You’ve got the nursery all set up. The newborn clothes are washed, sorted and tucked neatly in the dresser. The diaper-changing station is ready to go and the car seat installed. There’s nothing left to do now but wait… and wait… and wait…
In the grand scheme of 40 weeks’ gestation, the last three or four should feel like the blink of an eye. But, as most of us can attest, they end up feeling longer than the entire preceding nine months. (Except, perhaps, for that miserable first trimester that seemed to drag on forever.)
The uncertainty makes it all the more challenging. Your baby could be here tomorrow. Or next week. Or six weeks from now.
Every little twinge triggers a rush of adrenaline: Could something be happening? Nope? Carry on.
You’re struggling to stay focused (and awake) at work. Your hips and back are constantly aching. Your well-meaning relatives are quick to answer their phones when you call — or they may be calling you on a daily basis, perhaps disguising their check-ins with some mundane pretense. (I can’t count the number of times I dropped everything to answer a call that went something along the lines of, “Oh hi honey, I forgot to ask you, how’s the weather been lately?”) And it’s impossible to commit to anything without the hopeful caveat, “unless I’m in labor.”
Meanwhile, you’re torn between desperately wanting that day to finally be here and feeling guilty for fantasizing about an early arrival. (If this is your first baby, say hello to mom guilt — it’ll be your constant companion for the next 18 years.)
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being off-the-charts eager to meet the tiny person who’s been kicking your ribs and head-butting your cervix. But don’t forget to savor the here-and-now.
Though you may not see it at the moment, this in-between time of watching and waiting is unlike any other. You’ve spent nearly ten months growing and nurturing this baby. You’ve also probably spent weeks nesting, and your house is as spick-and-span as it ever will be. Now’s the time to take it all in — to breathe a sigh of relief and just “be.”
Here are some strategies for getting through these last few weeks (and maybe even enjoying them).
Talk to your baby
It may seem strange (unless you have a toddler and are already used to narrating your entire day out loud), but speaking to your baby is a great way to bond with your little one. Research has found that newborns recognize their parents’ voices. In fact, they can even respond to songs or nursery rhymes if you repeat them enough during the last few months of pregnancy. So don’t be shy. Pick out a favorite book and read it aloud. Belt out your favorite song in the shower. Tell your baby how excited you are to kiss that itty-bitty nose.
Document that baby bump
You may feel as large and unsightly as a hippopotamus. Cataloging that look for posterity may be last on your list of priorities. Yet — and you’ll have to trust me here — it’s well worth the time and discomfort to document these last few weeks. Take plenty of photos and consider hiring a professional photographer for a family portrait session. Record a video of those alien-looking wiggles in your belly. You don’t have to put it on Facebook or Instagram; just the act of capturing these fleeting moments will open your eyes to how truly precious they are.
Looking back, you’ll appreciate every photo and video. And so will your little one.
Go ahead and nest
What is it about the last trimester of pregnancy that makes you want to declutter every closet and pantry in the house? (In my case, even the makeup-and-nail-polish drawer became the target of an ambitious reorganization campaign.) Suddenly that backburner list of house projects becomes desperately urgent. You need everything to be perfect before Baby arrives — right down to that extra tube of Desitin at the spare diaper-changing station.
Making these physical preparations also helps you mentally prepare. There’s no surer way to convince yourself that yes, this really is happening, than packing your hospital bag with those sweet and oh-so-tiny newborn clothes.
Just don’t go overboard. Realize that, realistically, not everything will get done. A month before your due date probably isn’t the best time to start implementing “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” with its six-month commitment to overhauling your entire house. (Why yes, I’ll admit that book wasn’t the best impulse purchase at 36 weeks pregnant.) Plus, no matter how spotless your house is now, it’ll likely deteriorate into a category-five disaster zone within a few weeks after the baby’s arrival.
I know, I know … Nothing earth-shattering here. Every pregnancy advice column — not to mention every well-intentioned stranger in the checkout line — will tell you to pamper yourself at every stage of pregnancy. But it’s even more important these last few weeks.
Set aside some “me time” to do something you find truly relaxing. Perhaps that means a spa day, a pedicure, a massage or even just a few hours to snuggle in with a good book. If you have other kids, arrange to have someone else look after them. Heck, even make it a weekly thing — a date night with just you and baby. (But don’t neglect date nights with your significant other, either.)
Don’t forget: The end is in sight
You’re probably tired of hearing how fast it’ll go — especially if this is your first. Soon enough, you’ll once again be able to see your own feet, tie your shoes and do the dishes without getting that pesky water line where your belly hits the sink. You’ll start to forget what it felt like to be woken up by a sharp jab to the ribs. You’ll be the one telling other pregnant women to pamper themselves. And you may even feel a twinge of envy when you see a pregnant woman absentmindedly stroking her belly, realizing how beautiful she is and what a magical time of life she’s in.
So try to soak up this time of transition. The best reward of all is just around the corner, and your adorable little sweet-cheeks will be well worth the wait.