A Survival Kit for the Last Month of Pregnancy with a Toddler
I wasn’t normally so permissive. I attempted to take my 2-year-old out of the house daily, whether to run errands, attend playgroups, or play with the trains at the bookstore. He would eat fruits and vegetables every day, and we tried to vary his diet to expand his growing palate. TV time was limited and usually involved letters, numbers, or nursery rhymes. Sometimes, we needed to wake him at a certain time to take his much needed afternoon nap (for everyone’s sake) and then wake him from his nap, so that he readily fell asleep for the night. By no means was it perfect, but we generally had our shtick down.
But then I was nine months pregnant. My belly was the size of a watermelon, and I broke into a sweat just walking upstairs. Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” took on a whole new meaning; mine hurt whenever I stood up, walked around, or transported a flailing 30-pounder. I couldn’t fall asleep until at least midnight, and I was up several times due to discomfort or a bathroom run. My mind and body would have loved to sleep through the morning hours, but it wasn’t in the cards. The struggle was very, very real.
Although I couldn’t completely take a break during those last trying weeks of pregnancy (or frankly, ever again), I tried to savor any opportunity to take it easy. As a result, I developed six strategies in which I took the laissez-faire approach to parenting in order to survive.
- Extra crib time. Just because he woke up in the morning didn’t mean we had to start our day. My son was perfectly content rolling around in his crib for up to an hour after wake-up, and I didn’t fight it. Instead, I tried to catch a few more winks, eat my own breakfast, or check social media until he was standing up and shaking the bars of his tiny prison demanding release. At 2-years old, another sleep regression had also made an untimely appearance, and naps were no longer predictable. No problem! I simply left my son in his crib for quiet time equivalent to his typical nap and enjoyed my own solitary confinement.
- Eat whatever. Grocery shopping was already quite the endeavor. Trying to wrangle a toddler with a short attention span for errands was exhausting enough, but with the addition of pregnancy, most days it felt insurmountable. Therefore, our refrigerator was pretty bare and our go-to foods were either in the freezer or stacked in the kitchen cabinet. Also, like most toddlers, my son has staple food preferences, and pregnancy drained my resolve to coax him into eating a more balanced diet. Cheerios, ravioli, peas, grilled cheese, repeat.
- Play with forbidden fruit. Objects for which I would normally provide a firm “no” now received a green light. Remove all items and play with the trash can? Sure, why not. Take Daddy’s dirty clothes out of the hamper? Make sure you put them back! Bake in the oven? It’s not on, so go for it! As long as he wasn’t in imminent danger, everyone benefited.
- Leave a path of destruction. All toddlers play the role of Godzilla, but I’d rather rest on the couch as a spectator than save the day. While I was initially drafting this piece, my son went the extra mile by pouring his Cheerios on the floor, eating some, putting others in his cars, and running over the rest with gleeful abandon. He would have certainly “helped” me clean up if I brought out the broom and dustpan, which would have resulted in a lot of bending and a bigger mess. Solution? Postpone it until later. Or, better yet (and more likely)? Wait for my husband.
- More TV. I’m certainly not one of those mothers who bans television, but I try to restrict it due to my son’s predilection for being a couch potato and fear he’ll grow roots. Yet, there are only so many puzzles, books, and vehicles before boredom strikes, and I was physically and emotionally incapable of coming up with other means of distraction. Television was my savior, and I worshiped it with a fierce, unwavering loyalty that final month of pregnancy.
- Wrap me around his finger. Pregnancy hormones heightened my emotions into sentimental trainwreck status. It had been just the two of us most days over the past couple years, and as excited as I was to bring home number two, I wanted to hold onto the present before everything changed. In those final weeks of pregnancy, I relished morning cuddle time when my son slowed down long enough for me to devour him with kisses. I read every book he demanded off the bookshelf repeatedly with no objection. I wrestled with him (as much as my girth allowed, of course) to soak in his dimples and elicit his perfect belly laugh. I entered his room a little bit sooner when he couldn’t fall back asleep, pulled him into my arms, head resting on my shoulder, and rocked him back and forth a little bit longer.
Although I realized that I may pay for my (in)actions later (and some days, I am) the end of pregnancy is rough, and I expended the little energy I had to cherish special moments with my son. Additional rest went a long way, especially since now that I have two, I truly may never sleep again.
About the Author
In between chasing after her toddler son and welcoming her newborn daughter, Adina Newman likes to write and doesn’t discriminate according to genre or topic. Her work has recently appeared at Kveller and Sammiches and Psych Meds. She has previously blogged for Moment Magazine, written poetry for several online and print publications, and is currently working on her dissertation. You can follow her musings on Twitter.