Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The weight of baby things

I engaged in all the nesting activities during my pregnancy with Abigail.  We set up the baby's nursery in soft, neutral tones.  I purchased a few clothing items in pastel yellows and greens.  My mom threw me a baby shower where friends and family gifted us with all the baby items we could possibly need.  The big ticket items (car seat, crib, stroller) we purchased were researched and carefully selected.  We didn't know if Abigail or Caleb would be joining our family, but we were certainly prepared.

During that routine ultrasound at 20 weeks, we had opted out of learning the baby's sex.  We wanted it to be a surprise at birth.  A few weeks before my due date, I was sent in for another ultrasound because my OB thought that the baby was measuring small.  The technician asked if I knew whether I was having a boy or a girl.  I told her no, we were going to wait.  But I was tempted to ask.  I'd always wanted a little girl and I scrutinized the ultrasound screen, looking for hints.  The technician announced that she wouldn't tell me.  I'd waited that long and in a few weeks, we would find out just like we had planned.  I always think back to that ultrasound.  That last chance to see that something wasn't right.  The baby measured within the normal range, slightly small, but normal.  There were no other concerns.

I bought nothing for the girls, the triplets, until after they were born.  I know what it's like to return home from the hospital without a baby and be faced with a house full of baby things.  The unused nursery and baby clothes and blankets, crib, bassinet, car seat.  I wasn't going to live through that again so I asked, begged, demanded that no one give us any baby clothes.  That's what they were all itching to buy and I didn't want any of it.  We can all say that material items are just that - items, things, stuff - but sometimes there's more to it than just that.

The girls were discovered at 17 weeks during what was supposed to be a routine ultrasound.  After the devastation of having to learn that our first baby was a girl after she had already passed away, we had decided to find out the sex of this baby right away.  We thought that it would help us in getting to know the baby ahead of his/her birth and honestly, if something went wrong, we didn't want to find out the way we had with Abigail.  Instead, we were so incredibly overwhelmed with the discovery of three babies and the terms "shared placenta" and "spina bifida" and "fluid on the brain" that we completely forgot to ask boy or girl.  It didn't even occur to us until much later that the babies would have to be either all girls or all boys.

Christmas was a few weeks away and I spread the word - No baby things, please.  When you've lived through a stillbirth and doctors tell you that they are "cautiously optimistic" with a high risk pregnancy, you want to believe in fairytale endings but you know what can happen.  The last thing I wanted to deal with was an empty nursery full of more baby things.  During our next ultrasound (and there would be plenty of ultrasounds this time around), we asked and were told that the babies were girls.  We passed two big milestones - 24 weeks and 28 weeks - and I still refused to buy anything.

What do babies really need? I argued.  We have a crib, a bassinet and a pack 'n' play so they'll have somewhere to sleep.  Triplets on average are born at 33 weeks, which means chances are high that they won't be coming home with us.  We'll have time to buy clothes then.  We already have clothes now!  And diapers and blankets and everything else.  What do babies really need?

Car seats.

I finally relented and agreed to the purchase of two additional infant car seats.  But I asked that they remain unopened.  Those two boxes stood piled one on top of the other in the front hall for a very long time.  I walked past them every time I left the living room or came down the stairs.  Rich asked to open the boxes a few times and I said no.  Finally, with a c-section date scheduled, he took it upon himself to get them set up.  What are the chances that any of these babies will be coming home with us?  Triplets aren't released from the hospital after four days.

Well, I wasn't expecting to bring two babies home with me.  I hadn't even packed any baby clothes in my hospital bag.  I asked my mom to find outfits in the closet of baby clothes and gear in our home.  She searched and found the smallest newborn clothes, but they were still huge on my itty bitty babies.  And so it was.  Allie and Emily were brought home from the hospital in yellow and green outfits that were much too big for them.  They are living proof that you can survive without the perfect coming home outfit.

What do babies really need?

What do kids really need?

I realize my blog, etc. isn't wildly popular for several different reasons but one being that my kids don't always look perfect.  Hell, I hardly ever look perfect.  I see what's popular on IG.  I'm not blind.  I just can't do it.  I've never been able to do it.  I still harass Anna every morning to comb out her hair and the end result would horrify many but it's combed and she's happy with it.

