making room

How many of you infertiles still trying to bring home a baby have a nursery ready or in the works? Not do you have a room identified, or have you washed the onesies and stocked the diapers. But how much energy have you put into preparing a nursery for that elusive baby?

I am especially interested in the responses of childless infertiles who don’t have all the gear sitting somewhere in storage, although I realize the step to take it out is also often a leap of faith.

As infertiles, we approach this issue differently than others. For those of who have suffered losses, even more so. Even among infertiles there is great variance. Some would-be parents may discuss names and nurseries on their way to an IVF transfer, or buy maternity clothes and crib bedding in the first trimester. For the rest of us, those topics aren’t entertained for months, if ever.

M and I waited until well into my second trimester before we even uttered names aloud. We began discussing plans for the nursery only after my level 2 ultrasound at 18 weeks. It was only then that I started looking at gliders and cribs. My mom bought me a bag of maternity clothes. Against every odd, I began to believe that we might actually bring home our baby boy. Alas, we did not…

Sometimes pregnancy seems so tenuous or the adoption process seems so removed that we don’t consider that baby “real” until we hold him/her in our arms. And in truth, newborns don’t need much aside from  blankets, diapers, food, and maybe a sleeper.

And so I ask, in what condition is your would-be nursery? For those of you who made it to the other side, how long did you wait to fix it up?

Our adoption counselor insists that we create our nursery while we are waiting. It’s not just for the pictures in the profile. On the far end of openness in the open adoption spectrum, she encourages expectant parents to visit the homes of potential adoptive parents during the matching process, whenever possible. She wants them to be able to envision life in our home with the baby they may consider entrusting to our care.

While we have a basic vision for the nursery (e.g., where the furniture will go, not designs), we have not yet taken any steps to create one. Some people may collect and set up everything they can to prepare, while others may not bring any baby gear into their home beforehand. Designing a nursery may be an act of love and care, but it is also a leap of faith. We have been burned before, even when we were cautious. I have boxes of clothes in my garage to prove it. It’s not like that’s why what happened did. But it doesn’t help with future planning.

I’m sure there is something to be said for (literally and figuratively) clearing out the space in your physical home and emotional self to make room for a baby. I know people do it, whether or not the outcome happens sooner. 

I realize a key question is how will it make us feel to look in that room while we wait? Will seeing a crib tug at my heart too painfully, or will it make me happy to envision our baby sleeping there? I think Mel has said before that we don’t need a piece of furniture for those thoughts to exist. They’re there already.

When I asked other couples in a waiting support group what they had done for their nurseries, almost all were astounded that we would do anything. All but one couple (also in our service) had not taken any action. The group facilitator said she allowed herself only the glider, and the rest would wait. She found it comforting to think about rocking her baby to sleep some day, and when she was sad, she liked to sit and rock there herself, with a glass of wine.

M and I liked this idea. Yet we still have not committed to a timeline for clearing out the room that will become the nursery or buying that glider. I’m not sure how comfortable either of us are doing that any time soon, without real life prompting. We actually use the room now for sitting, reading, and meditation. It’s a quiet, peaceful space with a lovely view of the woods behind our home. Yet we will happily transform it some day…

I’ll tell you what we have done. I’ve allowed myself to collect books for our future baby. We are beginning to grow our children’s book collection. This has been something that I really enjoy, picking up books wherever we go, and envisioning us reading them all some day…


~ by luna on September 15, 2008.

30 Responses to “making room”

  1. Great post. Our agency keeps things more anonymous and we wouthe birthmom would not be visiting our home. They don’t know our last name or the city we live in at this point.

    Once we were approved, we started collecting hand-me-downs, but shoved them in a closet. Once we were matched, we moved the guestbed into another bedroom and have very slowly made preparations. I finally put the crib and changing table together, but everything is just stacked up in the room and it looks nothing like a nursery yet. No pretty paint job or decorations.

