If you've ever been pregnant before or even known someone who was expecting, you may have heard the term "nesting" being thrown around during their third trimester. Nesting is a term often used to describe a pregnant person's instinct or urge to prepare their home for their newborn. This may translate into excessive cleaning, stocking up of infant clothing, or even home remodeling as the expectant mother aims to provide the ideal living environment for their soon-to-come tiny bundle of joy.
For me the nesting instinct arrived with the ringing in of the new year. On that January 1st morning, I woke with a single thought that struck panic throughout my mind: I'm having a baby this year! Before the new year I had postponed such ideas, thinking, of course I have plenty of time. But with the the new year came the realization that the baby was coming and coming soon! Were we ready? Absolutely not!
The next few weeks did little to calm my fears. The question on every one's lips was the same: have you finished the nursery yet? My reply was always the same as well, " Oh no, but we have lots of time for that". Although seemingly calm, my palms would immediately start to sweat as a feeling of dread invaded my mind from every angle. Done with the nursery?? We hadn't even started!
Many people (ahem men) have trivialized nesting as a fantastical idea created by women to explain hysterical behavior that may or may not occur around the last couple months of a woman's pregnancy. Biology, however, tells a different story, that nesting is indeed real, and in fact, many animals go through such a phase. For instance, rodents often will show their nesting instincts by seeking the lowest sheltered spot available right before delivery. Similarly, dogs will seek to create their nests with blankets and stuffed animals before delivering their pups, and birds will stay as close to the nest as possible right before laying their eggs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nesting_instinct). Although humans may nest differently than the animals listed above, behaviorally they exhibit the same characteristics of the nesting motif.
Similarly, the urge to nest for me led to the profound urge to prepare the nursery where my little one would eventually sleep. "After all," I told my husband, "If I went into labor tomorrow, where would the baby sleep??!!" Although my husband gently reminded me that if this were to occur, the baby would most likely sleep in the hospital for a period of time due to him only being a mere 32 weeks, my 'placental' brain would hear none of it. I needed to prepare the nursery and no amount of logical talk would change this.
Step one: paint the room. Many of you may be thinking that it's crazy for a 32-week pregnant woman to be painting anything. I will reply by saying that for one, my husband was a tremendous help and did the majority of said painting, and for two, crazy is a relative term. Thus our nursery is now a beautiful sky blue. This weekend we will also be adding key pieces of furniture such as a crib and changing table. The baby will finally have a place to sleep!
But, alas, as my fears of a crib-less baby are calmed over the coming weeks, I have no doubt that new nesting urges will take over. As animalistic as it may seem, nesting is just a normal part of pregnancy. As pregnant women we can neither control these urges nor be talked out of of the craziness that accompanies them. And I'm ok with that.