It is officially mid-February and along with everyone else I am wondering where the time has gone! New Year’s Eve feels like last week to me!
My hubby is still working out of town and only home on weekends, so I have been keeping busy in the evenings lately by sewing, knitting and pulling out all of William’s baby items and washing, folding, sorting and purging them while I still have the energy to do so. I had forgotten that it takes about 40 minutes to fold a basket of baby items vs. 5 minutes for an adult… somewhere in the middle for William. And socks, don’t get me started on the thumb-sized socks :/ I washed everything one year and under, sorted the items into large shopping bags and put the 6 month and larger clothes back into the storage bins until needed, the smaller clothes in the linen closet. Unfortunately there isn’t much to donate; most of the purged items have that impossible yellow stain. Breastmilk? Poop? Not sure but I know no one else wants it!
Isn’t it crazy how, almost four years later, a mother can look at a piece of clothing and vividly remember events corresponding to that outfit? There is so much that I have forgotten about my pregnancy with William, his birth, his NICU stay and all of the ups and downs associated with his past, but one look at a newborn onesie worn in the hospital and everything comes back to me in sobs and gasps for air. I think our minds block out these painful memories and traumatic experiences and keep them suppressed as a coping mechanism so that we can move on and not be crippled by that which has hurt us. When I dug to the bottom of the enormous bin and found the small pile of newborn snappy-crotch shirts (this is what I call them, for lack of knowing the correct term) with our last name written in blue Sharpie, I was not prepared for the flashbacks. Neither was my dog who came running down the basement stairs to comfort me- he is amazing.
I remember when the nurse told me I could bring some of our own baby clothes, but they had to have the name on them. I remember writing on the tiny cotton shirts and being upset that the marker was bleeding through and the letters were not as legible as I would have liked. I remember the feeling of trying to do everything “right” for my son, trying to help him in any way, but being unable to even do this properly. All I could do at this point in his life was show up for him daily, pump more frequently than humanly possible, keep notes and records of everything that was happening in a blue Moleskine book I found in a pile of half used notebooks in my craft room, and pray. To a “doer” like myself, this lack of specific tasks was absolute torture.
I remember other things. I remember being unable to stay in the hospital overnight during William’s stay, even though a room was offered at Ronald McDonald House or even sometimes in an available parent bed in the NICU. I remember the need to drive the hour and a half each way, morning and evening, to clear my head and just zone out. Some days, complete silence; others the radio so loud my ears would be ringing when I reached my destination. Every day, tears. I needed to sleep in my own bed, shower, walk my dog and have some sense of normalcy in the midst of the chaos. I’m sure some parents who have been in the same situation will have coped differently, but for me, this was my only coping mechanism… to resume the routine of normal life.
I haven’t yet decided if I will use William’s NICU clothes for our new baby. Maybe this sounds foolish and wasteful, but I’m really not sure. It won’t make much of a difference as there are only a handful of shirts and a couple of pjs with blue Sharpie letters on them, but to me, I think it might make a difference. I’m not sure I can go through the emotions whenever I dress, wash and fold these tiny clothes. I’m not sure I want this emotional and spiritual baggage being passed on to another tiny life. I’m not sure.
This was not the intended post for today, but seeing that tiny shirt while uploading pictures made thinking and writing about anything else impossible. My little boy brings me more joy than I could have ever imagined, and he gives the best hugs that fill both my heart and his daddy’s heart to overflowing, and isn’t that the spirit of this week? Although he has no clue what Valentine’s Day is, I’m sure, he did enjoy all of the valentines and treats in his paper bag mailbox from daycare. He really liked the Cars valentine from his teacher (he likes Tow Mater) and was excited to try his first sucker from the cumulative Ziplock baggie of candy that was in the bag.
Despite his struggles, William is honestly the happiest little boy, and I am so grateful for his loving little spirit.