By Megan Birch-McMichael
The blue Tupperware tub sat for months after the move, stored in an alcove under the stairs, sharing space with infant detritus that had been through two rounds of child. A swing, a crib mattress, a breast pump, waiting to see what their ultimate fate would be; a landfill, Goodwill, or in the fourth bedroom that was a combination guest room, office, catch-all room that swelled with our indecision.
A good friend revealed her third pregnancy to me on a playground as we watched our children skitter around, laughing and pushing and filling each other with joy. In a fit of re-organization and purging, I offered her the contents of the bin, pulling out the maternity underwear and nursing bras, and handing over the tops and bottoms that had held in my belly for the long summer months that I thought would never end. “These are just a loan,” she said, “I’ll bring them back when I’m done.” She brought them to the car in two overflowing shopping bags and for months, I forgot them.
I held the squishy baby as my friend worked on some coffee. “AH! I have your bags sitting by the front door, and I totally forgot them!” she said. “No rush,” I replied, watching my two children run through the house with their friends, alternating between hitting and hugging. At least they could wipe their own bottoms, I thought while absentmindedly patting my own stomach.
We looked at finances, at my student loans that were a mountain between us and new-to-us cars and a trip to Disney. We looked at my own mental health, at what life had become after two kids in 20 months, after deciding that staying at home and attempting to eke out a writing career was the best course of action forward. We looked at every factor that one could imagine and then we looked at them again.
And then we looked at another option. We took classes with the state and worked on getting our license to care for the littlest ones who needed help temporarily. The bins that lined the basement walls would be used again, the items that sat under the stairs would be cleaned up and polished and put to work in the nursery. But that lone, blue Tupperware container still sat there, waiting.
It was a week or two into summer vacation and the joyous news of a new pregnancy came to me over another coffee with another friend. Children’s voices echoed from every corner of the house, singing and chattering and discussing the relative merits of a Disney Junior cartoon. I sipped regular strength coffee, and thought about ordering some sushi for dinner when my husband got home. I stretched my calves that had just run for an hour that morning. I put my hand on my abdomen only for a moment. And I looked at my friend and said, “Can I offer you a bin of clothes? You don’t have to give them back.”
Megan Birch-McMichael is a writer/mother/wife/runner/jack-of-all-trades who lives near a farm with lots of loud moo-ing cows in a small town west of Boston, MA. When she has free time, she enjoys knitting and binge-watching Law and Order: SVU. She has written for Runners World: Zelle (www.rwzelle.com), The Manifest-Station (https://www.themanifeststation.net) and Modern Loss (https://modernloss.com).