As soon as I told my 86-year-old grandmother I was pregnant, she said:
“If you suddenly find yourself cleaning the house like a mad woman, that means the baby is coming very soon.”
I had to laugh because anyone who knows me knows that I have never once “found myself cleaning” anything. I don’t have a domestic bone in my body. I loathe housework – any type of it. I’d rather order takeout than do the dishes and I’d definitely rather shop for new clothes than have to do a load of laundry.
Then the cleaning began
And yet, when I was about 31 weeks pregnant, I began to throw things away. Like ALL the things. It started with my underwear drawer – an obnoxious collection of Victoria’s Secret PINK thongs and Target-brand granny panties. I realized that I only gravitated toward my favorite few pairs so I tossed about 90% into the garbage. Then I moved onto my socks and went through the same vetting process. And then my bras. Then my headbands, nail polish, jewelry, and belts. Within a week, I had donated approximately a dozen heaping bags of stuff to Goodwill – and I was only getting started.
My husband looked on in amazement as I emerged from my walk-in closet with armfuls of clothes I no longer wanted.
I went from twenty pairs of jeans to three. I got rid of the all the t-shirts I had accumulated over many years of running 5Ks. I found a charity that would take old bridesmaids dresses and give them to high school girls who couldn’t afford prom dresses.
Once I hit 32 weeks, my “decluttering kick” had become a full-blown obsession. I spent my days at work perusing blogs about Capsule Wardrobes – the concept being that you can mix and match the same staple items over and over. I mentally eliminated more clothes from my closet.
Every day I would come home from work, put on my comfiest pair of maternity yoga pants, and tackle another room. The more I purged, the better I felt. And when there was basically nothing left to throw away/give away/repurpose, I began the arduous process of organizing what was left. I labeled cute little baskets under the bathroom sink; I lined the books on my bookcase in descending size. I turned down an offer to go to brunch with my girlfriends because I had big plans – I was going to clean out the junk drawer in our kitchen.
I couldn’t stop
One night, when pregnancy insomnia struck at about 1 o’clock in the morning, I waddled downstairs and alphabetized the spice rack. When I confessed to my sister the next morning about why I was so tired, she said, “Who are you and what have you done with my sister?”
Because my due date was still so far away, it hadn’t occurred to me that this primal need to organize my life was what is called “nesting.” I rationalized it with the fact that we would be moving into a new home in a few months – just in time for the baby. We hadn’t begun to pack but I figured: less stuff, fewer boxes.
On the day before my water broke, I had called out of work because I was experiencing light brown spotting, dizziness and a ton of abdominal pressure. When I called my doctor’s office, the nurse told me to take it easy, spend the day in bed, and call back if I started to feel worse or if the blood turned red. I ignored her instructions and spent the day cleaning out the refrigerator. I couldn’t stop myself. How was I supposed to rest when a bunch of expired salad dressing sat there menacingly on the shelf? It had to go. To quote my husband, “Nothing was safe.”
The very next morning, just shy of 33 weeks pregnant, I went into premature labor.
Looking back, it’s glaringly obvious that my maternal instincts were kicking in and I was simply making room for my son’s extremely early arrival. I hadn’t really bought into the concept of nesting; I figured it was just one of those pregnancy old wives’ tales – like how boys give you beauty and girls steal it away (which in my case was terribly false – I had a boy and I was quite the unfortunate-looking pregnant lady).
Now I know that a woman’s body has many different ways of “communicating.” I’m here to tell you – nesting is REAL. The baby is coming.
Take it from my grandma.