Monday, September 17, 2007

And I lived to tell the tale

When we took down Thomas' nursery, we carefully packed away all of his things in big plastic tubs which have been sitting in the basement ever since, carefully stored on a large shelving unit at the bottom of the stairs.

Sometimes, in my haste to get out into the garden or grab a can of tomatoes off the pantry rack nearby, I'll fly by the shelves filled with his things without giving them a thought or glance. Other times I'll find myself standing in front of the collection of clothes and nursery items lovingly chosen for our little boy so long ago, running my fingers along the containers. Or just simply staring, arms dangling useless at my sides.

After two and a half years it somehow feels normal to have an assortment of brand new baby things for a child who never came home to use them. Not necessarily easy, but normal. And having them all tucked away in their own little spot in the basement meant they were safe. They couldn't be harmed, nor could them harm me. It was an excellent arrangement.

Over the years we've donated a few things here and there - things that I knew I wouldn't use for another baby and didn't feel sentimentally attached to - but probably 85% of Thomas' things are still down in the basement.

Waiting for a baby that never came home. And for more babies that may never come at all.

It's probably a self defense mechanism - or me finally facing what is rapidly becoming a likely conclusion to this four-year saga - but after I lost the twins I found myself thinking more and more about the possibility of the days of baby making being behind me. Not because I want it to be that way, but because it probably is.

No decisions have been made and no medical opinions are leading us in this direction. It just somehow feels like it's over in a way I can't exactly describe, but know I've never before felt.

It was those feelings that somehow made it possible for me to venture down into the basement, retrieve two tubs of the sweetest little baby clothes I've ever seen, and go through them to find a few outfits for a friend who just had a baby boy of her own. After two losses, she understands what it's like for dreams to turn into nightmares.

Those tubs have been sealed tight for two and a half years. And I've been dreading the moment when, for whatever reason, I had to open them up and come face to face with tangible evidence of Thomas' loss. Dozens of outfits, sleepers, receiving blankets, hats, booties, burp pads, towels and washcloths don't lie. A baby was supposed to live here. All those unused items - most still with tags on - tell the grim tale in a shockingly real way.

And so even though I desperately wanted to share some of Thomas' things with my friend and her son, I was terrified of what I had to do to achieve that end.

But the thing is, I survived. I more than survived.

I lugged two massive tubs upstairs one sunny afternoon last week, cracked the lids and found peace. I looked at all the sweet little fuzzy sleepers, the knitted blankies my Mom made, the t-shirt and sweater my sister brought back from Ireland - and by some miracle I found a measure of peace.

I felt sorrow too. There's no way to go through you dead child's things without feeling sorrow. But it was the peace that surprised me. Seeing his little clothes and remembering the shopping trips and showers that brought them to me was a joy. It's like the memory of 9 months of excitement have been trapped in those tubs all this time, just waiting for me to open them up and set them free.

What was also surprising was how easy it was for me to separate Thomas from a pile of unused baby clothes. They were his, but they're not him. Keeping them entombed in the basement won't bring him back.

The things he wore - the things that actually touched his tiny body - I will always keep. They're tucked away in his drawer upstairs. And the blankies from his Grandma will always have a home here, as will a few selected items that hold too much sentimental value for me to part with. But I can see now that if there's never going to be a baby in this house - if that's what the future does in fact hold - I can part with the rest of Thomas' things.

I hold him in my heart. That's where the most important part of him lives. It always did, I just didn't fully realize it until last week - until another little boy came into the world and helped me heal.


Kim said...

I do hope that you are wrong and that your baby-making days are not over, but are going to be fulfilled in a beautiful way.

That said - I think this is so precious and brave of you, and I am glad you did it. You sound at peace.

Cass said...

I know that you and I don't know each other, but I have been reading back on your blog and today's post sounds exactly like what I am going through. I have 2 large bins downstairs right by my dryer and there are times when I either stop and stare, get angry, or just cry. I have been contemplating going through them to find the neutral things to give to a friend of mine who just adopted a little boy. I hope, like you, I have a small sense of peace after the pain when I open them.
(((HUGS))) ~ you are a wonderful writer.

Julia said...

I am glad you found peace in remembering, in loving, and in giving.

And I, too, hope you are wrong about the end of baby-making days.

SaraS-P said...

You are very brave to have opened the bins. I am glad you got some peace from the act.

I, too, hope that someday you will have a baby in your house.

Catherine said...

I wish I could say that I found peace like you. But my taking that step was so angry and sad...maybe because I didn't have someone I loved to give the baby stuff to. I'm just now realizing that I missed something in doing it that way.

Woman who knits said...

You explained it beautifully. I think it's wonderful to share Thomas with everyone. He's really in all of our thoughts a lot. The smiles you can give will mean more to everyone than you'll ever know.

He'll always be with you in your heart. It's the one place of true peace.

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

This was a very beautiful post. I hope very much that it is not over for you, though, and that there is eventually some sort of joyful resolution to what you have gone through. I can't help but hope for that for you.

Kristi said...

Such a brave step! I admire your courage. Hopefully one day I'll be able to share my daughter in the same way - by passing along her clothes & things to another baby girl.

Aurelia said...

This is so kind and generous of you. I've never quite been able to do this, and I probably should've.

As for the end of baby-making days, hardly...if I can manage to get my creaky old ovaries working, then I'm sure we can do something with yours!

Maybe you should do some DHEA? Or perhaps aspirin and heparin? Just because there are so many many things that you can do. Please don't lose faith sweetie.

Julie said...

I also have been checking in on your blog fairly regularly now. You are an amazing woman and very gifted writer.
Tomorrow would be my daughter's 1st birthday and next week, we will find out the sex of our next child. All of the little pink clothes are still hanging in the closet and this post has helped inspire me to the point where I think I'm finally ready to pack them away (even if we end up needing them again in the near future).
Thanks for being an inspiration!

sharah said...

Beautiful entry. I hope you continue to experience the peace you found.