I haven’t bought anything for our baby. She arrives in a matter of weeks and this is all I have. Friends have given us a few things, along with some diapers and wipes. Others have sent us gift cards, knowing that eventually we’ll be ready to stock up on the necessities. It’s not that I am not prepared, it’s just that I don’t want to buy anything until we have a healthy baby in our arms.
That’s the reality for those of us parents who have lost a child.
Six years ago, I spent the summer months staring through the isolette windows in the NICU. My triplets were born more than four months premature and their chance of survival was less than 10%. Within two months, two of my children died in my arms.
In addition to planning two funerals, my husband and I were left with a room full of baby items. Three boppy pillows, three bouncers, enough diapers for three little babies. But we never brought home three healthy triplets.
Two months after they were born, I found myself at Target, waiting in line to return a cartful of things. I could have let the gifts sit in our home for years, but I felt like I needed this closure. I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing three of everything in the nursery as the insurmountable grief took a hold of me. The customer service lady saw the large among of baby items in my cart and said, “Oh wow! Did you get too many things on your registry?”
The tears immediately poured down my face as my throat closed with anxiety. “No, two of my children died,” I said. “I don’t need these anymore.”
Thinking back to that day nearly six years ago still brings me to tears. My heart is racing and the sadness feels just as painful and fresh as it was on that August day in 2013. It’s a part of child loss that people don’t talk about. What do you do with your child’s “stuff”?
That’s why I won’t buy anything for this rainbow baby of mine. She deserves the best and deserves to have a beautiful nursery just like her sister had. It will come. But right now, I can’t fathom the thought of making another trip to return baby things for a child I don’t have in my arms. So, until I bring my baby home from the hospital, I’ll wait to decorate her room or buy adorable little outfits.
I already love this baby more than I ever thought possible, but my dreams have been shattered twice before. For many of us parents of child loss, it’s our coping mechanism. We need to protect our hearts.
A baby doesn’t need much when they first arrive home. So for the next few weeks, my guard may be up. My rainbow baby will have the beautiful nursery and adorable baby items, it will just happen at our own pace.