I feel like I picked up a few tricks in my first pregnancy, and I am finding myself preparing in a more relaxed and minimal way this time around. I know what worked for me, and I hope to make this second hospital stay and early newborn period as enjoyable as I can-- especially with a toddler around. This is how I'm doing it:
Live by lists- I've always been a bit of a list maker, but the last month or so I have been in overdrive. I have plenty on my plate, and I want to check off as much as I can. Each morning I make a list of things I hope to accomplish throughout the day. Sometimes even writing down basic things like going to the park or changing the sheets help keep my day on track. It also gives me the impression I accomplished something-- even on a less productive day. By including fun things on my list, I make it easy to start crossing things off while leaving plenty of room for fun activities with my boy.
I'm also keeping a "Master List" of big projects I need to get done before the baby arrives (like organizing my computer photos and creating space on my hard drive or painting the nursery). I picked up a little binder to keep everything in. Also included are "Shopping for Baby" and "Hospital Bag" lists. Just having the lists, and slowly crossing items off each one has really alleviated some of the stress I had. Keeping your family happy and living in the moment, all while preparing and counting down to a brand new baby can leave you feeling like a juggling act. I think this aids in finding a balance. Plus, pregnancy brain is a real thing. Ideas come in and out of my head all day and night. It helps to keep my little list book close.
Work Ahead of Time- I am by nature, a procrastinator. But I think right around 12 weeks I knew that it would be a much greater challenge to prepare a nursery, do tiny laundry, and get everything done in time for delivery with a toddler around. And it's true. My first pregnancy, everything was ready and waiting much earlier than it came together this time. I've been slowly working off those lists since my second trimester and putting together all the things I need to be comfortable when the baby arrives. It is saving me. There is still much to do with just 8 weeks to go. But I'm confident the big things will get done, and I won't sweat the small stuff.
My due date is December 18th, and that has me already shopping for holiday stuff. Another first for me. Usually I'm scrambling somewhere between December 20th and 24th to get the last of my shopping done. Told ya, I procrastinate. We are going to keep it simple this Christmas, but I still want Bennett to have a special day since he understands and absorbs everything. I've secretly been picking things up as I see them and storing them away to wrap up in December. Feeling so ahead of the game in that regard and I know I will be so glad come Christmas morning.
Pack Your Bags- I went out and treated myself to a new weekender bag to get the ball rolling. Nothing fancy or too big, just something cute from the aisles of Target. I don't want to over pack for what I hope is a relatively brief hospital stay.
Comfortable underwear, loose fitting and cozy pajamas you don't mind visitors seeing you in, Chapstick, camera, good toiletries, possibly a laptop or iPad, and snacks. There are a few other things, but really I want to keep it simple. When I delivered my son the hospital provided me with many of the essentials as well. No need to over pack.
I have the bag out and am slowly putting items in it as I prepare them. I am also putting my favorite makeup and toiletries in travel sizes in the bag. After the craziness of birth, one of my best moments was that first beautiful shower. Having good shampoo, great smelling lotion, and quality makeup helped me feel like a human being. Delivering a baby is a strange and raw moment. Your newborn is now out of your body, which is a WRECK, and it really helps to do a couple things that help you feel like you. You'll no doubt be exhausted, yet running on sheer adrenaline. Take advantage of the adrenaline boost while it lasts and put the effort into yourself for a moment. It is so worth it.
I am really ahead of the game with this early packing, so I'm taking my time with it. Ideally the bag will be packed 4 weeks before my due date.
Pamper Yourself- Make an appointment with your hairdresser and manicurist within the last few weeks of your pregnancy and get a prenatal massage. There won't be time for it after, and it's so nice to have those things feeling pretty when the baby arrives. Buy a pretty perfume to use after the baby comes, or a really nice hair product. A small and simple luxury can go a long way in making you feel special and feeling like you carved out some time for yourself, even when you only had a minute.
Don't Over Spend and Over Collect- It is so easy to get caught up in all these "Everything You Need For Baby" lists found all over the internet. Some of these lists have like 100 things!! My head was swimming looking at them on Pinterest. But the truth is, newborns need very little. The breast, a blanket, and diapers. A swing and baby wearing wrap are nice too. But really, you just don't need very much. Too many moms buy like crazy and end up with a house of unused items collecting in their space and their mind. You will be able to determine what you absolutely need after your baby comes. Not all babies are alike and you may find that don't even want or need half the things you bought for them. If there was ever a time to have a clean and organized house, it is before your baby arrives. I nested like crazy in the days before Bennett was born, and coming home from the hospital to a clean house was fabulous. My mind was calm and focused on my beautiful brand new baby. I know my house doesn't stay clean with a toddler around, but at least I don't need to fill it with unnecessary items. Saving my money and time for the important stuff, and skipping the wipe warmers.
Do Things for Your Other Baby- Since the day he was born, my life has been about keeping Bennett safe, happy, loved, and comfortable. That's not changing. I certainly don't want him to feel less special when the new baby arrives. And since he will only be two and a half when he becomes a big brother, he still needs a certain amount of babying. He is growing fast and very independent. But there are also times when only a hug and kiss from Mommy will do. He still likes to be held, and it's my goal to hold him when he wants and keep him entertained as much as possible. He is my firstborn baby! We do plenty of fun activities together during a typical week, but as my pregnancy draws to a close, and certainly when a newborn is added to the mix-- it gets hard to get out of the house sometimes. I've put some work into making our home a place where he can explore and stay entertained. We updated his bedroom with a homemade teepee, new art corner, and display bookshelves. He's already begun to spend a bit more time free playing in his room and enjoying his own space. That was definitely my goal. While he's doing that, I can take advantage of the time with my newborn or accomplish a household chore. I also rotate his toys about once a week to keep things interesting. Setting up a new store, tool station, craft area, or putting out some cars he hasn't seen in awhile always adds a little excitement to play time.
Be Excited About Yourself and The Future- I am putting this as a reminder to myself for the newborn days. I never had Post-Partum Depression with Bennett, or even really baby blues. I think I burst into tears once or twice, and the only thing I remember actually crying about was the way clothes were fitting. That was 5 days post-partum. Give yourself an effing break! I know some of these girls walk out of the hospital looking gorgeous, and I've always felt very comfortable with my figure, but when it comes to having babies, you deserve a pass. The body DOES return to normal. You were basically just hit by a truck. Your skinny jeans WILL fit again. You WILL feel sexy again. Ride it out. Enjoy the baby and each precious moment. Such a great accomplishment has been achieved. These first few weeks will be wonderful and challenging all at once. Soak it in.
Relinquish the Plan- One of my favorite Buddhist thinkers wrote: "Attachment is the culprit. Yielding, letting go, and moving on is the answer." I tell you those powerful words apply to nearly every situation imaginable. I have used them in countless dilemmas since I first read them over 10 years ago. So true. With that in mind, I have no birth plan. I didn't really have one the first time around, and you know what? The birth didn't go the way I thought it would either. After being induced and a very long labor, my baby was born face up and with the cord around his neck. Automatic NICU baby. It was a bit of a shock. He ended up being completely fine and very healthy, but the scare only solidified my belief that birth plans are silly. Getting stuck in a plan is a great way to add stress to your day. My only birthing guidelines to shoot for are: Avoid a c-section (but oh well if it happens), and get an epidural. So that's my take on Zen and the Art of Birthing.
The Countdown is officially on with just 8 weeks to go. We are so excited to see it all come together and meet our baby girl. Next we uncover the mystery of having 2 kids at once. Emotions swirling.
How do you Moms of two do it??