Thursday, August 6, 2009

In A Dresser Drawer

On September 18, 1989, Steve and I were introduced for the very first time to a little guy named Nathan. He was a little red, a little wrinkly, and a lot loud, but we liked him well enough to decide we would take him on home with us.

As many of you know, back in those ancient, olden days, Steve and I lived in an RV and traveled around the country full time. Our plan had been to come off the road a couple weeks before Nathan's due date, park our RV at our home church in Charlotte (where we "lived" during our road breaks) and spend that time getting things organized for Nathan's arrival.

Good plan, right?

Have you ever noticed that babies don't tend to pay a whole lot of attention to good plans?

As it turns out, I started having complications several weeks before the delivery. I had gained seventy pounds (much of it was water), was experiencing severe edema (shoe size went from a 7 to a 10), and had developed high blood pressure.

When we got back to Charlotte (2-3 weeks before the due date) I went in for my check up and the doctor said, "I am admitting you to the hospital. NOW."

Now just to be clear, I need to let you know that I was very conscientious about having regular prenatal visits on the road; this was not the first doctor I had seen in recent weeks. However, things just happened to get real bad real fast.

And so I was admitted to the hospital as a high risk pregnancy as all my happy thoughts of organizing baby clothes and baby supplies flew straight out the window. And I had plenty of organizing to do. Some friends had given us some beautiful, gently used baby clothes which were being stored in large plastic bags at Steve's parent's house. They needed to be sorted and put some place where they would be easy to find when I was in a "middle-of-the-night, new mom, woozy frenzy." Also, we hadn't yet bought a bassinet or diapers and had really made no preparation whatsoever for the impending arrival.

Thinking we would have plenty of time.

Yeah, right.

After a couple days of being closely monitored, my doctor started seeing signs of fetal distress and decided to induce labor. In spite of a few slightly scary moments in delivery, a healthy baby fella was delivered.

Two days later, Steve drove that little guy and me from the hospital to his parent's house so that I would have a place to recuperate that offered a bit more space than the RV.

There was only one small problem.

There was no place to put a baby. No crib. No bassinet. No nuthin'.

In fact, at that particular time in my life, I was having a whole new appreciation for a certain Christmas carol, you know, the one that says, "Away in a manger, no crib for his bed . . . "

I guess Nathan was getting a pretty good start on life; he had the same newborn sleeping challenges as Jesus!

And so, just like Mary and Joseph, Steve and I improvised. We got out some soft blankets and lined a dresser drawer with them; in fact, it was this very dresser drawer! (I took this picture last weekend when we were in Charlotte.)

And presto! Our newborn Nathan finally had a place to "lay down his sweet head."

And everything was fine. And good. For a short time.

However, just two days after getting home from the hospital, when I was still sore and stressed and exhausted from childbirth, a hurricane named Hugo came hurtling through Charlotte, doing a lot of damage and leaving thousands of people without electricity for almost two weeks. Not such a fun thing for anyone, but especially stressful for a family with a newborn on board.

I have vivid memories of getting up in the middle of the night to care for Nathan. I remember stumbling through the house with a flashlight, digging through the bags of miscellaneous, non-sorted baby clothes trying to locate a clean sleeper, foraging through a hastily purchased pile of diapers, and warming formula over a candle. Then when I finally got my little guy attended to, I would take him back to his drawer and tuck him in again.

Of course, two hours later, he would awaken me--or Steve--again with his newly discovered, newborn lung power, inviting us to get up and go through the whole drill again. Nathan loved his middle-of-the night social time!

As I think back to those bleary days of being a new mom and the sometimes weary days of living full time on the road, one of the very few regrets I have from that period of time is that I never had the chance to decorate a nursery. Nathan's "nursery" was a dresser drawer and Sarah's entire nursery consisted of one pink bassinet.

