Preparing the Cave


The nursery! The nursery!

Another view.

Changing area.

Sitting area of Mommy and Daddy's room.

Charlotte's room got a little spiffed up too.

As I’ve whined before on this here blog, I got gypped when it came to setting up and bringing Baby Charlotte home to a pretty nursery. Granted, we were living in a freezing, cramped, temporary apartment so that our pretty grown-up house could be built, technically nixing my right to complain, but I need to set up the contrast between the two situations (then, now), so you, dear reader, understand why having a perfect nursery this time around is SO important to me.

As our current house was being built out in The Sticks, we moved out of the trendy DC condo and into the lame-o apartment (where—as I’ve said a thousand times—the effing heaters didn’t work during the coldest DC winter in a generation). It had two bedrooms, one of which housed a guest bed and boxes. We had to keep the door for this room closed, because the inefficient window heating units worked by sucking in freezing cold air and working overtime to heat it to a balmy 58 degrees—max—and this so-called “heat” translated into a heating bill around $500 per month. In short, it was WAY too expensive to heat the guest bedroom, so it was really just used to store boxes and a bed, door closed.

Our small (cold) bedroom housed our bed, the bassinet, and the changing table. We had no crib or dresser for Charlotte’s clothes (I hung up her onesies in our closet).

The living room was really the dining room, office, and living room combined, which was crowded but fine, I guess. Thin floor-to-ceiling windows let in gusts of air, and again, the window heating units continually failed to work. Ugh, it just sucked living there.

So, this is where I brought my firstborn “home” to, where my post-partum brain attempted to adjust to sleep deprivation and motherhood, where I cried nearly every day because I was SO TIRED, and SO OVERWHELMED, and always SO COLD. It just wasn’t how I had imagined motherhood to be.

Whenever I remind Chris of the Dark Ages, he always counters with, “But it was worth it, right? I mean, we got our house!” Well, I guess. Now that we’re all happily moved in, the heat system works, and Charlotte has her own bedroom, it’s easy to say it was worth it. At the time? I’m not totally sure that it was. Should we have bought an already-built house? Eh, that ship has sailed. Now that we’re HOME, and in the home we wanted no less, I fully intend to capitalize on it and totally overcompensate for the Charlotte edition of the newborn phase.

Anyway, during my first trimester, when my dad was out here building the deck, the three of us were eating dinner. I made the huge mistake of thinking out loud in front of him (and Chris). I briefly described how much I felt I “missed” getting to bring Charlotte home to a pretty nursery and a set-up house. Fully nested.

Dad, unsurprisingly, guffawed. What’s the big deal? he had argued. I was being fussy, prissy, and weak. (Weakness, fyi, is the greatest of all sins, according to the Opps.) This, of course, from a man who could happily live out the rest of his days in a grimy sleeping bag and tent.

Hey, I survived it, I shot back. And if I remember correctly, he and Mums had lobbied for their first grandchild to stay in at their house for a couple weeks, where they had working heat AND a fireplace. (I went West and stayed for a week, but I didn’t want to short-change Chris on his Charlotte time.) Anyway, this time, I wanted a proper nursery and a perfectly set-up home. Dad rolled his eyes. I rolled mine.

Of course, nesting launched a couple months ago, and I’ve been chipping away at the nursery and all the other homey things I feel I need to do. I talked to my mom and was almost hesitant to complain to her about feeling sort of screwed over on round one of Bringing Home Baby. “I know,” I said, trying to prevent her from a you-should-be-grateful-for-your-pretty-house-and-just-shut-up line. “The reason we lived there was because our dream house was getting built. I’m being whiny.”

“Oh, shit, darling,” Mums said. “You were living in total chaos. Freezing cold chaos. I was there. I remember.” This was true. She WAS there for part of it, including Snowpacalypse.

“So, I’m not being unreasonable with my overwhelming need to have a perfect nursery?” I baited her. I told her about Dad’s stellar insight into homemaking.

“Absolutely not. Men don’t get it, least of all your father.”

Freed up from having to justify myself, I bitched, “IT SUCKED! All my instincts to get things ready had to be ignored, and it was all so disordered and temporary. AND COLD!”

“I get it,” Mums said. “You need to prepare the cave.” It’s natural, she continued, especially for someone who gets major anxiety from disorder, as I do. “Ignore Dad,” she said. “Prepare your cave for Lorelei. It’s not hurting anybody. And boy, just having working heat will make a world of difference this time around, I’m sure.”

I liked the somewhat snarky metaphor of “preparing the cave.” It naturalizes this bizarre-o instinct I have to get everything just so. It’s NATURAL, harkening back to Eve! And Wilma Flintstone! Or, well, mama grizzly bears. You get the gist.

