The morning after S3 was born, after I stopped screaming and wailing, my husband and I started talking about future plans. Like there were things we could do immediately to ameriolate our sadness (newsflash: there weren’t). From my recovery room we planned that we would go home, buy a dog, convert the nursery into a playroom for S1 and S2, and try to conceive again in a year. We didnt end up doing any of those things.
We did look at dogs but disagreed on how big a dog to get.
As for the nursery, when we got home from the hospital I had my husband walk through all the rooms in our house and round up baby items and put them in the nursery and then close the door to the nursery before I’d go into the house. The swing in the living room, the bassinet in our bedroom, and the baby clothes in the dryer were all deposited there and the door was shut.
About a day later I decided to go into the nursery. My husband had placed the memory box we left the hospital with on a nightstand in the room. I opened it up and dared to open the envelope of pictures from the hospital photographer. I took one of S3 wrapped in a donated blanket and hat and took a seat in the glider. I cradled his picture in my arms and rocked him as tears trickled down my cheeks. I had envisioned this moment for months, but I had planned that our eyes would be gazing into one another’s. Instead he never opened his.
Eventually I left the room and shut the door. From then on, the nursery became off limits. We even taught the boys not to go in there.
About two months later I visited with the head of MFM for our local major University to go over all the test results. Since no cause of death was found, he urged me to try to conceive sooner rather than later because to wait too long, I could risk diminishing fertility. It didn’t take much convincing as I already had decided that I needed a baby in my empty arms ASAP. With the medical go ahead to try, it became priority number one and plans like changing the nursery into a playroom took a backseat. Why do anything to the nursery if hopefully a baby would be in there soon?
I never went back in. I literally did not enter the room until D1 came home from the hospital. It remained a strange place for a while. The day I went to bed and couldn’t feel S3 move we had bought and hung new art for the wall and a new crate to hold books. Was he already dead while we shopped for those items?
We switched the walls the crib and dresser were on and hung a print of the double rainbow from the day after D1 was born. My husband bought a ceramic rainbow from Target and put it on her dresser. There are so many emotions and menories about this room – moving into the house and setting it up for S1 but keeping it gender neutral so it could work for a little sister, moving S2 into it and then quickly back out of it to make room for S3, the things we bought to spruce it up for S3, the feelings of emptiness and dread when it sat empty when it should have been filled.
I felt so weird about it that we didn’t move D1 into the room until she was four months old and then we used it to store clothes, change diapers, and sleep. I would never use it for play.
But as she has grown, it’s made sense for us to spend more time there. It’s a space where I can keep things baby proof and toddler friendly, which is important since her big brothers are constantly creating hazards elsewhere in the house. I can sit on the glider and watch her pull things out of bins and play with her toy kitchen. She pulls books out of the crate for me to read to her.
Yesterday in between play, I gathered a few things that needed to go into the trash. I quickly shut the door and ran to the bathroom trash can. When I came back, D1 was standing on the other side of the door crying. I swept her up into my arms and as I stood up I got a glimpse of the whole nursery from the door and I said to D1 “what a happy room!”
I then recoiled a bit. I said the words because sometime in the past year they had become true. But they felt like a sudden betrayal, like the room could never be a happy room again, so what was wrong with me for even thinking that. Whenever I feel torn between grief and happiness I tell myself that my living children never asked for a sad mom and that me being sad probably isn’t what S3 would have wanted. So I keep moving forward and allow even the sad spaces to be happy ones again.