The day before I went into labor I was working on re-covering pillows for our baby’s room. Before you take me for something I’m not, I’m not a master at sewing. I made a couple throw pillows back in middle school Home Economics but that was it. And these covers I was making now had zippers – something I’d never attempted before. My re-covering project was cut short however, when I had to be induced early and suddenly baby was here. I had two of four pillows covered. Now it’s three months later and pillows three and four remain unfinished.

All the extra time I thought I would have to get ready suddenly disappeared. Our parents had a good laugh about all that we had not quite finished yet.

“So are you nesting yet? Is the nursery set up?” You get a lot of questions when pregnant and these are just a few. Since this was our first time, I wasn’t always sure how to answer them. ‘What qualifies as nesting? I organized the bathroom closet, does that count? You want to know about the nursery? Well, we have a crib, and some boxes of clothes and books, so not quite set up yet.’ But here’s the truth of the situation: our baby girl is 3 months old and the nursery is still not finished. On the flip side, she doesn’t sleep in there yet. She’s still sleeping in a travel crib in our room. What I’ve discovered for myself is that nesting can be a lot of things. It’s about preparing your home for this new person who you haven’t even met yet. And for me, some of the first steps in that process were organizing other areas of the house. My mom helped me organize my kitchen. We cleaned it out, figured out how best to store everything and make the kitchen easy to use and keep clean. I also organized the bathroom closet, got a bunch of cheap plastic bins, filled and labeled them. Now even a guest can open it up and find what they need with ease. No, this stuff isn’t specific to baby but it makes my life easier, and frees me up to take care of my little “bean” as I call her.

A lot of people have dreams of the perfect nursery and of completing creative crafts before the baby arrives. Believe me, I have my own Pinterest board of baby dreams. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s OK our home doesn’t look like a magazine. What I love about our nursery is the contributions from family and friends. Our crib is a hand-me-down from friends. The dresser and chair were originally in my grandmother’s childhood bedroom, and then my mother’s. My brother’s girlfriend gave us a handmade quilt, my sister-in-law gave us an original print she designed and my dad built a top for the dresser to perfectly fit the changing pad. We added our own touches too, painting one wall, hanging new curtains, fixing the drawers in the window seat and (partially) re-covering the chair cushions. Those cushions are the most ambitious task I attempted in my nesting phase. Mostly, I felt that I needed to get the basics done and didn’t have the time or energy to spend trying those Pinterest-perfect crafty touches.

Our little girl’s start into this world came with a number of twists and turns. I was fairly certain that she would arrive late since this was my first pregnancy – and also because I felt that wishing so hard for her to come somehow would ensure a testing of my patience. But that was not the case; my water broke a week before the due date. All the extra time I thought I would have to get ready suddenly disappeared. Our parents had a good laugh about all that we had not quite finished yet. But then the real twist came – our sweet little angel had four seizures on her very first day, and the result was that we lived at the hospital for her first 11 days of life. Today she is happy and healthy as if nothing had happened, but those first days were sleepless for all the wrong reasons. A beautiful thing happened during that time. My mom came to stay for the first two weeks and my dad was in and out of town as he could. While they lived at our house without us they did some nesting of their own. Any time they didn’t spend visiting us at the hospital they were at our house getting it ready for our return. When we went to the hospital, our nursery had a crib, a chair missing cushions, half of a window treatment, and a bunch of boxes full of baby clothes and books. My parents “shopped at home” and moved the unused dresser in our guest room into the baby’s room. My mom finished hanging the second of two curtains in the nursery, she ordered us a new mop and went on a cleaning frenzy. My dad built the aforementioned dresser top to create a changing table, but not before completely organizing all of my husband’s tools and gear in the basement and installing a railing in the basement staircase. We could have brought baby home without that all having been completed yet, but when we finally were able bring her home, it was such a blessing to see it all done. It was wonderful to have my parents contribute to our “nesting,” our preparation for this brand new person who we all loved so immediately and so completely.

Before our baby’s arrival, in our birthing class, the nurse asked each of us to describe something we had done to get ready. Pretty much everyone talked about painting the nursery, buying a crib, etc. After each couple had their turn, the nurse said, “Now why didn’t any of you talk about the car seat? That’s the one thing you definitely have to do before baby comes!” And in so many ways she was right. There’s really not a lot a baby needs when you first take him or her home, but unless you have a home birth, you won’t be able to take baby home at all without a car seat. When your child comes home for the first time, the nursery doesn’t have to be complete, the house doesn’t have to be perfect: it’s never going to be perfect. I am already learning along the way and getting new ideas about how I want our home to look and function; I’m sure this will continue and our home will evolve and grow as our child does the same. When you first bring baby home, it just has to be home.