I spent the morning pricing a lot of crap that I’m going to try to sell this Saturday at our yard sale. Winter coats that are now enormous, dresses I’ve never worn because I grew too small, ugly ceramic lamps, a hideous green stool, an old (still) white couch, a coffee table left by friends long ago in storage (aka our attic). All of this I will easily and happily part with. Clutter lifted away and absorbed into someone else’s family.
But it’s not all crap. In fact, most of what will fill my front lawn is of the baby and toddler ilk: high chair, swing, bouncy seat, port-a-crib, changing table, baby carriers, a highly technical stroller that collapses with the push of a button, jogging stroller, a crib set in Cape Cod pattern, onesies, teeny tiny huaraches, soft receiving blankets and towels and sheets, adorable Baby Gap clothes (gifts—the blue and white striped hooded sweater!), Diaper Genie, crib toys, all the Fisher Price play sets—house and farm and train and zoo, the purple eyelet snowsuit, the bumblebee rain boots, soft books and board books. All of the necessary items that speak Baby In The House.
Only there is no baby in my house. And there won’t be another one again.
I always imagined having three children—a triumvirate, a trilogy, a trifecta. I happen to believe my husband and I make pretty amazing children, and after my son was born, even though I nosedived into postpartum mania, I couldn’t believe that I was done with the hoping and the dreaming and the poignant and frequent sex and the growing belly and the tiny kicks in the ribs and the pushing and birthing and falling in love with a baby made perfect by love.
So I stored all the baby gear in the attic for the next time. My heart like a fist around all those newborn clothes. I would occasionally pull out the storage bins and run my hands across the miniature sweaters or bury my nose in the receiving blankets still steeped in that milky newborn smell. I’d even hitch the Boppy pillow around my waist and imagine myself gazing down at Baby #3, whose small hand gripped my finger—no possibility of letting go. Oh, I love you, I love you, I’d sing. And I already did love the baby that was simply waiting to be created by the coming together of Christopher and me.
So what does it mean for me to be selling it all off?
It means the dream is not merely deferred (as in: when you’re well, recovered, then we can try for #3); it means the dream is over (as in: give up the baby; shutter that part of myself that is filled with longing for another; hoping, now pointless, will never bear fruit. We’ve decided that a pregnancy and its accompanying mood instability, as well as the real world stress of an additional child, would be too destabilizing. Even though my longing is deep and wide, I know the risk would be too great. I am mired in the Eating Disorder, the Bipolar Disorder still has me by the neck, and daily, I am plagued with urges to cut my arms. Just this week I had a dream in which I had just cut my arms, a neat ladder of cuts. But I was disappointed because I hadn’t cut deep enough. So I know that I am in no position, have no right, really, to even imagine having another child. Knowing, of course, does not mean I am not infinitely sad over this loss. I cried this afternoon while I sat on my front porch, a porch filled with the big baby items. The silent, still swing, the clean, white highchair tray, the empty port-a-crib.
Dr. B. pushed me today. First he had me eat a piece of pizza with him. Horrible and hard, but holy, too. A kind of communion. And then I told him about my morning.
"Why don’t you get mad at IT?" he said. "IT has murdered your dreams. Say, ‘Fuck You, IT.’”
“Fuck You, IT,” I attempted, weakly.
He laughed. “Not nearly mad enough. Try again.”
“Fuck You, IT,” I said, trying to muster up anger. But I wasn’t angry today, just tired and sad.
This purge of all the baby stuff is necessary, but my heart is breaking.