‘Tis the Season to be Round and Tired and Stressed

Christmas pregnancy

Sure, some mamas-to-be may find an extra degree of joy in being pregnant during the holidays, but for most of us, doing everything for two (eating, shopping, cooking, wrapping) can be a burden. Add on first trimester jitters or third trimester fatigue and you’ve got the makings of a holiday disaster – unless you’re prepared.

This holiday season I’ll be eight months pregnant. It will be the second time I’ll usher in Yuletide festivities with a beach ball under my dress. Five years ago I was supremely pregnant with my first child during this time of year, waddling my way through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.

While I’m grateful to carry the bulk of my pregnancies during the cooler months, I do sometimes wish that I could gestate a summer or autumn baby and have my body back to myself in time for holiday celebrating. But since I don’t – and I’m not – I will put my energy toward navigating what I’ve found to be the five biggest challenges of being pregnant during the holidays.

Challenge 1: You’re too tired – and round – to run around town buying presents for everyone on your list.

Solution: Technology, baby. Technology. Being pregnant is one of the best excuses you’ll ever have to shop online. While the rest of the country runs around in mall madness, you’ll be sitting peacefully at your kitchen table with your laptop purring as you calmly take care of gifts for everyone from your Secret Santa to your in-laws. Most major retailers have an online offshoot these days and one-stop shops likeAmazon.com–and even Etsy.com–enable you to take care of the gadget-lovers, home chefs, and fashionistas in your life with nothing more than a couple of easy clicks and a credit card. Don’t wait! Shipping costs increase as you get closer to the end of the year.

Challenge 2: Pushy family members won’t stop nagging you about your birth plan or your weight or your choice of baby name.

Solution: Respectful deflection. Interfacing with pushy, nosy and insensitive family members is the most wonderful opportunity to practice the art of respectful deflection. When Aunt Miriam corners you at the dessert buffet and insists that you name your unborn babe after her recently deceased husband, Shlomo, you simply breathe, smile and thank her for thinking of you and your family. You then use the ultimate preggy excuse and head toward the bathroom. Same goes for your sister’s scrutiny of your dinner plate – so what if you eat two helpings of garlic mashed potatoes? —  and your mother’s ongoing concern about your homebirth.

Challenge 3: ‘Tis the season to be merry, but all you want to do is nap.

Solution: Nap. Taking care of yourself and your growing baby is your number one priority right now. Listening to your body is the best way to do so – even during the holidays. If you find yourself wilting during the family cookie bakeoff or nodding off while stuffing stockings, politely excuse yourself and close your eyes. The power nap is an invaluable tool during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Sometimes lying down for 20 minutes is all you need to feel revived.

Challenge 4: Attending a holiday party doesn’t sound nearly as gratifying as watching an entire season of Parks and Recreation in your bathrobe.

Solution. Just say no.  Okay, so the holiday invites are piling up in your inbox, but that doesn’t mean that you have to RSVP “Yes.” Pregnancy is your chance to practice saying “No.”  Of course, always decline politely and don’t feel obligated to make any excuses.

Challenge 5: Your holiday to-do list is daunting.

Solution: Ask for help. For many of us, especially those of us in the superwoman-there’s-nothing-I-can’t-do category, asking for help is a lot harder than it sounds. If reaching out is challenging for you, start small. You can ask your neighbor to watch your older child while you quickly run to the grocery store or ask your husband to pick your mother up from the airport. From there, you can ask for bigger and better things – you can ask your sister to host the holiday dinner and your friends to help you wrap your presents. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that most people want to help. Really, they do.