And no, I don’t mean your gas tank (although that’s probably a good idea as well).
I mean, it’s time to fill up your personal tank. I should know, I’ve been through this a time or two – I’m 10 weeks away from delivering my third baby. For those of you who’ve had a baby, you’re probably pretty aware of what happens. For those of you having your first baby, here’s how it goes.
When you have a baby, you can fall into a little bit of a black hole. And it can last for quite some time. For me, it always seems to last about a year. During that first year after childbirth, the first 3-6 months are straight up exhausting due to the lack of sleep. Beyond the delirium, there’s trying to figure out how to manage with a very new, very disruptive person in your household. And depending on whether you nurse, or for how long, this can be an additional drain on your resources. A child from age 0-1 needs so much time and attention (not begrudging – just realistically, this is how it is): diapers, entertainment, holding, snuggling, rocking, feeding, etc. And if you have any other little people running around, your workload is doubled.
I am sure it is different for everyone, but when I’m in that new baby black hole, time stands still. I don’t have the mental or physical energy to make plans with friends, be an active partner to my spouse, or even spend time doing the things I usually love.
So, with all this in mind – I am working very hard to fill up my tank now before my little bundle of joy arrives.
This week alone, I’ve hung out with two friends in person and made plans with one other. Most of these friends are long term, and I know that we can make it through a one year new baby lapse, but it would be difficult to stretch it any longer than that. Plus, it is so good for me. At a recent playdate, my girlfriend and I swapped funny parenting stories, laughing so hard it brought tears to our eyes.
Partners & Spouses
This summer we were so lucky to have found a great babysitter, which enabled my husband and I to devote regular time to our relationship. We’ve enjoyed going out to dinner, getting massages, or hitting the movie theater. Between the date nights and our babymoon in May, we have been stockpiling the good times to help get us through those especially hard months when the baby is born.
Spending as much time with family has been on my mind as well. I have visited my dad once already this summer, and will be heading down again on Monday with the kids. I haven’t seen my mom that much because she lives pretty far away, so I am trying to figure out how I can schedule a trip in to her before I’m cut off from flying…
We’ve seen my husband’s folks many times already this year, and are scheduling at least one more time each before the year’s out. We even spent a couple days with my husband’s cousins during our trip to Chicago earlier this summer. Depending on the circumstances, we’ll still get family time in after the baby is born, but ultimately it will be more difficult for us to travel to them.
This is going to completely depend on the person. For me, reading has been a lifelong pleasure. And boy, have I been catching up. In July, I read 3 books: Drop the Ball, Unbound, and Into the Water. And I’ve started at least 5 more…
Beyond reading, I am taking care of my health – learning more about my thyroid condition (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis), getting regular chiropractic care, and even a couple prenatal massages.
I can tell my tank is getting full, but what about the children? My stepdaughter at 14, my daughter at 4, and my son at 2, will all be affected by the newborn taking up so much more of mom and dad’s time. I have made an effort to be extra available to all of them now. This week, I took my daughter to my ultrasound so that she could see the baby growing inside me and then we went out for lunch. It is a little harder to take my son out for those kinds of activities, but I’ve been extra aware of creating special one-on-one times by playing his favorite games and giving him my undivided attention. Even time with my stepdaughter is important, but for her, I really like to encourage my husband to spend some alone time with her while I take care of the little ones. It really makes a difference to set aside special time for her because the youngest children usually take up such a big portion of our day.
Time is really starting to speed up now and there is so much I want to get done before the little man arrives. I am trying to keep my to-do list to a minimum and focus on top priorities. Hopefully, these efforts will help build up my energy and resilience to sustain me throughout the baby’s first year.
How full is your tank today?
If you are pregnant, what can you do now to help you prepare for the time required to tend and nourish a brand new baby?
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