Last weekend the 3 of us travelled up to Lincoln to visit my mum. We went to collect all Ethan’s old baby stuff from her loft. For the life of me I couldn’t remember what was up there and I have mixed feelings about retrieving it.
As I’ve mentioned, Mark and I had decided to try for another baby when Ethan was about 2. When Mark was diagnosed and we were given the 18 months prognosis I decided that I couldn’t deal with having all the baby paraphernalia hanging around the house, constantly reminding me of all our future plans, laughing at my audacious assumptions.
So my mum turned up – white knight as she often has been – with plastic boxes and packing tape and vacuum bags and labels. We packed it all up in an afternoon, so put it in her car and drive it away. I didn’t need to think about it anymore.
I’m not quite sure wheat the boxes stood for. And I know that for a very long time afterwards I was certain that I was never going to have to use them again. I envisaged sharing out the contents to various friends popping out children as and when they needed things. But mostly I just didn’t think about them.
I didn’t really expect to be delving into them again; Ethan sitting with my new husband and being alternately bored and fascinated that he used to be that small!
Predictably, Ethan wanted to know why all these boxes belonging to us were in his Grandma’s loft. So often I find myself having to make these things up on the spot. He never asks the questions to which I have carefully prepared answers, with bullet points and visual aids….
I told him that when he was 2, Daddy and I had decided that we would like to have another baby. But then Daddy had gotten poorly and it made us sad to look at all the baby stuff when we knew we wouldn’t be able to have another baby. So Mutti (what he calls my mum) came with some boxes and we packed it all up so it wouldn’t make us sad anymore. We thought we would come and get it when Daddy got better and then we would have another baby, but Daddy didn’t get better so the boxes stayed here. Now Nick and I are having a baby, we’ve come to get all the baby things so that the Hatchling can use them.
To be honest he took it really well. He said that it was cool actually, because ” you and Daddy had me and now you and Nick are having the Hatchling. It’s like 1 each!” Obviously fairness and sharing are huge factors in our situation!!!!
Unpacking it all was beyond weird. There were so many happy memories attached to the door bouncer, and the striped vest he wore on his 1st day in the world. A smiling face, giggles, and wonder at the ridiculous speed of development of this remarkable boy. And I am so excited to do this all again – to see another cheeky face smiling up from the changing mat, or rolling around under the baby gym.
But also the disappointment that our family did not work out the way it was supposed to. The sadness that, although Mark got to see the first 2 years, he has missed so much of his little boy’s life, and so much of his developing personality. There is also a little guilt, as there always is hanging over me, that I am trying to get a “do-over” and leave the past behind me. This will never actually be true – you don’t get over and move on from things like this. But my brain sometimes tells me that I should be sitting in widows weeds, encamped permanently on the bench at the cemetery, not having a baby with my new husband.
I’ll be grappling with this mix of feelings forever. It is, I think, part and parcel of widowhood when you’re not over 70. There is so much of life left to live, and I would be doing a disservice to Mark not to try and live it as fully as I can. Including another love, another marriage, and another baby in a (definitely not golden) carriage!