    We have received a lot of hand-me-down clothes that I have folded up and placed in the dresser (our old dresser) or storage bins. Now that the baby is two weeks away, we have bought and washed cloth diapers. I also bought a used glider.

    I think that once you are matched, it’s easier to start taking these steps, though you still don’t want to feel like you’re getting ahead of yourself. If she changes her mind last minute, you’re stuck with a room that is ready for a baby. And like you said, new babies really don’t need much, so I think it’s ok to make the preparations as you feel comfortable. Your agency should understand that!

  2. hi. thank you for stopping by my site and leaving a comment.

    great post…hope you don’t mind if i jump in…we never let ourselves think about a nursery, we never bought books, we went so far the other way it was like babies didn’t exist. for us it was way to painful. when we moved into a two bedroom we called the second room an office, a guest room, a place do do yoga, you name it as long as it had nothing to do with a baby or child.

    even once we got pregnant through DE i was so nervous that things wouldn’t work out that we waited till almost the last minute to buy anything. babies need your love but not lots of things. whatever you feel comfortable with is what is right for you.

  3. We haven’t made the official jump into adoption quite yet, but we are currently saving up to do so.

    Over the years of trying, I’ve been given two cribs, a bouncer, an exersaucer, clothes, slings… pretty much everything sympathetic friends and family had that their children outgrew headed our way. The gifts were much appreciated, even in times of despair, because I knew that someday, somehow there would be a baby to use them. Until last weekend, they all lived in the garage, hiding under boxes labeled for the various holidays. Until last weekend, I didn’t have the courage to move them into the house. The stuff is now in our guest bedroom which will someday transform into the nursery. It’s hidden in the closet so we don’t have to see it everyday, but I feel like it’s a big step either way.

    I love that you are putting a collection of children’s books together… I love kid’s books and have a huge collection in the guest room for my *nieces and nephews* to read, secretly knowing that they are there to stay.


  4. We didn’t do anything until we were matched in our first adoption. Not a thing. Not having that visible reminder enabled me to give myself emotional and mental “breaks” from thinking about adoption while we were waiting. Also, our house was tiny and we sorta wanted to keep using the space.

    I know other parents who prepared a baby’s room as part of their process and took great encouragement and comfort from having that visible symbol of hope in their home. It was a great outlet for them during the wait.

    There is no one right approach and it really depends on the personalities of the people involved.

    I think I disagree with your counselor on this point (while totally acknowledging that I’m basing it off of your brief statements). While I think visiting the prospective adoptive parents’ home is great, I don’t think a nursery needs to be ready in order for that visit to serve its purpose. I chafe when the matching process is micromanaged to that sort of extent (partly because it reminds me of some negative experiences with our first agency). If who you and M are are a couple who would not prepare a nursery ahead of time, then that’s the “you” you should be allowed to present to any expectant parent.

    Just my opinion. 🙂

  5. I painted the bedroom we pegged for a nursery soon after we moved into this house. The color is a soft, warm beige-of-sorts called Comforting. I also bought and hung a sign that says “Dreams Do Come True” which is still hanging in there now, mocking me. I’ve used this room as a study during nursing school, and I have all my craft/sewing stuff in there as well. One of my winter project goals is to fully complete it and dedicate it to all things IG. But it still feels like a nursery in there to me, no matter what I imagine doing to it.

    As for the adoption wait, I can see how it would be nice to show a birth mom the nursery you’ve prepared for the baby. But I can also see how it would be difficult to fully furnish the room before *take-home-baby* day, too. I love the glider idea, though. It brought tears to my eyes when I read that 🙂

    Bottom line, you should do what you guys feel comfortable with. Always.

  6. Are you kidding me? Our social worker advised against doing too much at at all, so I am astounded that yours wants you to. As for us, when we had our near match, we scoped things out. What crib we might want, what car seat. We also went to Ikea to figure out what we could get as placeholders until the stuff we order comes in, in terms of furniture. It’ll stay that way either until we are damned close to bringing a baby home or even after we do. Babies don’t need much to get started, that’s the mantra I am operating under.