What is important?

Still to this day when I see others setting up nurseries and buying tiny newborn outfits, it hits me that I'll never have that innocence again.


LEfting said...

This is a really beautiful post. Thank you for it!

Debra Godwin said...

I love your blog. Your daughters are beautiful. You write and share honestly from your heart. I look forward to each post.

Jojo said...

I can't even know, begin to know, how you felt, coming home with everything ready for Abigail but without her. The roaring pain of that does come off the page with your words but even then I think none of us know the half of it. And, it seems perfectly understandable to me that you felt and made the decisions that you did during your second pregnancy. I think -without knowing for sure, that I would have done the same.

Your blog is great, by the way, one of my favourite reads, because it is real, warts and all, not a photoshopped version of of life itself.

Antonia from the UK said...

Moving and thought-provoking.

I've never commented before, but have been reading and enjoying your blog for a long while. I wanted you to know that there are probably more people out there than you imagine.

Jordan said...

I love your blog! I started reading it because of your Disney posts and have read every post since!

Emily said...

We had a preemie. Only 6 weeks early so we were very lucky. But I know what you mean feeling like you lost that innocence. There are so many things that I feel like we missed out on. So many things that were stolen by having a preemie baby. Friends talk about experiences they had and I can't relate.
I have been reading your blog for years and I like your blog because you aren't perfect. Perfect is fake. No one is perfect. You are real and honest about the good and the struggles. I've enjoyed watching your girls grow up.

Christi said...

I love that your blog photos and content are real. You have real kids, not props. I love that your photos aren't overly photoshopped to have a "signature filter look" and that your children aren't in immaculate "curated" outfits from the newest hip mom online boutique.

I think the word "authentic" like "curated" is over used today and often means "my social media accounts are totally authentic you know, I curate content full of sponsored posts and paid for opinions product placements."

But then I'm just an auntie type who thinks it is cute when sees a preschooler at Target wearing pajamas, rain boots and a fire helmet. Because that's what real kids do.

Lisa MH said...

I love reading your blog and have kept up with it for a long time--almost to my embarrassment that I'm this interested in a stranger's life! I never think your girls don't look perfect. In fact, I think your life looks happy and wonderful and of course you have difficulties, but don't we all in life? We all struggle with different things but certainly no life is perfect. I enjoy reading because I like your writing, I think your girls are adorable and after the loss in your life I find myself (a perfect stranger!) happy for the good I read.

BreezieGirl said...

Perhaps not the most popular, but certainly my favorite. Thanks for sharing this.

Unknown said...

If my 9-year old daughter can comb her snarls into a ponytail for school we are good :) And your blog is my favorite one. I love Disney, food and reading. I get all that here! I am currently reading 'The Woman in Cabin 10' thanks to your recommendation :) -Cindi

Lexi Haas said...

What a truthful & inspiring post! Babies truly 'need' so little. I foster newborn babies now & I wait to buy their first outfit until I'm on the way to the hospital to get them because it's not a guarantee until that point. Hope to never take that trip home for granted!

Teej said...

This is the first blog I check every day. I like it because it is real.

Our first pregnancy was textbook, but then we had three miscarriages in a row. For my fifth pregnancy, even though things seemed to be going along fine, I also refused any showers; we did not decorate a nursery, and, when my daughter was born healthy, we scrambled to get a few newborn clothes to bring her home from the hospital. I just couldn't risk the assumption that everything would be fine. I had to protect my heart. Then my 6th pregnancy ended at 24 weeks. I don't think I will ever be pregnant again, but we are actually starting the domestic infant adoption process. Again, I don't think I will decorate a nursery or buy any clothes because, if we are ever matched, the birth mother could change her mind at the last minute (and certainly has that right!). My heart is cautious in everything now. I can bear loss, but I have to do everything I can to protect myself. So...I definitely relate to this post.

Krissy said...

When I read your posts about Abigail, it gives me a glimpse into my own mother, who lost two children. Her first daughter was born 3 months early (1974) and lived for 8 months in the NICU before dying suddenly. My brother was next, full-term, hale & hearty. Then I came along, 2 months premature with kidney defects that required 3 surgeries to correct. My baby brother was stillborn at 7 months.

