I’m 31 weeks pregnant now. Our plan is to deliver the baby by caesarean section at 37 weeks at the latest, earlier if there any signs of reduced growth or compromised blood flow. The doctor has also spoken about admitting me to hospital for monitoring at around 35 weeks just to be safe. This doesn’t leave a whole lot of time get organised for this little one’s arrival, maybe only 4 weeks until I am incapacitated! And yet I’m really struggling to want to do anything to prepare for having a baby.
Our spare room/nursery became a dumping ground when Isobel died. All our baby purchases were shoved in a chest of drawers or under the bed, with bigger things being sent away to my parents house. The room is now full of random bits of paperwork, books, clothes, bedding and general clutter that doesn’t have a home! I know it needs to be tackled. But I’ve been here before. Around this time last year in fact. We cleared the spare room. We organised the baby things; the Bednest was waiting to go by our bed, the bouncer was waiting for a baby to lull to sleep, the baby bath was ready to be filled with warm water to clean a little body. The isofix base was installed, the car seat and coordinating pram ready for adventures. I washed and ironed the cutest clothes and softest blankets. I set out the changing mat making sure the nappies, wipes and creams were in reaching distance. I did all of this. And the baby never came home.
Am I supposed to do these things again? To make my preparations, with the most horrible feeling of deja vu and yet hope for a different outcome? Or do I accept that preparing for this baby is too difficult and just face the disorganised chaos head on if all is well? I imagine that ‘nesting’ and getting a home ready for the baby is very much an integral part of preparing psychologically for the baby’s arrival. What am I communicating if I don’t ready a home for this baby? Will my bonding with the baby be affected if I don’t at least try to accept the possibility that he will arrive alive and come home with us?
Even when I decide not to worry about getting organised and just deal with things when the baby comes, I know there are certain things we definitely need to do. I will need a hospital bag no matter what happens now. We will need at least one outfit for the baby. My mind can’t help but thinking of it as an outfit to bury the baby in. Of course, I hope we need many outfits, nappies, wipes and a car seat before we even get to the coming home stage but it’s hard to imagine that. I have no experience of that happy scenario.
In my attempt to help the time pass, I have made plans for us pretty much every weekend. Today was the only Saturday until May that we were free to look at car seats and prams, so off we traipsed to a few baby shops. We had returned our previous travel system, purchased for Isobel and though we had loved it, we didn’t want to keep it after she died. Being in the stores felt surreal. Like we were acting the role of a normal couple having a baby, but the slightest questioning would reveal that we were frauds and it was all a fantasy, there would be no baby. After the first shop, I started to panic that I hadn’t felt the baby move since leaving home. As if the very act of looking at prams could have killed him. A pause in pram shopping, an orange juice in Cafe Nero and that worry at least temporarily, was shelved. Not so easy to shelve the fear that another pram will be carefully, pointlessly, chosen for a baby that doesn’t survive. That we are setting ourselves up for more heartbreak by even pretending to others that we will have a baby we take home. There’s also guilt that we could be hopefully preparing for this baby, that life is going on, and Isobel is being left behind – her pram returned and replaced by another, her room taken over and things that were meant for her being used for another baby.
Surprisingly, we did find another pram we liked and although we need to think it over a little (as its more expensive than we would like), it’s nice to have an option and I anticipate we’ll probably go for it rather than face the shops again! Also surprisingly, of all the chipper shop assistants, only one asked if it was our first baby and I think she got the message not to ask anything further when we looked at each other and after a pause I just replied “no”.
This time we won’t be taking the travel system home before the baby comes. Returning Isobel’s car seat and pram was heartbreaking. This time, we will just order it and leave it there for someone to pick up should we need it. With having a c-section, I’ll likely be in hospital for a few nights so there will be plenty of time for someone to pick up the car seat before we need it to go home.
Isobel was only in our car in her little coffin for a few minutes’ journey between the ceremony room and her grave.
This time has to be different.
It has to be.
Please let it be different.