  7. We specifically did not use one agency because they insisted on having a working nursery while waiting. This is not something I can do. I have to walk by what will be the baby’s room in order to get to the bathroom. I am not walking by an empty nursery for what could me more than a year. I believe that is cruel.

    We have no baby things. Not one. Actually — that’s a lie. We have some stuffed animals that a friend was going to throw away. Plus I have a blanket I knitted that I love and decided to put away for our baby. But that’s it. Not even a car seat.

    But we may get a car seat to sit in the garage. But that will be it. We will go to the store on the way home. And I know my mom would be happy to do some errands for us.

    Good luck to you. I hope you find a way to set things up in away agreeable to all parties.

  8. When I first started TTC I would go off and on to BRU and wander around, pick out furniture, car seats, strollers etc in my head. I would often buy little outfits or blankets or small things. Since this all started to get so difficult I’ve sort of quit with the BRU but do still occasionally buy little things. Lately it’s been stuff off e-bay that was from a store that no longer exists. I have it all boxed up and ready and available. That said I don’t know if I could set it all up and make a room out of it yet. The daily looking at it all I think would make it too obvious that I still don’t have what I desperately want.

  9. When we started the process of adoption from China, the wait was 6-9 months. We were told to get out there and get things ready. So, we bought and assembled a crib, gathered bags of clothes from friends and family and built a nursery so beautiful it made me cry. Now, the wait is 5 years. We disassembled the nursery and have turned it back into a guest room. It was like someone had hit us in the stomach with a sledgehammer….once again.

  10. The first year after we bought our house, I painted our future nursery (now our library). It’s a forest green and light green cross-hatched faux finish, and I did it with the baby in mind. A year later, I was pregnant, and I just assumed the natural outcome of that would be the conversion of that room into a nursery. I can remember realizing this one night, standing there with my hands pressed to the top of my head to keep it from flying off, blown away by the enormity of the situation.

    A week later, that pregnancy was over. We had discussed names, and I had signed up for one of those online weekly e-mail thingies.

    Now, two and a half years later, I do NOTHING. I don’t talk names, I don’t shop for nursery furniture, I don’t collect toys or books or clothes. And although I think it makes a lot of sense to create the baby’s room in order to make a birth mother feel comfortable, the thought of doing so sounds terrifying to me.

    Have I mentioned how brave I think you are?

  11. I have my entire nursery down to the theme planned, but it has remained entirely in my head. I promised myself that I wouldn’t dare purchase anything until I was into the 3rd trimester and that’s a good thing. After we lost our baby at 10 weeks, the only things I had to clean out were ‘what to expect’ books, which were hard enough. I can’t imagine having to actually move out anything I couldn’t hide in a bag in the garage.

  12. Us? Zilch. We went shopping the morning she was born.

    “she encourages expectant parents to visit the homes of potential adoptive parents during the matching process.” This idea kind of creeps me out. I think some birthmothers would feel this is coercive, or, at the very least, presumptive.

    I love the idea of you filling your room with your energy. Your calm, playful, peaceful, cerebral, heartful energy.

  13. You know where I am on this. 😉 Mostly because I bought into our counselor’s thoughts on it. I think about this differently than most of your posters, though. I have had a lot of fun with our nursery because it is for our future child – not a specific ivf cycle or match possibility or pregnancy or any of that. It’s a testament to the fact that we will be parents. Some day, some way.

    I have been obsessed with baby gear for quite some time and I knew exactly what I wanted. The glider was our first purchase and we each sit in it and dream. When we had a strong match possibility we ordered the furniture and rest of the stuff. One of my friends was concerned I was “settling” but I assured her I knew exactly what I wanted.

    And when that match didn’t work out, it was ok. That room is still a room of peace and hope. There is still much work to do (new windows, paint, etc) but it doesn’t bring us any pain because it is truly not associated with any one possibility – just the certainty that we will be parents one day.