In fact, I remember a day just a short while before Sarah was born when Steve and I were in a Toys R Us store, buying her bassinet. I stood there and looked around at the displays of darling baby furniture, decorative knick knacks, whimsical wall hangings and all manner of sweet little baby supplies and I felt such a longing to make a lovely nest for my baby girl to come home to. But I had no space for any extra stuff in my life, living as I did in a 320- square foot RV with Steve and 6-year old Nathan. I actually remember leaving the store that day in tears because I so wanted to have the chance to put together a real nursery for my sweet daughter.

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But after a few minutes, the tears dried up and I got right back to anticipating the arrival of the second Smith kid who, as it turned out, was born in rather dramatic circumstances and was on a cross country airplane flight within six days of her birth.

Of course, Nathan was back on the road with Steve and me when he was only two weeks old, so he wasn't allowed much in the way of an Adjustment Period to Life either. In fact, from the moment both of our kids was born, they were adapting and traveling and flying and being laid down to sleep in dresser drawers. I'm amazed they turned out as well as they did!

As unorthodox as Nathan's and Sarah's upbringing has been, one thing I learned along the way is that our babies don't really give a hoot as to whether or not they are ensconced in nurseries that are decked out with with all sorts of darling do-dads. They don't notice if their living quarters consist of one simple bassinet in the living room of a a travel trailer. They don't care if their baby togs are stuffed into plastic bags or if their very first bed is a drawer inside a dresser.

They care much more about things that can't be bought at Toys 'R' Us, things that are priceless and intangible and invaluable and cost no money at all.

They just want to know that as they sleep, they will find layers of love and pillows of peace.

Even if they are in a dresser drawer.

9 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Sue G said...

Layers of love and pillows of peace. Sounds like a good name for a book. Do you have a book in you, Becky? Um, I think so!!!!

Funny how things are relative to circumstance. You cried at the thought of having a real nursery. And other people cried at the thought of having a dresser drawer.

You're so right, Becky. Layers of love and pillows of peace travel well, don't take up a lot of room, and emit a whole lot of important qualities to make up a very solid foundation.

May your children always know layers of love and pillows of peace. And may you and Steve always honor the wisdom you both had and continue to have to make that foundation possible, strong, and growing.

Anonymous said...

Loved the pics of your "young(er) family. Great hair, too:-0.

Marysienka said...

"Back in those ancient, olden days" - that was in 1989... Suddenly, I feel old (I was born in 1986) hihihi!

But you are right, babies need love, peace, and security. It's certainly not the bedroom in which they sleep that makes them who they really are.

And I have to agree with Sue G, I think you have a book in you, Becky!!


MaryH said...

That was a wonderful story, Becky. Going through the process of picking out all that "stuff" with my daughter while she was expecting, was mindboggling. I kept saying, "Babies only need love, diapers, formula and their mom and dad's attention and devotion - they don't need all this stuff." I think she has figured that out somewhat - I wish I could have said it as well as you - Layers of Love and Pillows of Peace. May I borrow that sometime when I need to offer a little advice to a new mom that I love so much?

Pam D said...

Nothing wrong at all with learning young how to travel light. Leaves more room in the heart for the things that really matter, like love... and peace...and joy... and faith. All of which your kids have in abundance. I'd say THEY are the lucky ones, and the kids who only have stuff? They got the raw deal. I join in with the group in chanting "" You can do it, Becky.. it's already written. And Sue G? A natural pick for editor. Go for it!

Sue G said...

Eye dun't come cheep. Finding grematicol, speling and kontint mistacks ain't easy.

Ya's no how it are.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

Priceless memories...blessings upon blessings.

lesley said...

I was a 'drawer baby' myself! I slept for a few months in a drawer at my grandmother's house in Provincetown, MA. We were staying with her for the summer and the 'baby bed' she had was too small so my mom got a drawer and put me in it :) Worked perfectly I am told!

Anonymous said...

What an adorable sweet story. I hope you enjoy writing them as much as we like reading them.

Margie Miller