I remember the urgent feeling of needing to have a crib before my first son was born.
It felt so important. For some reason we left it til the very end of my pregnancy. The feeling of relief and preparedness that crib provided once it was sitting in our bedroom set-up and ready with the cute little blue sheets was really quite humorous looking back. I remember thinking to myself and to my baby: “Okay, you can come now dear son. We have a crib.”
I didn’t even have a car seat yet. In my mind there was still plenty of time because my due date was not yet here. Until one fine day, two and half weeks before my estimated due date, when my labor started in the middle of the night. Oh no!
Once the sun came up I sent my brother in-law, David, out to Target to buy the car seat and stroller. I was in very active labor. My husband and I had looked at the car seat/stroller sets earlier and there was a green set that we liked but we hadn’t fully made up our minds. I remember thinking in between contractions that David urgently needed to go buy it for us and I said: “Just get the green one!” Indecision was cast aside and that car seat was to be ours.
However urgent I felt it was to have it purchased exactly at that very moment — in reality we still had plenty of time on our hands.
The baby wasn’t there demanding to be placed in his car seat so we could drive away. And there are plenty of shopping facilities and other resources around to find car seats if needed. It was not as if car seats were suddenly going out of stock worldwide. But my mind was not overcome with logic and reason. The baby was coming. It was a code-red emergency. So of course, it got taken care of pronto.
Fast forward to postpartum: the crib didn’t really work out for us during the newborn phase. My son co-slept with us at night for the first year and a half of his life. We all got more sleep that way and it was a lot more convenient for breastfeeding. I still used the crib for nap time often. But mostly it became a diaper-changing space.
The car-seat was first used three days after he was born when we left the hospital to drive home. It was a worthy investment, but could have been picked up any time within those three days and did not really require waking up a sleeping brother-in-law at the crack of dawn to acquire. The stroller too wasn’t used much at all in the immediate days and weeks after my son was born. I can’t remember the first time I used it but I would guess sometime in the first month we took it out for a spin. It did get plenty of use throughout the time we had it.
It was nice that all of these things were there when we needed them, but they were not code-red emergencies like I had felt at the time.
What is this all about?
If you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy you may be feeling an urge to clean or organize and prepare your home for the baby. Or maybe you have a strong desire to rearrange the living room and scrub down the bathroom until it shines like a queen’s crown. Or you are stressing over the fact that you don’t have nearly everything you think you need for the new baby. The baby preps list seems to be longer than you ever thought possible.
Some of this is due to a natural urge called the nesting instinct. It is found in a variety of animals, mammals, birds and humans. It’s a natural desire to prepare your home for the arrival of the newborn baby.
For some it may be enjoyable to accommodate this urge and get busy cleaning, organizing and preparing your home. It can be a nice distraction from the “waiting game” and the anticipation of the arrival of your baby. Maybe you really enjoy shopping, cleaning, organizing and setting up all your newborn gear.
For others this can be a stressful time. It can feel overwhelming.
Nothing is ready! This baby can’t come. The sink is still leaking and hasn’t been fixed. The dryer vent seems clogged. I never had time to deep clean the kitchen! We don’t have a baby swing or a changing table. We have so many baby preps still to do. I wanted to declutter the closets…. on and on.
Let me assure you despite how overwhelming it can all seem there are really only a few things that you and your newborn baby need immediately. My short list would be: breastmilk or formula, diapers, wipes or cloths, a few outfits, blankets, burp cloths, car seat and somewhere to live and sleep (your arms are always good for that too.)
There are lots of gadgets, gizmos and other convenient things that are nice to have. But are they desperately urgent? Not really. Is the bathroom door handle that didn’t get fixed in time for the baby’s arrival really that important? Not really. It’s bothersome to you, but your baby won’t mind and it won’t drastically affect your life after the baby arrives any more than it did before.
Life is a constant flow. Things are always changing. Babies grow up and their needs change. They become kids. Now they need a bike or a backpack, or some running shoes. As you go through each phase of parenting you’ll have time to get the necessities and adjust to your new life.
Take time to settle in with your new baby. You will soon be sure of the essentials that you really need and the luxury items that are nice to have or maybe not even necessary at all.
Take your time. Rest with your baby. When you are ready to get out of the house for a change of scenery, make it a fun little outing with your baby to pick up the new items you now know that you actually need. Or just send a friend, partner or family member to get them for you. Your postpartum doula can also run errands for you too.
My kids are now 8 and 3 years old. There are always things in my house that are not perfect or how I’d really like them to be. A home and a life needs regular repair, maintenance, organizing and cleaning – it’s true. It really never ends. But a messy, lived-in home is a loved home. Yes, it would be great if everything was in perfect order before the baby arrived. Yes, you won’t have as much time after the baby arrives to tend to all of these things right away. But you will be filled with more love than ever before. Your baby will light up your life like nothing ever has, and the dirty dishes and broken door handles can stay right where they are. Your new life will be perfectly imperfect.
So for now – enjoy your pregnancy. Do your best. Get things ready. But don’t drive yourself mad with worry about baby preps. All your baby really needs is your love.
You may also be interested in these blog posts:
What Baby Gear Do I Really Need?
The Best Baby Registry – Advice from a Postpartum Doula