Sunday, January 8, 2012

What Might Have Been

From the conversations I've had over the past nine months with family and friends who've experienced the sorrow of infertility or miscarriages/stillborn, I continue to believe that it is a unique grief. It is not the loss of what was, but rather, what might have been. I did not understand it before it happened to us. Nor did I realize how common it is. Now that I know what it is like to carry this sadness with me, I think about so many others who privately grieve the absent joy and potential of a child. To those of you who have experienced this loss: I am so sorry.

Last week, Katelyn's big girl bed arrived. The original plan was to move Katelyn into the spare bedroom. The nursery would become Lily's room. Prior to Katelyn's birth, I drew the murals of Lars the Polar Bear on the nursery walls to match the Artic Babies bedding set, and Ryan and I painted them. I had begun thinking about a theme for Katelyn's new room prior to losing Lily. Maybe lady bugs or butterflies. Once in a while, I still think about what I would have picked.

If life hadn't twisted, the nursery furniture would have stayed in the polar bear room. Instead, Ryan dismantled it and carried it to the basement. All the other baby odds and ends that should have been  used again were packed up. Just like that, our hopes for Lily were placed in boxes and relegated to the basement. The physical action of adjusting our house to that without a baby created a sad sense of finality for both Ryan and me. Although the items Lily should have been using have been stored, it's not as easy to tuck away grief.

Fortunately, we are blessed with Katelyn, whose big girl bed now fills the polar bear nursery. The pictures were taken before she was born, and are what the room should have looked like when Lily moved in. Luckily, the big girl version is just as happy, except not as photogenic. With a two year old, the Rapunzel doll, the stuffed yellow peanut M&M, and the Duplo blocks don't stay where they belong for long. Just like her room, life can be messy. All we can do is try our best to straighten it up.