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You Did What?

By Vicki Austin

Our two kids are off to college and my husband and I now enjoy Saturday afternoon naps, cereal for dinner and well-made socks. We are the proud owners of a pressure cooker and two high-efficiency heating pads. He laments his thinning hair, heartburn and loss of muscle mass. I, too, have racked up quite a list of complaints. My pants don’t fit anymore, I’m hungry in the middle of the night, and my hormones are wonky.

But wait, things are about to get a lot more complicated.

Surely you must be asking yourself, what additional life change can these two possibly be facing, now?

Here is a small hint.

We purchased a brand-new bedside bassinet.

“You did what?!” our friends said. “We must have misheard you.”

We were too busy shopping for blankets to answer.

What are the latest nesting accoutrements that parents are looking for as they flock to BuyBuy Baby? Our chosen crib already came with a waterproof mattress encasement, is adjustable to bed heights of 23 to 31 inches, and has a sports pockets for extra blankets and toys. The waterproof feature has been important to practical-minded parents since the dawn of baby sleepers. The height is essential as several years ago this couple purchased an unusually tall bed frame to accommodate the motor that massages our aged, aching bodies as we drift off to a good night’s sleep. The pockets, you ask? Those are just unnecessary bling.

“Baby on Board!” The enormous box signaled the neighbors as it dwarfed our front step. My devoted spouse quickly brought it in, before the creation of any further stir on our quiet street. Well, he retrieved the cardboard monstrosity as efficiently as one can while also awkwardly clutching the latest AARP magazine. I swear those people have spies in every town in the country. The candles have just begun smoking on the cake of your 50th birthday when they crassly begin inundating you with subscription cards.

I awkwardly bent over the instructions, patting my slightly rounded stomach that lately seemed always to be in the way, as we counted the little bags of screws and other hardware. Oh, the heartburn. Had I really overdone it that much on the garlic bread the night before? When will I learn that my body can’t manage all of the changes it’s going through and tackle spicy food? “Double reinforced bars provide extra support for your baby’s head,” I read to my husband from the pamphlet. It’s all coming back to me, the sleepless nights as I roll over to reach in and check for breathing, fighting over whose turn it is to respond to the cries, that moment you carefully, breathlessly lower the swaddled bundle onto the soft blankets, having finally gotten those eyes to close.

“Done!” my husband sighed mere minutes later, as we heard the solid click of the last joint pushed into place. “Try it out,” he offered grudgingly. Heroically he lowered the mattress into place and carried the frame into our master bedroom. I surveyed the space as memories of bringing the kids home from the hospital come flooding back. As if it were yesterday, I can recall the sounds of them dreaming, their sleepy nighttime sighs.

“Come here little buddy,” I whispered. I cradled my arms and swept our beloved, 11-year-old bichon off his feet and lowered him into his new bed, right next to mine. Swaddling him in his special blankets, I took a deep breath. Will he close his eyes? My husband shot me a withering glance.

The first night the whining lasted for an hour and a half. By the time you read this article, hopefully the bags under my husband’s eyes will be less swollen, and the pup will have stopped the nightly routine of jumping from his bed into our bed.

“This is it!” my life partner proclaims. “No more spoiling that dog.”

Still, it can’t hurt to start shopping for the perfect bike basket for our fluffy boy. How about a puppy stroller? It comes with mesh pockets for the bichon on the go, AND a sun shade. If it’s good enough for John Mulaney’s bulldog, Petunia, to be walked in Central Park, it’s surely good enough for our little man.

— Vicki Austin

Vicki Austin, faculty at Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School, lives with her family in Dallas, Pennsylvania. Vicki has more than 25 years of experience in many facets of education and is currently shifting her writing focus from persuasive to creative. Vicki’s most recent work has been featured on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop blog, included in the online journals Projected Letters and Wraparound South and printed in The Walls Between Us: Essays in Search of Truth, a Juncture publication. You can find Vicki on Twitter @VickiAustin02 and send encouragement as she finishes her first novel.

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