Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Robin's Nest

 trigger warning: pregnancy loss.

This spring, a robin started to build her nest right outside the window in our kitchen. I spend a lot of time looking out that window, since the sink is right there, and I'm doing the dishes at least twice a day, and it was fascinating to watch the process up so close.

Each day, the nest became thicker, deeper, more well-constructed. Sometimes we'd all marvel at the wonder of architecture, sometimes we'd watch the robin and wonder what she was doing as she pressed her body into the nest. "Is she laying an egg?" I asked no one in particular, aloud. I would avert my eyes, feeling like it was a private moment, but how could I not look?

The robin wasn't much of a homebody; we'd see her there occasionally, and then the nest was empty. Except one day, it wasn't. A bright blue egg, like a piece of turqoise. Astonishing, against the drab brown of the nest.

I worried about the egg. Was she spending enough time there? Was it safe? Were we too close to the window? Was the light from the kitchen too bright?

Then, one day, another egg. Then, away again. And another day, a third. Away. And finally, a fourth.

With each additional egg, my concern grew. The robin spent a lot of time away from the nest. Were the eggs warm enough? Would they be OK there? We learned that robins spend 15 minutes of every hour warming their eggs. They sleep at night.

I peeked over the windowsill carefully, never opening the window, taking stock of the robin's appearance and disappearance. After the fourth egg, it seemed to stay for a bit, hunkered down.

Except one day, when she was out, I noticed that two eggs had gone missing.

I felt my heart drop. Where were they? Eaten? Did they fall? I half wanted to go rooting around in the bush, see if I could find the eggs on the ground, replace them in the nest. But of course, I couldn't. So I pinned my hopes on the two remaning eggs, watching the robin come and go, come and go, checking to make sure that she was spending enough time warming the two precious remaining eggs.

And one day, the robin left, and didn't come back.

I have been watching the nest in vain hope ever since, the two perfect beautiful turquoise eggs that will never hatch. Was it something we did? Was the lawnmower too close and too loud? Did we walk by too many times, even at what we thought was a safe distance? I fault myself, ourselves, over and over.

My kids tell me "it's just nature, Mom." My daughter, wise, knowing that there were others before her that didn't hatch, tries to console me: "this even happens to humans." Which, of course, is exactly the problem.

I'm heartbroken. And every day, at least twice a day, ten times a day, I look at the eggs, sitting in the nest, outside my kitchen window. Reminders of the birds that will never be.

Reminders that our hearts are never quite the same.

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