Yesterday I found myself typing “Surviving the End of Pregnancy” into the Google search bar. I clicked on several different links – blog posts, articles from pregnancy or parenting websites, etc – and found them largely unhelpful. Most of the advice I found fell along the lines of “Keep yourself busy!” “Deep clean your house.” “Prepare a bunch of meals to stick in the freezer so that you have meals for after the baby arrives.” “Start new projects.” Whoever these women are that are writing these lists, they must have had very different final weeks of pregnancy than I am experiencing. I would imagine these things would actually be very helpful, if you were feeling somewhat mobile. As a matter of fact, I think they would be helpful things for me to do – were I not in so much pain these days. But they just weren’t the “survival tools” I was hoping to find in my search.
So for women who experience the end of the pregnancy more in the pain/can’t do much category, I figured I would compile my own list of ways to “survive” these looooong and final weeks!
1. Don’t worry about looking cute.
Up until the last couple of weeks, I actually enjoyed trying to look cute during this pregnancy. I liked treating my bump like an accessory and was having a lot of fun with the box of cute, fall maternity clothes that a good friend let me borrow! But now? Now that is way too much work, my friends. Now is the time for a daily uniform – which for me means yoga pants or leggings (only one or the other. No exception), some sort of athletic top (you know, just to trick people into thinking I’m being athletic), perhaps a puffy vest if it’s cold, and many days I end up throwing on a baseball cap so I don’t have to worry with my hair. Also while we’re on the topic of looking cute – can we just talk about the fact that it is HARD to get socks and boots on when you’re 9 months pregnant? My husband finds it comical. I consider it my workout.
2. Don’t worry about cooking.
If you are normally the one who cooks the meals in your home, you have two options for how to avoid this now:
(a) Recruit your significant other to start doing the cooking for your family. If guiding them through the process of cooking is almost just as much work for you as doing the cooking (ahem), then:
(b) Talk to your significant other about shifting the monthly budget a little bit to add more money to the food category (for eating out, takeout, pre-made, and super easy meals). Keep your eye out for coupons/groupons/living social deals to local restaurants.
If he is not on board with either of these, then just throw out the most unappealing options that you feel up for making (for example: the cups of Ramen noodles you have had in your pantry for 3 years in case of an emergency… canned beans that you can toss together with some rice… Greek yogurt mixed with that Gluten Free rice granola… pb&j sandwiches) and he is sure to reconsider ;).
Or it’s possible that you have much more money than us and you can just eat out whenever or hire a personal chef in which case, DO THAT.
Here is an example of my meal plan for this week:
3. Don’t worry about trying to be super healthy anymore. As a matter of fact, stuff your face with chocolate.
Up until the past couple of weeks, I had been doing a pretty good job of trying to be healthy through this pregnancy. I stayed active, tried to eat well, and kept an eye on the scale to keep myself on track. I would budget my eating – meaning that if I got on the scale and was doing great with where my weight gain was at, I would eat that milkshake I had been craving. But if/when I started gaining a little more than I should, I would hold off more on cravings and try to add a few more salads or something. I was just determined not to gain 55 lbs like I did in my first pregnancy. But once you get this far – I give you (and myself) permission to count ANY movement as your workout (like, getting out of bed, for instance). I give you permission to not worry much about what you eat. As long as I don’t have to make it, I will eat it. And that does not normally lend itself to the healthiest of meals. Who cares. Soon the baby will be here, and you can start focusing on eating well again. I also give you permission to eat your feelings. I actually highly recommend stuffing your face with chocolate. I have found Trader Joe’s dark chocolate caramel with black sea salt candy bars VERY helpful in managing my feelings lately! Or Aldi’s European dark chocolate with a hint of sea salt. At least for me, eating is one of the very few ways of experiencing any sort of pleasure right now, so I am going to embrace and enjoy it.
If you are one of those pregnant women who eats super clean throughout her pregnancy and is working out until you go into labor – way to go! I am proud of you, I really am. I just may not want to talk to you right now ;). Don’t take it personally.
4. Go out to lunch with girl friends.
This may not be as possible if you have other kids, but I tell you – it has been one of the biggest highlights in my life lately when I have been able to do it! I have a 3 year old daughter so it’s not always feasible, but it makes it that much sweeter when Jordan can stay with Riley and allows me to go catch up with good friends over food (that I don’t have to make!)
