We are busy clearing out our baby gear. We never had tons of baby stuff but now we have next to nothing. I can’t get over how quickly that time went and while we are finished trying to grow our family, and I’m happy with that decision, it is bittersweet letting go of all the baby reminders.
The travel cot is the last big item. Our girls never had cribs. They coslept when they were tiny, then transfered to the travel cot until they were ready for a bed. Kooks has seemed comfortable in her cot, we have a nice thick mattress for it so it was a comfy space. I’ve been in no rush to move her out and have two kids that can get out of their beds on their own, but then she climbed out one day and started pushing her little chair over to it so she could dive back in headfirst. We have cement floors so I was beginning to worry that acrobatics in and out of the cot could lead to a trip to the emergency room. It was time.
Our transition bed is an adult camp bed. I love this for a toddler bed because it has a slight dip in the middle that helps keep them from falling out. Boo gave up the camp bed to Kooks and has moved into her first proper grown up bed. They are so excited about their new beds and about growing up and gaining independence. Kooks has taken to sleeping entirely stretched out which makes me wonder if we waited a little too long to move her. I am happy for their increased independence as well. I’m finding that I really love the stage the girls are in right now and while I don’t want to go back to babyhood, I am still mourning the loss of it.
The only other baby items we still have are a diaper bag and my Ergo carrier. Kooks is currently potty training so the diaper bag will soon be retired and while I could still put her in the Ergo carrier, I haven’t done so in ages. She doesn’t need or want it anymore. I gave our infant insert for the Ergo to a friend and was surprised at how much I missed it. Missed it in a way that kept me up at night wondering how inappropriate it would be to ask for it back once her baby had outgrown it. She must have sensed this because she recently returned it to me. That insert has a history. I started researching baby equipment when we first started trying to conceive. It started as a fun pastime and turned into an unhealthy obsession. We were living in Brooklyn and I fell in love with the Ergo carrier. It seemed to make much more sense than a stroller for navigating the subway system and the tiny aisles in NYC shops. I also fell in love with the bug print on the infant insert and knew I had to have that one for my baby. What I didn’t know then was that it would take us three and a half years before we would have a child to put in that carrier. Our years battling with infertility were short compared to many but they were the most difficult time in my life to date and they felt like an eternity.
I bookmarked the Ergo site and each month when I felt hopeful that we would conceive, I’d look at the carriers and at that adorable bug print insert and imagine carrying my baby around NYC with me. My husband who was studying for his Masters at the time was going to stay home with the baby during the day and I could picture the Ergo and baby transfer in the subway station when I would leave work and head home with our baby while he headed off to a bar tending job. That was our plan. Me working days and him working nights to avoid daycare. I don’t know when we thought he would study but it really doesn’t matter because things didn’t work out that way.
One month I went on the Ergo site, this was long after we realized that conception was not going to be easy for us and I had been labeled with unexplained infertility, to find that the bug print I had chosen for our baby had been discontinued. I was devastated. It didn’t take much to set me off in those days and this felt like a sign. I could no longer picture that subway transfer where my husband and I kissed each other and then kissed our baby wrapped in that beautiful bug insert before parting ways – each of us taking our turn as bread winner and child care provider. The other insert options didn’t appeal to me, I couldn’t imagine using one of them and that made it even more difficult to imagine the life we planned with a baby. It was irrational but somehow that specific infant insert, in that specific pattern, had become a symbol of all my hopes and dreams. Without the possibility of that insert, I felt I had lost the possibility of the life I was working so hard towards. I felt hopeless and my husband’s words of reason couldn’t reach me, but then our first IVF cycle worked and I got pregnant. The day the clinic called with the news I searched every baby shop online and finally found the very last available Ergo infant insert in that bug pattern. I ordered it feeling that my stars were finally aligning. In my mind (unbalanced as it may have been) securing that very last bug insert was a way of securing the baby that that pregnancy promised.
We had a one and a half bedroom apartment in Brooklyn which basically means we had a one bedroom with a large closet. That closet was going to be the baby’s room. We kept the little Ikea kitchen island that came with our apartment there. It didn’t fit in the kitchen along with our table and chairs and I had planned to convert it into a changing table so I put the bug insert on top and I visited it often. It had the look and feel of a comforter and I thought it, along with my body heat, would be perfect for keeping our baby warm in those first months. I was due in February and now pictured wearing the Ergo underneath my winter coat. After coveting it online for so long it was wonderful to hold it and to know I would have a reason to use it. We were so light when we went for the eight week ultrasound. It honestly never occurred to us that that pregnancy wouldn’t end with a healthy baby but there was no heartbeat, our baby had stopped growing, I had miscarried. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t breath, I couldn’t fathom living in a world without that baby, wrapped snugly in that insert.
Over the next weeks and months I continued to visit the insert in our baby room. Sometimes it felt comforting – the only tangible reminder left of that short tiny spark that I loved so deeply, sometimes it was mocking – a reminder of what I wanted most and might never have. There it sat on top of the kitchen island that would never be a changing table. I thought about returning it, or donating it, but I just couldn’t part with it – I needed it to hold onto in my grief and I needed to believe that one day it would hold my baby, even if it wasn’t the baby I had bought it for.
It did. While to my knowledge that kitchen island never became a changing table, and that closet never became a baby room, that Ergo bug insert held my two girls. It held them in southern Africa, not NYC, and it held them in the cold African winters instead of the frigid NYC winters but it held them and it kept them safe and warm and attached to me in exactly the way I had dreamed about. While it wrapped them in warmth and comfort it reminded me of how fragile life is. It wrapped that little spark that we rarely talk about around them as it held them close to my heart. It is the only item that links my two daughters with my almost child who was fiercely loved and wanted. What was I thinking when I gave it away?
Now as I get rid of all the baby items and pack away the Ergo I find myself dwelling on time. Boo is almost three and a half, it was three and a half years from the time we started trying to conceive until the day I held her in my arms. How is it possible that even now when I look back on those years of trying to have a child they feel like an eternity? I know they aged my husband and I and stole some of our optimism, yet three and half years of motherhood have disappeared in the blink of an eye. I look at Kooks and Boo side by side, Boo has lost all her baby fat and is a little girl now. Kooks still has remnants of the baby Buddah belly. I will miss that belly and have seriously thought about trying to get her to sit still long enough to make a belly cast to preserve it, but that is not going to happen and time is running out. I’m not a particularly sentimental person, I’m not a hoarder, if I’m not using something I tend to pass it on, but that Ergo bug infant insert has held my hopes, and my grief, and my two babies who made it into this world. I won’t be surprised if I turn to it again in grief when my girls leave our home to venture out on their own and it still holds a hope of mine that one day, if I’m terribly lucky, it will wrap all of its history of love, and grief, and hope around the next generation of our family.