Tag Archives: nesting

What is nesting, anyway?

Last week I found myself wandering around the cute shops in Bangalow. This little town is smack in the middle of eucalypt forests and green fields filled with cows, yet the stores are crammed with vintage wicker furniture, porcelain tea sets, handmade jewelry, expensive clothes made out of hemp, and giant wooden Buddhas going for $600. Even after my seven years in LA, Bangalow is way too trendy for me.

I managed to resist the giant wooden Buddhas and the hemp clothes, but I did almost buy a cookbook of chocolate recipes. This cookbook was a work of art. There were luscious pictures of brownie bites topped with cheesecake and raspberries, and mini chocolate cakes stuffed with cherries, and chocolate pancakes topped with cinnamon-glazed pears… I was utterly entranced. The book had three strikes against it, however. It was heavy. It cost $45.00. And we have no oven in Laos.

I put it back with a sigh but cheerfully reported on my near miss to Mike that night via skype, heartened by the thought that I had been enticed by something so very domestic as baking.

“I’m nesting,” I concluded triumphantly at the conclusion of the tale about the cookbook that nearly was.

“Um, I think nesting is when you find yourself doing things for the baby,” Mike replied, “not for yourself.”

There were a couple of easy answers to this disparaging nay-saying. The first was that a happy mother makes a happy baby and so, by extension, anything I do for myself (or that anyone else does for me, come to think of it) is indirectly being done for the baby. The second was that I am quite sure the baby would have been wildly appreciative of raspberry cheesecake brownie bites. You know, if we lived somewhere we had an oven, we could get decent chocolate and raspberries, and I could actually make them for him.

But all this cross-equatorial flippancy has had me thinking about nesting more seriously this last week.

It seems that most women experience nesting by going on marathon cleaning sprees, washing and organizing all the baby clothes, preparing the baby’s room, cooking meals to freeze, fretting about school districts, and packing their labor bag. So, let’s take a look at these.

Cleaning? Well, not exactly. Mum found mould growing in my shower yesterday and was deeply disturbed.

“Didn’t you see that there?” she asked, confused, after she’d taken it upon herself to spray it with mould killer and warn me not to go in there for several hours.

“Oh, I saw it,” I said, looking up from my desk and shrugging. “But it’s no big deal. It gets much worse in Laos.”

Baby clothes? Well, with the exception of a giant trash bag full of second-hand clothes that has now been sitting on the floor of my bedroom for 11 days, I’ve washed and sorted the baby clothes we’ve been given. Well, OK, Mum washed at least half of them (after informing me that baby clothes should be washed with baby detergent and not regular detergent… who knew??) but I sorted them. That sorting, that was definitely all me.

Preparing the baby’s room? For the first eight weeks of his life the baby will be sleeping in a crib that my grandfather made for my mother. This crib is very cute, but doesn’t have a mattress. Having a custom-fitted mattress made would cost a pretty penny, so Mum and I recently bought one of those change mats with the raised edges that we thought would fit well inside the crib. However someone (not me) measured the top of the crib rather than the bottom when we went shopping, so when we got the mat home it was too big for the crib by several inches.

“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “Dad can just use his circular saw to cut some off of the edges and then it’ll fit fine.”

Mum didn’t look convinced by this. Neither did Dad.

“Cutting the edges off that foam will render it structurally unstable,” Dad said.

“And I think it’s too soft,” Mum said.

I rolled my eyes.

“He’s only going to be sleeping in there for seven weeks,” I said. “And it’s not like he’ll be wiggling very far. It’ll be perfectly safe.”

(Here I would like to pause and point out that a decade ago I spent six months working on a baby-death review team. That job scarred me for life and I don’t take baby safety casually. I really do think this mat would be perfectly adequate, but I’ve been overruled. Apparently we’ll be procuring a new mattress.)

And what of the rest of the nesting signs? Well, there has been exactly no cooking of meals to freeze (though I have baked chocolate malt-dipped cookies, slices, and a number of rhubarb and apple crumbles). On the other hand there has been a little fretting about school districts (or, more accurately, the fact that there are no suitable schools for this little one where we currently live). I have not packed my labor bag.

So using the traditional yardsticks I’m not scoring too well on the nesting front.

But.

The whole point of nesting is preparing the environment for the baby’s arrival, right? Well, in a world where most babies are born into environments devoid of fancy cribs and closets full of clothes I’m less concerned about this baby’s immediate physical environment (which is already way more than adequate to meet his needs) than I am about my mental environment and what that will mean for this baby.

