The first Mommy Story post for this year is from Seema. Unforeseen circumstances led an expecting Seema to face motherhood without much support. With careful planning, she was able to build a foundation to help her and her children.
Preparing To Give Birth
Going through the process of procreating is challenging for most women. Managing unexpected spikes in hormones and as well as dealing with the various bodily changes that come along with pregnancy can take an emotional toll on the bravest. However, preparing to give birth without the support of loved ones takes the challenge to a whole new level.
When I was expecting baby number three, I had imagined the entire process to be a piece of cake. My mother would move in and supervise my other two kids while my husband took care of me at the hospital. We would return home two days later with our bundle of joy and the entire family would bask endlessly in the warm, fuzzy feelings.
How wrong was I!
Two months before the delivery, my father had a stroke. It left him entirely dependent upon my mother. Even though my mom kept reassuring me that things would settle down soon enough, they didn’t. I realized a month in that I would have no help when the time finally came. I was heartbroken but determined to face the situation in the best possible way. There was no other option. People generally devise birth plans. I had to formulate a detailed plan that stretched far beyond the first month post-delivery.
If you’re facing a similar dilemma, fret not! I have a few tips for you on how to best prepare for such a major life-changing event.
Recruit help from friends:
Start planning early and do not hesitate in asking friends for assistance. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to ask around. My friends volunteered their time as soon as they found out that my mother would not be able to travel. Two of them took turns watching my kids while my husband was in the hospital with me. They would take off after he returned home at the end of the day. My other friends organized a meal train as well as play dates so my kids wouldn’t feel lonely.
Prepare your shopping list and pick up everything you need at least a week in advance. I bought detergent, cleaning supplies, and baby essentials. I stocked the pantry with non-perishable staples that would last at least a month. My kitchen shelves were neatly stacked with water bottles, beans, flour, pasta, and rice amongst other things. I also made sure I kept snacks for the kids on hand. My nesting instinct was in overdrive and it served me well.
Cook and freeze meals:
I literally cooked twenty pounds each of chicken and beef during the final two weeks of my pregnancy and portioned the food into small baggies before neatly stacking them away in the freezer. Although the process was exhausting, I was satisfied knowing that my family would have home cooked meals available for at least a month post-delivery.
Organize the nursery:
I organized the baby’s clothes, bottles, and anything else she would need. I labeled drawers so my husband wouldn’t have to look for things… you know how they are never able to ‘find’ anything!
Plan out the kids’ closet:
My baby arrived during a time when school was still in session. So, during the last week pre-delivery, I tucked a pair of socks and underwear in each kid’s outfit and folded the clothes neatly into bins. Post-delivery, I didn’t need to look for anything in the morning. The first couple of weeks after baby, all we had to do was unroll the folded outfit and dress the kids up.
Hire a babysitter:
If possible, hire a babysitter. My friends put me in touch with a woman who drove my kids to and from school. I found it to be a tremendous help because it saved me the trouble of getting everyone, including the baby, into the car twice a day.
Have the house professionally cleaned:
We made full use of the dishwasher and never did the dishes by hand. My husband was very cooperative in the sense that he helped with the laundry whenever possible. Two weeks in, however, he was back at work and I had to manage everything on my own. I hired someone to clean the house once a week. She also folded away the laundry, which was a huge help.
Looking back, I contend that the situation was challenging. However, with some advance planning we were able to handle it just fine. In fact, in the bigger scheme of things, I feel it brought us closer together. My friends and I recall those early days and relish the fact that they were there every step of the way. As for me, their love and support continue to bring on warm and fuzzy feelings years later!
Seema Khan is the founder and editor of The Qelem, a lifestyle blog that inspires readers to improve their wellbeing.