Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hudson’s Room

It won’t be Hudson’s room for much longer. I am finally being forced to start coming to terms with that. If the world were a different place, if this terrible thing had never happened, it still wouldn’t be Hudson’s room for much longer—we’d be preparing to move her into a new room of her own so that her little brother or sister could move into the once-again nursery in a few months. But oh, how different that change would be. That would be a graduation, whereas this is just… I don’t know what this is. As much as I don’t want it to feel like a replacement, that is what it feels like nonetheless, even though I know in my heart that is not what it is, nor what it could ever be.

We’ve done nothing to Hudson’s room except move a few of her toys in there. Her clothes are still folded up in her drawers and hanging in her closet. Her diapers and wipes and cream are still in a basket at the end of the changing table. Her books are still on their shelf at the end of the crib. We haven’t emptied the clothes hamper, which still holds the fuzzy pajamas in which she woke up early on Mother’s Day, burning up with a fever, and the outfits she wore the few days before that and on Mother’s Day itself. (The clothes she wore on Monday, the day she was admitted to the hospital, a pair of pants with whales on them, a light blue top, socks and her tennis shoes, are still in the diaper bag they came home in, which is still under the table in Hudson’s playroom where her ashes sit with her Elmo and other toys, books, and pictures. Every so often, I open the diaper bag and pull the clothes out, pass them from hand to hand, wondering what the hell happened here. I haven’t been able to bring myself to do anything but put them back in the diaper bag and put the bag back under the table.) We haven’t even emptied the humidifier of the water that was in its tank. I do go in there fairly often just to sit, or cry, or talk to her, or run my fingers over the crib rails, or lean over into the crib and pat her bears, just like I used to pat her when I would say goodnight. I just don’t move anything anywhere.

Conventional wisdom is that it is “unhealthy” for bereaved parents to keep a “shrine” to their children. I’ve certainly heard stories of parents who have kept their children’s rooms unchanged for the rest of their lives. I have no idea whether this is “unhealthy” (or what that even means in this context), nor would I ever make such a judgment about how any parent decided to honor their child’s memory or deal with their grief, but I absolutely understand the instinct to leave everything completely untouched. My general plan in all this was to leave Hudson’s room as it was until there was a reason to do something different, which most likely would mean making room for another baby. Once we actually got pregnant, I decided I could put it off until we found out whether we were having a boy or a girl, at which point, if we were having a boy, we could go ahead and pack all of Hudson’s girl clothes away, hopefully for another little girl down the road, or, if we were having a girl, we could sort them into age piles and put the infant clothes back into the drawers again.

We’re now two weeks away from finding out what we’re having. I know there is nothing about that day that means I all of sudden have to pack up Hudson’s room, but the inevitable is still looming out there. Once we started receiving gifts for the Penguin, I was purposely avoiding putting them in Hudson’s room, as if once we started doing that, it was just a long slippery slope of changing it into a room for a different child. But then Ed put one of the outfits in there, which broke the ice for me, I guess. So this weekend, I pulled together all the penguin outfits we’d received, along with the ones I’d bought from Gymboree (which ultimately I didn’t even want to go through—I realized I didn’t want to risk getting too excited about the adorable little girl clothes unless there ends up being a reason to, so all but one of the outfits, which is unisex, is still sitting unwrapped in the box), and went to put them in Hudson’s room. I put the Gymboree box on the floor but wasn’t sure what to do with the other clothes. I couldn’t put them in the drawers yet, because the drawers are still full. The changing pad still had the same cover and waterproof pad on it that were there on May 10, the last day they were used. I pulled them off and threw them in the hamper and then laid the new outfits on top of the bare changing pad.

And then I ran out, sobbing. Putting the new baby’s things into Hudson’s room is a very tangible beginning to accepting that a new baby will live there and Hudson will not. Hudson won’t live anywhere in our home again, at least not physically. Our two babies will never know each other, at least not here on the earth.

Even though the time will come very soon when I will have no choice but to accept this reality, I’m just not ready. Not yet.


  1. One breath at a time. All you have to be ready for is the next breath.

  2. Dear Mandy -- we've never met. I found my way to your blog months ago via mamapundit and I am touched by your writing and sharing. If you haven't read any of Robbie Floyd-Davis' articles on losing a child and grief, may I encourage you to do so at her blog: http://www.davis-floyd.com/ShowPage.asp?id=155
    Five weeks ago, my daughter and her husband lost their infant son -- I had read Robbie's articles a few months ago, and I have shared them with my daughter and her husband as well. You write and articulate your emotions with such clarity. When I first read an article of Robbie's, I was impressed with the way she also so succinctly wrote of her emotions. Your post tonight made me think that perhaps you might want to read some of Robbie's articles. Wishing you peace and healing -- you are in my prayers.

