“[A]n uncontrollable urge to clean one’s house brought on by a desire to prepare a nest for the new baby, to tie up loose ends of old projects and to organize your world.”
Yeah, I think I know something about that.
Prior to getting pregnant, I always thought this nesting thing was a bit of a farce. Along with PMS and baby blues and all sorts of other “hormonal” behaviors. After three pregnancies, I’ve been proven wrong. Very wrong. And I am here to attest that the nesting instinct is alive and well.
It started for me back in June. I had just finished a seven hour drive from North Carolina back to DC – just me and the kids. I was exhausted. I unloaded the car, got the kids situated with a show, and then, instead of unpacking or relaxing or checking the mail or starting the kids’ dinner, I decided it was the perfect moment to update Casey’s baby book. I spent 45 minutes cutting out pictures and filling in information about his first birthday party. Yes, it had to be done that minute.
That was my first hint that the nesting was being kicked into overdrive.
Then the desire for home improvements started. During my last pregnancy, this entailed an entire kitchen and bathroom renovation. This pregnancy, it’s been less drastic, but still present. We just repainted our hall bathroom and installed a new vanity. We got our carpets cleaned. We recovered a chair and ottoman in the den. And now, I find it imperative that we get a new fireplace mantle asap. ASAP I say! And I also want to touch up the chips and gashes in various walls. This baby cannot come home to a house with chipped paint.
It's not just in my home, by the way. The other day, I was driving on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda, and I noticed that they were repaving the roads. I actually thought to myself: I’m so glad they are doing this before the baby comes.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The need for reorganization consumes me. I have reorganized our bedroom closet, my kids’ closets, the china cabinet, the drawers underneath our TV, our medicine cabinets, and about a million toys. I am incredibly stressed that I only have 7 short weeks remaining to reorganize our towel closet, our storage room downstairs, our pantry, and underneath our bathroom sink. Only 7 weeks to get all of our photos ordered and in albums, to complete both baby books (I didn’t finish that day back in June), to upload all of our home videos onto DVDs in sequential order, and to wash and fold every article of baby clothing we have and have it prepared and ready in the baby’s chest of drawers (organized by size). My organization ranges from rational to insane - last week, I organized all of the kids' small toy figurines into two different baskets - one for animals, and one for humans. As if that would last more than a day. (I think it actually lasted about two hours until Casey dumped out both bins and animals and humans were commingled once again).
What a weird, weird thing. I recognize it’s weird. I can look at myself from the outside in and say, this is crazy behavior. But the instinct – the need – to get things done, and ready, and cleaned, and organized overrides everything.
If only I were like this in my real life.
I’ve been around the block enough to know that pregnancy, and hormones generally, do weird things to us women. In situations like this, it’s kind of funny. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with organizing and cleaning and preparing. Despite the cost for the home improvements, my husband is loving this side of me. The house is cleaner, the laundry is done more often, and our lives just feel more organized. (See this post for a look at what my home is usually like).
But there are downsides to these hormones, too. They bring the need for nesting, but they can also bring anxiety, depression, and moodiness. I am one of the lucky ones that doesn’t experience these negative symptoms in pregnancy. In fact, I have spent all of my pregnancies chilled out and laid back – in many ways in stark contrast to my normal higher anxiety self.
But post partum is a different story. And I have learned not to underestimate the power of these hormones – whether they are driving me to organize, or driving me to the brink of insanity…
I have to acknowledge I am not at the wheel. I am along for the ride.
For now, that ride is calling me to prepare my nest. I am abiding and then some.