For eight months I've wondered what it would feel like to be in the homestretch, the final chapter, the last hurrah of pregnancy. I've wondered what I would look like, what I would feel like, what stream of consciousness would be racing through my mind. Well, after much ado about everything, here I am. My last month. Just four more weeks of cooking this little nugget. I'm well aware she could be early. Or late. Or she could be right on time. Whatever her fate may be, I'm down to four more weeks until my due date, the date that's been circled on my calendar since the day we found out I was pregnant. The date that seemed so far off, so long ago that I thought I'd be pregnant for the rest of my life.
So to celebrate the nothingness that is a month to go, Steph and I took a last little weekend getaway to the Hamptons to relax. Nothing outrageous, just a few days by the beach. A little sun, a little water, a little lobster. It was nice. And we took some pictures while out there. (I'm the queen of the camera timer: Set it up, run like mad to get into position, smile frantically and hope for the best.) Well, amidst the dozens of pictures that didn't come out so well, there was one we fell in love with. It was a total accident, a shot of us in silhouette right by the water. Steph was reaching out, gently touching my belly. I don't know what it is, but the picture just popped when we saw it. We envisioned a future conversation with the little one:
HER: Was that me in your belly, mommy?
US: Yes, babygirl, that was you. Can you believe you once fit inside there?
HER: Where do babies come from?
US: Wanna play Candy Land?
It's interesting because for eight months, I felt like this pregnancy was all about me. MY heartburn, MY fatigue, MY back pain, MY big belly, MY aches and pains. But now I've turned a corner. Maybe it's because of the kicking. Maybe it's because she's almost full-term. Maybe it's because I can see her sweet little face on the ultrasound images. But for whatever reason, this pregnancy recently changed from being about ME, to being about HER. As I write this, I'm doing a thousand loads of her laundry, washing all of her little sheets and onesies and swaddles and burp cloths and socks and bibs (man, she seems to be a bit high maintenance, no?) ... and I'm loving every minute of it. (Steph says I'm nesting.)
So in this final month, we've started a little collection of advice from some parents who've done this already. We're coming from a clean slate... no filters, no judgement, no dismissing anything from anyone... just an open mind with a flexible approach to parenting. Some of what we've received thus far:
1. Get the epidural.
2. Don't go to the hospital too early.
3. Bring goodies for the nurses.
4. You're not a bad mom if you can't breast feed. The baby will survive.
5. Pack slippers and a headband in your bag for delivery day, among a thousand other things.
6. Only allow your significant other in the delivery room.
7. Bring music for the actual delivery. (That one's from Lester Holt!)
8. Let people help you.
9. Don't warm the diapers; you'll be screwed on an airplane.
10. Teach your baby to sleep through noises -- like vacuuming, TV or conversations, for example.
11. Take pictures -- lots of pictures -- and then take even more than that.
12. Don't over-parent. (Is forcing my kid to wear a helmet everywhere she goes "over-parenting"?)
13. Travel with your baby at an early age so she gets used to the process.
14. Enjoy watching your partner fall in love with her.
15. Take a deep breath.
16. Appreciate every little droplet of life. It goes by fast.
These were just 16 of the dozens of wonderful tidbits I've gotten from friends who have shared their parenting thoughts with us. I'd love more. Will you share some advice with me? If you're on Twitter, send your tips to me here: @jennawolfe.
Nothing goes unread, nothing gets ignored -- trust me. I will happily welcome anything and everything you have to offer.
Four more weeks. Wow. Buckle up. Here we go!