N was three days overdue. It is hysterical to me now, that at the time, these three days felt like months. Beginning a week before he was due, I started pouting and moping around like having to wait for my baby was the biggest inconvenience in the world! Partly due to this attitude but also because I was so uncomfortable, I decided to begin my maternity leave immediately after my due date, baby or no baby. I was due on a Friday. On Sunday evening, realizing I had a bad attitude and that this moping wasn’t doing anyone any good, I decided to take advantage of the free time I would have before the baby came. I made a list of all of the things I was going to due on Monday – chores, errands, and more baby prep. I felt relieved and refreshed after I made this commitment. The only problem: I was too late. I went into labor at 3 am on Monday morning. In hindsight, here’s what I would tell my pouting self to do the day before I had my baby.
Take a Breath and be Patient
This baby WILL come. But it will be on his terms. Instead of being frustrated and impatient, enjoy the last day of your pregnancy. Relish the feeling of growing a baby inside your body and treasure the time that he is still, really, only yours. You are about to embark on an experience you will have few times in your life. Each moment, insignificant as it may seem, will replay in your head over and over because few experiences in life are so special.
Take a Nap
You will be blessed with a decent sleeper and a wonderful partner who shares, if not bares the brunt of, night duty. But you will still be exhausted. Even though you may get close to eight hours of sleep, it will be interrupted. And that will be a game changer. Once your baby is a toddler and pretty much sleeping through every night, you will still wake up to check on him…because of his sleep talking…or because your husband is getting out of bed to check on him…or because it’s been too long since you have seen his face. And we don’t have a teenager yet, but I imagine we will wake up to make sure he hasn’t sneaked out or, worse, sneaked someone in. In some way, the cycle will probably always continue. So, take a nap. You may never sleep the same way again. Forget all of the things on your mental to-do list and just…sleep.
Spend Extra Time with Your Partner
Find some time today to be each other’s only focus. It may be a bit harder to find time for each other in the coming days, weeks, months and years. Make promises to each other to be understanding, forgiving, and loving as you enter parenthood. You will want to reflect on and hold tightly to these promises as you navigate new phases and life changes together. Remember why you fell in love and don’t forget each of you still deserves the best of the other. (Hopefully you’ve already talked about expectations of each other as parents. But if you haven’t, better late than never.) Reminisce, revel in the moment, and dream for your future.
Do Something for Yourself
Sure, you will have moments you do things for yourself. But most likely, they will be planned and, many times, they will need to be canceled or postponed. This is the responsibility you are signing up for; to put someone else’s needs ahead of yours. Should you still take time for yourself? Of course. But it won’t really be the same, at least not for a while. Even in the moments you decide to get a pedicure or grab drinks with the girls, you will almost always feel sad about missing out on what’s going on at home, feel guilty because you haven’t seen him enough this week, or will be rushing somewhere else and only be halfheartedly enjoying your personal time. Don’t worry, being a parent comes with lots of good stuff too, so it hardly seems like an inconvenience. But, just once more, do something for yourself that comes with pure freedom to enjoy it.
Stop Worrying if you have Maternal Instincts
Your concern about your ability to raise a child is silly and unfounded. It will be helpful that you have spent so much time reading and educating yourself. But, you have ignored the possibility that in many situations, you will just know and feel what is right or needed. You have spent too much time worrying that you wouldn’t be comfortable with your own newborn. The people who told you that your own baby will be different, were right. The moment you hold this baby in your arms, you will be at home. You won’t understand it and you will surprise yourself but it will be perfect and lovely.
Reflecting is a funny thing. While I’m a firm believer in it, the clarity it offers, and direction it provides going forward, I wouldn’t want to see the future. There is an innocence and magic in anticipation and the unknown. During my pregnancy wishing and dreaming about my baby and our future brought me so much joy. If I would have known how tired I would be some days or how it would take me more than a year to recognize myself again, this joy would have been tarnished. I’m sure there is lots of other advice you’d give yourself on the day before you became a parent. Please share!
Also a big happy birthday to my-father-in-law who is the best Pops to our little N! Hope you have a wonderful day! We love you thiiiiiiis much!
Maternity photos in this post were taken by the wonderful Ginger Haddock with Fern Bird Photography.