In one month’s time we found out Sweet Pea is a boy, walked away from our stable income, moved to a new state, got Kyle started on a 3-year grad school program, and lost my mother-in-law unexpectedly. I’m a different Ashley than the one who wrote posts just a few weeks ago, and the change has happened so rapidly that I feel worlds away from the girl I used to know as myself.
Did you know that today marks 24 weeks into the pregnancy? We quietly slipped past the halfway point during the first week of September. I hardly had time to mention it before our lives shattered into a million pieces. Up until around that 20-week mark I had been terrified to be too happy or comfortable, but slowly I was starting to let myself believe we’d actually get to bring home a baby this winter. Over the last several months of pregnancy we hadn’t bought a single thing for Sweet Pea, reasoning that it would be too painful to have it in the house if something were to go wrong. But now that we knew his gender and were just a few months from his birth, I wanted to try venturing into the very stores I had avoided for years.
Just walking through the door of a shop that sells baby clothes made me feel like a huge fraud. I remember hoping that the cashier would think I was still in my first trimester, too early to be showing. I even pushed my belly out a little as I stepped up to the counter, desperately wanting to be recognized as a mother-to-be, though I do not look like one. Would we ever feel comfortable in a place like this? It was bizarre to think that someday buying clothes for a growing Sweet Pea would be a normal occurrence.
As we stood among the racks and racks of clothing made for tiny humans, Kyle put his arm around my waist and pulled me close so I could hear him quietly say, “I can’t wait to have a baby.” And while it was exciting to finally feel brave enough to buy things, there was still a lingering sadness in waiting for Sweet Pea to join us. Some days he just feels too far away. Eventually we settled on a little outfit with a matching cap as well as a red & gray striped sleeper with a little white dog on the chest to represent his big brother Orion. I still had to fight back the impulse to return it immediately– just in case– after being handed the bag, but by the time we got to the car, I was filled with more elation than trepidation.
With the first purchase behind me, I started to think about the nursery. I had already planned to use Paddington Bear as inspiration for a theme but hadn’t gotten very far. During the last few weeks of the summer, Kyle’s mom had been asking us to pick something out for her to buy for the nursery, but in my fear, I had put it off. Now Sweet Pea has nothing from his grandmother. There is nothing in his room that I can point to and say, “Your Mémère bought this for you.” It is something I will regret for the rest of my life. Why couldn’t I have just made a decision for her so she could do this one thing for him? I spent the entire summer afraid that we would lose Sweet Pea. He is still with us, but his grandmother is gone. And all of my worry did nothing to stop us from experiencing that loss. I had finally gotten to the point where I felt like I could enjoy the pregnancy, and now…
After spending a week in Florida with my father-in-law, I flew home for a few days before heading back again for the funeral. It seemed strange somehow that everything here was just as I had left it. The browser on my laptop still displayed the area rugs I’d been looking at for the nursery before she died, the two little outfits we’d bought for Sweet Pea still hung on the knob of my dresser drawer, and already I felt a million miles away from that time in my life. What had recently felt like such an accomplishment now seemed so frivolous.