Part 1 of 6
November 16th, 2019 and my first official steps into motherhood began when our daughter, Isabelle, burst into the world. It wasn’t quite the birth I imagined or planned for (24 hours intense labour, surprise breech, emergency c-section – but that’s another story) but it was incredible and in that moment my little world got a whole heap bigger.
My husband, James, and I were incredibly fortunate that Isabelle was our first pregnancy, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Like many people we had multiple scary moments – suspected ectopic pregnancy, emergency genetics testing (I carry something called Tay-Sachs), displaced ribs and a chronic chest infection to name but a few. There was stress and anxiety but there was also a little pocket of calm I found in planning things, Isabelle’s nursery being the main focus.
Like so many couples who buy a house, I’d always envisaged our littlest bedroom as ‘The Nursery’. I would show friends round our new home, proudly throwing open the door to the awkwardly shaped cupboard of a room and declare it such, only for James to run after me shouting ‘It’s a drum room’. He was only half joking. As a professional musician he has so much equipment that until last year the room was indeed filled with bass drums. I’d even admitted defeat and bought a sign for the door saying as much. But then those two little blue lines appeared.
As James tours a lot, it fell to me to transform the room Homes Under the Hammer style. We already knew we were having a girl, but for some reason it became super important to me that her room was girly, but not TOO girly. I spent hours researching complimentary colour schemes that would make it feel even a smidge bigger. I obsessed over murals at midnight on Pinterest, scoured Instagram for unusual ideas and put so many swatches of colour on the walls that they had to be sanded back before I could properly start painting!
And then came the furniture. Our nursery is not just small, it’s bijou. In fact, it may not even be big enough to be classed as that. I must have measured every wonky-angled wall four times to draw up an accurate floor plan, only to discover that not a single standard cot-bed on the market would fit in it! It didn’t matter that the baby wouldn’t even be sleeping in there at first, I was determined to have a complete nursery come due date and if that meant burning out the Google engine looking for smaller options then by heck, I was going to do it.
The biggest challenge actually came down to storage (oh my goodness, babies need a lot of stuff) and that was before taking into account the forty-three pairs of bootees your Great-Auntie Betty decided to send you, or the grown-out wardrobes of clothes your already-parents friends lovingly gifted. We ripped out the interior of the half-height cupboard behind the door and I painstakingly redesigned. At the end of my second trimester I was crawling into the cupboard to paint it before putting in the shelving, only to find I was too pregnant to turn around and get out without smudging my work with either bum or bump. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my bump but manoeuvrable it was not. You would have thought I’d learned my lesson when two weeks previous I’d gotten stuck on the floor after painting the skirting board under the radiator and had to wriggle my way out of the room like a worm or risk staying there until the gloss dried!
I hunted high and low for unfeasibly compact drawers to fill the tiny space I had available. I marked out nursing chairs on the floor with masking tape to find the best (only) one that fitted. I even fought over storage boxes in a TK Maxx to make sure I got two matching sets. But as I hung that first little cardigan on the tiny hanger, I could sense the relief approaching. With the nursery done I would feel ‘ready’, somehow prepared for our new arrival. In my final month I scoured the internet for independent businesses to find not only baby necessities, but more frivolous things including the beloved handmade rainbows which now hang above my painted grey mountain-scape.
The walls of Izzy’s room are a testament to the latter days of pregnancy, where you’ll do anything to pass the time as you impatiently wait for your chick to hatch. There’s a beaded dragonfly on one side, a cross-stitched mountain with inspirational quote on another. Even Isabelle’s hanging laundry bag was sewn by hand (firstly because I don’t have a sewing machine and secondly because there wasn’t floorspace for the one I bought originally!). The final element of my crafting, a raspberry cushion, lies still unfinished under the coffee table for when life is less hectic. I guess I’ll get around to it in 18 years or so.
The Nursery is by no means perfect; the book shelves are overflowing, there’s nowhere for the soft toys which seem to be multiplying like Jellycat bunnies and we have to keep the drawers Marie Kondo’ed or nothing can be found. Even the baby monitor has had to be command-stripped to the wall because of the lack of space. But as I look around, with Isabelle asleep in my arms, I can smile. This little room is imperfectly perfect, a reflection of our little family, filled with love and good intentions – and that suits me just fine.