I glanced at a calendar today, and - holy meconium! - I only have 3 weeks until my due date! If this is your first pregnancy, News Flash: your due date is only a rough estimate. Once you hit 37 weeks, like I did today, your pregnancy is considered "at term"- in other words, that bun is pretty much fully baked.
I'm hoping the little guy will stay put so I can keep enjoying my "mommy sabbatical" - I've stopped working and my son is in pre-school all day, which means SACRED FREE TIME ALONE! ...buuut I should probably pause Netflix long enough to get the car seat installed.
Based on my professional experience (i.e. having gone through this exactly one time), I present to you: The 9th-Month To-Do List!
1. Install your car seat. This is probably the most important thing, since you legally cannot leave the hospital without an infant car seat. I've heard this is true even if you are walking home, which is kind of nutty, but you are carrying precious cargo! Have your partner (or better yet, an experienced mom/dad) help you, as getting that behemoth properly installed can involve some serious body contortion and muscle power.
2. Set up your breast pump. When the due date for my first son came and went, I started looking up techniques for naturally inducing labor. One source suggested stimulating lactation via breast pump, which is why I got mine set up and ready to use. It didn't work (to kickstart labor), but I'm glad I got the practice in. If IKEA sold a comical torture device, it would probably look like a breast pump. There are a ton of parts that you will eventually learn to assemble with James Bond-like efficiency, but it takes a couple tries to know what goes where. Don't wait until you are in sleep-deprived new-parent-land to figure it out!
3. Start a Meal Train. My #1 piece of advice for new parents? ACCEPT HELP. This is not the time to insist on doing everything on your own. While your friends, family, and colleagues likely won't be showing up at your doorstep at 3am to rock baby to sleep, one way they can help you survive is by feeding you. Have people sign up to grocery shop, cook, or order delivery during baby's first few weeks - and make a special request for those off-limits food items you've been craving for the last 9 months!
4. Re-stock feminine products. If you're like me, you probably gleefully gifted all your sanitary products as soon as you learned you'd be enjoying 9+ months sans period. Unfortunately, now is when you learn that there are other causes of bleeding down there. The hospital will provide you with some freakishly gargantuan pads and disposable underwear for those first few, gory days, but you can expect a period-like trickle of blood for the next week or so. Get some pads (not tampons!!!) and perhaps period underwear - I loved having a few pairs of Thinx to catch leaks. Also, flushable moist wipes (not the same as baby wipes).
5. Have some QT with your partner. Do whatever you enjoy doing together. Share what you're excited and nervous about. Talk about your expectations for yourselves and each other post-baby - while you most certainly will have to adapt any plans you form, it's good to at least get the discussion going about how your couple is going to weather the storm of new parenthood. It very well may be the case that one of you is going to assume the bulk of parenting duties, and that's okay, as long as you're in agreement. Don't forget to consider the other tasks of daily life - grocery shopping, cooking, house cleaning, social planning - and who's going to take responsibility for them.
6. Pamper yourself.When I was pregnant the first time, seasoned parents would ominously urge me to "get all the sleep in now while you can!!" But for most women in their third trimester, with baby jostling about and anxieties mounting, sleep is elusive. Find other ways to treat yourself - go see a movie in a theater for the last time in a long time, or get a prenatal massage, haircut, or pedicure (you'll be able to see your toes again soon!). Speaking of personal grooming, I remember wondering (with my first pregnancy) if I should get a bikini wax or at least shave pre-delivery - you know, as a courtesy to my OB. I decided it wasn't necessary - I mean, they've already seen it all, right??
7. Get a push present. What is a "push present," you ask? Well, it's a little concept invented by the modern consumerist complex to guilt your partner into buying you something as thanks for, um, pushing out that baby. Yes, it's kind of dumb, and yes, having a child is already a huge financial burden - but carrying and delivering a baby is major hassle, dammit, and if you want a present, go for it! You can opt for the frivolous - jewelry, a new outfit for your post-baby bod - or the practical - a professional house-cleaning, or the services of a nanny or baby nurse.
A push party? Now that's a whole other thing.
8. Secure a Gmail address for your baby.I will forever be jealous of those who secured a TheirName@gmail.com address - and miffed that mine has a number following my name. Save your child that shame by reserving their email address today! Of course, your offspring will hopefully be email-free for the next decade, and in that time it's possible that Gmail will have become passé. Still, it's a relatively quick and easy (and free!) step to take...and, you can try to make it a habit of writing to them from time to time, building up a little trove of messages to discover one day.