For months, Isabelle’s nursery sat relatively untouched. In the fall, I only entered it a handful of times, typically to add cards or mementos to the growing stack on the floor in front of the crib. The thought of being surrounded by all of the dresses and baby supplies was just too painful most days.
As the months progressed, occasionally I would feel the need to wander around the room glancing through her belongings. Looking back on it, I think that part of me needed these visits to the nursery in order to move forward. I never forced myself to go in the there; I only visited the room when it felt right.
After I became pregnant again, many questions started to flood my mind: Would it be a boy or a girl? If it ended up being a girl, would I want to change the nursery? How would I feel about a second daughter wearing the clothes Isabelle never got to use? If it ended up being a boy, how would I handle having to change things in the nursery? How would I ever find the strength to pack up all of Isabelle’s dresses and pink belongings? I tried not to stress about these questions, but they lingered for weeks.
At our appointment on June 1st, we would find out the gender of our baby. School would be out shortly after that on June 9th, drastically reducing my busy schedule. I decided that I wouldn’t touch anything in the nursery until after school was finished. This would also give me time to process how I wanted to approach the room. A friend mentioned that I would know the best route and best timing for handling the nursery and to trust my instincts. She was right.
On June 1st, we found out that our second child would be a little BOY and decided to name him Mark Robert after his grandfathers. I then knew which questions would need to be answered. Right away I decided that a few pink things in the nursery would definitely need to be adjusted, and that I wanted to keep everything yellow and green exactly how it was currently set up. Continuing to trust my instincts, I waited for a time when it felt right to pack up all of Isabelle’s girly clothes and belongings.
That moment came when a very kind colleague handed me several bags of baby boy clothing. This colleague had given birth to a son not long after Isabelle. In a way, it almost felt like Isabelle telling me that she was fine with her clothes getting packed up. Maybe they would be used some day, maybe they wouldn’t. That was in God’s hands. It was time to move forward.
A few days later, after school got out for the year, I found myself at the store purchasing several clear plastic bins with pink lids. That afternoon, I packed up everything that Mark would not use. I also put everything that was distinctly Isabelle’s, including monogrammed baby supplies, mementoes, cards, and funeral related items, into a solid pink container. I had an “Isabelle Clare” sticker made and put it on the front of the bin. After completing my work, I stacked the bins in the corner of the nursery, not quite ready to move them anywhere else.
I have slowly rotated some of Mark’s clothing through the wash and can now begin the process of putting them in the dresser and in the closet on his newly purchased blue hangers. The scarred part of my heart aches a bit more this week, but I know that it is important to continue moving forward. Mark deserves a mother who is working through the grief, not ignoring it, and who has learned how to live with the pain that will always be there.
For now, I plan to continue to trust my instincts as I move through the grieving journey while also preparing my heart to bring another child into this world. My mind is full of prayers for a healthy pregnancy and baby. The scar on my heart aches as a reminder of how deeply I love my daughter, but with each little kick in my belly, I am finding that my heart is capable of more love than I ever thought possible.