When I am getting ready to have a baby, buying birth supplies feels like its own rite of passage. It seems so practical, so impersonal, maybe even silly. But I look forward to this ritual with anticipation, because it means so much more to me than just filling my cart with new towels, or underpads.
Everything I check off my list sparks my excitement to meet my new baby, and with every item I find I imagine the “sacredness” in which it will first be used.
There is nothing in the world as remarkable to me as having a baby. And there are few things that get me in touch with that faster than planning my own baby’s birth at home. It is a privilege, an absolute honor to be able to attend other women’s births with the regularity that I do. I am so grateful for that perspective, and somehow it makes it even more special to me to plan the birth that will involve my family, change my life again in a way I can’t imagine.
The mirror I put into my basket that will be used to catch the first glimpse of my baby’s long-awaited head as it comes out of my body in the water. The simple, special fact that my daughter helps me pick out the mirror so that she can be a part of her sibling’s birth in a whole new way. And next is the flashlight, looking so inconsequential in it’s package. But the first glimpse my family will be able to get of her beautiful hair (what color is it??) in the dark room, in the barely lit pool. This is especially important to my daughter, the oldest. She is focused on this flashlight with a new intensity and asks not only if she can hold it now, but if she can hold it for our midwife when the time comes.
And my husband and youngest child pick their objects as well.
Insisting we buy a brand new hose to fill the pool seems typical for my husband, and it is a practical idea. But behind that is the excitement, the responsibility for filling the pool when “it is time”, the crucial step that will determine if our child is born a “waterbaby” or not. (My last child just barely made being born in the pool, so this is in fact a very valid concern in our planning!)
And my youngest, well, he is not much more than a baby himself. But as he rubs the new towels that will be used to dry off either me, or the baby (or both) I see the glimpse in his eye that means he knows more than he lets on. In my mind’s eye, I can see him with this towel, and with this new baby, and I smile.
And as for me, I have my typical end-of-pregnancy worries and doubts and fears. But my family, and this trip, puts it all in perspective somehow.
It’s not just about bringing stuff home, or giving into this variation on the nesting instinct. Buying birth supplies is our way of bonding before the birth, and enjoying our life as we know it this moment. It gives us all the permission to reflect on what is about to happen, how miraculous it will be and how, no matter what, we’ll never be fully prepared.