After Hudson died, we relegated all baby-related things to Hudson’s room and shut the door. I couldn’t take the baby swing in the living room, ready for soothing the cries that never filled our house. I couldn’t handle the stroller by the front door, ready for the first jaunt outside with baby girl that never happened. I would walk by the baby room and not even glance to my left.
So much time should have been spent in that room that never was.
Then, some time passed. I went in the room and faced those things I never got to use, the clothes I never got to see Hudson wear, the toys she never laughed at. And I felt okay.
And then, we were pregnant. And then, it was a boy.
I’d left the room as is, just in case it’s a girl. But I knew it was a boy. The whole first 20 weeks I was gearing up emotionally for the day I would find out for sure, and I’d have to go into Hudson’s room and make it Bullet’s room.
I couldn’t do it all at once.
First, I packed up the girly toys and blankets, burp rags and bibs. That was easy enough. So I packed up the bigger girl clothes, the 18-24 month hand-me-downs that a generous friend gave us when we found out it was a girl. And that was enough for one day.
I knew the clothes and shoes would be the hardest part. I didn’t buy any clothes for Hudson, except for a few little Red Sox onesies and socks when we were in Boston for our babymoon. But I used to go in that room and look at all the clothes that we were gifted, and imagine what kind of craziness it would be to put our daughter’s tiny arms and legs through the sleeves and pant legs. Hudson has some very fashionable grandmas and aunties. The clothes and shoes? That was going to be its own day.
Last weekend, the Theatre I work for put on a big Dia de los Muertos festival. The Mexican “Day of the Dead” holiday is all about celebrating those we love who have passed away. I got a break in the day to go home and take a nap, but for some reason I couldn’t fall asleep when I got home. The Hubs was hauling our trailer down to the Dub Family Farm so I was flying solo. It was time.
I lit my Hudson candle, played some Damien Rice, and packed up the rest of Hudson’s things. The precious shoes. The matching sets, tiny little stretchy pants with adorable onesies. The dresses. The hats. The socks. The assortment of baby sunglasses. I lovingly unfolded and refolded each item before packing it away, sorted by size in the plastic bin I’d bought specially for Hudson’s clothes. I made it through the drawers, then moved to the hanging clothes. I made it through eight drawers and all the 3-9 month hanging clothes, “Cannonball” and “Older Chests” without shedding a tear.
And then I got to a newborn onesie set featuring the red, white and blue of the 4th of July holiday when she was due. A precious, too-tiny-to-be-believed red and blue ruffly bathing suit, with a white terry cloth short-sleeved hoodie. I shed the first tears I’ve shed for Hudson since June 13.
All of Hudson’s clothes fit into one plastic tote. ONE. I couldn’t believe it.
We now have a room with baby things, but gender neutral baby things. We have gender neutral blankets in the closet. We have gender neutral toys, a whale-shaped baby tub. It’s ready to be Bullet’s room now.
Only one very girly thing remains. The walls, those carefully-chosen-shade-of-green walls, have the words “She believed she could, so she did” centered above the crib. I can’t bear to take it down, to paint over it, even to peel the “s” off so it would apply to Bullet.
Someday, maybe, we’ll bring a little girl home to that room, and big brother Bullet will look over the crib excitedly at his little sister and look up at the wall and see those words – “She believed she could, so she did” – right where some homemade art of his name used to hang.