So, you’ve made it through almost nine months of taking care of your wife through it all: Her mood swings, her stress, her pain. You’ve probably heard nothing but nonstop conversation about the baby – decorating his or her new little room, picking out strollers, what brand of diaper to use, baby showers, etc., ad nauseam. You might think you’re just about ready for a break. Think again.
When you hit the last week, you better shift into “Go” mode. And fast. Of course, I’m talking about the last scheduled week – don’t forget that no one can tell the hour or the day that the baby will arrive, and as the old saying goes, “Man makes plans and God laughs.”
You’ve got to finish every pregnancy-era project now or you’ll never get them done. Once the baby’s out, it’s the center of your universe – not to mention that the little tyke will double as an air-raid siren at night to keep you awake.
Please bear in mind that this post is written for first-time fathers. There are, of course, many other things you’ll need to take care of if you’ve already got kids. But here are the top 10 last-minute preparation that you absolutely have to have finished by the last week, or you’ll seriously regret it.
- Take Leave/Special Liberty/Pass Now. You should have put this request in a while ago. But you’re going to need this week off of work to get all of your ducks in a row before the baby pops out.
- Finish the Nest. Some inscrutable switch in your wife is going to pop on in the last week of pregnancy. She’s going to want to clean out the garage, organize every closet, inventory the pantry – everything she’s ever wanted in a perfect house should be, she’ll want to do. She probably won’t ask you to do it, but you need to be the one doing it. She shouldn’t be hauling the bin of Christmas lights to the basement or moving your old CD collection to a new closet; you should. Don’t ask her why she’s doing all of this – it’s an instinct she’s got, and she doesn’t care whether the baby will be able to tell that the Tupperware isn’t matched up with its lids. Whatever she wants, do it.
- Get your necessities together. If you’re planning on having a hospital birth, you need to be ready for that. They should have given you a labor kit, but that won’t have everything you need. You also need to make sure that the crib is put together, the car seat is assembled and that you’ve purchased all of the diapers, baby clothes, burp cloths and pacifiers you’ll need.
- Call your wife’s Mom, sister, best friend, or whomever is her number one gal pal. Make sure they take her out for a manicure and a pedicure, even if your wife isn’t usually into that. Get her out of the house, some time with the girls and encourage her to focus on herself for a while. She’s felt like two people for long enough – she needs time for her.
- Take her out on a date. Before the baby is born, take her out on a romantic date. A candlelit dinner, a movie, a walk on the waterfront or on the beach. Take care of her. Not only is this the last chance you’ll get to have a date for quite some time, she needs to feel rewarded for the hard work she’s put in by growing a baby.
- Get the baby’s room ready. Chances are, she’s already picked out most of what she wants to go in the room. If you were smart, you were engaged, helpful, and let her make 100% of the decisions. Now, it’s time to implement. Finish the wallpaper, get the toys set up, make sure the crib, the motorized swing and everything else baby will need is ready to go.
- Exercise with her. This will mostly consist of walking in the last week – no plans or hardcore abdominal workouts. But if she’s active, she’s not just chasing away the blues (and cabin fever, for that matter) she’s getting her mind off her discomfort and preparing her body for labor. Spend time walking around the block, or choose a nearby, easy trail that the two of you can stroll on.
- Brush up on your reading. If you’ve been wise, you’ve been reading books about childbirth and raising a brand new baby. If books aren’t your style, I think we both know that you’re capable of reading blogs (see what I did there? Eh?) Get out and give yourself a primer all over again. It’ll help you manage your excitement and give you confidence, which will rub off on her, too.
- Help her practice her birth techniques. Go over everything again – the breathing, the methods she’s learned to stay calm, how and when to push, and so forth. It will help the two of you connect, and will refresh your memory, too, so you can remind her when you’re in labor. That is, if she gets her hands off your throat long enough for you to speak. (If you’re not in the know, she’s going to be highly pissed off the entire time she’s giving birth.)
- Go back over your list. Have you forgotten anything the baby will want or need? If so, start scanning Craigslist and garage sales to fill in the gaps. Have you made sure she’s taking good care of herself? Are you taking good care of her? Does she have her support network nearby and prepared for when the moment comes?