The rug had been in Pruszcz Gdański for more than a month. I’d been checking up on it daily, via the shipping company’s website, but nothing was changing. Status: Originating post is preparing to dispatch this mail piece. An insomniac night of online reconnaissance indicated that the rug’s situation was a common one, since apparently many items traveling through this particular town in northern Poland are packed into large shipping containers before being loaded onto a boat. According to one forum post, “The container may just sit until it’s full.”
I was in no particular rush to have this rug—I knew that as surely as I knew what the tracking status would be before I checked it each day. Still, I checked, and checked, and checked again. The rug was for our soon-to-be baby’s room, and I was engaging in a common compulsion of pregnant people, who wait for more than package deliveries: We wait for our bodies to be our own again, for the trauma of labor to be in the past, to meet our kids, and to meet ourselves as parents. There is a word for what I was doing: nesting.
The word seemed to mean different things to different people. “It’s physical,” said the teacher of a birthing class I attended: When you’re vacuuming or scrubbing the floor, she observed, you’re engaging in activities that could help get your baby in the right position. My mom insisted that it was purely practical, “like how birds make nests.” Meanwhile, in line at Trader Joe’s, where I received a lot of unsolicited pregnancy advice, a woman told me that my purchase of cleaning supplies was spiritual—I was readying my home’s feng shui for a baby.