Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thank you, Canada.

I love ebay. I love finding things for as cheap as possible, I love a bidding war. I’m way too competitive & I love beating someone out on something they want.

When I was pregnant with Jules I would find new baby clothes on ebay from time to time. Older collections from different expensive brands, with tags, for about 1/3 of the price, if that. I remember around 2 months before I was due with him I found a Christmas sweater in size newborn. I was in a bidding war with about 4 other women. All of us wanting a newborn size sweater for Christmas means we were all very pregnant. The joy I felt when I won it I can’t even describe. We used it for his first Christmas pictures. It was great.

Of course looking back, I remember seeing things that were odd when looking at listings for baby clothes. Often people would put in the listing things like “new with tags, my baby just grew out of the size too fast, so you don’t have to worry about any bad karma connected to these items!”

I never really thought much about that comment until recently. I would find it over & over again, people making sure you knew the baby was fine & just grew up too fast or even that their adoption was taking longer than it should & the baby would be too big by the time they got him or her. Basically, they wanted to assure you that the baby these items were meant for were alive. No dead baby clothes in those listings!

So I pose this question...what’s so wrong if the baby meant for those clothes did die?

OK, I know that sounds odd, really odd, but let me explain my thoughts. The clothes we bought for Joel don’t have any “bad karma.” To suggest clothes we brought to prepare for our baby are now bad because of his passing pretty much aggravates me the more I think about it. Yes, he died. I get it, trust me I really get it, but why does that mean things are now basically cursed? I understand the weirdness if we were talking about clothes we used for a funeral or something, but the clothes in his closet with tags? Those are bad now? If we believe that, doesn’t that mean we should never like buy houses? I mean, no one died IN my house, but the owner DID die at some point. Does that mean my house is cursed & because of that, we’re doomed? Um, no.

What should we do to beat this evil curse? Break the crib apart & burn it? It’s really nice & never was used, but it’s cursed, right? Burn his clothes? Hell, should we shut off his room forever & call it cursed, too? If we have another baby & put him/her in that room does that mean the impending demise of our baby?

Of course it doesn’t. I’m paranoid, but I’m not totally irrational. If we were going to go with that theory, should I be avoided by all pregnant women? After all, my baby died in my womb, so I must be cursed as well.

When we lost Joel, a woman at the hospital suggested we take back some of the baby stuff & see if we could at least get store credit. She was trying to be nice, but it wasn’t working. Even though we have no baby, our baby still had things. He never used them, but they are his. Adam & I talked about it because we weren’t sure what to do with all of his stuff. We eventually came to the decision that we kept Jules’s baby stuff to pass on & Joel’s shouldn’t be any different if we had more children. So that’s what we plan on doing.

On top of everything else, Joel was set to have a cow room. I’ve loved cows for years, when I came across his bedding I had to have it. I was thrilled with my cow room, we did a really great job on it. After we lost Joel, we came home that night & Adam shut his bedroom door basically first thing. I knew why he did it & it was fine, but I wondered myself if I would ever want to see any of those things again, including anything cow related. Over some time, I realized it would be the opposite. Odd to think a cow will remind you of your baby, but it does. That was his room, his theme, if you will. And when I see them I think of him, his room, & how much enjoyment we got out of putting it all together. There are happy memories connected with him, even though sometimes we get caught up with the sadness.

While most things we were more than happy to keep & hand down to any future children, there were a few things I didn’t like the idea of using. Having two boys very close in age allowed us to find matching outfits for Jules & Joel. I couldn’t deal with the thought of putting a baby in those & looking at them as what was suppose to have been. It would be like salt in the wound almost, knowing a match wasn’t where it was suppose to be. I remember a couple weeks after we lost Joel, Adam came downstairs with Jules, wearing stripped pants. I knew what they were from, but I didn’t say anything. After a couple minutes he asked where they even came from & I lost it, between tears I choked out they were from an outfit to match the baby.

So with those few outfits, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to just keep them somewhere hidden, didn’t want to use them, but didn’t want to give them away to strangers. So I racked my brain & realized some interweb friends, Vicki & Neil, were having a baby boy soon. Vicki & I had often shared our stories of peeing all through the night & the horror of having cooties from a penis growing in our bellies. So I contacted Vicki asking if they’d be willing to accept the items. I explained if it creeped them out it was fine to pass, but she didn’t. In fact, she said it was kinda sweet. I’d been meaning to send them for a few days, but I’m bad about going to the post office during business hours or packing things, so I just got around to it, mainly because I couldn’t sleep.

In the wee hours of the morning I went through my house looking for supplies…a box, tape, a pen, & of course my handy dandy camera.

I sat in the same spot in the floor I saw in when I was sorting all those clothes, all those baby socks. It was the same place I sat with Adam the night before Joel’s memorial service putting together a memory display. And now, I sat to pack clothes to pass along. I look up over the crib & saw his name…

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I never could get that damn “L” to stay up like it was suppose to. And now even the “J” has fallen. I remember hanging them, using a ton of double sided tape, thinking how it doesn’t matter if I end up ruining the wall because those letters would be up there for at least a few years & by the time we took them now we would paint the room to make it more of a “big boy” room for him. And then I did what I always do when I go in there & think: I cried. But the task at had made me move on.

I’d already grabbed the stuff out of the closet & because of my box (which I’ll get to in a minute), I had to take everything off the hangers. Hangers. I sent Adam to Wal Mart one evening to buy a ton because we were out & I still had stuff to hang. I couldn’t wait, I wanted to hang them right then. Taking the things off the hangers reminded me of how fun it is to dress up a baby. We have tons of pictures of Jules on his changing table. After baths, wearing new outfits, catching new smiles & expressions. That reminded me of Adam getting peed on. Jules always did that to him. Only time he peed when I was changing him was when Adam walked into the room one day.

