Saturday, July 07, 2007

The crib

The other day I was cleaning out the basement. It needed it. Badly. I can't for the life of me figure out how two people can create such an impenetrable jungle of boxes, tools, Christmas decorations and random crap in such a short amount of time. I swear it hasn't been that long since I cleaned and organized it, despite evidence to the contrary.

Anyway, I was deep into the thrilling task of purging and cleaning when I dug my way down to Thomas' crib. Most of his things are in big covered plastic bins on shelves at the bottom of the stairs, but the bigger items (the still boxed stroller, the crib and the bassinet) are over in the larger storage area in the basement.

They're safe and sound, it's just that they were kind of hidden by other stuff. Until I excavated them again.

I stood looking at the crib. I ran my hand along the curved end where once upon a time I'd draped the beautiful pink, blue and white blankie my mom started knitting when she found out I was pregnant with Thomas, and slowly exhaled.

I stood there looking at it. Inconceivable, even still.

Anyway, later in the day I called My Beloved to let him know how the excavation was going, and we got talking about the crib. Suddenly, more than two years after the birth and death of our son, we're having a conversation about the crib. About the fact that neither of us feels comfortable using it for another child (should one, by some miracle, happen to come our way again) because we're nervous that it has been stored, uncovered, in our basement for so long.

Just to clarify, our basement isn't cootie-ridden or infested with anything other than Lucy the cat who occasionally wanders down there to use her box. But it's still a basement with its less than fresh air and, despite two dehumidifiers, slightly musty aroma. It's an ordinary basement. And it's just not where a crib should be.

And we're paranoid.

So there we were, agreeing with each other that we'll buy another crib if the time ever comes. And there I was, suddenly bone crushingly sad, talking about the crib our beautiful son never used, which will now never be used by his sibling either.

And this is why it makes me absolutely mental when people suggest (either outright or by more subtle methods) that there's a finite amount of time to be spent on the task of mourning a child.

Let's just clear this up once and for all. For the blissfully ignorant who just don't get it: IT NEVER GOES AWAY. Never. Not only because it's utterly impossible to "get over" losing your child, but because for the rest of your life there will be situations - like discussions about what to do with the unused crib two years down the road - that will pop up out of nowhere and remind you that your life is touched by an unthinkable sorrow.

Those moments can't be predicted, but they're always going to come. The wound is routinely stripped of its protective scar. It happens All. The. Time.

I was perfectly happy down there in the basement cleaning and sorting. I'd been walking by bins of unused baby things for two hours and coping perfectly well. I'm used to passing those bins. But I'm not used to making a final decision about the crib we lovingly picked out and put up for our darling boy, who never once used it.

You never get used to moments like that.


Julia said...

Tough day. I am sorry.

I am not as far down this path as you are, and I am also pretty sure it never goes away. Are we allowed to scream that, you think?

Rosepetal said...

We have just packed up Moksha's crib. It had remained untouched in his room for 11 months. We did it in stages. At the moment I think I would still use it for another child - of my own. I don't think I'd be able to use it for my nephew for example. Moksha's room still has his cupboard and changing table - we've taken the changing table top off though. The cupboard still has all of his unused clothes in it and the changing table has our first packs of new born nappies.

I fully see that these moments will never go away. (((Hugs)))

kate said...

No, it never goes away.

You should put this post on the weekly blog roundup. It is just so very true...

By the way, it is not the purpose of your post, but i wanted to say that i had our crib refinished/repainted for this very reason, when Chloe was born. (it had been in MIL's garage) Cheaper than buying a new one and i am emotionally attached to it anyway.

Megan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan said...

About a month after my baby was stillborn in March, I felt this compulsion to finish the nursery. I actually went out and bought a crib. I'd already painted the walls and a thrift-store dresser, hauled my grandfather's rocker out of the basement and framed some prints we bought for our future kids' room during a long road trip we took down the Appalachian trail. But I hadn't bought a crib. We'd planned to have her sleep in our room in a bassinet for the first six months and I thought my nephew would be in a big boy bed by then.
I went to IKEA feeling like a freak. Yes, I'm buying a crib for my dead baby! I hid from a woman who had been in my childbirth class, newborn in tow.
I just have to believe that I will have a baby who will sleep in this crib...

niobe said...

Echoing Kate on putting this post on the weekly round-up. The incident you describe encapsulates the ongoing pain so precisely. The empty, never-used crib in the basement is the perfect metaphor for the terrible experience of trying to cope with the death of a child.

It also made me think how I'd done nothing, bought nothing, been given nothing for the twins. And, while I'm sure others feel differently, the lack of any physical object that I associate with them, helps me feel a little safer.

Though, that said, I still have a lot of trouble going into what would have been their bedroom, even though there's nothing whatsoever in the room that suggests that it was ever meant to serve as a nursery.

Poincaraux said...

This post rings so true to me.

Nobody that I know has had this happen to them, and none of them understand that it never goes away. No matter how I may be feeling at any particular moment, something like this could be waiting just around the corner. And it could be something that I've seen a thousand times before.

This morning, I was taking my dog out to do his business. He does this by the side of the house, as he's done every day since we got him for Christmas this year (our son was stillborn September 2nd last year). For some reason, I looked up at the side of the house and saw the nursery window, drapes lovingly tied to the side. I'm sure I've seen it almost every day this year, but today, the memories came flooding back.

Allan's crib is in that room. We're moving in a month or two. We were so sure that it would be so much easier to deal with that room once my wife was pregnant again. Now, the reality that she won't be pregnant before we have to pack up the room is sinking in.

Several months ago, some of our neighbors offered to pack the nursery up for us, store it in their basement and send things on to us when the time came. I never really thought we'd have to consider that.

As far as my experience has taken me, it never goes away. My greatest hope is that we will have great joy in the future, and that we'll be able to say .. not that it was all somehow "worth it," because that just sounds deeply wrong .. but we'll be able to say that we have great joy and hope for good things in the future.

You posted a comment in my livejournal last December. I think I'll start reading through the archives of this blog. Who wants to even think about the fact that there's a community of people who have suffered through this? But it seems like it will help to know of such a community. So, thanks for being strong enough to post such things.

Aurelia said...

I'm ticked my husband got rid of my son's crib.

I hate it.

You two may not know what to do with your crib, but at least you still respect each other enough to talk to each other. You've got that. Hold on to it.

Monica said...

Written in such a beautiful way I could see your hand lovingly trace the edge of the crib. I know what you mean about the moments. When you least expect them. A few months ago I was trying on a winter coat to see if I should even bother keeping it. In the pocket was a pre-natal vitamin and a tums. I broke down. Isn't it odd how it produces an actual physical sensation in the body? No, it won't ever go away.