So, after what feels like forever, Lorelei’s little nursery is (mostly done). Formerly a guest bedroom, we moved the big white bed into what used to be my craft room (and is now the second guest bedroom). I love this shade of blue and knew I wanted this color for kid #2’s room, whether that baby was a he or she. Chris was less sure. “You don’t think blue is too masculine?” he asked.

“Are you volunteering to repaint it?”

“Never mind,” he said.

“Besides,” I added, “Just wait until I’m done with it. It will be girly, just not pink throw-up girly.”

The crib, changing table, and dresser were Charlotte’s, as was the pale pink rug. (I replaced Charlotte’s pale pink rug with a new hot pink rug, which she LOVED). The crib bedding was also Charlotte’s. I had new crib bedding all picked out for Lorelei, but once you think about the cost of a second child, from everything from day care to umbilical cord blood banking, you realize you should Not Be Needlessly Stupid. So, I washed and pressed her old lady bug bedding, and I think it works fine. And it saved me $138. Chris, predictably, approved.

Still pending are blackout honeycomb shades, which have been ordered and are currently being custom-made, because that’s what ridiculously overpriced window coverings require. We (I) picked out a pretty frosty white for them, still neutral enough but they accent the white window treatments.

We already have a fabulous rocking chair that I debated bringing into the nursery, but I decided to keep this (non-rocking) brown chair here for the time being and the rocking chair in our bedroom, as the plan is for Lorelei to spend the night in our room for the first couple of weeks.

Which brings me to the tour of the sitting area of our bedroom. The bassinet was Charlotte’s, and I washed and pressed (not easy, seeing as how the fabric is synthetic) every cloth aspect of it, preparing it for Lorelei. At night, Lorelei will sleep here, though I intend to have her nap in her crib during the day. I feel that cribs are a tad safer SIDs-wise (I have no science to back this up, by the way), and Charlotte always slept better in a crib than bassinet. Of course, I want Lorelei close to us those first weeks, so we can monitor her more closely, plus late-night feedings are easier with closer proximity. This is mainly why I wanted the rocking chair in our sitting area—nursing at night. I put in a low-wattage lamp that will allow me to see what I need to see with Lorelei without blasting a sleeping, exhausted Chris with bright light, and it should (I hope) minimize trips between the nursery and our room at night. We currently have a mini fridge in one of the guest bedrooms that I’ll move in here, which will contain either bottles of formula or breast milk for Chris to use at night, depending on how the milk supply goes. (As you know, I’m no longer above supplementing with formula.) That should reduce trips downstairs to the kitchen, unless Lorelei is one of those picky eaters who insists on warm milk or formula (her older sister didn’t give a hoot, thank goodness, and happily drank it cold).

Charlotte’s room has also gotten a little spiffed up. After much arguing with Chris over whether it was necessary (I won), we replaced Charlotte’s curtain rods and added rings for the curtains. I had a couple reasons. First, I’ve always hated the cheap, plastic-y gray ones that we initially put up. Also, without rings, the curtains had to be held open with a discrete bobby pin. To boot, we had moved out so much of her stuff to the nursery, which I thought was looking pretty swell (and had nicer curtain rods, by the way), and Charlotte’s room was starting to look increasingly bare and a little dingy. FINALLY, after much nagging, Chris replaced the rods, which seriously brought the whole room up a notch. Sure, I wish her curtains were about 10 inches longer, but I guess The Land of Nod designs for puny windows, and three years ago, I COULD NOT RESIST the hot pink ruffles. I still adore those hot pink curtains—they are SO Charlotte.

I have yet to find Charlotte-esque big-girl bedding that I love, so in the meantime, we’ve just used a pinkish floral quilt we happened to already have. Then, in a surprise package, Charlotte’s Fauntie (that is, fake aunt) Meghan sent her an oh so sassy “big sister” quilt she made, which Charlotte just adores (it's folded at the end of the bed in the photo above). So, that definitely improved her room. We then took out some screws where artwork or furniture had attached to the wall, not to mentioned the old curtain rod holes, spackled the gashes and holes, and painted over them. I also repainted areas where our child has scratched and scuffed the wall to a horrid degree—namely, over her bed and the wall where her changing table used to be. Then I touched up the white trim and door. MUCH better. I'm sure it will only take Charlotte a week or two to scuff and smudge up everything  again.
The amount of satisfaction I got from the completion of each of these nesting tasks is almost embarrassing, but I really don’t care. Yeah, I wish I could’ve done all this for Charlotte (and I eventually did, just 8 weeks late), but I love, love, LOVE that I get to prepare the cave for Lorelei.


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