  14. The only thing I’ve done is bought one picture. The time between deciding to adopt and now has been filled with a lot of grief that I really had to get through, I had to find myself again. Now I think I’m ready to paint the future nursery room.

  15. thank you all for your comments. I love hearing everyone else’s views and experience. of course this makes me realize, yet again, how different everything is for us vs. the fertile world. why can’t this just be easy?!

    so, I thought I’d jump into the discussion here to address a few points raised…

    as I wrote to heather, I agree our consultant may be micromanaging, and I have to remember that we’re paying her to advise us. so much is beyond our control that I almost welcomed someone coming in and saying, ok this is how it’s done. because we had to let go. but the truth is, we are who we are, and M and I have committed to being truthful in this process. so we will continue to find ways to be true to ourselves at every step.

    as I wrote to lindsay, every agency and facilitator is different. this is not our agency’s view but our consultant’s. I’ve heard that many agencies tell clients not to do much home prep at all, maybe out of fear we’d find it too depressing to live with an empty nursery. which may be the case for some. but each person is different. just look at millie’s response, which I love — looking at her nursery is affirmation of the certainty that they will be parents, some day. I love that.

    lori’s comment is more troubling. as I wrote to her, our consultant prides herself on being highly ethical. she began encouraging home visits after expectant mothers had negative experiences with agencies and prospective adoptive parents who claimed to be “open” but were really not. some couples wouldn’t even tell the expectant mother where they lived. this didn’t bode well for developing trust and maintaining a relationship throughout the child’s life.

    our consultant believes the expectant parents should be empowered to make their own decisions, and shouldn’t be afraid to ask to see where/how the child would be raised. she believes the adoptive couple should be willing to open their home to expectant families as they would for an agency. she encourages the expectant mother and father to review multiple profiles and to visit with several people before making any decisions. she even counsels on the option of parenting, and encourages ongoing professional counseling where there is a decision to place.

  16. Just catching up, Luna, so am jumping into the conversation slightly late. As you say, for those of us who have been through infertility and/or previous pregnancy loss, designing and decorating a nursery requires a huge leap of faith. While I appreciate that, for some women, having a room already set up can serve as affirmation that one day there will be a baby to sleep in it, it’s not something I myself can imagine doing. I don’t know whether I will at any point feel secure enough in this pregnancy to begin making those kind of concrete preparations. On a purely practical note, I’m also disinclined to shell out a load of money on things I may not in fact use – surely babies need love, warmth and security, rather than a load of disney-themed paraphanelia?!?

    Although I can understand why your consultant would feel it important for the expectant parents to be able to see where the child would live, and to be able to ask questions about how that child would be raised, but I’m not sure I understand why she would want you to have a nursery fully set up. Surely what is important is that the birth parents feel comfortable with your values and beliefs, rather than making a decision based on what colour you have painted the baby’s room? I think that you and M should do what feels right for you in this respect, rather than doing something because you feel you ought to.

    But I loved the idea that you have already begun to collect books for your future child. Although I don’t hanker after cute little outfits or bootees, I will confess that I have occasionally ventured into the children’s department of our local bookstore. I still have all the books that I used to read as a child, and hope that one day I will have a chance to sit and read them with my own son or daughter.

  17. Love this post. I’m going to write a post about/response to this on my blog.

  18. I think that getting books is beautiful and very meaningful, and sounds healing for you, too. I would be completely at a loss if I were in your shoes right now as I don’t plan to have a nursery at all when we have kids. We might put a rocking chair in the spare room, and of course there will have to be a dresser or something for the baby clothes, etc. But I tend to agree with Ms. Heathen on this – nurseries are nice, but unnecessary. And certainly to create one after dealing with loss/infertility/adoption waiting requires nerves of steel until the baby is actually home with you.

    You are brave – staying true to yourself in all this requires so much courage and you are displaying it so beautifully.

