I just read a super annoying blog post about 7 things to do while waiting for labor. I won’t link to it because I don’t want to disparage anyone, but there was reference to a “patience hat.” Seriously?
I’m snuggled in bed with my 5 day old. My sister and a friend of mine are due any minute. I can tell you, you can only tell a woman waiting for labor to “put on her patience hat” from the safety of your computer screen over the internet. Say that to her face and you better guard yours.
Those days before going into labor are excruciating. I don’t care if it’s your 1st or your 4th. I imagine it’s the same even if it’s your 10th, but I can only speak from personal experience for the first 4.
A friend of mine described it as the worst anticipation of her life, and I would agree. That first contraction could start at any moment. It could be with the next breath – or, God help you, it could be another week or more. How in the world does anyone survive it?
So here’s my list of 7 Things to do While Waiting for Labor. I promise not to tell you to just be patient. I promise.
Find a Project
I was super on top of things this time around. My freezer was stocked, my house was ready, the baby clothes were washed, my hospital bag was packed, the laundry was caught up for crying out loud.
I told my husband, “I finished nesting too early. I need a project.” I wasn’t feeling any particular surge of energy, I didn’t want to do anything super physical. I looked around and decided I would finally finish the tiny details on the bathroom makeover I started almost a year ago. It involved decoupaging some pictures (I have an unnatural love of Mod Podge, at least according to my husband) and hemming a shower curtain.
I did it in small steps over a couple of days. It was perfect. I finished 6 hours before the baby was born.
Keep Making Plans
Whatever your normal routine is, just keep doing it. Whatever you do, don’t stop your life and just sit home waiting to go into labor. My sister is due in one week. I just heard from my mom that mom is babysitting so my sister could go to the DMV to get tags on her car. We had a lot of work done on our cars in the weeks before this baby was born. The day before the baby was born, I made plans to get together for a playdate the day after the baby was born. Obviously, those plans got cancelled, but having them gave me something to look forward to had I not gone into labor when I did.
Of course, if you would really rather just stay home and take a nap, for heaven’s sake do that! If you feel tired and snuggly, then rest. But if you feel antsy and restless, keep making plans.
Serve Someone Else
Stay with me a moment here. It’s not a lecture, I promise. It’s just a way to take your mind off of yourself for a bit. One of my favorite mysteries of the Rosary is “The Visitation.” It’s where we reflect on the fact that just after Mary was told she was going to be the Mother of God, she heads off to help her cousin Elizabeth through the final trimester of her pregnancy.
I remember the first time I really thought about this. I remember thinking, “Wow. This woman just found out she’s going to be the freakin’ Mother of God. And she’s pregnant – with the King of the Universe – and she’s humbly trotting off to serve her cousin.”
Because my natural instinct is to be all “I’ve got some big stuff going on here myself, so, um, yeah, I’d like to help, but I’m over here in my first trimester with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, so maybe you could ask somebody else?”
So when I’m making an effort, I try to do something nice for someone else, even when I’ve got my own stuff going on. Nothing big. But the day before I had this baby, I did make an effort to deliver one of the meals I’d frozen to a friend who’d just had a baby. It made me feel good and it took my mind off of the imminence of labor for about 15 minutes. Oh, and it gave me a chance to bitch a little to someone else about how much the end of pregnancy sucks.
Make a Date with a Friend
This is not one of those “you won’t be able to do this after the baby comes” recommendations. This is simply acknowledging that hanging with a good girl friend is a nice way to pass the time. If you have other kids and you can ditch them, great. But even if it’s a playdate in the park where you can let your kids run off while you enjoy an unseasonably warm afternoon sitting at a picnic table gabbing with a friend (thanks, Andrea!), spend some time with people who love you and whom you love. It will distract you and remind you that you have friends. This will be important for you to remember once you do finally have that baby.
Do Something you Want to Do
Again, not because all your fun is about to come to an end, but because it’s an enjoyable way to pass the time. Get a massage. Go to a movie. Go to a yoga class. Go to one of those “Sip and Paint” classes. Whatever. Spend a little time doing something fun and frivolous. Because there’s nothing worse than just waiting.
Remember You Truly Won’t be Pregnant Forever
I don’t say that flippantly. This time around there was a good part of my brain that truly believed that this was all a cruel joke. That I wasn’t actually pregnant but rather had just contracted some strange medical condition with no known cure. The miracle of life is really hard to wrap your mind around, and I think it’s possible for even sane and rational people like myself (ahem.) to start to believe that it is possible to be pregnant forever. Just because it’s never happened before doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen now. There’s a first time for everything.
If any part of that previous paragraph sounds rational to you, don’t worry. It means you’re really, really close.
Go Ahead and Bitch a Little
One of the 7 things to do in the above referenced blog post was to stop complaining. (I told you it was an annoying post!) Bollocks. The end of pregnancy is HARD. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. Even under the best of circumstances, it’s still this huge thing that’s happening and some of it sucks. Yes, it’s beautiful and spiritual and miraculous. But it’s not really . . . fun. So go ahead and share some of those thoughts and feelings with that friend you’re hanging out with. Especially if she’s been there before. Don’t dwell on it, but really, it’s okay to say, “you know what? This really sucks.” And if she tells you to put on your patience hat, punch her in the nose.