Forget the gear. Everyone knows that you need the basics before baby: crib, stroller, freezer meals, diapers, duh. The Jess essentials (can we call them Jessentials? Probably not, right?) that I’m relying on to get through the Fourth Trimester this second time around are a little different from your standard pregnancy checklist. Last time I prepped so much for the baby that I forgot to take very good care of myself; I think that if I had put some tools in place for my own wellness, however little time I had to devote to it, maaaaybe those colicky months wouldn’t have hit me so hard (but also they were just so freakin’ hard so I dunno, maybe nothing would have helped).
This time around it’s all about self-care; the baby is getting the basics and the rest will be for me because as any parent knows, when the mama is feeling good pretty much everything in the house runs more smoothly.
Basics for Baby. What the basics are will look different for every family. While most of Hennie’s clothes were pretty gender-neutral and I often shop for her in the boys section anyway, she was a newborn in the winter and Baby 2 is due in August so some lighter newborn-sized clothes were needed (tbh I picked up a few packs of plain white short-sleeved onesies and called it a day… #secondbabysyndrome ). Other than that we bought a mini crib, a Snuggle Me lounger, and invested in a really great double stroller and that was about it.
Catering to My Coziest Self. Obviously with the arrival of a new baby comes the arrival of those sleepless nights – so much time spent in bed without getting to sleep in it! This time I’ve resolved that if I’m going to be bed-bound for those long late night nursing sessions, I may as well make myself as comfortable as humanly possible (I mean, as comfortable as a mama recovering from childbirth with the postpartum sweats in August can really be). To all impending moms I would say this: whatever your cozy Saturday morning feel-good hangover jam is (or used to be), invest in that! Get some new pyjamas to cozy up those midnight feeds, some furry slippers if you’re due in the winter months, or plush new bedding to fall into for 45 minutes after being awake for three days. Whatever will add a bit of coziness for you is key. Obviously everything is going to revolve around your newborn for a time but it’s okay – and often crucial – to make a few tiny parts of your day about you. As you countdown those last few weeks go pick yourself up some small pleasures like some new shower products, a super soft shirt you can look forward to fitting into once that big ol’ bump is gone, a few pounds of fresh roasted espresso to look forward to each day, or a new shade of lipstick to throw on when you feel like a total postpartum dirtbag (it’s gonna happen some days, just embrace it)!
Sharpening My Coping Tools. Doing some “emotional work” is something I’ve been trying to make time for since I found out I was pregnant again in December. No one is at their best when their hormones are out of whack, they haven’t slept, and they’re trying to figure out what their brand new baby human wants. It’s a tough time for every family member as everyone adjusts to a new dynamic so the more tools you prep yourself with to help you cope with your stress the better off you’ll be able to handle that transition. Consider what usually helps you feel the most relaxed or focused; maybe it’s aromatherapy, listening to a favourite album, doing deep-breathing techniques, going through some favourite yoga poses, or having a chat with someone who always knows how to put things in perspective. Maybe it’s online shopping with a bottle of wine; I get it, but maybe try to find a few new tools before your due date. Keep a running list so that when you feel like things are getting to be too much you can take a few minutes (hopefully more if your new babe will allow!) and access these resources to find something to help you unwind or find a moment of peace. After my first baby was born I found that I felt much more capable and less anxious on days when I was able to leave the house even for a very short time. Every day I walked around the block a few times in the sunshine (alone!) and often stopped at the cafe on the corner to people-watch for a few minutes. These small moments were enough for me to regain some perspective and feel less isolated as I watched people live their lives around me. I suspect the caffeine boost didn’t hurt, either.
Becoming a Napper. There are two kinds of people: those who sleep easily and those who do not. I realize that to the types of people who can fall asleep anywhere, anytime, this advice is going to sound absolutely laughable. You freaks can fall asleep upright in an armchair at a toddler’s birthday party or under florescent lights in a waiting room or on an airplane, and I will forever be envious of that skill. But there are those of us who struggle to fall asleep even when conditions are optimal. I have never been able to nap and quickly realized after my first baby was born that after sleeping only at night for thirty years, trying to grab a 45 minute catnap when my newborn was sleeping midday was next to impossible, no matter how exhausted I was. I wish that I had trained my body to fall asleep outside of it’s normal hours. I planned to spend the third trimester of this second pregnancy grabbing a midday nap when my toddler was down in an effort to teach myself this essential new skill, but so far it hasn’t happened and we’re now two weeks away from our due date. Kinda screwing over Future Jess but hey, can’t win ’em all!
Tom’s Preparation for Baby #2: I asked Tom what the number one thing is on his mind as we approach our boy’s due date and he answered that making the transition as easy as possible for Hennie is his top priority (assuming of course that I can take care of my own recovery). She’ll only be 21 months old when he’s born so we aren’t really able to explain the concept of a sibling to her in a way she can understand. Our plan has been to just attempt to stick to her routine as much as possible to avoid her feeling like the family is in upheaval. Or maybe she’ll be enthralled with her baby brother and won’t notice much else? We’re just as interested to see Hennie’s reactions to her brother as we are to meet him and see what he’s like!
If you have multiple kiddos, how did you prepare for baby #2 and what did you do differently than the first time? I’m so interested to hear, if you’d like to share.