I have been in love with food all day today. Not in the sort of stuff your face, can’t get enough kind of way, because my stomach has been squashed into a pancake somewhere in there. Just the kind of love that’s a sort of reverent appreciation for the fruits of early summer. Both of my babies have ripened in the summertime, and I must say that I prefer it that way. Since I spend the majority of my pregnancies with a tenuous tie to my dinner plate, it’s nice to have a month or two at the end to really enjoy the fruits and vegetables at their best (and their cheapest). We go through fresh produce like you wouldn’t believe around here – we’ve spent two-thirds of our grocery bill before we ever leave the area with automatic sprinklers. We hit our Sunday stores yesterday and when we arrived home I realized that there were twice the amount of fruits and vegetables that we normally pick up. Two bags of grapes, two watermelons, twice the veggies, mounds of berries… I washed and dried and chopped and sorted for the better part of an hour. And so today was such a colorful day – our dinner table looked like a rainbow. It was fantastic.
In all these books we’ve been reading there is mention of spending the last couple of weeks making casseroles and entrees to freeze and have on hand for after the baby comes. Ugh. The thought of having to open up the freezer and pull out chicken tetrazini and throw it in the microwave in the middle of all this glorious color just seems wrong. What I really need is for the produce man to show up on my doorstep every morning with a new bag of goodies – washed and dried and chopped of course. Save the meatloaf for November…
Perhaps I’m just making up for the past in these last few weeks – filling myself up with vitamins and antioxidants and soy proteins and organic dairy – all the things that I had to work so hard to put in and keep in for all those months. A few weeks back, at my routine checkup, my basic urine test came back with abnormal results – it seemed I was showing some sugar, and needed to get some follow up blood work. I had passed the glucose test weeks before, and was surprised that something was amiss. The nurse even seemed surprised and asked us if we had eaten a “bad” breakfast – her tone implying that she just knew we had been holed up at Krispy Kreme all morning long. I told her I had what I have most every morning – a bowl of organic granola with milk and a vitamin, so we weren’t really sure why the different results this time. And then M said “Well, maybe this is just the first visit where you actually managed to not throw your typical breakfast up.” And he was right. (The tests all came back fine – it was some sort of fluke.) So I’m food nesting – powering up myself and the kid in these final days before the real work begins. I dream of ice cold watermelon at night, and the sight of it running down the baby’s face this time next summer. Keeping the fruits of summer down make them all the more sweeter…
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Today M came home from work and commented that it looked like we’d been nesting a bit this afternoon. And I suppose he’s right, although it was not accompanied by a sudden burst of energy or desire – it was really just something that E had been begging me to do for the past week. So we set up the laundry room into baby care central – just as it had been for her when she was little. Our laundry is on the second floor, and is really a room with floor to ceiling cabinets and a long countertop with a sink. The combination washer / dryer is small and concealed under the countertop, and with the addition of a changing pad and some tiny toiletries the place looked ready for a baby. E asked me the other day a lot of questions about landfills. Why we locate them where we do, what happens as they get filled, how do they smell… a little while back we decided to try a relatively new diapering system that seems to be a nice balance between disposable and cloth diapers. There are trade offs to both of those systems – diapers that fill up and stew in landfills for a bazillion years, and cloth diapers that use up so much water and detergent and energy and time to manage. We’re trying out g diapers, which have an outer part that is washable, but don’t need to be washed everytime, a middle layer which is easy to rinse, and an inner layer that is biodegradable, flushable, compostable (just the wet ones of course, not the poo!). So you can flush them safely with the poo (you have to get rid of that kind of waste in your toilet anyway) and they break down like your toilet paper. Or you can throw your wet liners on your compost pile and they’ll be gone in a few weeks. Or if you’re out and about you can just toss them in the trash – they’ll hit the landfill, but will degrade there in a few weeks, not a few centuries. Hopefully they’ll pass the leak test too – if so, we’ll have a winning system on our hands.
I told her that we also try to minimize our waste by not buying more than what we really need. We’ve been looking through all these hand-me-downs and realizing just how little we need to purchase for this new one. That’s a really good feeling – not just from a cost standpoint, but because it’s just so easy to get overwhelmed by the baby stuff. We find ourselves feeling that way about a lot of things. We love to have nice things – we dream about them, save up for them, make them on our own, but we just don’t need a lot of them. We’ve done more purging rather than shopping for this little one. More room means more space – to grow, to create and to explore.
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The questions don’t stop at landfills. They are neverending these days. The chatter is constant. If you think the “why’s” are a two-year-old thing, then you haven’t spent much time with the nearly six. Questions about how the world works, about childbirth, about every unknown word she comes across in her reading – they never, never cease. Each day she wants a new story – “tell me more about the day you were born”, “tell me what will happen when this baby starts to come”, “tell me what the baby will know and what it will do on its first day out”. She wants me to retell the story of the long hours it took to bring me into the world and the mere minutes it took for her dad to emerge. M found this great series on Netflix that is a three part documentary on the early development of children – movement, speech and thought, and it shows the various research that infants participated in to study these areas. We’ve been watching parts of it every few nights, and it’s captivating. Before watching them, the mobile that had come with all the hand-me-downs had been so enticing to E all week long – she figured out how to attach it to the cradle, how to balance it and play the music. This afternoon she took it back off, set it in the corner and said that she’d bring it back out when the baby was old enough. And then she spent time figuring out how to raise and lower the window shades in the room to modulate the light and emphasize the shadows between the cradle rails – just as she had watched the newborns’ fuzzy vision of light and dark and shadow and contrast in the film. We’ll find her quietly crawling around the hallway, staring up at things from nine inches off the floor. She wants to understand, she wants that perspective, she’s ready to be that teacher and watch for those milestones and respect the place that the baby is in at that time.
I think her chatter comes from a state of extreme excitement and anticipation. She’s got a bit of the energy that one exhibits on the eve before any big event. I, on the other hand, am receding a bit. I’m not quite here anymore, I’m slow to respond, lost in my own thoughts. The words that come out of my mouth don’t often match the way they sounded a split second before in my head. I’m introspective, I’m retreating, I’m a bit muddled. This afternoon I left her sitting at the kitchen table, drawing and chattering at a feverish pitch and slipped upstairs for a minute to sit and rock in my room. She didn’t seem to notice that I had left, and I rocked this belly for a few blissful moments of quiet. When she finally noticed that I was gone she came upstairs, climbed up onto the bed and watched me rocking with my eyes closed. For a moment or two we just sat there quietly, each lost in the thoughts of our changing roles to come. I’m quite confident that she’s ready for hers. And like those fragrant white peaches in the brown paper bag on my kitchen counter, I’m ripening to mine as well.