School has been out for two weeks and the crepe myrtles that line so many streets in our city and decorate our backyard are bursting blush and crimson, dark pink, white, lavender and deep purple.
Nine months have flown by, and I find myself aware that the time is growing short. My mind races with all that needs to be done: lists to be made, supplies to be procured, meals to be prepared now and eaten later, tiny clothing to be washed and folded, pictures to be hung before they sit where they are for a year, closets to be organized, and—most noticeably—a POD in my driveway that needs to be emptied and taken away. Of course, that is not to mention our new closets that still don’t have doors or our foyer that is prepped for paint but remains unpainted, our “five-week” renovation bleeding into its fourth month.
This is nesting. I prepped and froze five dinners last night, in addition to the one we ate. I start some days with energy, but it wanes throughout the day. My body feels heavy and foreign; I analyze every ache and pain in my back and abdomen, mentally checking the clock for regularity. The calendar says we have twenty-three days until our baby may join us, but I feel certain that she will be here sooner than that. So, I buy and make food and try to sneak in moments with my older kids and relish opportunities to slip out—anywhere—alone, and attempt to rest during these days since sleep has been eluding me at night.
I also find myself loitering in the doorway of our latest nursery. Once, almost ten years ago, it was ladybugs: baby pink and white, mint green and red gingham with a crib tucked into the eave, and then, two years later, it housed two babies. In two houses, we didn’t have a nursery, just a little girls’ room. Until we moved here and decorated our smallest bedroom in red and navy, with vintage cars, trucks and airplanes that our son systematically took apart or off the wall as he learned to climb. Now, our girls have moved clear across the house, to the room over the garage that has built-in beds decorated with teal, grey, coral and yellow—no sign of pink, per their request—it’s the room we always intended would one day be theirs. But I feel vaguely sad about them being so far from me. What if they need me, I think, but am then reminded that they don’t as much anymore. I still check on them each night before I go to bed, climbing the stairs to tuck in spindly limbs and standing on tiptoes to kiss flushed cheeks, and it always makes me ache. Back in our hallway, Deacon has moved to the larger room, with patchwork plaid and stars, airplanes and cars on the wall, a train table, and a nightstand filled with pirate and cowboy and superhero costumes that he loves.
For months we have dithered over a name. It still eludes us, days before her arrival. We think we have it down to two, but neither feels the clear answer to either of us. I hate it. I feel like I need the name to connect me to her, to help me see her, to mentally add her to our family. Annoyed with our indecision (and unwillingness to share our thought process), the other kids have named her Cleopatra and are content with that. They don’t need to picture her to love her. They don’t need to know her name. They talk about her constantly, Deacon with his hands and little face pressed against my belly, telling her to “come when you are ready.”
I feel anxious about another child, about how I will care for her well while doing right by the rest of our growing children. How will they get what they need? How will I maintain my health and sanity? Will I ever sleep?
But this nine-month process isn’t random. Looming larger than the fear, as my body grows tired of being pregnant, I allow my mind to venture into the next few weeks. I remember the pain, the lows, the tears, the lack of sleep, yes. But I also remember the sheer joy of meeting each of my children for the first time, the high privilege of welcoming them into the world. I remember the indescribable feeling of siblings being introduced. The warm comfort of being surrounded by family who will come to meet her. I am grateful for the space of this summer, to slow and process and adjust. As I try to relish these last days being a family of five, I fold impossibly tiny clothing and imagine the little body that will rest inside of them and wrestle with what she will look like and who she will be. I cannot wait to find out.