My due date is in just a few days. Yep, I’m in that very last stage of pregnancy, when there’s not much you can do other than watch your body swell to unbelievable proportions and reminisce of the days when you could get up without grunting.
I’ve been busy getting ready for number three to join our family. If you’re also pregnant right now, be it with your fifth or your first, handling these last few weeks can be no picnic. (I know you know.)
Here are my tips for making the most of the time before your newborn enters the world.
1. Smile and wave.
You know the common advice given right now, by everyone from your mother to a total stranger: “Enjoy sleeping now because you won’t for a long time once the baby’s here.” Anyone who’s been pregnant in the past five years knows this is a moot suggestion because you haven’t been sleeping for at least six weeks.
Your body aches, heartburn is horrific, and you can’t seem to escape the heat. There’s no way to enjoy sleep if you’re not getting any anyway.
People also love commenting on how huge you are. “Are you sure you’re not due today?”—I hear that from total strangers at least daily right now. I’m 5’2, plus I’m short-waisted: I go nowhere but out when I’m pregnant.
It’s beyond me why people find it appropriate to say things like this, but they do, and they usually mean well. All the belly rubs, the unsolicited advice, and the well wishes are usually meant with good intentions.
Just smile and wave… move on. Don’t get worked up by innocent-yet-naive comments, and don’t say anything you’ll regret.
2. Go ahead and nest…
This is common sign of being near labor—something in women clicks, and we just have to clean out the fridge or organize the garage right now, before the baby arrives.
With my first, my husband woke up at 4 a.m. to find me overhauling the front entry closet. I couldn’t sleep, and something in me was propelled to organize that thing.
Enjoy the last few weeks before the nonstop nursing and endless diaper changes. Take time to sew, organize, or paint walls, especially if it’ll make you feel better.
3. …But don’t stress—you don’t need much for the first few weeks.
One look at a major chain’s registry suggestion, and you’d think you would need a part-time job to balance the budget with a new baby. You really, truly, honestly don’t need that much for the first few months.
Photo by Steve Evans
Enjoy nesting and preparing for your baby, but don’t add needless stress by buying into the hype that you need a bunch of stuff. Just prepare for the beginning, and you’ll soon learn what your baby truly needs.
In fact, all you really need to have on hand is:
• your hospital bag or labor kit
• some place for your baby to sleep
• a car seat, so that you’re legally allowed to leave with your baby
• basic clothing
• burp cloths
• a pacifier, just in case
You might also add little gifts for older siblings, or maybe a new “big brother or sister” t-shirt for the big birth day. This is pretty much it.
4. Give yourself a reality check.
Even if you’re a pro at caring for a newborn, it’s easy to forget those early weeks and months. I just skimmed through a baby care book, and was reminded of so many things I’ve forgotten from my first two.
Admitting the reality heading your way will help lesson the blow… a little. Remember?
• Sometimes you’ll nurse every two hours for a baby that takes an hour each feeding. You do the math of what your day will be like.
• Newborn poop goes everywhere.
• Breastfeeding hurts, even when you’ve done it many times.
• It’ll hurt to cough, sneeze, or laugh for quite a while.
It’s still worth it, of course, and there are so many great things about the early stages (they sleep anywhere, they require only the basic care, and they’re so darn cute when they’re that tiny). But it’s good to give yourself a refresher course in Newborns 101: a Reminder.
Photo by Cia de Foto
5. Take care of yourself.
You’re not feeling at your best right now, so do a little something to perk you up. Go get a great haircut. Enjoy a pedicure. Buy a cute nursing nightgown for those first few days. Get some fresh air with a daily walk. Check out a good book at the library. Drink lots of water.
6. Go on dates.
On my firstborn’s due date, I asked my doctor if there was anything I could do to help speed things along. His advice? “Go on a date.”
I was so annoyed at his less-than-therapeutic suggestion, but we went out to dinner and a movie anyway, and a week later she was born. Then I really understood what he meant.
Photo by Zenobia Joy
As miserable as those last days of pregnancy can be, they won’t last much longer. Get a babysitter for your older kids and go out with your spouse. Enjoy the time before the crazy newborn phase.