Nearly every pregnant woman goes through a nesting period — that month or two when all you want to do is make like a momma bird and get your home ready for the baby. It usually kicks in during the second trimester, when you're far enough along to fully accept that, yes, you'll be giving birth eventually, but not so close to the due date that you are completely zapped and unable to stay upright for more than 20 minutes at a time.
It's a small window but a well-decorated one, to be sure.
For me, because I had just moved across the country when I was six months along, my need to nest was especially intense . . . and overdue. I had a lot to do to get this apartment ready for a new tenant, and the clock was ticking.
The moment picture frames were unpacked and free from bubble wrap, I hung them right up. Whereas I normally agonized over placement — should I try a frame gallery? Should I wait until I own every piece of artwork I'll ever want in my whole life before I put this nail in the wall? — I was decisive. I didn't deliberate over color swatches, and I didn't spend countless hours on Pinterest. Instead, I took a very utilitarian approach to nesting. Before too long, we'd turned our house into a home and our spare room into a nursery.
Then came my baby shower. It was an embarrassment of riches — my family and friends were unbelievably generous. I'd only registered for essentials — changing pad covers, a nursing pillow, scent-free laundry detergent, boxes and boxes of diapers — so I wasn't surprised people went off-book with their gifts. And rightfully so. How fun to unwrap baby cowboy boots?! I mean, I'd hate to follow that. (I believe what did follow that was a Diaper Genie. Sure, it's not the one everyone wants to hang out with at a party, but the party would definitely suck without it.)
I received the most adorable, unexpected presents — handmade quilts, luxe blankets, dozens of different "I Heart Mommy" onesies, a whole set of fancy velcro swaddling blankets that came with diagrams for how to connect the different strips, cute contraptions to hold the baby's pacifier . . . oh, and pacifiers! Lots of pacifiers.
When I got the loads of goodies back home, I didn't hesitate. With the same kinetic energy I had when we first moved in, I got to work, ripping off tags, tearing open packaging. Feeling especially productive, I even threw all of the new baby clothes in the washing machine so that they'd be clean and ready to wear when the baby arrived. After all, everyone warned me I'd be too tired to even do laundry — and that I'd be up to my ears in it — so why not do the dirty work now? Even that precious peacoat, size 2T, got a good cleaning before I carefully packed it away in a bin of "big girl clothes."
It was a lot of long nights that I could have spent with Netflix, but I told myself it'd be worth it.
It's just that now I'm kicking myself. I never thought there was such a thing, but I was too organized.
I had carefully laundered about seven formal dresses for my baby girl, all in the 0- to 3-month size range, and she wore one of them. And the one she did wear, she pooped on less than five minutes after I fastened the last teeny, tiny button. (You can bet I still made us awkwardly pose for a Christmas Eve photo, the stain expertly tucked away, before changing her.)
I also washed and folded every fancy swaddling sack — one for nearly every month of her first year — only to discover that we could only successfully swaddle her with the free hospital blanket she came home in.
She spent her first few months in the same basic, zip-up sleepers that were not gifts but hand-me-downs from a cousin who swore by them. By the time I had the energy to try out the clever ribbon-tie "sleep gown" I'd long ago pressed and folded, my baby had already outgrown it.
Don't get me wrong — I'm not at all criticizing the gracious gifts that came our way. I just wish I'd thought about them a bit more practically. If I had, I may have exchanged some of the newborn-size onesies for 18-month ones, seeing as I had been given enough of the former to clothe a small army and roughly none of the latter. I would have kept the tags on products that mystified me. I assumed that once I was a parent, the instructions would magically make sense. (They didn't.) I would have also held on to gift receipts for those items that were "lifesavers" for fellow moms. I assumed that because it worked for their babies, it would naturally work for mine. (It didn't.)
I would have only kept the hand-sewn blankets made from craft-store yarn and returned the plush cashmere ones that cost more than the crib they go in (hello, college fund!) and that I'm still too nervous to use for fear they'll be ruined by spit-up.
I would have made a few more returns to Babies"R"Us and gotten a few more crucial boxes of diapers, which, I admit, aren't nearly as fun as baby Uggs.
OK, the baby Uggs can stay.