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Bonding Activities Before Baby Arrives

Sunday, January 8, 2017
Welcome to 2017 - the year I become a Mom.

When I found out my husband and I were expecting I wasn't exactly jumping for joy. The thought of childbirth makes me nervous. Not only was the concept of becoming a mother so soon an uncomfortable thought, but I didn’t have any connection to the being that was becoming my daughter. For a long time I didn’t have many nice feelings about being an expectant mother. Scared, nervous, and distant were more accurate descriptions of my reaction.

Suddenly it all became intensely real while we were standing outside the airport last week. We had been traveling for the winter holidays and finally landed back in Northern Virginia in a brand new year. “Spencer,” I breathed into the cold air. “It’s 2017. This is the year we are having a baby.” In that moment I realized that I was behind. I hadn't taken ownership of the experience and other family members and friends around me seemed to want it more. Despite Spencer and I being the ones living it, this pregancy never really seemed to be “ours.” I was afraid of pregnancy before. Now I was worried that I wasn’t going to be as happy, proud, or enthusiastic as was needed to establish a positive environment for my growing family. The emotional neglect of the situation was plain. Something needed to be done. Like it or not, ready or not, we were parents now.

I decided to make what is left of this experience more personal for the three of us. I set off in pursuit of ways to bond with our baby, scouring Pinterest and Googling late into the night. Most of the ideas were obvious, and not for me. The work for me was learning to be excited, not building on the excitement. What I had found initially was for women who were already gleefully bouncing to the hospital. That was not me. After all my research in the last week I found some unique ways to begin creating a genuine connection with my baby that were much more my style, and possibly yours too.

Reading Out Loud

Pick up a favorite or current book and read to her. This is a great activity for you and dad to do together. Chances are baby is hearing your voice already which creates recognition inside the womb. By adding special time to read books or stories that you and your partner cherish you are making the experience more intimate and personal with memories to share with your baby when she gets older. I’m currently reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The series is one of my favorites and I’m thoroughly enjoying sharing it with my baby girl. And when she’s in my arms I’ll probably start all over again. In fact, you can get illustrated versions of the books now!

Make a List

If you are nostalgic like I am then this is a perfect project for you. Also this is a good one to do with Dad. There are bound to be all kinds of things you’ll want to share with your baby in the future: places to take them, recipes and foods, movies, books, lessons to teach, songs to love, and more. You can combine them all into a bucket list or a sort of time capsule to save for a special birthday or milestone. Or just check off the list across the years.

Another version could be to make a list of your favorite songs that you hope to enjoy together or that tell the story of the relationship you hope to have. Play the music while you're in the hospital to give your baby a worthy soundtrack to enter the world to. Down the road the songs will bring back those feelings of anticipation and accomplishment from the day your baby was born.

Give Her a (Nick)Name

This one really worked for me, especially since we haven't settled on a name yet. Acknowledging your baby’s identity before she is born will definitely make her existence more real. If you go the nickname route choose something that is fun and endearing to say, such as an animal or a riff on your last name. Try to connect the name to an inside joke or recurring situation. For example, Spencer and I call our little girl “Bunny” because before we were expecting we used to joke about getting a bunny as a playmate for our dog. Now our dog really is getting playmate haha! Once you’ve chosen a name say it as often as possible. You’ll get more and more used to the idea of what’s happening in there. Since giving our baby girl something to be called I feel a lot more comfortable and involved in her developing life.

Give Yourself a Name

I am not totally on board with being called “Mom.” I suppose it’s one of the last hurdles for me to clear in this motherhood business. Luckily there are a lot of alternatives out there to choose from from different languages or pronunciations. A quick online search will help you find some unique options.

The hardest part will be narrowing down your list to something realistic and totally you. In giving yourself a name you’re doing the exact same thing as you do with your baby’s name - establishing your new identity.

Well, refreshed by the new year and all my investigating, the birth of our little girl seems much more doable. That’s a good thing too since we’re on the home stretch! Maybe I’m even looking forward to it a bit. Still working on what I want my Official Mom Title to be though. I came across “Mimzy” and it is really working for me. But will my daughter want to call me that when she's 13? Maybe I should just stick with Mamá, Jane Austen-style. What do you think?
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