When I was pregnant with twins (post-infertility), my mom was a bundle of anxious energy the whole time, trying to supress the memories of all that had gone wrong for her.

I was with one of my friends when she delivered her stillborn son. His face is etched into my mind.

I really think you honor Abigail with these posts. The time you spend caring for her while she was growing inside or you is a testament to your love for her. I will always be mindful of the brother and sister I have but never met. Your girls will too. Blessings to you Sarah.

Laura Benson said...

Just for the record, your blog is my favorite! I've been reading for years, and reading about Abigail is never any less heartbreaking. I didn't really get it until I had my own babies recently, but I am so, so sorry that you lost your sweet girl.

Sarah said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for these beautiful, heartfelt comments. And a special thank you for sharing your stories of loss. We are all connected.

Chantel said...

I did set up Claudia's nursery before she was born. It was hard to "erase" Curtis' stuff, his was yellow and blue and I turned hers into the most girly girl thing you had never seen. It was my way of coping. I donated his clothes, his bedding....I used the same furniture. We had to buy a car seat in the hospital since she failed the car seat test and needed a different one (ours was borrowed). It was the way I coped. I wasn't given a shower or anything with her--the only shower I had was for Curtis. That still makes me sad to this day, one after would habe been okay. But with every purchase I wondered "is this all going to blow up in my face again?" but I so badly wanted to celebrate her....like I celebrated him before he was born. I don't regret the showers or stuff I bought for him, at least he was celebrated and wanted. It was painful, so painful, not using any of it-- but he was celebrated before he was grieved.

Valerie Cox said...

I'm so so sorry you lost your Abigail; no parent should have to bury their sweet baby. I love reading your blog because you keep it so real and always show real life moments. Thank you for sharing your life and family with us!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading your blog because it's so real. I realize I am one of those people who have that innocence, created a nursery, bought the baby clothes and gear- but reading your post reminded me not to take it all for granted. Thank you for sharing <3

Erika said...

Your blog is one of my favorites because it is so genuine and heartfelt. You honor all of your children so beautifully with your words. I can relate to this story. After many years of infertility, my husband and I were thrilled to adopt our first daughter. After three days with her, her birth mother changed her mind, and we left the hospital empty handed. Coming home to a house full of (mostly borrowed, thankfully) baby items was beyond heartbreaking. When we were matched with another baby girl, we refused to do buy much (or have a shower, etc.) beforehand. When we brought her home (with still over a week left in the time period her birth mother could change her mind), we found, like you, that there were plenty of "necessities" that we could live without for a few weeks. Once our wait period was over and our adoption was finalized, we had so many joyful showers, and my daughter has never wanted for anything. Still, I do feel pangs of sadness when I see others who can so confidently shop and plan for their children in the months before they are born.

Bridget said...

This is why I love your blog so much. You write so beautifully and truthfully about living and parenting after loss. My second son was stillborn and I the only thing I did to get ready for my two youngest was a car seat. I found your blog when my son died, and it helped me so much in figuring out how to be with my living son while I was so sad and lost. Thank you.

The Adventures of Carrie, Brook, Finn and Reid said...


Like others, your blog has remained one of my favorites after all these years. I have always appreciated your frankness, realistic views on life with multiples, your ability to appreciate the little things that should be appreciated and, of course, your photography.

I stopped blogging a long time ago (my identical boys are now 10), but your blog is one of the only ones I have continued to follow. As a full time working mama (since my boys were 4 months old), I felt like someone else shared my struggle with trying to find the balance between work, motherhood and self care (ie exercise and eating semi-healthfully) and was realistic about how damn hard it is. I have learned so much from you over the years and appreciate all of your posts.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Such a beautiful post and so true. We had 4 years of infertility and 2 IVFs before pregnancy with the twins, and I didn't want to do anything to prepare for them because I was so scared of something going wrong.

I was thrown a baby shower at work at about 30 weeks, and those things were the first things my babies received :)

I also marvel at the innocence of ppl who fall pregnant and don't know (thankfully) all the things that can go wrong.