On that front I think I’ve been making good progress in clearing the decks and getting things organized so that I can give him my attention. I’ve sent manuscripts and book outlines to agents, I’ve wrapped up all my consulting commitments and invoiced clients, I’ve submitted articles to magazines, I’ve got things squared away with the psych registration board and the tax office, I’ve filed insurance paperwork and I’m making slow progress on answering email. A shrinking work-and-life-admin to-do list may not look much like traditional nesting. But this, more than anything else, is making me feel a little more prepared for this baby to actually arrive on the scene sometime in the next month or so.

Gulp.

Yes, OK, I’ll think about moving “pack the labor” bag up that list in terms of priority, and maybe deal with the remaining baby clothes. Right after I answer some email and bake brownie bites.

Any thoughts or stories about nesting? I’d love to hear them.

Going it solo in childbirth classes

I haven’t been blogging as much as usual lately, I know. This is partly because Mum and Dad refuse to get a puppy, despite my constant pestering, so I am without cute puppy stories to share. And it’s partly because Mum and Dad don’t seem to want me to put up stories about them, so I am without entertaining parental stories. But mostly it’s been because I’ve been tired, tired, tired.

I’m now feeding the baby extra iron and calcium every day and hopefully that’ll help on the fatigue front.

So I went to my first childbirth class yesterday. Alone. Reminding myself that plenty of people do this solo for real so I have few grounds to be indulging in self-pity on that front. This stern talking to mostly helped. Mostly.

Anyway, maybe there was some good that came out of Mike not being able to be there (namely that he didn’t get to compare me to the three other women in the class and wonder just how far off the normal beaten path I habitually wander). For if Mike had been there, he would have witnessed the following moments:

1.     The birth educator (who will also be my doula, let’s call her Jade) asks each of us to introduce ourselves and explain the sort of birth we would like:

All three other women speak with great fervour of their desire to have a natural (drug-free) birth. One insists that she has her heart set on a lotus birth (and whoever knows what that is, fill me in below). I say, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m interested in learning about natural birth, especially water birth, but I totally have not ruled out the use of epidurals, pethidine, and maybe general anesthetic.”

2.     Jade describes with misty-eyed nostalgia how, when she was thirty weeks pregnant and fully into the nesting stage, she used to buy lots of tiny new baby clothes. Then she’d put them away neatly, only to find herself going to her baby cupboard every two days to hold these clothes up, marvel at how small they were, and imagine her baby in them. Jade turns to me (since I’m the most pregnant in the class by several weeks) and asks if I’ve found myself doing that.

“Ah, not exactly,” I say. “I haven’t actually bought the baby any clothes yet, but lovely friends have given us some and the other day I did sort them into two piles – ‘clean’ and ‘needs washing’. That’s a good start, isn’t it?”

3.     Jade informs us that it’s not unusual for pregnant women to have very vivid and unusual dreams and asks if any of us have been having any of those.

“I have!” I said. “Last month I dreamed I was a brown bear and when I woke up I was still convinced I was a bear. I mean, I sometimes wake up forgetting where I am, but I’ve never woken up really thinking that I was a different species before.”

“Um,” Jade said, after she stopped laughing. “Anyone having unusual dreams about babies?”

Oh, right… unusual dreams about babies. Nope. Not unless my one dream that I forgot to feed the baby all day, and then left it behind when I went out to dinner with Mike and my parents counts.

Actually, that probably does count. So maybe I’m normal on this front after all.

4.     Jade tells us that we’ve all probably received mostly negative messages about labour and birth from the media (who tend to turn it into a dramatic plot-point) and maybe from our mothers as well. She tells us that she wants us to practice replacing the word “pain” with the phrase “strong and powerful experience” whenever we think about labour. Then she instructs us to close our eyes and do a visualization exercise where we focus on the word “pain” and then on the word “soft” several times. Then she asks us all what we noticed.

All the others in the class speak quite poetically about how they felt their attention narrow and their bodies tense up when focusing on the word pain, and relax and soften when they focused on the word “soft”.

“And what did you experience?” Mike asked, when I described this whole exercise to him later via skype.

“Well, uh, I was a bit distracted,” I said. “For one, the baby was stamping on my bladder. And I was also busy being annoyed that we couldn’t just call a spade a spade, acknowledge pain as pain, and just talk about these exercises as pain management strategies rather than trying to put a ‘strong and powerful’ gloss on it.”

“Well,” Mike said. “You are, as usual, making a very good and logical point. But given what I know of labour, it seems likely that you’ll get to the point somewhere during the whole process when all of your considerable and logical intellect isn’t going to do you a single bit of good. So perhaps next time you should consider not being quite so logical and just enter into the spirit of things.”

So it seems that Mike doesn’t need to be physically present to put his two cents in, and perhaps it’s wise he voices these opinions while he’s still safely out of reach.

Have you ever attended childbirth classes? Did you learn anything especially interesting or helpful?