I’ve given the same piece of advice countless times when new moms stress about getting everything done before baby. It usually sounds something like, “Just remember all that baby will need for those first few weeks is you! Baby will have no idea if he or she is being rocked or put to bed in a Pinterest perfect nursery. They don’t know if your house is spotless! Just take your time and do what you can – you got this!”. It sounds pretty good, right? It’s always spoken with the best of intentions, and at the end of the day, its the truth.
During my first pregnancy I didn’t feel an overwhelming need to nest. Looking back in hindsight its kind of mind-boggling to me. We moved an hour away 1.5 weeks before the due date, and I’m a “to-do list checking, everything has a plan, things need to be organized” kind of gal. Somehow, someway, I was able to take it all in stride. Tayler’s nursery got done two days before she was born, and I don’t have any vivid memories of stressing over it. Maybe I was too busy with work and the move to succumb to those feelings, or maybe my hormones were in better check the first time around. Either way, I didn’t have any overwhelming nesting instincts, and therefore felt my “all baby needs is you” advice felt good rolling off the tongue.
I’m currently 31 weeks into my second pregnancy, and all that advice sounds like at the moment is white noise with a few fart noises inserted throughout. At this moment, I never plan on giving those words as stand alone advice ever again. What this fundamentally sound advice does not take into account, and is perhaps the most important this to consider, is mom’s natural feelings and emotional need to get things done. What I didn’t realize until about 20 weeks into this pregnancy is that those, “I’m throwing out half of my clothes, you need to move the refrigerator now so I can clean under it, I’m not leaving this house till baby is born, and if you don’t help me hang things in his room right now I will unleash the Kraken on your ass” feelings are as real and as natural as eating spoonfuls of ice cream straight out of the carton. My to-do list has been extensive, and those who aren’t helping me check them off are considered an enemy of the state. I’ve gone on several hour cleaning benders on little sleep and a bad back, and I’ve spent countless hours looking at different kinds of cloud mobiles. We’re fortunate to have many close friends and family getting married this summer, and while all I want to do is go let loose and celebrate such joyous occasions, all I really want to do is be home. Being away from home gives me anxiety. I’ve organized baby boy’s clothes three times already knowing well that they’ll have to be washed and reorganized again anyway. I was nearly in tears the other day leaving Babies R Us when they didn’t have the carrier I wanted, and I’ve literally went around all the baseboards and every inch of ceiling in baby’s room with one of Tayler’s tiny paint brushes and a tiny can of white paint because I didn’t think our edging job was sufficient when we painted.
These instincts are seen all throughout nature. Rodents try and find the absolute lowest sheltered spot available. Dogs pace and build nests with items they find throughout the house. Rabbits dig and line their holes with grass and hair plucked from their body. And birds insist on staying in their nest as much as possible. When its in our DNA to prepare for baby, no matter the level we feel it at, I think it needs to be embraced. Not brushed off.
I’ll be the first to tell you some of my nesting habits during this pregnancy are completely irrational. In my head I know that edging the entire room carefully by hand was crazy and no one would’ve known the difference. I know I have several months to go until I’ll actually be able to use the carrier I want and have plenty of time to order it. I know that leaving for a weekend is a good thing, making memories that will last a lifetime. I know putting together little bookshelves at 11 pm isn’t necessary. And as a second time mom, I know all too well that the mobile is for me – baby could care less. I know. I know all of this. I haven’t lost touch with what is realistic and rational. But it doesn’t change the feelings stirring within me, and I can imagine I’m not the only mom who has felt them in their own way.
I’ve thought about what kind of support I would want from my friends and family as I prepare for numero dos, and I’ve come up with a new approach. First and foremost, don’t down play a nesting mom’s need or desire to get something done. What may be trivial and silly to you, may just mean the world to her at the moment. Don’t make her feel stupid. Instead of pushing things back farther and farther on the calendar, make a plan for how and when you can get it done. Soon. Together. Time does matter. Don’t tell her not to stress (she will anyway). Instead, ask her in what specific ways you can help her and when she would ideally like them done by. Compromise on how much you pack on the calendar leading up to baby. Sometimes a need to stay home can feel overwhelming. While I’m not encouraging total hermit crab behavior, prioritize and choose which things are an absolute must. Listen to her. For this short period of time her hormones can trump logic, and she knows it. Her brain, heart, and body are getting ready for baby – you can’t fault her for that. Just roll with it, and listen to her needs. Be proactive, and help in ways you think she might like but hasn’t spoken up about yet.
Let momma bear be momma bear. And when the time finally comes to bring baby home, she’ll be happily at ease knowing her nest is the perfect place to smother this baby with heaps of love and laughter.