5. See people, but don’t feel like you need to entertain.
I admit, I have been in total hibernation/anti-social mode lately. I usually just want to hole up at home and forget that the outside world exists. And with how uncomfortable and grumpy I’ve been, I always assume I would not be great company anyway. But thankfully my husband has more of a social itch, so he has been pushing a little more for us to see friends. I have found that whenever we do, it actually turns out to be a helpful and welcome distraction! A couple of nights ago, we invited some friends to come join us for our dinner at Med Deli. The next day, a couple of friends came over and brought us breakfast and we made a huge pot of salted caramel coffee (are you sensing the salt theme here?). Both times were rich and watered my grumpy soul. At least a little bit ;).
6. Avoid big stores & errands (when possible).
You may be different from me in this way. Perhaps going to Target is helpful for you to survive these final weeks. But considering the whole “it hurts to stand or walk” phase I’m in, paired with the fact that I am super indecisive and get overwhelmed easily in big stores (I am hyper sensitive to things like lights, sounds, displays, etc) – it is pretty much one of my least favorite things in the world right now. Especially this time of year! I feel so bombarded and overwhelmed by all of the holiday stuff. I find myself grabbing all sorts of things that weren’t on my list and then talking myself out of it, which means I have to walk back to the other side of the store to return it and by then I am sweating and hurting but as I’m waiting in line I second guess myself again, so I walk back to the other end of the store to pick it up again only to decide “No. I do not need this thing” and I start peeling off layers of clothing because I’m sweating and feel like I am going to pass out which makes me start to cry. <– and that run-on sentence is pretty much what it feels like for me when I go to big stores like Target these days. Whew. So, it’s good to avoid that, when possible.
7. REST and take it easy. Sleep whenever you can.
I know that this kind of advice is always easier said than done. Resting is not so simple when you have other kids, or work full time, or have a long running to-do list. That’s why I’m saying “whenever you can.” When opportunities present themselves, don’t feel bad choosing rest over productivity. Don’t feel bad fighting for rest. I’m thankful that Riley still naps (most days), and usually try to lie down and take a nap during that time as well. If nearby friends or family offer to help so you can rest, take them up on it!
8. Fill your mind with Humor.
I really do believe that laughter is the best medicine. Whether you’re depressed or anxious or uncomfortable – anything challenging in life can be helped with a little bit of laughter. At the end of pregnancy, I have found this to be one of the most helpful survival tools. I recommend the book “The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy” by Vicki Iovine. Anything with or by Tina Fey or Amy Poehler. I’m currently reading Amy Poehler’s book “Yes, Please” and I especially enjoyed the chapters on pregnancy and childbirth :). Watch funny shows. Search funny GIFS to shows you watch. Read funny articles about pregnancy – like this one that my husband sent me (I apologize for some of the language). It’s also fun if you have a couple of girl friend’s you can text about how you just ate a second doughnut, or peed your pants a little in Barnes & Noble, or that you can’t let your husband sit on the couch because he ate garlic chips and you can’t handle the smell (Hi Michal, Justina and Megan!).
9. Allow yourself to get grumpy about stupid things. Or meaningful things.
If you’re feeling as grumpy as I am, it is helpful to have an outlet for your frustration. Songs with stupid lyrics on the radio. TV show characters who are being dumb. Marketing ploys, especially around the holidays. The cart at the grocery store that has the stuck wheel. It feels good to take out your grumpiness on these things. You can also see this time as a good opportunity to get angry about things that matter – oppression, poverty, injustice, racism, sex trafficking. We can pour our pregnant “grumpymones” into things that matter.
10. Meditate on Romans 8:22-25 and John 16:21-23
Finally, this has been the most helpful survival tool for me lately. Turning to God’s word and being reminded that this is a temporary pain that ultimately births so much joy. It helps me to understand the gospel more deeply. It helps me to reflect on and experience the way that our world is broken and the excruciating pains of it. It points me to the longing for the joy of the coming of Christ! It leaves me aching deeply for the joy that will one day erase all of the pain. Especially during this time of year, there is an opportunity to press into this painful time of pregnancy, letting it lead me to a richer experience and understanding of Advent. This pain is not without (good) purpose, and neither is our pain in this broken and fallen world. I want my longing for the arrival of my son to pull me deeper into my longing for God’s Son.
Fellow pregnant ladies, is there anything else you would add?
*Disclaimer: I just want to take a second to say that I understand what an incredible gift and privilege it is to go through this pain, since there is a baby. I also understand that there are FAR worse things in life, things that people actually have to survive. I use the term “survive” here to be intentionally dramatic for the purpose of humor. I humbly realize that this is not a situation that requires real life survival. I don’t want to condone complaining about things that are actually real blessings or aren’t real- life hard. And we have things going on in our life right now that are far harder than this, real life heartbreaking things. This is just my attempt to laugh at and with myself, and offer a breath of fresh air to other women in the same boat! These last weeks in pregnancy can be very challenging and it’s helpful to find camaraderie.