6) Enjoy those lasts before the firsts begin
It’s easy to get carried away in the excitement of being pregnant and the anticipation of meeting your new baby but don’t rush things. Everything will happen in due time and once that baby is here life will never be the same.
Especially for your first child, enjoy time with your friends, family and partner while you can. Sure they’ll still be there after you give birth but life will never be the same again. You don’t have to spend a lot of money going out and doing things but the next time you’re out taking a walk be sure to really take in your surroundings and lock the moment into your memory. This is a special time in your life that can never be recreated, take the time to enjoy every last minute of it. Also prioritize your spare time wisely. Perhaps the laundry can wait and it’s more important to meet up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
Life with a newborn is really crazy at first (or so I’ve been told) and you’ll need those last several weeks of rest and time of reflection to get through the rough patches. Now is the time to jot down your feelings and capture what your life was like in this moment. Perhaps write a letter to your baby, capture your experiences of being pregnant or a love letter to the person who got you into this mess to begin with. You’re full of emotions now but in another few months all of that will be a fading memory as you’re knee deep in diapers and bottles. Capture your experiences now before you can’t remember what you did before you heard crying around the clock.
7) Cut yourself some slack
There is no perfect pregnancy or perfect pregnant woman. For all the research you can do and advice you can hear, you’ll get to a point where you just need to sit back and relax. If you eat that extra treat your baby isn’t going to come out cross eyed and if you decide to stay at home and sleep instead of getting together with friends again they won’t be mad at you (if they’re good friends).
Being pregnant is a hard, long road. Some will get an attitude because society tells us you should be happy to be pregnant and all glowy and loving every minute of it. Well that’s crap. Before you were pregnant you had bad days right? Well it’s okay to have a bad day during your pregnancy too. Keep in mind it’s just that though, one day that will pass and you’ll need to move on to the next.
As you get further along you’ll begin to slow down and not have the physical ability or stamina you used to have. It’s okay to go to only one store on your list per day instead of the five you’d usually do. For me sometimes a grocery store run is a huge effort (and sometimes I send in the husband with a list while I wait in the car) If you’re tired, take a nap or go to bed early. Not everything has to be finished right now. Treat your body well first and all the rest will follow in time.
8) Reality Check
Related to the above remember that no matter where you are in life there will always be those who are better off than you and there will always be those who have it worse than you. For those difficult days remind yourself why you are going through all of this – to have a healthy happy baby. Not everyone is lucky enough to get to have a baby when they want one. Not everyone is lucky enough to be as healthy as you are during their pregnancy.
It’s okay to be upset or have a bad day but try to keep things in perspective. Focus on the positives and maybe you’ll get through your funk quicker. Remember, some people are going through being tired, swollen and in pain and it’s not because of a happy thing like being pregnant.
9) Ask Early, Ask Often
People love babies and people love to offer help. Now is the time in your life to call upon those in your circle for help. If someone offers to help you out don’t let it pass as a nice thing they say, take them up on it!
During your last months of pregnancy you’ll need help with chores and anything that requires bending, lifting heavy things or going up and down stairs a lot. Now is not the time to be modest or think you’ll have time to finish everything on your list by yourself. Open up your life and home a little and ask folks to help you with preparing and cleaning your house, rotating laundry, running errands, getting organized, putting together baby gear or doing research. I was amazed at the things our friends and family helped us with without hesitation. And after their hard work they were still our friends and came back for more!
Once the baby is home you can use the extra hands with keeping your house running (dishes, laundry and grocery store runs) getting dinner on the table and emotional support as you figure out how to be a parent. Maybe there is someone who lives close who can fold laundry on Sundays or a friend further away who can be your phone call counselor when you need an ear to talk to. Think through how you’ll ask for help and get folks lined up to step in during the first couple months after the baby is born.
Just don’t take any of it for granted, thank them really meaningfully and make sure they know it wasn’t a small thing for them to come and help you out – you really needed the help and they made a big difference.
10) This Too Shall Pass
Maybe it’s just from us anticipating the arrival of twins but realize that the first few months (years?) after the birth will be very very difficult. You’ll be emotional, physically exhausted, stressed out and at times unsure of your ability to be a parent. The one thing I have heard from EVERY parent of twins we’ve talked to in the last six months – it gets easier. Not everything will come naturally and that’s okay.
You’ll be sleep deprived and thinking the crying will never stop but it will, eventually. One day you’ll wake up and discover you can change a diaper with ease, sooth your baby, get chores done around the house again and actually go outside and enjoy the day. It all just takes time. Take it one day at a time and know that each completed day is a small victory and the only moment you have to get through is the present.
Bonus tip: WATER
I never thought water could taste as wonderful as it did to me when I was pregnant so for me this was an easy one. Staying hydrated is a powerful thing. You’ll have less headaches, less swelling and fewer early contractions if you drink enough water. Think of your baby swimming in a reservoir that needs to be constantly replenished. You are the one who can provide that fresh environment for your baby so you’ll need enough water each and every day to achieve that goal. Add on top of that an extra glass or two for you. Your body needs enough water every day to flush your system of the extra fluid waste making your feet swell up and to hydrate your muscles to keep contractions at bay.
So fill up a glass of ice cold water and toast yourself to good health, a happy disposition and the confidence to know you are stronger than you think you are and will be able to achieve so many great things in the year to come.