It’s my birthday in a few weeks. Last year on my birthday, I was 20 weeks pregnant, and I asked for contributions to the nursery: a beautiful rug, a bear-shaped laundry basket, patterned storage boxes. A beautiful room, prepared for a baby who never came home to see it.

Baby's nursery with blocks spelling "DOROTHY" - Issy's Bump Day Blog, Week 21: Preparation Conflict

Author’s Personal Collection/Issy Jorden

This time round, we have almost everything we need. Carefully stored in cupboards, family members’ garages, drawers that I don’t open. Everything waiting patiently for its time to be used. The only thing we’ll need to buy new is a travel system; we were offered a secondhand one last time that we gave back to its owners.

I asked on my Facebook due date for advice in choosing a pram.

I wasn’t expecting quite the number of responses it got – a lot of helpful advice, but also some (well-intentioned, I’m sure) comments that stung slightly, though I wasn’t sure why at the time. But I realized that I’m not quite like any of those other mothers, with their well meaning advice. I’m not exactly a first-time mum; I’ve grown a baby for 9 months and birthed her, I have a daughter, I have an almost fully stocked nursery. And yet I haven’t raised a child, changed her nappy, pushed her in a stroller. There are things I know already and things that I’m still waiting to experience, and that’s something most of the mums in my due date group probably don’t understand.

“Save money on an expensive stroller and put it towards a good car seat instead!” – We already have a good car seat, we bought one last time that never got used.

“Think about a stroller that can convert to a double if you want another baby soon after.” – I’m still hoping to bring this baby home alive, I haven’t even thought about what might come after.

“Go to a store to try them out, it’s the only way!” – I’m scared to go into a store and be asked whether this is my first baby. 

But my main problem isn’t their advice. It’s my own internal conflict.

I’m not yet convinced that we’ll be able to bring this baby home, but I can’t stop browsing sweet boy clothes. I want to research prams, but I don’t want to order one until he’s safely here. I want to buy things for the nursery, but I’m scared of being left with more relics of babies gone too soon. I want to buy wooden blocks spelling out his name, but will they become another memorial? I want to make plans, but I can’t bear other people speaking in definite terms. I’m afraid to picture this baby growing up with us in our home, but I’m already more attached to him than I can bear. Now I know what it’s like to birth a child that looks a little like me and a little like Tom, a child who never made a sound or a movement. With this baby, I can’t help but imagine him. I have already seen him with his black curly hair, cheeky smile, running around the house, laughter at bath time, sitting on his daddy’s knee reading a story before bed. I already know him. And this is precious, but it is terrifying.

And sometimes I get angry. I see other expecting parents being so excited, browsing and shopping and preparing, and I wish I could be like them. Maybe one day I will be. Or maybe I’ll just keep making small steps. A bit of research here and there, a visit to a store when we feel brave enough. And we’ll keep loving this baby and picturing him in our lives, and each week he makes us a little braver.

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