Hipper Ways to Nest

It is a hot afternoon and I am struggling to haul a package that had been left by our builder in the attic — a package of BRICKS, actually, back-breakingly heavy — down the stairs to throw away. Because I am cleaning the attic! Of course I am! And when I almost drop the whole lot of bricks on my foot, and wrench my back, I have a sudden epiphany: OH. I am nesting.  Why else would an eight-month pregnant chick care enough about the cleanliness in the attic to risk her life to throw out some lousy bricks?

Well, I’m here to stop you crazed mamas in the throes of third-trimester insanity before you make similarly whacko mistakes. Stop painting the baby’s vaulted nursery ceiling while balanced precariously on a stepstool! Get away from that pressure washer! Put down your grout scrubber! Tell yourself that those hormones are totally messing with your brain’s normal functioning. You will not care one iota how clean your baseboards are, or whether your garage shelves are organized, or whether your collection of medieval literature is alphabetized once that baby is born. So stop expending energy on these punishing, fruitless endeavors. Squelch those whacky impulses to re-sod your entire backyard by hand. Instead re-channel that energy into activities that are far more fun — and will reap far more fruit once that baby is born.

Here, then, are my modest and practical suggestions for better nesting:

1. You know what you will care about once that baby is born? Not looking like a total zombie when people inevitably come by to oogle your new baby and check out how tired and rotten you probably look. Well, don’t give them that satisfaction. Your visitors might sport Cross Fit arms and smell better than your eau de baby blow out, but with some well-chosen products, you can at least fake a good night’s sleep and a certain glow of postpartum joy. So instead of organizing my spices, I trot down for a fun afternoon at Utica Square to drill the lovely cosmetics experts.

Marie Constable, a beauty specialist with Estee Lauder at Saks Fifth Avenue, is full of ideas:  “Apricot eye shadows make anyone look more awake. And staying hydrated always makes your skin look more refreshed.” She also shows me some eye brighteners that help with under eye bags — every cosmetics line has them, ranging from the Dior line (“Capture Totale” Instant Eye Rescue Treatment is $100), to Clinique’s “Even Better Eyes” for a mere $39.50. Estee Lauder’s offering, Idealist Cooling Eye Illuminator for $64, contains cucumber, an ingredient known for its de-puffing and brightening properties. (See, I told you this was more fun than hauling bricks!)  Marie also notes you can’t go wrong with red lipstick — perks everyone’s face right up! Plus, serums like Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair are packed with antioxidants — which are exactly what stressed-out, tired skin needs.

Then I head over to Miss Jackson’s, where Liz Zay, a beauty advisor, shows me a tinted cream/moisturizer that she says works magic. I’m a little skeptical. Doesn’t everyone have a miracle foundation? And she just plops it right on top of my hours-old grody makeup. But then she hands me a mirror, and wow! I do look pretty darn good! Dewy, glowy skin with minimal visible wrinkling. Liz gives me some samples and sends me on my way. And then, after schlepping a couple kids all over town, doing a huge grocery run, and starting dinner, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and am stunned. I still sort of look like a teenager! (Well, ok, a hugely pregnant teenager with a few stray gray hairs, but still!) What is the magical cream? Well, it’s from Natura Bisse, and it’s called “The Cure.”  It’s a brand from Barcelona I’ve heard of but never bought before. I don’t know what it has in it – unicorn tails? Leprechaun kisses? Whatever it is, it is magical. I carefully work my way through my priceless samples, and then am left bereft — this stuff ain’t cheap. The “Cream” is $180, and the companion eye brightener is $120. Gah!  Perhaps you’ve had better luck in convincing your husband that upon giving birth there’s this little tradition called the “push present” (my PVT has never bought into this, unfortunately). If so, I highly suggest asking for this miracle cream. Your postpartum visage will thank you.

(Incidentally, I had no idea Miss Jackson’s sold unique, affordable baby gifts right on the first floor – a line of muslin baby wraps by aden + anais is just darling. Now you know!)

2. What else should you stop doing NOW? Reading parenting and baby books! At this point, reading about all that stuff is like studying for a test you might not have to take.  Especially if the book is by a “parenting expert.” After six children, I am fairly certain there is no such thing. If you have an issue with nursing, or sleeping, read about it after the baby’s born — but don’t worry about it now, when you still don’t know what kind of baby you’re going to get. No, no, put all those worrisome, preachy books down for now.

Instead, read some frothy confections that will distract you from these very long last weeks and make you feel like a girl instead of an RV. A recent favorite of mine is How to be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style and Bad Habits by a coterie of chic Frenchies. If any book can help you forget you are a pregnant hausfrau in Oklahoma, this is it. Other delights include Beautiful Day by Elin Hildebrand. It’s a romp through a blowout wedding over a weekend in July in Nantucket — there’s dresses, drama and decor galore. Really, you can’t go wrong with any Elin Hildebrand; she writes highly engrossing girlie lit, but it’s well written with well-developed, intriguing characters. You’ll forget you have heartburn and can’t breathe very well! Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty is another engrossing read, and provides some much-needed perspective: those babies will grow up on you and have oodles of migraine-inducing issues you’ll need to confront.  Save your energy for the big stuff. Newborns are a piece of cake. (Well, aside from the no sleep part.)

3. Finally, here’s some contrarian advice: I know you feel like a Beluga whale who needs to be airlifted everywhere, but guess what? Now is the time to go out! Believe it or not, you probably feel better now than you will with 0.73 hours of nightly sleep with a newborn around, and getting out of the house those first few weeks will be not unlike preparing for a journey to Tibet in the depths of winter. So go out to cocktail parties!  (Ladies, talk to your doctor, but I am pretty sure that if a woman in her third trimester cannot have an occasional glass of wine, there is no God.) Lunch with your friends!  Shop! The bonus? Everyone loves pregnant women. No matter how cartoonishly large you feel, everyone thinks you’re the cutest thing in the world. People part like the Red Sea to let you through, with knowing and kind smiles, and do ridiculous things like carry your groceries to your car, offer you a seat on the park bench, and let you cut to the front of the potty line. Once you have that baby, boom; it’s back to having the proverbial door slammed in your face. You will be a shapeless, exhausted blob, and while everyone will croon over your gorgeous newborn, they will completely ignore poor, tired you. So fill up those self-confidence reserves right now! Put on your celebrity shades, force those swollen feet into a ridiculous pair of stilettos, and go out and groove like nobody’s business.

So there you go, mama. Try not to wish away these last few precious months and weeks (and, oh, how I know how that is hard, what with the peeing every eight minutes). No matter if this is your first child or your eleventh, life is going to change quite drastically soon enough. Don’t waste this time steam cleaning your carpets or poring over organic baby food cookbooks. Live it up with your fabulously pregnant self while you still can!

Categories: Hip Mom