  19. Ok, I’m with Lori again, I find this a bit creepy. A bit shrine-y, and not in a good way, and I’m frankly really surprised that they would do this — to me, a room signifies not just any child, but YOUR child, one that you somehow have some inkling of. People (I don’t think) don’t just go around throwing rooms together in the anticipation of having children. One is usually “on the way,” one way or another, one with some promise, one that tugs your heart a certain way, makes you believe certain things. Otherwise it’s just a heartless room from a catalog.

    I like your idea of books, and frankly, I’d try to leave it as close to that as possible — a reading room, a library inviting to children (that would one day welcome a crib). I would try and resist anything you don’t feel comfortable with.

    And not for nothing, Bella didn’t use her room until she was about 6-8 months old. Until then, she was in our room, in a bassinet. Point taken, I did nothing for Maddy. Thank goodness.

  20. incoming link:

  21. with my first child Emi, we were between homes and did not have the opportunity to furnish a nursery. but she died, so there you go.
    with our second, Daniella, I wanted to wait until 5 months and had just bought the changer and crib and the next day (yes the next day – life is a bitch) we found out i would need an emergency cerclage and the rest is history.
    God willing i have a baby, the poor child will receive his/her first items from the hospital. i refuse to entertain the idea of buying anyting. i have not been through the heartachc of dismantling a nursery and don’t wish to!
    i plan on buying everything afterward, even the carseat. just a little jaded here.

  22. We are not looking at adoption yet, though it is a possibility in the future. I can definitely understand reticence about bringing baby things into the house. When my water broke at 20 weeks we had one onesie that had been included in handmedown maternity clothes and the first piece of baby furniture, a bouncy seat, had been given to us and brought into the house 4 days earlier. I think you have to do what you are most comfortable with.

    By the way, I think the book collection is an amazing idea.

  23. We purchased a rocking chair early in the TTC days, but it’s a big cushy easy chair so it has served as regular furniture all this time.

    I have my own children’s book collection to which I have added at times when I was particularly optimistic. It’s been a while since I bought any more.

    I knitted a wonderful blanket that I never quite finished. I gave up knitting several years ago. I suppose that when the time comes, I will finish it up. Also have a book of patterns for baby sweaters. I knitted one hat as a test, but I knitted it too small and it would only fit a doll or maybe a preemie.

    All of the other preparations are in my mind. Every stick of furniture is picked out. We’ve had names picked out for years, but I have stopped myself every time I considered buying anything personalized with any of those names — since I’d never know what the sex will be, and now I never know if there will be any baby at all.

  24. incoming link:

  25. Great post. For us, we waited until we had a match to clean out the room (and it was FULL of junk) and set up the nursery. We only had two weeks to do it though and it was very stressful. In the end we had the room ready and kept remembering that in the beginning the baby won’t be in the room anyway – at least for us, we are starting out in a bassinet. I’d say follow your heart. With adoption, its really just timing. You WILL be parents and for many that is enough for them to work on the nursery.

  26. […] time, I’m sharing a glimpse of our growing children’s book shelf. This is the extent of our nursery, and probably will be for a while, until we have real reason to believe that we may actually bring […]

  27. Really late comment to this thread … We live in a 2-bedroom apartment, but the Mister’s office takes up one room, so when our child finally comes to us, we’ll be making space for a crib in a corner of our bedroom. At this point, we have a rocking chair that my mom used to rock me in when I was little — I have very strong sense memories of how comforting that was — but that’s it. Once we’re in the waiting families pool, we’ll get a few things ready in case we get a last-minute placement, but I can’t do much more — emotionally or space-wise — at this point. Thankfully, babies don’t need that much the first few weeks (or so I’m told!)

  28. […] realize that like some of our consultant’s other ideas, this concept may sound a bit bizarre. I should say our first meeting was quite overwhelming, to […]

  29. […] We welcomed her and offered a tour. I told her she’d have to use her imagination for the future nursery. When we got there, she was drawn to the baby bookshelf and began perusing. She seemed happy to […]

  30. […] time readers may remember I had no intention of making room for a nursery until a baby was in sight. Despite being urged by our adoption counselor, and urged […]

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