As you near the end of your pregnancy, you're probably dealing with a lot of practical questions. Questions like, "Did I fill out all of my medical forms?" or, "Am I going to bank my cord blood?" are probably up there because, hey, practical questions are important. However, and in my opinion, there are more than a few emotionally-driven questions every pregnant woman needs to ask herself before she has her baby, too. Questions that address your self-care, your emotional wellbeing, and that can help calm you the f*ck down. After all, the answers to these necessary questions are just as vital to a pregnant woman's planning process.
I did not address all of these questions before the birth of my first baby, but I sure as hell made sure to have plans in place for my second baby. Nothing terrible would have happened had I not asked myself these questions, but walking around with a huge ball of anxiety swirling inside of me added unnecessary emotional weight. Besides, I was already carrying enough physical weight to make walking uncomfortable enough, so I definitely didn't need anything making matters worse.
Even if you don't have answers at the ready, just asking yourself questions like this can help you feel more prepared and more confident when preparing to face the various challenges leading up to, during, and right after your precious babe enters the world.
What Acts Of Self Care Can I Do For Myself Right Now?
Because sh*t is about to get real, and it is going to get real real fast. Before you know it, there's only going to be one person being cared for and that person is going to be so small and have so many demands you won't be able to see straight. While you're still more-or-less living la vida solo, you should ask yourself what kinds of things you can do that help take care of you right now.
For me, it was long, daily bike rides along the beach and the occasional matinee at a movie that was so bad, I was the only one in the audience. I knew it would be a long ass time before I'd be getting to see any kind of movie, so being able to just sit and eat candy in the dark in the middle of the day was just about the sweetest escape from reality that I could imagine. It was my self care heaven.
Do I Know How I'm Getting To My Hospital (Or Birthing Center)?
I had a vague idea of how I was getting to my hospital in the Upper East Side from Rockaway, Queens, but I didn't really know what I would do if the scenario involved getting myself there in the middle of the day after my husband had left for work already. Would I call an ambulance? No, that wouldn't work. A cab? Would the local car service company haul me to the Upper East in the midst of my laboring? I wasn't so sure.
Not being sure started to drive me kind of mad. I kept on picturing all these awful scenarios in which I gave birth in a "Rocapulco Car Service" cab car. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I wised up and created solid alternative plans that involved about half a dozen neighbors who had cars that could take me should I start labor at a time when my husband wasn't home.
Do I Have A Plan In Place For The Care Of My Other Child (Or My Pet)?
For the pregnant women who already have a little one (furry or otherwise) in their lives, it is important that you figure out who is going to be "babysitting" while you are away in the hospital. Planning to have your partner go back and forth from the hospital may not be wise if, heaven-forbid, there are medical complications that require your partner stay by your side the whole time.
I did not need to be reminded about this conundrum because the issue of What To Do About The Dog was one of those pregnant lady things that kept me up until 3 a.m. with worry. Finally, we decided upon the nice neighbor boy who ran the local paper route (one of the lovelier things about the suburbs) to feed and walk our dog when we were in the hospital. It worked out perfectly.
Can I Be OK With The Idea Of Things Not Going According To Plan?
Of course, the answer for most women is a big fat "no," because very few want to give up control when it comes to their birth plans. The reality, however, is that when it comes to childbirth you can plan and plan and it can all just blow up in your face (the plan, not your child).
I heard stories of people's birth plans going awry, so I really made an effort to get comfortable with the idea that my desire to not have a c-section may not match up with reality. In the end, I did have to have an emergency c-section. I was not devastated. I actually felt prepared. I had gotten myself to an OK place when it came to my birth plan being something I aspired to, but not necessarily something that I was wedded to happening. I knew the risks of it falling apart and I got comfortable with that notion.
Have I Had My Last Baby-Free Hurrahs?
Sorry ladies, no bungee jumping or crazy nights in Vegas for you at this point. However, you can still have fun nights out, big celebratory dinners, weekend escapes, or whatever it means to you to really let it all out (while carrying a watermelon inside your person).
I went to a club in the Lower East Side for my good friend's bachelorette party, and danced my butt off for a few hours like the good old days. I even got up on a banquette (it was very Amy Poehler in Baby Mama). Sure, a few guys were like, "What the f*ck?" when they saw my giant bump, but I didn't care. Few things make me happier than dancing to '90s hip hop with my high school friends.
What Are My Go-To Happy Places?
In preparation for labor, I followed the advice of our birthing class instructor and found two photographs to focus on for when the going got tough: a picture of my dog, and a picture of a dirty martini. One was just for an "aww, so cute!" visual, and the other was my "goal" visual. I didn't end up getting to push or do the breathing exercises, but when I was feeling all kinds of uncomfortable things as I was getting sewn back up at the end of my c-section, I alternated between that dirty martini and my dog, dirty martini and my dog, and together they saw me through.
Is My Hospital Bag All Packed?
Honestly, don't freak out about the hospital bag. Unless you're giving birth in some remote island far away from civilization, it is likely that anything you really need (a toothbrush, flip flops, shampoo) can be procured from a local drugstore or brought back the next day by your partner or a family member.
Still, it is nice to know you've packed your bag with your favorite things that make you feel a little more at home or cozy. For me, it was my grapefruit body wash and my husband's sweatshirt that were my hospital game-changers. Since my c-section qualified me for the luxurious "extended stay," I was glad I had packed my bag with a few extra things from home, like my conditioner, my hair brush, a good towel, and my journal.
Who Am I Allowing To Visit Me After I Give Birth?
As you near the end of your pregnancy, you might hear friends and family casually mention how they "can't wait to visit you in the hospital." While you're initial reaction might be, "Oh, yay! Goodie!" you'll probably find yourself immediately postpartum and just wanting to be alone with your baby and partner. You don't necessarily have to advertise or warn all the folks in your life about your visitor policy in advance, but it would be good for you to know (for yourself) what your own boundaries are. That way, when the day comes, you don't have to wrestle with any guilt when one of your good friends or a dear relative asks if they can come visit you in the labor recovery room. Instead, you can come from a place of strength and tell them in the kindest way possible, "I just need some time to rest right now, but thank you for thinking of me."