1. The first was your skin, your body blue and lifeless torn away from my chest and outstretched arms. I was bleeding, and fading, everything blurred… and then you were pink. Evidence that you were alive, that you would be okay.
Your first outfit.
2. And then there were wires, a tangled mass of needles, tubes, and machines. Where is my baby? I couldn’t even see you as I slumped forward in my wheel chair, loss of blood and nausea tearing me away, and yet I summoned enough strength to reach with my shaking arm and hold your hand. Your 2nd outfit was the man made web that sustained your fragile life for 18 days. It stayed with you longer than I did.
3. Your diaper was your third outfit, I loved those diapers. I went and bought my own from the store because I wanted to feel like I had brought something for you. Some control over what you were dressed in. I even got organic, gentle and soft in hopes they would give you comfort. I loved changing your diapers, but even those were taken away in the last few days, there was just one and it was never removed, you no longer peed on your own and your body couldn’t handle any feedings.
4. A pile of onesies, socks, hats, and sleepers. For months before you came I would sneak away and add new freshly washed items to your room, dreaming of the nursery I would bring you home to. There was a large pile of clothes that I had spent my entire pregnancy collecting, and I knelt sobbing on the floor of your unfinished nursery, trying to decide on just a couple to bring on the plane. Woodland themed, starry skies, blues and greys and greens. I didn’t have enough time to really sit and decide so I dug through the perfect piles, scattering them all across the floor as I choose those I thought would be the most practical for a NICU baby. Something I never considered when picking them out at the store. Those were meant to be your next outfits, I spent entirely too much time preparing them for you.
5. From that pile, only a couple outfits came to the hospital and stayed in your room. I held them up to you, wondering what it would be like to dress you and hold you. These clothes were for the one I was expecting, but not the one that was laying beneath my trembling fingers. They would all be too small, I had nothing to dress you in.
Those were the outfits that would never be.
6. September 15th 2015 I went shopping for you. I walked aimlessly through a crowded mall in Seattle, everything was so expensive… I didn’t have time to go across town to find something else, after all you were waiting there for me… It was time to say goodbye and I could only delay it for so long. I couldn’t afford what I wanted to buy, but how in a time like this could you put a price on the only outfit your baby would ever wear? On the outfit your baby would die in? I never had a problem finding button up sleepers before, but for some reason, on this day that would be your last, there were none to be found that would accommodate all your wires. I found one at baby gap, dark blue just like your eyes. Soft so that you would be wrapped in a gentle cocoon and I could keep you warm for just a little while longer.
7. A special blanket, with stars and planets because that’s where you were going. I swaddled you and held you tight in your little blanket, it was all perfect and Grandma bought it for you because I couldn’t.
8. Your next outfit was in the funeral home. I wasn’t sure I would go see you, I was afraid of what death looked like, I was afraid of my own baby. I had the clothes you died in packed away in our bags to drive home, 9 hours away. I decided I could face my fears, but I already had too many regrets. And if I didn’t see you one last time I wasn’t sure I could live with that. So they dressed you, and put you in a bassinet so we could come say goodbye. I hoped as we entered that room, that I would walk up to the bed and you would be perfect and I could just pick you up and take you home. They had you dressed in an old bonnet, a camo t-shirt, and an old blanket. Nothing I would have chosen for you. Why didn’t I bring you one last change of clothes? These things escape you in times like this…
9. Your last outfit, a tiny wooden box.
10. And then there were big boxes. Boxes of carefully hand-picked clothes that were meant for that little boy that was growing inside of me. So many clothes I didn’t know what to do with, some were donated, my favorites will always be boxed away. Proof that I once had a baby boy on earth. None of them ever used. No tears, no stains, perfect and put away in a tiny box, like you forever tucked away in my heart.
Guest post by Kimberley Lynn