You’re pregnant. It’s real now, you’ve accepted it, you can feel the fruit of your loins flipping around in your belly like a happy little goldfish. You’ve been doing everything the doctor’s told you: prenatal vitamins, stretches, light exercise, more veggies. You’re basically a kickass mom already, and the baby isn’t even here yet.
So why do you still feel so antsy?
If you’re like me, you might be suffering from an inability to ‘nest’ adequately. To carry on with the bird metaphor, your wings might be clipped. Maybe, in your case, you don’t have the extra room to set up a Pinterest-worthy nursery draped in buttery yellows and dotted with more throw pillows than the rest of your house combined. Maybe it’s budgetary tightness. Maybe you’re about to move house, and the idea of setting up a whole nursery just to pack it all up in a few weeks’ or months’ time makes you want to cry.
Whatever the reason, I get it. I’ve been there. In fact, I’m there now, and it’s maddening. I am totally convinced that even just looking at a fully-built, ready-for-baby crib would knock off a good chunk of my anxiety, but it’s not happening. So, instead, I’m suffering silently from pent-up nesting needs, feeling this baby swimming around and hoping that he doesn’t exceed the length of our dresser drawers. Here are a few ways I’ve discovered to combat my mommy-to-be (again) mania.
1. Make Personalized Décor
I used this tactic on my first pregnancy go-round, and it helped tremendously. Cheap, simple DIY projects that I swiped from various places on the Internet all contributed to a sense of productivity, that I was ‘doing something’ for my impending baby. It was a way to ease my need to nest without having to spend a lot of money or worry about where to put the end results, since the things I crafted were simple and small and fit in the tiny makeshift space we had as the designated baby area.
I’m a crafting idiot, so I only made some simple garlands by sewing cut-outs of hearts onto burlap ribbon, and painting the letters of her name to hang on her wall. I also made sure I took my time making each project perfect so that in the end, I’d feel like I did more than I had. Tricking yourself into feeling productive is basically as good as real productivity.
2. Have a Baby Space (Not Necessarily a Nursery)
Speaking of storing decor, it might help to designate a specific ‘Baby Area.’ If you can’t dedicate an entire room to your baby, don’t sweat it. Babies have turned out great with far less – I still regularly hear the story of a friend’s mother letting her sleep in a nicely padded Tupperware tub for her first few months, and she turned out fine! (Mostly.)
It will probably calm your nerves to pick one spot to think of as the ‘baby spot,’ which can be where you keep and organize all of the baby necessities you’re slowly accumulating. For us, we have a corner of our daughter’s room cordoned off as the ‘Baby Space,’ and just seeing a changing pad and a basket of newborn diapers on top of her dresser makes me feel a bit more prepared and soothes frazzled nerves.
3. Talk to Your Baby
This might seem like a weird suggestion, but a lot of stress about baby-having stems from your own self-doubts and insecurities rather than actual unpreparedness. Even if you’ve had a baby before, this baby is new, and your life is going to change drastically. It’s easy to focus on that aspect of it and to forget that there’s a tiny person inside of you, at least actively; subconsciously, however, you’re unable to forget, since your body is constantly reminding you in the forms of all sorts of aches and weird emissions.
Ease these quiet fears by setting aside some time to talk to your baby, whether aloud or simply in your head. Even if it’s just fifteen minutes in the car while waiting in the daycare pick-up line, that’s something. Tell Baby hello, that you’re ready to meet her. Or maybe tell Baby hello, and to please stay in there for as long as he wants, since you’re nowhere near ready and you’re still freaking out. Whatever feels right.
4. Wash Baby’s Linens
Oh, do you not dress in unbuttoned size XS shirts that accentuate your weird bellybutton? Photo belongs to About.com
It’s suggested that you pre-wash any fabric that could come into contact with Baby’s skin, since it’s sensitive and certain things can cause him to break out. Now is a good time to start a few loads of laundry with whichever detergent you feel comfortable using. Some parents spring for Dreft, others for off-brand baby detergent, and others still (me) use regular detergent but keep the laundered items well out of reach of their sticky-handed toddler. This is a light, easy activity that doesn’t just simulate productivity, it is productive!
5. Be Sweet to You
My biggest panic-factor when it comes to being unable to properly nest is the crushing feeling of inadequacy that I experience when I think of this baby. “With the first one, I did so much more! I was able to do x and y and also z, and now I’m barely able to walk in a straight line without crying from pelvic pain! Why am I such a failure?!”
Even rereading that sentence, I know I’m being too hard on me. Every pregnancy is different, and to compare them – even to a previous one of your own – is a study in frustration and fruitlessness. This might be your first pregnancy and you’re scouring blogs feeling down because you didn’t hand-sew your daughter’s bedskirt, or sour because of all of the pro/anti-breastfeeding rhetoric. Maybe you’re frustrated because you’ve got no bassinet and haven’t been to the gym in months. I get it; we all do it.
Just remember that you are doing enough. Even if some days you do nothing but lie on the couch watching Netflix and stress-eating Cheese Nips, you’ve still had a productive day. That’s because you’re growing a human in your guts. Sure, you’re not constructing it with your bare hands, and it’s difficult to quantify how much work you’ve done that day. But guess what? You don’t need to! Because no matter how much growing your baby/belly/uterus/cankles did, you did enough.
Remember this when you stare at the basket of freshly-laundered onesies. Instead of stressing, just leave them unfolded; it’s not like you can bend over anyway. Reach for those Cheese Nips instead.