  3. Mandy, you truly keep Hudson alive in the hearts and memories of so many. I've never met you and will never know the pleasure of knowing Hudson, but I do feel that I know her a little.

    I saw this book today and thought of you.

  4. I wish so much that Hudson was there to protest the loss of her room.

    Thinking of you. Hoping for strength and peace for you tonight, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

  5. Dear Mandy,
    You will do things when the time is right. What happened to you, Ed, and Hudson is a nightmare, and I'm so sorry.
    Penguin's place in the world will be very special, and not a substitute for anything else, and your reality will be one not only of loss.
    I wish I could help.

  6. Oh Mandy. I wish there was something I could say or do. But I can't. So I will just sit here and cry, and remember your sweet Hudson.

  7. Oh, Mandy...my heart breaks for you. Healing comes so slowly, in its own time. All I can tell you is to offer the usual advice...don't rush it, don't put yourself on a time line, don't listen to the "shoulds" in your head. You will do this when it's time---and if Penguin arrives and it's not yet time, that's OK. There are worse things than not having "the nursery" ready...

    Please above all be gentle with yourself...I cannot even begin to understand the complexity of your emotions right now, and you are just past Hudson's birthday and trying to deal with Christmas. Give it time...there is no hurry.

    I love you, and Ed and Penguin...


  8. What a terribly hard thing to do -- making Hudson's room into the penguin's. How could anyone ever be ready for that? I don't think it's possible.

  9. This might sound crazy, but would it make you feel better to photograph everything in Hudson's room before it becomes...not Hudson's room? You could print the photos and put them in a journal with everything you've written here about why those things and the arrangement of them mean so much to you. I don't know how anyone could be ready for this either.

  10. How painful, what you are going through. My hope for you is that you feel ready when the time comes to get Hudson's room ready for the Penguin. Try not to lose sight of how much you have accomplished in these last months -- you never thought you'd live through this, but you have. Try not to rush yourself, or judge how long it takes, and have faith that you will get through this challenge as well.

    Might it help to know that you and Ed were planning for the Penguin before Hudson died? That you wanted the Penguin before you felt that emptiness? Before Hudson died, there was no question that you had room in your hearts for Hudson, the Penguin, and more children, and that hasn't changed. Although your babies will never meet here on earth, they will share that nursery, which could help the Penguin (and his or her younger siblings) learn about their oldest sister and what her life was like in your family home. You will make new memories in that nursery, but there is space for them to exist beside your memories of Hudson in that room.

  11. If you ever want someone to sit beside you - or help in any way - as you make this transition, there are so many of us close by who would be there in a heartbeat.

  12. Katie hit it on the head - we are here to hold you up when you need it, catch you when you need to fall, and be your saving grace in that darkest hour. Hudson would want nothing less for her precious Mamma.

  13. Here...if you need me. Renee P.

  14. Is there any reason you have to make Hudson's room the Peguin's room? Would it be possible to set up a different room for your little Penguin and then you could relax your timeframe for figuring out what to do with Hudson's room. If you don't feel ready to change it all, why push yourself? I also like the idea of photographing Hudson's room - no matter what you do with the space. take care of yourself and don't worry too much about what you think others might think or about what you feel you should be doing.

  15. I'm sorry it's so hard, Mandy. I'm so sorry that room has to change for such a terrible reason. I'm thinking of you.


  16. I'm so sorry, Mandy. I can't even imagine how hard this transition must be. Please know that I am here to help in any way I can. xoxo

  17. convention is often
    the beast at its best
    wisdom is no easy deity
    and how
    we are intrinsic
    to each of these
    seems to me in the shrine
    the celebration of life
    is offered
    by birth
    by luck
    by the rare chance to exist
    by the great fortune
    to be remembered
    as we
    in one moment
    with ease
    and pain
    grand daughter
    big sister
    and friend
    a precious life
    to remind us
    we are eternal
    before our beginnings
    beyond our ends
    once inside anothers heart
    we live on
    Hudson grows inside my heart
    she will always be a part
    every sharing
    humble estimation
    shrine on

  18. I understand how hard it is, Mandy. Naveen's room still sits untouched at our house. I've thought about turning it back into an office, putting all the baby things away in our basement, but I just can't. I feel like leaving it the way it is is my message to Naveen that we are still waiting for him to come home us, even though I know that can't happen. I imagine it's so hard to have those conflicting desires - to want to make room and prepare for the Penguin and to also desperately want to hang on to a room full of beautiful memories of Hudson, a room that will always belong to her in a way (even if she must share it with her new little sibling). Take all the time you need because I think when it is the right time, you'll feel it. That's what I'm hoping will happen for me too. Many hugs.