33 weeks. I’m not sure how we got here. It seems like it was just last week that I found out I was pregnant. I was completely overwhelmed and had no idea how we’d survive 9 months of worrying and waiting to see if we’d get to bring this baby home. Apparently for me, the grief and worry made time speed up, and not only am I solidly in the sound-effects-are-necessary-for-every-movement phase of pregnancy, but the end seems to be approaching quickly. The milk we bought this week has an expiration date a few days after our scheduled induction. We’ve passed that important milestone.

Last week, I spontaneously and without any great fanfare, found myself sitting in the nursery and emptying a chest of drawers onto the floor to sort clothing.

A few items made me tear up a bit, remembering the person who gave them to us or an event I pictured it being appropriate for, but overall it was a pretty unremarkable task. I separated a couple outfits into a pile to be passed along to a baby boy, and I threw everything else in a laundry basket to be washed and refolded sometime soon. It was the first time I had gone through Arthur’s clothes since we prepared for him over a year ago.

We had a handful of kind friends who offered to pack up the nursery for us when we came home without Arthur last April. Instead we opted to close the door to that room and pretend it wasn’t there. We joked for at least a few months that we were going to protest our property taxes by claiming that we lived in a two bedroom instead of a three bedroom house. “Come and challenge this grieving mother, taxman, I dare you!” That room, to us, did not exist.

Our non-permanent solution worked well because, over time, we started to open the door occasionally. A few months in it started bothering me to know the carseat, stroller, and bassinet were just sitting in that room so I went and disassembled them, storing them neatly in the closet. After a little more time, I took some comfort in going in and touching a few of the handmade things that Arthur was gifted. Blankets and sweaters were reminders of the love that our family and community had for our little boy. Slowly, it became a good place to sit quietly and remember Arthur. We created a really nice space for him.

As my current pregnancy progressed, I’ve thought a lot about making space for our daughter in the nursery.

There are some symbolic things that we’d like to do eventually, like adding some art on the walls or pulling in a few girly colors to complement the original gender neutral color palette. But there are also some simple logistical things – sorting clothes, doing a few loads of laundry, and filling a few gaps in what we have and what we need.

None of this is necessary. My husband and I have reminded each other a hundred times that we don’t have to do anything that doesn’t feel right. And that’s why we largely haven’t touched anything or bought anything up until this point – we weren’t ready. We could pack a bag with a few essentials, throw the car seat in the trunk of the car and handle everything else after our daughter arrives safely. This is perfectly OK for any parents, but especially OK for parents who know the emptiness of coming home without a baby.

But even with all of that validation, both of us have felt small urges to nest recently. It’s a little scary, but it feels good.

Print by Kiran Levy

So I cleaned out some drawers. We went to a thrift store this weekend and picked out a few girly outfits. I’m still on a mission to find a pack of bows or headbands because my husband insists little girls need little bows to wear. I may even pick up a frame for the rainbow trout print we bought a little while ago and hang it in the nursery in the coming weeks. Our son’s spirit animal was a bear and our daughter’s is a rainbow trout – beautiful, wild, and capable of swimming against the current.

Our small preparations will never resemble those of parents who haven’t experienced a loss, but these acts of faith and hope are definitely what my heart wants right now. It’s bringing me comfort to surrender to these urges and let myself imagine bringing home a healthy baby girl in the coming weeks. There are moments where my excitement seems to outweigh my fear, and that feels really special.

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