Well here I am 2 weeks postpartum, and still feeling like I am living in an alternate universe where rules like the passage of time and the presence of order don’t have any bearing whatsoever.
But here we are. No longer pregnant, but thinking back to the nights of having to pry myself out of bed ten times just to go pee; to waking up at 4am on the dot to little (and not-so-little) baby kicks; to honking the horn with my belly when I got in and out of the car. My third trimester was uncomfortable, hot (Denver had the hottest September on record this year), and felt like it lasted forever. But it did eventually, miraculously, end… And here’s what it taught me in the meantime.
- As soon as you start to think “There’s no way I can get bigger than this,” you will get bigger. At 32 weeks I remember thinking that there was no way my body could sustain any more growth… and then at 40 weeks I looked back at a picture of myself at 32 weeks and thought, “I was so tiny!”
- You have to embrace the little victories. Like when you sneeze without peeing, get through a meal without dropping food on your belly, or sleep more than 2 hours at a time (even if deep down you know that it means you are probably dehydrated. Oops).
- Nesting is real. But it has nothing to do with buying baby crap, and everything to do with suddenly feeling an incredible urge to vacuum your headboard and scrub the tray in your toaster oven.
- Learning to tune out the opinions around you is harder than it sounds, but so very necessary. When I hit 38 weeks, it was like a switch flipped and people suddenly started commenting on my belly and giving me advice everywhere I went. Depending on who was dishing out the commentary, I either hadn’t “dropped” yet, was going to pop at any second, was having a boy because I was carrying in front or a girl because I was carrying high, etc. etc. At first it was amusing but pretty soon I learned to just smile at people when they started dishing out their opinions… And then scowl at them once they turned around.
- Don’t let yourself believe that you are going to go into labor early. My whole pregnancy, I was convinced I would go into labor at 38 or 39 weeks, and I ignored everyone (and by everyone I mean science and medical statistics) who told me that the average first-time pregnancy lasts just a little more than 40 weeks, not less than. The result was that the last 3 weeks of my pregnancy seemed to last about 3 months. If you’re pregnant, convince yourself you’re going to go to 41 weeks… and then if you get to finish up a little early, then yay for you.
- Listen to your instinct to stop buying more maternity clothes and just wear the one pair of maternity jeans and two impossibly stretchy t-shirts you have left.
- Eat all the things and don’t look back. I had at least one ice cream sandwich every day in my last month of pregnancy, and I didn’t even feel a little bit bad about it.
- Pamper yourself and own the fact that you deserve it. One of my favorite things about my third trimester was that being super pregnant unlocked an awesome instinct of unapologetic self-care. Usually I try to tough things out or make excuses for why I can’t afford to give my body the care that it wants, but in my last month of pregnancy I was getting chiropractic care, massages, and acupuncture every week (including an acupuncture induction session the morning before I went into labor… just saying), and once I hit 38 weeks my only goals were to be as well-fed, well-rested, and well-groomed as possible every day. I took 30-minute showers, went on long walks with no particular destination, and scheduled a brunch date (at which I ordered eggs benedict every time, regardless of which restaurant I was at) every single day the week before I went into labor. It was awesome.
- Soak up the baby kicks, jabs, hiccups, and bladder body slams. They are annoying and sometimes even painful, but they are something that only you will ever know–an interaction with your baby that only you can ever have.
- There are a LOT of emotions that start to crop up as you approach your due date. When I hit 37 weeks, I started panicking that I would go into labor before my mom came into town. When I hit 39 weeks, I started freaking out because I didn’t feel “ready” yet, even though I had been hoping and praying to go into labor for weeks. It’s ok to be totally freaked out by the thought of having a kid, and to not feel excited or “so in love” just yet. I had more than one night of tears wondering if something was wrong with me because I didn’t already feel like a mom, and I was honestly mostly excited to just not be pregnant anymore. Impending motherhood is scary, and it’s incredibly un-helpful that the best advice anyone can give is usually along the lines of, “You have no idea what’s in store for you.” So cry it out, write it down, and then cry it out some more. It’s ok (and is something you will be doing a lot of in the coming weeks, so get used to it now. Just saying).