I’m writing this post from a hospital bed where I have been marooned for monitoring after a successful “external cephalic version” that flipped our formerly breech baby. While I am overjoyed to now be carrying a healthy head-down 38 week old, I am also feeling increasingly panicked about the impending responsibility of bringing a tiny helpless baby into our homesteading lives. As we walked into the OB floor of the hospital this morning, we passed a newborn being wheeled down the hall and my stomach burst into butterflies. Ack! How are we possibly ready for such a little being to become our reality? I would gladly accept the sore feet and back, the uncomfortable sleepless nights, and the constant need to urinate in exchange for a little more time to prepare.
|Before, total chaos!|
One reason for this is our house—while we have made good progress in some regards, I can’t help but look around and think “this is not ready for a baby to inhabit”. Perhaps it is a failure of imagination on my part, because I know others have birthed babies into far less comfortable settings (ahem, away in a manger?) In fact, two of our good friends who are moving onto land in our neighborhood this spring just found out that—surprise!—they are expecting an addition way sooner than they intended to be, complicating plans for building a small house and completing a masters degree program. While I feel confident on their behalf that there will be a imperfectly perfect way forward and that all will eventually be well, I can’t seem to muster the same faith in our relatively settled situation.
|Shelves in the closet? Happy thought indeed!|
I’ve gone through a series of conjectures about what missing piece of our house will yield a sense of calm preparedness in me. First I thought it was the flooring: I thought if that was just finished, our house would feel ready. But once Mike installed the final piece, all I could see was the clutter of tools and boxes all over the nice finished floor. So I built shelves in our closets and went on an organizing mission to get everything up and away. This definitely improved the lay of the land, but the feeling has lingered. My next thought was perhaps having the bathroom completed would help the house feel ready for an onslaught of midwives and family and visitors? So we commenced with plumbing and tiling and bathtub moving, as well as sink vanity and compost toilet construction. While the room still needs a door, trim and running water, it feels useable. Still.
The next glaring deficit has been our stairs, inside and out. We have been using a step ladder for years to climb up and down to our deck without trouble, but now all I could picture was tripping on the rungs with an infant in tow. So one warm day I determined to finish a set of stairs and dragged Mike into assistance with heavy lifting. Another check off the list. But what about inside? Those stairs are now screaming to me “death trap!” Meanwhile Mike has been heroically handling our heavy duty chores—hauling buckets of water from our cistern (which is nearly full of water, but still awaiting a pump to eliminate the middleman step), chopping and managing the firewood and stove, and more—all while also installing flooring around the house. He just finished our upstairs bedroom with beautiful black walnut flooring. Now, as you might have guessed, I have my mind set to building a bed frame and closets, perhaps wishful thinking at this point unless I can transform myself into superwoman!
We have been postponing unpacking our bed, linens, clothes and baby paraphernalia until the floor was finished. In fact, our changing table has been housing our tool and fastener collection for the better part of a year and has only last week been liberated for domestic duty. Surely having a bedroom set up will help me feel nested and ready… right? While we are forgoing the pregnancy right-of-passage of decorating a nursery, it would probably help to have some signs of an expected baby somewhere in the house, I would think. I keep telling myself there will be time for unpacking before the baby comes, and if not? If the stork comes early? Then hopefully my friends are right when they point out that all the baby really needs at first is us.
In case you haven’t noticed the trend, the list of to-dos seemingly grows longer the closer we get. I know there isn’t enough time for the house to be completed by the time I am full term, and inevitably I too will have to surrender to imperfect perfection. Oddly, the deadline is ambiguous—perhaps in a few days or perhaps in a month?
I write these words to the clicking metronome of the fetal heart monitor—the computer beside me sounds out the beats per minute. 141. 138. A kick or two sends it up to 155 and eventually back down to a flat line lull. The baby must be asleep. Watching the four tiny chambers of the heart earlier with their rapid flutter of valves pulsing in the swirling black and white ultrasound image was a visceral reminder that my will—to finish our house projects and clean and prepare—is only one will in this equation. There are now two wills at work in this body (one that very stubbornly wanted to remain head up until this morning!) and I have to make room. Our friends who are parents assure us that loss of control in the birth process is the first in a long series of surrenders that impress upon you your total vulnerability in the relationship: you can’t control how the birth goes or the health of the baby. You have to let go over and over and over as they learn by pushing further and further away from you, indefinitely. Perhaps accepting that is the hardest work of being a parent.
Coincidentally I just got the all clear to rejoin the outside world again, so I should wrap up and keep moving forward with the day—into the unknown, yes, but also perhaps to squeeze in a little more plastering while the light holds and I still have a little more time!