My second baby is due tomorrow. Ruby says, “Hi, baby sister. Out, out.” Until she’s big enough to share a room with Ruby, the baby will sleep in the little space that was my “office.” Until two months ago, it looked like this:
I called it the room of abandoned dreams. When Ruby and I moved to Brooklyn last fall, I meant to take a break from working as a nurse in order to spend time making sure she was okay here, to get to know my husband and to build a home. And I meant to write, but for a year I hardly wrote at all.
I got pregnant on purpose this time. I wanted a child with Andrew, and a sibling for Ruby. But once I was pregnant, I felt uneasy. I was anxious about my nursing career on hold for longer than I’d planned — thinking about skills and knowledge slipping away as each month passes — and depressed that I’d failed as a writer after giving myself the gift of free time. My first baby changed my life, she invigorated and inspired me, even though many people close to me then thought she’d have the opposite effect. But this time, it was hard not to feel the second pregnancy shackling me down. And after having a miscarriage last year, I was scared. I couldn’t stop looking for blood every time I peed until well into the third trimester.
Suddenly in November I felt a surge of energy, or the panic of impending motherhood, and I took a month-long writing class and began working diligently on the long-term project I’d deserted. After much lying on the couch, I was staying up past midnight, focusing. I’ve yet to see if anything will come of this, but it feels good.
And now the nursery-office looks like this:
We pulled Ruby’s crib out of storage last week. The painting above it was given to my grandfather when he worked in Africa; the first gift Andrew gave me that wasn’t a mix cd is the painting he made above the changing table. He’s a musician. The boxes hold mementos. I came across the card my best friend made for my 23rd birthday:
My 24th birthday was four days after Ruby was born. The cards are very different.
The desk was a special gift from my parents for my 16th birthday. It stayed in their home until I came here, the first time I’ve believed myself settled. It was the second time they gave me a desk, the first was for Christmas when I was seven and my sister was three. The simple wooden desktop stood four feet off the ground so that she couldn’t reach it, and it was stocked with a serious little girl’s dream goodies: a stapler and note pads and this stamp,which I found in a garbage bag of mysterious treasures that I’ve carried through each move for many years. This is also where I found the working music box from my own baby mobile, which apparently I came across as a child and kept.
I took the lamp from my parents’ attic when I moved into my first college apartment, it had been from my other grandfather’s house. I made the pen cup out of clay when I was in first grade.
I lifted the filing cabinet from my dad’s old studio office, which I lived in after college and when Ruby was little (so she spent her babyhood in an office, too). Andrew’s father brought the rug home from Iran when Andrew was a child, gave it to us after we got married. The quilt was made for the baby by his stepmother.
So I’ve made good use of my “nesting instinct,” which didn’t show up until a week ago. It’s an attachment to material things, I know. But it feels like a true nest, made of bits and pieces scavenged from other lives, things with history, sometimes old and worn. Aside from her gifts, the only new thing in this room will be the baby. Maybe I’m naïve to think that this nursery-office will not simply be a nursery, to imagine chatting with the baby while she plays and I polish my resume or put together words during the hours we will spend alone together here. But this is a room of dreams now, and it is comfortable for both of us. Lately my second baby is beginning to inspire me too.