if I feel inspired to work while at the hospital. Otherwise, I’m looking forward to just being a dad to a newborn baby!
If you started reading this paragraph to learn how to take good pictures in a hospital room, here are my top 5 tips for photographing in a hospital room:
1) Use window light! Most hospital rooms have windows. Placing yourself between a window and your subject will light them with natural light, which typically looks much better than the overhead lights of a hospital room.
2) Use a bounce flash or handheld LED light. I don’t like shooting direct flash on subjects, so bouncing a flash off the ceiling or a side wall gives more natural looking light. Likewise, holding an LED light at a 45 or 90 degree angle to your subject is a great approach to hospital portraits.
3) Get close to your subject. Hospital rooms have so many distracting objects (machines, emergency switch panels, signs full of words, etc). Getting close to your subject eliminates these objects and creates a more intimate image.
4) Use a low-light lens with a shallow depth of field. Another way to eliminate distracting elements and create an intimate feeling image is by shooting with a low-light lens. I have a 1.2 aperture lens (which is quite expensive), but there are “thrifty-fifties” for less than a hundred bucks that have an aperture of 1.8 and are well-suited for low light situations.
5) Use a high ISO. While the trade-off is high noise (or “grain”), shooting with a high ISO like 3200 or 6400 ensures that you won’t have blurry pictures. New cameras have a really nice noise reduction, so you don’t lose a ton of quality when shooting low light images in a hospital room. I’d rather have a grainy image than a motion-blurry image any day!
How to eat well at the hospital
The only thing I know more about than photography is eating well, hahaha! They don’t give Michelin Stars or James Beard awards to hospital cafeterias, so I’m taking a few precautions to make sure my tastebuds are happy.
I’m bringing spices! I love tajin, especially on fruit like avocados, cantelope, and pineapples. Veggie tacos also benefit from this spice blend! You might think I’m extra for bringing Tajin, but be honest… you wish you thought of it. On the spice train, I’m also a salt snob. I’m bringing my Umami salt (with mushroom powder and other yummy stuff), and my flakey sea salt, which I use as finishing salt when I cook in my own kitchen. That’s how I “spice up” the food offerings at the hospital. See what I did there?
I’m also bringing lots of vegan snacks. I’m not sure what the hospital will have when it comes to vegan food. Though Taco Bell is two blocks from the hospital, I won’t want to leave my Ty and my Dilly. So, I’m bringing loads of Kind bars, gatorade, and Red Bull (in case I need wings). Our room has a refrigerator, so I might bring Oatly Milk if I remember to grab it on my way out the door.
Oh, one more thing… I ziplock full of quarters for the vending machines will come in handy if all else fails.
How to sleep well at the hospital
I already mentioned my gravity blanket, but that’s not all I’m bringing to make sure I make the best of a bad SLEEPING situation. My pillow is making the trip for sure, but here are a few other things I’m bringing to make sure I get some quality shut eye. First and foremost, I’m bringing my dopp kit. In it, I have everything I need for my nightly routine. Face wash, eye cream, and lotion are a few things that I do at home when I’m ready to relax. Also hospitals are notoriously dry so this will save me.
I thought about bringing Sleep-Aid (that bottle that looks like NyQuil), but I don’t wanna be groggy so it’s staying behind.
How to stay entertained at the hospital
Because we have no idea how long we will be in the hospital, I’ve made every effort to keep us entertained. Our room has a DVD player, and Tyler has every DVD ever made; however, that can get heavy. I plan on taking my Apple TV and using the HDMI port to hook it up and watch Disney+, Lifetime Christmas movies, or whatever we’re currently binging on Netflix.
If Tyler needs peace and quiet, I packed a couple magazines and my AirPods to watch movies on my laptop. We’re also covered if she needs a dance party or music to set a certain vibe. I’ve got my Bose speaker packed and ready to play.
The Push Gift
I got Tyler two push gifts. One I can tell you about and one I have to keep a secret. During our recent hospital visit, Tyler’s eyes filled with tears when we thought we had to stay in the hospital. She said she was sad because she hadn’t even bought a baby book yet. Since it’s my mission in life to sooth all Ty’s sadness, I researched baby books the next day and paid for expedited shipping on this baby book. I chose it because I already know and love Artifact Uprising because of their high quality and beautiful design. We are excited to get started filling out the story of “Dilly.”
Random other things for the hospital bag
There are a few other can’t-forget items I’m including. Some sundry items to include are medications, phone charger, extension cord, ziplock bags, and walmart sacks. Because you never know when you’ll need one (I use them for dirty clothes).
So, that’s what should new dads pack in their hospital bag! It’s already packed and ready to go, but hopefully it’ll sit by the door for a few more weeks!
Am I forgetting anything?