Just in Case

4:15:00 PM


My husband Andy and I didn’t make many preparations for our sixth baby's birth. We decided not to sort out the baby equipment or the clothes we had packed away from previous children. We didn’t walk up and down the baby aisles of the shops, arm-in-arm, with secret smiles on our faces. We didn’t toss tiny clothes and attractive toys into our shopping trolley. No one would have known we were expecting a baby except for my pregnant shape.

We did however choose a name for our child. And I packed a hospital bag for myself with the usual toiletries, pyjamas and coming home clothes. I put it by the front door, ready for the big day. I was all prepared. But I wasn’t. Who can be prepared for the birth of a baby who is going to die?

Then about a week before our baby was due, I changed my mind about the baby clothes, and hunted out a few from our storage room after all. My mother-in-law watched with sad eyes as I washed a few tiny outfits. Did she think I was setting myself up for even more sorrow? I hung the clothes on the line and they flapped in the breeze, announcing to the world we were about to give birth.

“The clothes are ‘just in case’,” I told myself. “Just in case our baby does live after all.” 

When I went into labour, we left home with the two bags, mine and the 'just in case' one. When we arrived at the hospital Andy grabbed my bag. We left the baby clothes in the car. Perhaps I didn’t want anyone to know how much I hoped.

A day or so later, we returned home with both bags. We had no baby. Thomas was in the morgue.

I threw the baby clothes into the cupboard where I couldn’t see them and I cried. It was many months before I was able to unpack that bag and look at those tiny suits and socks and singlets. I smoothed them out and thought, “If only…”

Would it have been easier if I’d listened to my head and not my heart, and not washed and packed those tiny outfits? The doctors had said my baby wouldn't live. I know they wanted me to face this fact. So why didn't I? Why did I take those clothes to the hospital with me?

I didn't want to picture my child dead in my arms before I'd even seen him, his body cold and still. I didn't want to imagine the tears that would run down my face and the pain that would grip my heart. I had done that so many times already. 

Instead I wanted to feel the secret joy and excitement that wells up inside every mother, as she imagines meeting her baby for the first time. I wanted to pretend I was a 'normal' pregnant mother. I wanted to dream just a little in order to get through the birth. Those clothes were my symbol of hope.

My baby might have lived. God could have saved him.

I had to take those clothes just in case.


Image: Washing baby clothes in preparation for the new arrival! by Elin B, CC BY 2.0

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2 comments

  1. I so get this, Sue. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Oh Chari! You visited Thomas' blog! Thank you. It was lovely to see your comment. I am guessing you have been in a similar position. It is so very difficult. How I wish no mother had to suffer that pain. But we do. And God sends us many blessings and friends who understand! It's Thomas' birthday tomorrow so I have been thinking about him a lot and what I can write for his birthday post. I still don't really know but something will come when I start writing. May God bless you and your family!

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