Well, here I sit, 38, almost 39 weeks pregnant, can you believe it?! The last few weeks are a bit of a roller-coaster of emotions and general craziness: getting all our last ducks in a row before baby arrives, thinking about labour, wondering if I’m going to be a good mom and in Dan and my case, starting to pack up our home. Madness. The last thing you want is to be running around like a headless chicken when you already have so much on your mind (and to do list), so here are my top 10 things to do before your kiddo is in your arms.
Finish baby’s room: Get all the painting and assembling and decorating done. It’s a lot of work and I promise you, you will not feel like doing it when you the kid inside of you feels as if it weighs about 20kg and is about to drop out any second. Dan and I aimed to have the room done by the end of my second trimester, and we did… Only to buy a new house that we will be moving into a week or so after baby is due. Yes, we are crazy, don’t be like us.
Wash all the baby clothes: “They’re so tiny, how many loads could this possibly be?” I thought to myself one Sunday afternoon. Turns out, 4 loads. Yes 4 loads of baby clothes and blankets and anything else washable. And then another 4 loads after my baby shower. That’s 8 loads to shove in the washing machine, 8 loads to hang up and 8 loads to fold (incredibly neatly if you’re anything like me) and put away. I hate laundry on any normal day, and despite this clothing being so darn cute, by the third load you’re pretty much over it. So block out a week and just do one or two loads a day. Don’t forget to buy the baby washing liquid and if you use softener, use white vinegar instead.
Sort out maternity and paternity leave: I don’t have experience in applying for maternity leave and the UIF process that goes along with it but it seems like a mission, especially the UIF part, so my advice would be to get the process going as soon as you can. I know there are agencies that will deal with the nitty gritty for you so definitely consider using them if you can to avoid some stress. When it comes to paternity leave, I think most company’s give 2 or 3 working days. Chat to your partner about when the best time to take those days would be: do you want to use them around the birth or only start the leave the day you return home from the hospital? Try to figure out what will work best for you both as well as baby. Of course, if the employer allows it, you can extend this leave by using annual leave as well. It made me feel so much more at ease once Dan’s paternity leave was booked, knowing that he would be around and knowing exactly when he would be going back to work.
Have sex: Yes, there, I said it. Look, I’m not saying that you need to keep to your pre-pregnancy, bend like a pretzel, kitchen counter top ways; but what I am saying is that when the mood strikes, even if ever so slightly, go with it. We all know that sex releases the happy hormones but what is even more important (to me anyway) is that it makes you and your partner feel connected and close again. Besides the normal day-to-day stresses of everyday life, you are both also dealing with the stresses that pregnancy brings and this often tends to take over the relationship forcing intimacy to take a bit of a back seat. If something as simple as sex can help you reconnect, I say do it, quite literally. Yes, you probably feel like you need a forklift to move you and you definitely need to be a bit more creative now that you have a belly in the way, but it’s so worth it.*
Have your baby shower: I loved my baby shower so much, I had all my favourite gals with me and it was just a divine morning of food and chatting. What I loved most about my baby shower though, is that I was still able to enjoy it and wasn’t trying to mask uncomfortable Braxton Hicks or acid reflux that seems to now be plaguing me in the last few days. I was about 34 weeks when I had mine and I think anything between 32 weeks and then is a good time. You don’t want to be exhausted and uncomfortable when you should be having a good time if you have it too late.
Go shopping and get cooking: I can’t imagine cooking and preparing meals being too high on the priority list once baby is here. What I’ve done is make a few frozen meals that I can whip out after we’ve had Corn Flakes 4 nights in a row. Another good idea is to stock up on your non-perishables. Stuff like tea, coffee, toilet paper, items that won’t go off. I think that this is pretty important – I don’t think you or your partner are going to feel like zooting off to the shops, and if you have a c-section, you usually can’t drive for 6 weeks so going to the shops might not even be an option. On that note though, if you haven’t signed up for online shopping, maybe do that so that if you do need something and can’t get to the shops, you can order online. I would suggest Woolworths and Pick ‘n Pay for groceries and Dischem for goodies for baby.
Pack the hospital bags: I won’t go into this too much as I have already done two blog posts and two YouTube videos on it (go have a read/watch over here and here). But it’s good to be prepared just in case baby decides to come early. I would say get packing at about 34 weeks.
Attend antenatal classes: I cannot begin to describe how incredibly useful these were. I would suggest every single first time mom (and dad) attend antenatal classes. I wrote a bit of a post about the classes we attended. Most medical aids will reimburse a certain percent of the cost. But even if they don’t, if you can afford it, do it.
Tie up loose ends: Life is busy and if you’re anything like me, you have a to-do list a mile long. Now is the time to start whittling it all down. Finish any big projects you have going on and start to learn to say “no”. Being an incredibly independent and stubborn person, I refused to let pregnancy hinder me. I still went on girl’s nights out (minus the wine..sob), kept working hard started packing up the house in anticipation for the move and am still doing all the housework (much to the frustration of my long suffering husband). I just felt that I was pregnant, not disabled and I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting on the couch all day waiting for time to pass. Anyway, it came to a point at about 37 weeks where I realised that as much as I wanted to still go out gallivanting that night, it probably wasn’t the best idea, and so I had to say “no”. And that sucked. But I figure, it’s good practice for when bebe arrives. Here is a great post that Chereen from For The Beauty Of It wrote earlier this year about learning to say “no”.
Spend as much QT together as you can: Your lives as you know it are about to change. A screaming, crying, pooping, drooling, tiny human is about to call the shots and even though you’re going to be completely in love with said human, your relationship with your partner might take a back seat while you adjust. Go on date nights, make a lounge bed and watch your favourite series all weekend long, do things together that are meaningful. Also take this time to chat about the changes you expect to encounter. Chat about what you expect from each other so that when your bundle of joy arrives, there will be less chance of misunderstanding each other. Communication is key! I’m not saying that by doing this you will slip into parenthood seamlessly and that your relationship won’t be affected, but at least this way you are both prepared.