Anyone who’s had a baby knows what “nesting” is. It’s the urge that kicks in shortly before the baby will be born–the one that inspires you to actually organize and prepare your home for the impending new arrival. Nesting evokes a doting mother bird, preparing the hunk of twigs and detritus that will become a cozy home for a family. It’s a lovely idea.
It becomes somewhat less poetic with the imminent arrival of your fifth child.
With the fifth kid, nesting now incorporates:
*Ample profanity: “Where the f*ck did we put that big Tupperware bin full of the newborn onesies?”
*Grunting: If you are not supposed to do any heavy lifting at the end of your pregnancy, how are you supposed to get the bassinet out of the basement while making sure the current baby doesn’t tumble down the stairs?
*Ecological introspection: Is it gross to recycle pacifiers? (In my opinion, no.) Nasal aspirators? (In my opinion, oh yeah.)
*Talmudic-level legal wrestling with the Evil Eye/Jewish superstition that says you shouldn’t prepare for a baby that has not yet arrived: “If I already have four kids, two of whom have occasion to use Triple Paste, then can I purchase Triple Paste for the imminent baby and keep it in a bag and pretend that it is for the other two babies?”
We’re not even going to talk about the potent hormonal cocktail of the end of pregnancy, the sleepless nights in preparation for more sleepless nights, and the somewhat unpleasant introduction to the reality behind the words “hot flash.”
Somehow, the tranquility of “nesting” has flown away on the back of that image of the cute little bird family. Firmly wedged next to anticipation, there is an ever-present element of anxiety (what if something goes wrong, either with the delivery or with the health of the baby? What happens to the rest of the children when I go into labor?).
But by the fifth kid, you realize that even more important than accumulating cotton balls, Triple Paste, and witch hazel (don’t ask) is another kind of nesting, which savors not organization, but rather, time.
These weeks, all going well, are the youngest’s last days of being the youngest. My current youngest, my daughter O, turns 1 today, and I find that I cannot wait to celebrate that milestone with her and my family.
“She doesn’t even know what’s going on,” one could easily argue. True. But I know what’s going on. Some would say I know it all too well.
I know that very soon, our lives will all change. I know the maelstrom of night feedings, crying, burping, exhaustion, and diapers that awaits us.
But I also know how beautiful this NOW is. And so, if I don’t worry so much about the nesting, procuring A&D, and making sure everything is in place, then perhaps I can focus on this moment–the last before our family changes again.
I went to a wedding this past weekend which made me realize that simchas (happy occasions) and times of rejoicing are more than blessings, they are portals: moments in which we can stand on the peaks created by our joy, and survey both the wonders of the past and the full potential of the future. We stand in these liminal moments in which everything changes or is about to change, and we can either meet these moments with fear, or with joy and love.
Today, I watch my beautiful daughter as she starts to take her first steps. I know she won’t remember any of this. But I also know that if I take the time to hold still, watch her and take a deep breath, that I will remember.
And for that, I am grateful.