*Photograph by Margaret Belanger

Last week, Stitch and I rode the elevator with a very frazzled pregnant mama. She asked how old Stitch was. After I replied she said her babe needed to cook a little longer. Since I had that opening, I asked when she was due.

“Three weeks,” she replied. “I still have so much left to do. We haven’t even started decorating her room.”

Feeling overwhelmed with empathy, I replied, “Oh, she doesn’t need her room decorated right away. She’ll probably be in your room for a little while anyways.”

Then she started listing the other things she needed to get done before the baby arrived, and I could feel the panic rising. “It’s just so much work,” she sighed.

So, I said, “Look, let me give you the skinny: you don’t really need any of that before the baby is born and comes home. I know you want to have those things ready, and if you can get them done, bonus! But all of the things you just listed can wait if they need to. So, if you need to let any of that go, do it, and release the guilt at the same time. All you really need set up before the baby comes is a place for babe to sleep in your room, a car seat, some onesies, swaddle or receiving blankets, and diapers. That’s it.”

As we walked off the elevator, she took a deep breath and released a sincere, “Thank you.” I wished her an uneventful delivery, and we walked in opposite directions.

Our Own Preparations

But, it got me thinking and remembering that preparation for Stitch. We resisted buying anything for her, especially early on, because of our previous loss. That resistance is actually fairly common in the pregnancy after loss community. At 20 weeks, we were given some money to purchase things for the baby. I didn’t want to risk spending it elsewhere, so we ordered her big, highly-researched items: the Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat, Arm’s Reach co-sleeper, and Baby Jogger City Select stroller.

As soon as they arrived, my husband took the boxes to the attic so I didn’t have the daily reminder that we’d bought those items. While it caused stress, it also gave me some relief because I knew the big things we needed were in the house. It also encouraged just a wee bit of nesting, though not much. We literally set up the co-sleeper and installed the car seat the weekend before she was born.

Once the big items were purchased, everything else was bonus. I had hoped to have a whole list of handmade things made for her, but as we got closer to her birth, I lowered my expectations on those. And, instead of making her going home outfit, I ordered a handmade outfit from a shop on Etsy.

What baby needs most in those first days is YOU.

What baby needs most in those first days is YOU. So, breathe, Mama. Get done what you can, and know that everything else will come together as you need it. We put so much pressure on ourselves to have everything perfect and ready for baby. But, as my brother told me when I was pregnant with my first, “Prepare, prepare, prepare. But, know that no matter how much you prepare, you’ll never be fully prepared.”

It’s OK to not have everything done and purchased. And, honestly, even if you think you’ve managed to do so, you’ll still make daily runs to Target the first two weeks. Or the first six months. Or maybe the rest of the baby’s life. And that’s OK too.

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