Amalah is fast approaching her due date and she has been bitten by the nesting bug. Some of her recommendations for do’s and don’t’s.
- Weighs about six and a half pounds, and is 21 inches long — quite possibly the same length he or she will be at birth.
- Is packing on close to a half-pound of pure, unadulterated baby chub every week.
- Are probably dismayed to realize you are STILL outgrowing your maternity clothes. Your shirts ride up to reveal a couple inches of belly (or elastic waistbands), your pants might bulge and pucker weirdly as your uterus drops lower, and some tops might feel especially tight as your ribcage expands to handle all your pushed-up organs.
- Might be having serious trouble getting a good night’s sleep thanks to your size (my limbs keep falling asleep under my body’s crushing weight), your baby’s jolt-you-awake-caliber kicks, bladder calls, Braxton-Hicks contractions, and your brain’s constant buzz of excitement and anxiety and massive to-do lists.
Despite feeling whale-ish and slow and awkward, and despite not even remembering the last full night’s sleep you got, many pregnant women get a burst of nervous energy in the final weeks. You’ll get the patronizing “oh, you’re just NESTING” from everybody else, but not from me. I understand. There are fingerprints on those windows and unless you just go get the Windex right this minute you’ll be looking at those fingerprints six months from now oh my God get the Windex right this minute WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR.
Yes, I washed every windowpane in my house — inside and out — this weekend. I also had contractions at Pier One while shopping for chairs. I came home and assembled a swing and a bouncy seat, then installed the infant car seat base in my car. I bought shelves and spackled drywall and then scored myself a freshly painted basement ceiling when I announced my intention to do something about some old water stains while conveniently holding a painter’s mask and a can of surely terribly toxic stain sealer/primer stuff in front of my in-laws.
(My husband, for the record, is nesting just as badly as I am — he’s rearranged the furniture in three rooms so far, has plans for two more and has sketched out an impressive-looking diagram of a new kitchen island he apparently intends to build himself.)
Some women don’t nest at all, some keep it confined to baby-centric preparations, and some of us lose our entire damn minds during the entire last month of pregnancy with a constant obsession of finishing long-procrastinated tasks and a ravenous compulsion to KEEP MOVING, STAY BUSY, CANNOT SIT STILL.
Whether it’s an ambitious decision to install a new tile backsplash or organize the linen closet or re-file everything in your office desk and cabinets, nesting can actually serve a noble purpose. You DO get things done that you’ve been putting off for ages and that likely won’t ever get done soon with a newborn in the house. You DO channel your nervous energy into something productive. Time WILL pass more quickly. You WILL feel calmer and more prepared for maternity leave and weeks of 24/7 baby duty when you cross things off the to-do list. And the constant activity and exercise CAN aid your body in preparing for labor (or even induce labor, depending on how much stock you hold in old wives’ tales).
A few nesting DON’Ts, however:
1) DON’T paint, if you can help it. Delegate tasks that involve icky fumes or heavy chemicals to your partner or other family members. If you MUST paint, make sure you wear a mask and have windows open and fans blowing to keep the area ventilated. When shopping for paints, look for paints that emit fewer fumes than conventional paints, especially those that are oil-based. (The same goes for some household cleansers, especially bleach-based bathroom products, and stuff like furniture refinishers and stains.) The not-for-profit Healthy Child Healthy World has information on safer paints and finishes.
2) DON’T get up on ladders or furniture. You’re big and unwieldy and clumsy. Don’t overestimate how good your balance and center of gravity is at this point.
3) DON’T overdo it. I know, I know. Isn’t the point of frantic nesting to get your body all pumped up and contraction-y? Sort of, but not. If you realize you’re out of breath or sweating or dizzy, stop and lie down immediately. Drink plenty of water.
Most likely your baby will come when he or she is really ready, NOT at the precise moment you’ve finished installing the crown moulding. It really, really isn’t the end of the world if the tub never gets regrouted. You’re more likely to end up dehydrated and swollen than in labor. And besides — going through the physically demanding process of labor and delivery right after overdoing it on the housework is not ideal for you or the baby.
Finished with the Pregnancy Calendar and want more? Visit Amalah’s postpartum weekly column, Bounce Back. Bounce Back is about the postpartum experience — the good, the bad and the gory.