Currently in my third round of the last month of pregnancy, I have observed (and am experiencing) the highly volatile swing of emotional states that rightfully comes after growing a human for 36+ weeks. I theorize that there is a trend to those emotions of the last month and have highlighted them here as helpful checklist for both pregnant women and the people that love them to bring awareness and acceptance to what might come in those final weeks before your blessed newborn arrives.
Keep in mind that these emotions do not have any definitive length of duration and are certainly not static in their ordering. Women in the last month of pregnancy can move through the emotions at any rate and flip back and forth between the stages within less than a moment's notice.
The 5 Emotional Stages of the Last Month of Pregnancy
(entirely unofficial and pretend)
1. Anticipation - You feel like you can finally see the light at the end of this long tunnel called pregnancy! Your due date is nearing and you are full of energy and motivated to finally get those last items completed on your to do list. When people ask you how much longer you have, you happily respond, 'Just a few more weeks!' Every slight feeling of off-ness sends your wishful heart into excitement, 'Maybe this is it!' you imagine enthusiastically. You make plans for the upcoming weeks in pencil only with a heart full of hope that you'll just be too busy with a newborn to actually attend any of them.
2. Jaded - The excitement has worn away now and it feels as though these last final weeks are somehow longer than all the other months of pregnancy combined. You grow increasingly weary to answer, yet again, that your due date 'still isn't for another few weeks, but thank you very much for commenting on how that seems impossible to you with what my belly looks like.' Almost all items on your to do list are done, and then some. Braxton-Hicks become annoying reminders that you are still not ready for actual labor. You start the unhelpful act of Googling 'How to Naturally Induce Labor' and 'Wives Tales for Bringing on Labor.' You call friends and family to make firm plans for the upcoming weeks just to distract yourself from the constant feeling of waiting around.
3. Bitterness- You wake up one morning after a sleepless night of constant bathroom breaks and inconsistent, albeit frustrating, pressure and pain in your back - to realize that now you're mad. Angry that there is not a thing you can do about getting the child out until they are damn well ready to be born; a huge reminder of what being a parent is; running on someone else's schedule. Thoughts of your non-pregnant body and mind feel like they are from another lifetime ago. You come to realize that simply thinking about how long it has been since you have been able to do certain things; sleep on your stomach, paint your own toenails, hug someone straight on comfortably, infuriates you; how foreign having control over your own body seems! If you sneeze and pee your pants a little one.more.time, you will certainly lose your flipping mind?! You roll your eyes, grind your teeth and, eat 12 cookies just in spite of yourself.
4. Hopelessness - And then the waterworks start as your speaking to the person that happens to be the closest to you at that moment...and by closest I mean in physical proximity; this could be your spouse, your mom, the doctor's office secretary, or the man at the check out counter. Through streaming tears, you ramble on about a variety of irrational thoughts; "maybe this baby will never come out, I've been pregnant for so long and I miss my old self, I can't wait to finally see the baby's face, how will I be able to manage another child, I'm a bad mom for feeling upset about still being pregnant." The person listening to this generally will stare at you with saucer eyes and if you're lucky, they will follow up with an encouraging, "even though it doesn't feel like it - you're doing great. Now how about a warm bath?" (well, that might be creepy coming from the check out counter guy, but you get the idea).
5. Tolerance - This emotional state is generally brought about by the sudden realization that your life as it is right this moment (newborn still on the inside) efficiently operates like a well-oiled machine and that will very, very soon come to an end. It comes on in moments like when your entire family sleeps in until 8:30am and you quickly remember that this will not likely happen again for quite some time. Or when you find the kids eating breakfast and happily watching Team Umizoom while you get a few interrupted minutes to pound out a blogpost (hello!). It's the thought (however fleeting) that, "Okay, fine. It's not so bad and I can handle this for a little while longer. I mean, the baby IS coming soon, regardless.....right?"
In the past two weeks, I, personally, have been steadily exchanging emotional stages 2-5 with terrifying speed. Like, by the half hour. Just yesterday alone, I did a lap of stages 2-4 within a matter of two hours. Luckily this morning (for now at least), I am settled in stage 5 and I'm enjoying my two little gremlins and the prospect of a semi-productive day ahead.
Thank you to my husband, Mum, Mum-in-law, and sisters for putting up with sheer insanity. Seriously, they are being brave to call me; they don't know which crazy version of myself they will encounter on the other end. Thanks for still calling to check in anyway!
And to my two kids - I love you. You will almost never NOT think I'm crazy in your lives anyway, and that's fine - but right now, I really am being crazy, I'm promise I'm trying to keep it together and be a rational mum for you, but even still I know things have been a little out of sorts around here. So thanks for all the snugs, kisses, hugs, and patience that your little 4 and 2 year old selves can muster. I mostly can't wait for this baby to be born so she can meet both of you. What a lucky girl to be getting the two of you for family.
This list was written in good fun and for humor. In no way do I mean to accuse pregnant women that they are actually crazy (au contraire: you're a superhero!).
If, however, you feel like you are depressed or are having thoughts that you cannot handle on your own, please speak to your doctor or a professional immediately.
You can also visit some of these sites for more information about depression and pregnancy:
American Pregnancy Association: Depression in Pregnancy
Women's Health: Depression During and After Pregnancy
Parents: Coping with Anxiety and Depression during Pregnancy