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Readying the Nest

May 14 2006, 2:08pm

You’ll notice many quirky behaviors by your spouse during her pregnancy, many of them hormonally driven. Whether you like it or not, you’ll be affected by these behaviors, too.  Around the fifth month (on average, but can occur later in some women) you’ll take part in a phenomenon known as “nesting”. Nesting refers to a mother’s innate response to prepare your offspring’s habitat prior to birth and it is something humans share with other members of the animal kingdom. Turn on Animal Planet or The Discovery Channel and you’ll see some examples.    Expectant female bass make a circular bed for their eggs by sweeping common lake debris like small stones, used condoms, and rusty Bud cans out of the way with their tails. Loggerhead turtles schlep cumbersome girth seventy feet up a beach in the middle of the night to dig a hole in the sand, deposit their eggs, and cover them up until they hatch. What you won’t see on the nature shows is the female bass browbeating the male into assembling a crib four months early; or the male loggerhead trying to apply that cute teddy bear border—straight and with no air bubbles, God damn it!—under the watchful eye of Mrs. Turtle.  No, future dads, that’s all you. Nesting usually starts innocently enough. ‘Hmmm,’ says your wife, with a hand on her chin, tapping her lip with her index finger, ‘The baby is coming pretty soon. We should really clean those dust bunnies from underneath the fridge. Today.’  Today’ will be a Sunday if the gestation period coincides with the NFL schedule. Instead of settling in from 11AM to 8 PM on the couch in sweats, you’ll be doing more useful, imperative things like sterilizing bottles and boiling silicone nipples.   While your wife will initiate the nesting phase, don’t be surprised if you jump on the bandwagon. I decided that a month before my first son was due was precisely the right time to investigate one of the loose tiles on the shower wall in the only bathroom we had at the time. With a flathead screwdriver I carefully pried at the crumbly grout around a single tile. As one side came free, about a third of the remaining tiles crashed into the tub. The rock lathe wall was mushy and black with mold from all the water that had seeped behind the tiles. Behind that, soggy insulation slumped between 2 x 4s damp with mildew. A complete disaster. Luckily, my brother-in-law is a plumber and my brother had some construction experience; so we were able to piece a bathroom together by the time my wife and I returned from the hospital. Without them I would have been screwed.   There are lessons to be learned from my nesting mishap. First, follow the lead of every other male in the animal world and let your wife drive the nesting process. Don’t mess with Mother Nature. Second, keep it simple. Her idea to wash all the baby clothes in Dreft and place them neatly folded into the dresser is way better than your brainstorm to try to refinish the hardwood floors. Finally, have fun with it. Nesting will provide you with some humorous tales with which to regale your friends and family. ‘Remember a few weeks before I had Joey? When we were baby-proofing the living room? You had one eye on the Red Sox game and accidentally stuck your finger in the outlet when you were putting in those plastic cap thingies! I hadn’t seen you jump like that since I told you I was late a few weeks after we hooked up in college for the first time!’  Ha, ha, ha! Be prepared for nesting, but don’t be afraid.  Like the rest of the pregnancy, you will survive.  Best of luck noodads!