It’s February 3rd, and people in our inner circle know what that means – it’s baby’s due date!
The fun thing is that I’m actually writing this three weeks before my due date (trying to get ahead on a few posts in order to buy myself a blog-free February), so I have no clue yet if baby will have already been born, whether he/she will come today (statistically only a 5% chance of that!), or whether I’ll be waiting another week or two. Oh, the mystery…
In the meantime, Bruno and I have definitely been keeping busy. There’s so much to prepare before baby’s arrival that I truly don’t know how couples who work full-time manage! What follows is a brief description of what Bruno and I have been up to since moving into our rental home in Bayfield, Nova Scotia, and how we have been getting ready for our bundle’s arrival:
Bruno, the Bus Renovator
Bruno’s days have mostly revolved around renovations inside our Big Blue Bus. When we left on our road trip from Mexico to the east coast of Canada last spring, our bus was liveable but definitely not finished. With a busy family-oriented summer and two months in France, Bruno couldn’t manage to psyche himself up to continuing our bus renovations this fall.
Something about the impending arrival of a baby changed that. There were, after all, a few essential adaptions we needed to make in Big Blue before we set out next spring with baby-in-tow.
The logistics of working inside Big Blue weren’t super simple, of course, with winter temperatures upon us. Our Herber-Spacher heating system is not designed for sub-zero temperatures in such a large space, and our bus’ big windows didn’t help, either. Bruno parked the bus literally right outside the front door of the house, to protect the bus from ocean wind, to be able to hook up to our house’s mains electricity, and also to make the outdoor to-and-from journey as short as possible!
Still, even after temporarily insulating and closing off most windows and adding an electric space heater, the temperature inside the bus was far from ideal. Thankfully, we had a mild early December, so Bruno worked full-tilt inside Big Blue.
The essential tasks?
- Install baby’s car seat. Our bus only has two seats (and one of them we installed ourselves), so we had to figure out a workable arrangement for baby. After toying around with several different options, we settled on installing a rear-facing car seat at our kitchen table. Bruno found a system that quickly lowers our table to bench-height, and he installed heavy-duty straps to the chassis of the vehicle. I found a car seat that has a small enough base to fit into our tight space, and, most importantly, that can be installed and removed in about a minute (thank goodness for the Click-Tight system!). This way, we can lower the table and install the car seat when we’re about to hit the road, and remove the car seat when we set up camp, allowing us to use our kitchen table as before. A simple solution, but one that did take quite a bit of time to figure out!
- Build a baby bed. This, too, involved a whole lot of thinking, mainly because we needed to decide what sleep philosophy we would adopt for our baby and where we could build a bed that would least limit our evening use of our limited living quarters. In the end, we have found only a temporary solution, but at least it will get us through the first few months in the bus. Bruno has built a “side-car bed,” which is essentially a mini-crib with three walls that gets pushed up against my side of the bed. My hope is that this will make night-time breastfeeding less disruptive. Bruno’s bed design is currently at the correct height for the bed in our rental home, and then we will cut down the legs when we move out and spend a few weeks with my parents in New Brunswick. When we move into the bus, we will remove the legs entirely, as well as one of the walls, and install the bed on a wooden platform beside my side of the bed in the bus. I found a mattress that fits between the bed and the bus wall perfectly (not easy to find!) and Bruno has rigged up a way for us to remove the bed platform during the day so we can still access our bedside storage space. We’ll see how it works in practice, but in theory it seems like a pretty good temporary solution!
- Install window screens. Though not directly baby-related, the fact of the matter is that we plan to spend time in buggy warm climates next summer, and need to protect baby (and ourselves!) from mosquitoes and other critters. With our massive, odd-shaped windows, it took us a lot of time to find a window screen system that would work (and that wouldn’t break the bank). Eventually, Bruno found some screens in France, which he had me bring back on the airplane in November. It still took him the better part of a week to install them (as with everything in the bus, the job involved much tweaking and problem-solving), but they’re up!
Bruno scrambled to get those tasks complete before the true winter freeze set in. He was very grateful for the workshop in the basement of our rental home, both because it allowed him to warm up a bit, and because he had the tools and space to build the bed and make cuts to the window screens.
After the holidays, with a few weeks left to kill before baby’s arrival, I convinced Bruno to work on a few more bus-related projects that, though not essential, will be much-appreciated come spring when we hit the road again. He has installed my spice jars under my kitchen cabinet, created a ledge in the bathroom for diapers (and installed lights in the bathroom, too!), and built a custom medicine cabinet for our toiletries.
Those tasks, in combination with the lights he installed in September and the awning we had installed while we were in France, mean that Big Blue is a few steps closer to being totally complete!
Brittany, the Nesting Mama
With Bruno in bus renovation mode, I’ve settled into my role of preparing for baby’s arrival. Some of this has involved practical tasks, like finishing all the essential shopping for baby stuff (thank you to all those who contributed to make these purchases possible!), getting the car seat installed by a certified car seat technician (boy, did I learn a lot!), and packing my hospital bag (which, in my case, has involved a lot of mixing of essential oils, haha!). I have also prepped our diaper station, organized and put away baby’s clothing, and looked into things like family doctors, travel insurance, and baby’s first passport.
Of course, I’ve taken time to nest, too. As I write this, I have a full month’s worth of home-cooked meals in the freezer, ready for weeks of post-partum healthy eating (thank you to dad for all your help, and to Bruno for the homemade bread!). I have been reading up on breastfeeding, baby sleep, and general baby care to arm myself with as much knowledge as possible post-partum. I have made sure to take care of my body with yoga classes, walks, and lap swimming and gym-going at the facilities at St. Francis Xavier University. Though I haven’t has as much time to rest and relax as I’d hoped, I have made time for an almost-nightly bath.
The reason I haven’t had too much time to relax is that I created a pretty big project for myself – to go through the 30-odd boxes I had stored in my parents’ crawl space since moving to Zimbabwe seven years ago. I’d like to cut down the amount of belongings I return to them this spring, so I have painstakingly gone through each box, determined which few items I want to hold onto, and tried to sell, gift or donate the rest. That last part – the effort for my stuff not to end up in landfills – has been the most time-consuming part of the project. The fact is, we live in a society filled with so much cheap stuff that few people bother to purchase used, and few organizations want more influx of donated goods. My efforts have partially paid off, but with baby due to arrive any day, I don’t think I will manage to finish this project, unfortunately. Sorry, mom!
Preparing for Baby Together
Bruno and I took a Hypnobirthing Pre-Natal class this fall/winter, and we have continued practicing the techniques we learned in that class to make labor and birth as smooth as possible. We have also been visiting the midwives every week or two. Last week, we began taking a pre-natal class offered by a local NGO, Kids’ First, and next weekend we are taking a two-day CPR and First Aid course. We also interviewed a few potential doulas, and have chosen one – Jenny Delaney – who will be with us for physical and emotional support throughout our labour.
Last, but definitely not least, we made time just before Christmas to have a professional maternity photo session. I am SO excited about the results of the session that I can’t help but share a few photos here.
The maternity photos are taken, the meals are prepped, the bus is ready(ish). I’d say we’re about ready for baby to arrive! Now we just have to wait and wonder when that day will be!