Last June, when I could still pass as not pregnant, I decided to gift my unpregnant self a few spring flowers. So I went to work ordering some bulbs from a tangle of bulb houses of seemingly Dutch or Michigan origin (or a combination of the two). It started with visions of all-white daffodils carpeting the meadow out back to which a formal purple tulip garden and a fragrant white garden were added. The bulbs–nearly 1500–were ordered. A spreadsheet was made. And then I forgot about them and went about the summer working in the vegetable garden, tending my beloved dahlia patch, and growing a baby.
By the time I had to leave my pants unbuttoned and my shirts exposed several inches of stretched belly skin, weighty boxes of bulbs began to arrive on the doorstep. I stacked them inside the door and tried to ignore them, or, more accurately, to ignore the fact that I would need to plant those bulbs sometime after the first frost but before I delivered a baby: in the ninth month of pregnancy. 1500 bulbs. Each time I imagined myself on all fours repetitively driving a bulb planter in the clayey soil hour after hour, belly grazing the ground, I flinched.
The idea came to me one night while rotating from one achy hip to the other (not unlike a rotisserie chicken). Our neighbors, I thought, they have three able-bodied teenagers. Yes, they would help. We set a date in early November, and I asked them, ominously, to set aside the whole day for planting. The day before, I separated bulbs by garden and outlined the planting areas for each variety with bone meal. That night, my insomnia was even more intense than a standard pregnant night as I fretted that the long day of physical work would invite Henry out earlier than I hoped.
On the big day, everyone arrived for our long day of work when the air was still brisk. Dave dug troughs, I poured hundreds of bulbs in each one, and we all spaced the bulbs and set them in place. Thirty minutes later we had finished. Thirty. After spending another 45 minutes encircling each tree in our new orchard with mole-deterring daffodil bulbs, we were done. I made up some other tasks to make it slightly less obvious that I had so grossly overestimated our planting time. Dave and Drew, our neighbor, had a beer, and then we were done, consequently leaving us the kind of late-fall day I admire most: one bathed in golden sunlight and cooled by apologetic breezes.
Again, the bulbs drifted from my mind. I hosted Thanksgiving dinner, celebrated Elinor’s fourth birthday, had a baby (Henry), and limped through Christmas and New Year’s. After Dave and I had said to each other at least four times, “This really is the last snow,” the crocuses inched out of the frozen ground with daffodils following shortly after. Then came the hyacinth. And now the tulips. Oh, the joy of having them all survive such an intensely cold winter. And, oh, their beauty.
I recently got a note from my pregnant self. It said, “You’re welcome.”
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