Dear Tired, Third Trimester Mama,
So here you are. What a place to be. Between the world of pregnancy and the land of birth, which leads to the pastures of motherhood. Perhaps it is more like a doorway between parallel universes. You will move on through and everything will seem both familiar and completely different.
You might be enjoying these last weeks and days of your pregnancy, or you might be eager to move on. I know I did not always bear this time with grace!
Now is not the time to rush. It is the time to prepare for the future, but to remain in the moment, which can be a tricky balance to strike.
You might feel like nesting, or you might not. You might want to have a baby shower or blessing ceremony, or you might not. You might want to iron little baby clothes, and pack a hospital bag, or you might not. You might want to stay in, or go out, or work out, or rest up. There is no pattern that you must follow. Each person, each pregnancy, each labour, each birth, and each baby is different.
So, while there might be expectations placed on you by family, friends, doctors, and culture, you are free to see your circumstances and your role within them in any way you want to. You are free to listen to what you want and need, and to carry out your wishes as best you can.
You might find your thoughts drawn towards birth a lot more often than before. You might be looking for signs that it is imminent, or even be active in trying to speed things along. You might be wondering if you can do it, if your baby will fit through your birth canal, or if you can handle the experience, the pain. How can you know what to expect, or whether you will be equal to it. Will you need any special equipment, drugs, or snacks? Where will the event itself happen?
You might be wondering about motherhood, and how you will care for your baby. You may be buying cots, clothes, nappies, and breast feeding paraphernalia and/or bottles. So odd, to be preparing to move to another universe of tiny vests and socks that fit on your thumb, where you may need a breast-pump and/or a steriliser. How do you decide what you need, how can you be sure you have everything your little one will require? What do the experts say? What about baby books?
The idea of a postpartum body must seem far off at the moment, and is blurred by the actuality of your prepartum curves. How does one choose from the array of clothing, sanitary towels, and support belts, what will suit HER? That postpartum lady who you have yet to become. What will she look like? How will she feel?
You might feel radiant or plain exhausted.
You might prefer not to do planning and questioning, or you may be in the middle of it 24/7.
You might be doing a terrific job of balancing any and all preparations, or you might be feel like you are tipping over the edge of a cliff. You might veer between the two.
You can feel however you want. You do not need to justify yourself to anyone, or be a particular kind of pregnant lady.
What you do to prepare for your imminent transition from one universe to another is a matter of following your instincts. How you see that future place right now? What do you feel the need for?
Remember that universes always look different when you are in them, than they do from the outside. No one gets to see exactly how things will look from here to there. You can only do your best to imagine.
However, you can gather some information about what other people have experienced, and you can look at what your common sense is telling you to do.
You can find out what you can about how things might be. You can visit your chosen place of birth, you can gather stories from friends, books, articles. You can get information about services, policies, and practices. You can put it all down in a birth plan, using the best facts that you have right now. If you want to.
You can identify means of support that you have available to you, and you can take advantage of these, as appropriate. You can gather your loved ones around you in person or virtually, because you are carrying a lot right now, and it is OK to ask for help. You are not alone.
You can also make your peace with the unknown, and rely on that labouring woman, or postpartum lady to figure some stuff out herself. You can be prepared for flexibility. You can realise that you do not have all the information that your future self will have, and so you cannot imagine her true thoughts and actions before they have happened.
One of the most important gifts you can give to your future self, is to learn how to be in the moment you are in and not to worry about the next one. It is how you get from one contraction to the next to birth and to the beginning of motherhood.
That is how you will go from babymoon (early days) to fourth trimester (early months) to the first birthday and second birthday and so on and so forth. There are going to be a lot of changes and a lot of doorways to walk through. However, there will only ever be one NOW.
You can practice letting all the ifs and buts go, and allow yourself to be in the moment you are in and no other. You can let yourself stand between the worlds and feel peace rather than precariousness. You can stand, or sit in a nice comfy spot, in all your pregnant glory and be your marvellous self. Look at where you are and how far you have come.
You might forget to pack something in your hospital bag. You might clip your newborns nails too short. You might need some practice before you are a pro nappy changer. You might freak out over the umbilical stump or your baby’s skin tone. You might make some mistakes. There is a distinct possibility that may not yet know everything you need to know. You might be human, after all. That’s OK.
I remind you that it is fine to ask for help. This is not a test, it is a transition, so it is not cheating to look to others. It is a natural part of the process.
Whatever exists out there in the world, you have the inner resources to cope with new situations and the unexpected. Your body and mind are miraculous entities, brimming with potential and possibility. The ability to fall pregnant, to birth your baby, and to care for him or her has been with you all along, and it is not going anywhere. It is part of your system. You are designed to create babies, labours, births, and yourself as a mother. You are built to adapt and to thrive in new places and new roles.
Where nature has been a bit haphazard in its considerations for you, and there is a need for medical support, that is available to you too. It is possible to work from an assumption that you already have everything you need, but in the event of a problem, modern medicine provides a recourse, and dedicated practitioners.
Your confidence will depend on the quality of the thoughts you have available at a given moment. If there are nagging thoughts of self doubt or anxiety, then see them as a reflection of your thinking, not an accurate image of yourself. It is normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes, especially when your body is working hard, and your mind is busy creating new blueprints to work from. In these moments, breathe and come back to NOW, and know that it is a passing thought, that your feelings will change as soon as your thinking changes.
Most of all, you are something to marvel at, just as you are.
You are equal to these tasks ahead of you. You may not know all the hows, or whats, or whens, but have everything it takes to be just fine.
This is not about knowing all the answers, or getting everything right, it is about letting your innate wisdom and common sense guide you through the challenges ahead.
I guarantee it. You are amazing and you can do this!
Thinking of you.
Lots of love,