There’s a lot of advice out there about how to maintain your calm while pregnant, but sometimes you need more than inspirational quotes or esoteric self-help mantras. Sometimes you need some practical, easy-to-do problem solving. Here are some real world things I’ve actually done to help myself chill out while pregnant.
1. Un-Friended some Facebook friends
I waited until I was 15 weeks to announce my pregnancy on Facebook. It stressed me out to think about what people’s reactions would be, so in the meantime I un-friended about 400 people. That sounds like a joke but it’s not. Most of the people I un-friended were people I just didn’t know that well or wasn’t close to, or… they sucked. I know that sounds cold, but anybody whose status updates bothered me or who said rude, mean things to me went bye-bye! Guess what? Absolutely none of them noticed or cared. I see more of the posts in my feed from people I actually want to see, and I waste less time on Facebook in general. Most importantly, I don’t have to worry about their unwanted opinions of my very personal and intimate experience of having a baby.
2. Un-Subscribed from junk e-mails
I honestly don’t know why I didn’t do this before. What a time waster! How much time have I spent deleting the pointless daily updates from drug stores or websites I never use? I spent about 10 minutes just clicking “unsubscribe” at the bottom of dozens of e-mails and probably saved myself hours of pointless filtering through the thousands of e-mails I’d continue to get forever. As a new mom, I just won’t have time for that kind of inbox clutter.
3. Went on a maternity dress hunt/rampage
I might have thrown a few minor tantrums over how much I hate maternity clothes. (Truth: I cried in the Target parking lot over it Sunday night.) I never claimed to be perfect. I have always hated buying clothes online because I’m just one of those people who has to try stuff on. My body type is just not cut out for taking risks! So my options are limited to what’s nearby and there are literally only four places that sell maternity clothes in my area, and they by and large have a very poor selection, but I would not be defeated. I refused to give up until I found a cute dress to wear to my baby shower. It’s not my favorite thing I’ve ever bought, but at least it fits and I don’t feel like crap wearing it. Sometimes winning is the only way to find peace. It’s a small victory I know, but I needed it.
4. Indulged in full-out TV/Netflix binges (often)
I was a nanny for six years, and I know exactly how much time a baby takes up, and it’s nearly all of it. I know I’m going to miss a lot of TV (one of my favorite past times) so I’m indulging as much as possible before she gets here. Pass the popcorn! “The Walking Dead” is on.
5. Made playlists for me and baby
This is one of those things I am pretty sure I won’t have time for once she’s around, but I know I’m going to want. I need lullabies for both of us and as a former childcare worker, I’m totally over most kids music. I’m already falling blissfully asleep to my carefully selected slow jams.
6. Said ‘no’ to drama
There’s nothing like getting pregnant to bring out people’s shockingly inappropriate behavior. Some of the things people say to you are pretty mind-boggling. I’ve got a short list that bring a surprised smile to my face — like the lady who asked about my morning sickness and then cut me off before I got a sentence out to tell me I should stop complaining because I was “better” now, and the person who told me they’ve always wanted to have sex with a pregnant woman at a family function. When I’ve shared these stories with my friends, they usually want to know how I responded. My answer is, I didn’t. I don’t owe any explanations to people making assumptions about my experience without hearing me out, and if somebody’s gut reaction is to be judgmental or negative, I instantly stop caring about their opinion. Mean Facebook comment? I delete it and move on. Rude accusation or question? I change the subject or walk away. I run a tight ship when it comes to my emotional boundaries, and being pregnant has just made me more confident in doing that.
7. Gotten organized
De-cluttering and organizing things is one of the holy tenants of “nesting.” I know it will be difficult to maintain once my sweet little babe arrives, but for now I feel astoundingly whole and complete as a human being knowing that I have actually (for the first time ever) kept good track of my google calendar, my paperwork is appropriately labeled in my giant file folder, and my baby girl’s clothes are hanging in the closet according to size.
8. Slept in
If I’ve learned anything from my many years of being a nanny, it is that parents of young children are, as a group, pretty much constantly sleep-deprived. Of course there’s the obvious baby months when they don’t have much of a sleep schedule, but few people seem prepared for the 5- and 6-year-olds who regularly wake up before 6 am. I know the truth, and I am indulging in long late mornings as long as I possibly can.
9. Beat morning sickness (twice!)
At the beginning of my third trimester, my morning sickness came back and my first instinct was to curl up in a ball and weep. My initial first trimester morning sickness was so awful I just couldn’t imagine going through that again, but after just two miserable days I decided I was going to fight back. I made some adjustments and some sacrifices like skipping my prenatal vitamins a few times and drinking less water (and more powerade), which aren’t things I like doing but they help me keep food down. Very few of the typical morning sickness remedies seemed to work for me, so I came up with my own. It actually helps me to get in my car and drive it. I think it helps me focus and take my mind off the feeling in my stomach. Within a week I was feeling more normal.
10. Let things go
There are certain parts of my body I simply cannot see or reach, therefore, they aren’t being groomed. Potato chips, french fries, and soft pretzels from the mall are some of the few things I can reliably eat without feeling sick, so I literally never think twice about eating them. My psychologist, whose office was too far away, and who I hadn’t warmed up to very much said something totally inappropriate to me, and I cancelled my next appointment. Sometimes I forget to answer a text and I just ask for forgiveness. Sometimes I check myself on my own bratty behavior and remind myself not to make a fuss about every little thing (like when people put unflattering pictures of me on Facebook). Honestly, anything that’s not making a positive contribution to my general well-being gets to take up no space in my life. There’s already a little person taking up plenty of space beneath my rib cage.