Jordana Horn recently wrote about nesting before the birth of her fifth child. We are also awaiting our fifth child, and this nesting period is different from our previous ones for several reasons. Most significantly, our fifth child is already born. He’s waiting for us in an orphanage on the other side of the world.
After our fourth child was born, darling husband and I were fairly sure that we were done procreating. We were less sure that our family was complete. Since my husband was adopted, adoption seemed to be a natural way to grow our family. A small part of me also hoped that by choosing adoption I might avoid some of the worry that I experienced during each of my pregnancies.
Parents in the adoptive community sometimes talk about the similarities between pregnancy and waiting to adopt. Personally, I have definitely experienced moodiness, anxiety, and weight gain again as I wait for this fifth child. I have also, once again, felt the impact of generations of superstition.
Before our first child’s arrival, I only bought those items specifically noted on the hospital’s list of required baby gear. Surely, I told myself, being responsible is more important than bowing to superstition. Still, I could hear my grandmother’s voice telling me: “Jews don’t have baby showers.” I know, Gran. Gran believed fervently in avoiding the Evil Eye that might snatch our good fortune away from us. Baby showers or otherwise buying things before a baby arrives is just tempting that Evil Eye.
However, this time, the baby has already arrived. In fact, he’s 1 year old, and, as such, he’ll need a lot more than a few little bodysuits. (May I go slightly off-topic here to thank whoever decided to make those adorable “My First Hanukkah” onesies in size 18-24 months? If I can overcome my instincts against buying for the new baby, I’ll be ordering one of those!)
Our fifth child will come to us with the clothes he is wearing when he leaves the orphanage, but nothing more. He’ll need diapers and shoes and clothes for not-one-but-two different climates, since where he lives is a whole lot warmer than our hometown. Our little guy is also coming to us with some known special needs, so we will also immediately need some specific items to help with those. Theoretically speaking, my husband or I–along with a translator–could try to find what we need in local stores once we have our child in our arms. Theoretically speaking, I also could have written a book during the oodles of free time I expected to have during my first maternity leave. As a practical matter, one of the differences in nesting for baby number five is that I know that we will be too wrapped up in the moment and in our new child to go shopping.
So why do I feel so reluctant to start putting together the suitcase for our new son? God willing, we will be travelling next month to go get him; it’s not too soon.
I suspect my hesitation has to do with my knowledge that things can go wrong. We suffered pregnancy losses, and also a scary two weeks in NICU with our fourth child. With our fifth child, we have photos and videos that prove he is alive and well, and we have no reason to think anything will happen before we get to him. Things do go wrong with adoption, however. Approvals can be denied; biological or foster parents can step forward to claim a child; governments can close entire adoption programs.
Some of these types of misfortunes can be anticipated and explained, without any need to speculate about an Evil Eye. Some are a mystery, however, as much of a mystery as the presence of God. While we may never understand why some of the children whom we so desperately wanted were never born–for example–I do not believe that an Evil Eye or some other supernatural force was involved. In my belief system, there is only one God.
Finally, should the worst happen, and (God forbid) we are not lucky enough to bring home our new son, I know my strength to face that will come in large part from that belief in something bigger than ourselves. Although my grandmother might have disagreed, I don’t think that purchasing some clothes will jinx us. I just might tie a red ribbon to my son’s crib, though…
Mazel tov, Jordana. I think it’s time for both of us to order that Hanukkah onesie.
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