I’ve been planning for this child since before he was conceived. I’ve read lots of books and done a ton of research. Many people have given me grief for that or made comments like “you don’t need all those books” or “you can’t prepare, you’ll learn as you go” or “we didn’t have all that stuff and we did just fine.” With all due respect, reading, planning, and researching makes a difference. It’s sad that most people spend more time researching their next TV or vehicle purchase than they do preparing for the birth of a human life. (Yeah I underlined that part because I feel pretty strongly about it.) Yes I know all babies are different. Yes I know that alot of what you plan to do “will go out the window.” But taking the time to prepare and plan and research makes one more cognizant of the choices they make in parenting and patterns in their every day life with their child. Knowing what is optimal or what is average for most babies helps us to determine which direction to take in many areas. Having guidance that is based in research is a good thing. For example I’d prefer to know that it’s best to put a baby down to sleep when “drowsy” but before they become overtired. I’ve learned that the signs we often look for (rubbing eyes, fussiness) are often cues that a baby is already overtired. When they get to that point the body is already releasing a chemical associated with fatigue that will actually make it harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. I believe this is something quite valuable that I’ve learned from some of my reading.
In addition to many books on birthing, feeding, sleeping, and infant care, I’ve made list after list after list of everything I could possibly need. I did a pre-shower and post-shower inventory of baby items…a true spreadsheet/checklist type inventory that was so detailed it even distinguished between things like short sleeved onesies and long sleeved onesies or regular blankets versus swaddling blankets. I obsessed about having the right amount of clothing for the right season. I worried about having enough diapers (like there aren’t 50 stores within a mile where we could get more if we needed them). I researched pediatricians. I researched vaccines. I studied birthing positions. I made spreadsheets of emergency numbers. I made a phone tree of people for my mother to call/text once the baby is born. I made like 12 labor and delivery playlists. THIS is the biggest thing that has ever happened in my life…it doesn’t feel right if there aren’t checklists and extreme levels of preparation. I know lots of people don’t go to these extremes and do just fine…but I do. And it makes me feel better. And it’s fine. This is why I was a good student. I had to be prepared for every possible test question so I usually over-prepared for every test. I over-prepare for everything. But in reality…is it really over-preparing when it usually turns out well? Or is it adequate preparation? After all…one of my favorite quotes is “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
I’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared any day. Right?!?
All that to say…I am now 39 weeks pregnant and I still look at Eric and go “OMG we’re having a baby!!!” I KNOOOOW that my life is going to change. I know this cognitively, but also because only every single person I know that has a child makes a point to tell me constantly. But as prepared as I am, and as much as I plan, it’s almost impossible to wrap my head around it at this point. There is so much unknown. Has there ever been a situation I’ve faced with as much unknown as this? I don’t think so! I’m doing alot of my own counseling on myself these days. Reminding myself that I can’t worry about things I can’t control, and that the unknowns will soon be knowns and they are never as scary on the other side. I’m doing my breathing and my relaxation and I’m actually very calm these days. I’m not frantic or stressed out. I’m just reading…alot. And I might be making 3X5 note cards too. But only of really important things…ha.
But despite the über-preparation, I feel so relaxed and ready. The planning and reading doesn’t stress me out more, it helps me relax into the experience. Having an idea of what to expect helps me to enjoy it more. However, I know there is no way to know exactly how life is going to change. And as I sit here, completely unable to sleep because of the pain in my back, I thank God that I’ve had this opportunity. I thank God every day. Because my heart aches for babies born to unprepared parents…to selfish, irresponsible parents. My heart aches for women trying to conceive for years and years. My heart aches for mothers who have lost children. Perhaps part of my need to plan so much is the fear of what I might not be able to prepare for…the things that might go wrong…the curveballs I didn’t see coming…the accidents. I suppose the security that I feel by preparing so intensely for his birth eases a bit of the fear of facing life with him outside the safety of my womb. I know I can’t live life in fear of the accidents or “what if’s” but I KNOW how incredibly fortunate I am …and I don’t plan on taking one second of this experience for granted.