My box was amusing, I searched all over & finally found the only choices…a scalloped potato box or the box the bible my aunt got us for the wedding came in. I thought that could be a tad bet odd, getting a bible box in the mail, plus the potato box could just be flipped inside out so it was the easiest thing. Thankfully it came from Sam's Club, so it was bigger than your average potato box. So here, is our fancy box before I started…

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Please note the cat. When you get a box out, all of your cats come to try to get in it. Hell, I think extra cats show up to join in on the box fun. I had my small pile of clothes...

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One of the outfits even has a hat. They were all nice, new, cute things. Again, I cry. I continue to cry for a few minutes before I realize something...I wasn’t crying because I was sad. I wasn’t crying because my son is gone. I was crying because I was happy. When I approached Vicki to ask if they’d be willing to accept the clothes, I told her I understood if they didn’t want to. And I would have & would have never thought twice about it. But since they were fine with it & she even went as far as to say it was sweet, I realized how much it in fact meant to me as I sat in the floor packing these things up. As I sat there crying, I realized I was finally a mom. I’ve been a mom for years now, but I was finally Joel’s mom. I wasn’t the mom of the dead fetus. I wasn’t the mom of the stillborn male infant. I wasn’t the pregnant woman with fetal demise. I was his mom & like so many mom’s, I was passing along things that were his, to be used by people for their baby. Lame as it seems, passing along baby clothes is what mom’s do. I didn’t get the chance to do so many “mom” things when it came to Joel, this was one of the few things I could do. And at that moment, I was happy that they’d allowed me the chance to be his mom. Up to this point, I was only his mom when it came to picking out urns, signing for autopsy release, & getting medical records of my pregnancy.

We’d bought these things planning to put them on Joel. I was sad we didn’t get to play baby dress up like we did with Jules, I’m sad there will never be pictures of his expressions, I’m sad over so many things. But with that little stack of clothes, I’m not as sad anymore. I know that they will get to play dress up with their baby, get pictures of their sons’ expressions, & everything we weren’t able to do. Those weren’t just clothes to me anymore. They were a reminder of how happy we were, how excited. And by sending those on to Vicki & Neil, I got to share in a little bit of their happiness and excitement. And maybe one day they will dress him in one of those items & he’ll be so stinking adorable they’ll take a picture & it’ll be one they look back on & talk about, one they love. We have some of those with Jules. We can’t have them with Joel, but I’m sure they’ll have those moments with their son. And while I know clothes aren’t what will be remembered in those moments, I’m happy to think that these clothes, that were once looked at with happiness and excitement then turned to sad reminders of what we were missing, get the chance to be part of a happy moment again.

As I finish packing, I decided that I’ll like to pass something else on as well. As I said, cows were Joel’s theme. I love cows & I thought that maybe Vicki mentioned at some point she like them, too. I could be wrong, but I was thinking she had. Anyway, I went to my large cow collection & picked out this…

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It’s a cow book. It moo’s. It’s cute. I look at cows & think back to painting Joel’s room, to laying in the room with Adam talking about our baby, to putting together the crib. We did all the painting in one night, the first night in weeks Jules slept on his own for hours giving us the chance. So many things about the late part of my pregnancy with Joel & then his birth is surrounded by sadness. The happiness of that room will always be in my memory & every time I’ll see cows, I’ll think of that. And I just wanted to pass along a little of my happiness to Vicki & Neil. I think a cow will always need to be included in any baby gifts I give in the future. Silly to think cows can stand for hope & happiness, but they always will for me.

I taped up the box...

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Very poorly. Every package I mail looks like I’m trying to transport drugs. It’s a bad habit. And as I finish that, I realize that I had tons of mailing boxes in my basement. Oops.

Jules & I went to the post office & mailed it while Adam was at the dentist. He carried the box in himself & I told him those were clothes from his little brother that we were going to share with our friends Vicki & Neil. He nodded yes & then allowed me to hand them over to the postal worker, who gave him a sticker in return.

On the way home, I heard a song on the radio we played at Joel’s memorial. Elton John, “Your Song.” I picked it just because the line in it “I hope you don't mind that I put down in words, how wonderful life is while you're in the world.” Because through the stress, the heartache, & everything else, while we had Joel we were happy, our lives were complete, even while I was pregnant. I remember sitting out on my porch in early May, looking at my mowed lawn, Buddy Dog running around crazy, hearing Jules in the back with Adam & thinking, “You know, this is great, I’m really happy” while I thought that in a few weeks we’d have our final child with us. He was to complete our world, our lives were wonderful. That didn’t happen, but while he was here he made us happy, he made life wonderful. I’ve always loved that song, but it’s not been one I’ve liked to hear since the service. But on that day, driving home, I listened to it. And I was happy. I didn’t think about any of the sad things, I didn’t think about any of Adam’s family, I didn’t think about any of the stuff that I’d previously thought that made me want to forget that song ever existed, I never thought I’d move past it well enough that it wouldn’t hurt to hear.

At that moment I knew that I’d I’ll always be thankful that they’d allowed me to be Joel’s mom in a happy way instead of the sadness I’ve been so use to for all 11 weeks now. Also at that moment I finally had to realize that I was healing. And it was, in part, thanks to a little pile of clothes in a box on its way to Canada.

But for the record...I still think most Canadians are weird.

2 comments:

  1. So often I've wanted to send you a message just to let you know I was thinking of the 4 of you or just to express how horribly sad I was or how Joel would remain in my thoughts forever. So many things I've never been able to find the words to say. Jess, I thank you and Adam for sharing a part of your precious son with us.

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  2. This was one of the sweetest things I've read. I wish I had your strength when I lost my son. It's been almost 8 years.

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