A Shirt and a Dress

I didn’t know I was in trouble until I was in the fitting room.

Even then, I didn’t know it right away.  Maybe I should have, since I had been warned.  More than one person has told me to stay away.  But it seemed like a good distraction, this new experience, and I didn’t realize how caught I was until it was too late.

We’re planning a trip – a trip to Florida.  My consolation prize.  Tahd would never have chosen Florida, but he knows how fixated I’ve been on getting Gabe there while he’s still young so when we found out we were pregnant he humored me and agreed that if the pregnancy didn’t stick we could go to Florida.  Neither of us ever thought we’d actually cash in.  But here we are, planning a trip.  We’re having photos taken, our first really official, grown-up, artistic photos since Gabe was 6 months old.  Hence the shopping.  I was looking for clothes.

I tried on the first shirt.  No, no.  This won’t do! It highlighted every single feature about my body I don’t like.  I took it off.  Quickly.  And moved it (and the three other shirts of the same style but in different colors) to a different rack.  A fitting room is nothing if not organized, in my opinion, and so I worked hard to keep my 60 shirts appropriately organized between four hooks (each equipped to hold about 5 hangers).

Next shirt.  Another bust.  I’m not buying something I don’t absolutely love.  I probably shouldn’t be shopping anyway.  So I’m not wasting my money on mediocre. I tucked that shirt on the same rack as the first and moved on to the mounds and mounds that still remained.

It went on like this for several items and I felt good.  Things that I loved on the hanger looked ridiculous – almost comical, really – on my body.  I had carefully selected shirts, hoping to find some that would camouflage the bit of bloating and puffiness that seems to remain in my belly.   I want our photos to document what is, not what I imagine.  But let’s face it – these are photos!  I want to look good!  I was surprised to be finding nothing given the fact that my family had kept this store a secret from me for quite a while due to the fear that I’d walk in and come out with one of everything.  I thought it was probably all for the good, however, since the prices were well beyond what I’d normally consider spending.

While I tried on clothes I sat on the stump in the fitting room for a long time.  I’m sure they wondered what I was doing in there, the girl with 60 shirts, uncombed hair stuffed under a ball cap, and hospital bracelets hanging off her arm.  I just sat on the stump and leaned over and hugged the clothes to me.  I was hardly clothed but it seemed so hot, and I felt weary in body and spirit.

And then it happened.  I put it on and that’s when I knew I was in trouble.

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People have been asking us if we’re planning to have a service.  My dad asked us first when he was with us before surgery while the nurse helped us to arrange what to do with our baby’s remains.  I called the funeral home the next day and they asked us second.  Gradually, more and more people have asked this question, some with their own opinions on what we should do.  A service never really occurred to me, honestly.  Had the baby been a little older and I could have delivered it I would feel differently.

Tahd, I think, would like to.  I think this because he told me so.  I don’t know how strongly he feels that way, though, because in the moment those words spilled from his mouth, I almost instantaneously spit back at him, “No!!!  We can’t do that!!”  He looked at me quizzically and questioned why and suggested it might give us some closure.  Closure, I told him, is exactly what I don’t want.  I just want to be us, a family of four, for a little while.  Maybe I’ll want closure later.  But not now.   Not now.

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The shirt is pink.  It is ruffled and gathered and beautiful, with a deep v-neck and lots of texture.  I picked it up from the rack on my second pass through the store and rushed back to the fitting room one more time.  I put it on and looked in the mirror.  And I heard my own voice.

There!  This one is good enough for my baby!

Until that moment, I hadn’t realized it.  I thought I was looking for a fun, inspiring outfit to use for our family photos.  Really, it was much more than that.  I was shopping for something so I could look pretty for my baby.  In addition to thinking about what type of outfits we want to wear in our photos, I’ve been thinking about ways we can include the idea of this baby in our photos.  I have a few ideas with balloons and blocks.  To me, these family photos represent the one “official” time we’ll be a family of four.  We’ll get our pictures taken and it will seem real.  They’ll capture us as a family of three and honor  us as a family of four.  In my mind, the photos would become our service, a holy experience, a sacred goodbye.

On my way home I thought about this and I trembled and I didn’t want to go.  Not to our photo session, not to Florida, not out of our house, not anywhere.  I don’t want to say goodbye.  I’m not ready.

I have a need to wrap things up into neat little packages – tablescapes, birthday gifts, blog posts, and even my life.  I’m fighting within myself over this right now.  I want to wrap our loss up in a neat little package on my own terms.  At the same time I’m trying to keep everything open and fluid and “non-closed.”

I left the store with the shirt and a dress.  Both are independently the most expensive items of clothing I’ve ever owned, so one might go back.  But I couldn’t decide at the store because they were both for my baby and I was overwhelmed at how emotionally charged my shopping trip had become.  I think I’ll be able to sort things out more easily in the morning.  I also hope I’m going to be able to figure out some way to look at this trip as anything other than a goodbye.

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Comments

  1. I’m glad you found something, no matter the cost and I hope that your trip is VERY fulfilling and FUN!

  2. Melanie says:

    Heidi,

    I’ve been reading your blog all along, but I haven’t commented because I simply don’t have the words. I just wanted you to know that I’m thinking about you so much. My heart is just completely broken for you. If you love that dress and shirt, then you keep them both. And I’m so happy that you will finally get to take Gabe to Disney. I’m just so sorry it has to be under these circumstances. Continued prayers.

    Melanie

  3. ((hug))

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