If you read here regularly, you know that I have struggled with what, if anything to do with Hudson’s diaper bag, which holds all the clothes she was wearing on May 10, the day she was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with the infection that would take her life. Her maroon fleece sweatshirt with flowers embroidered on it, navy pants with whales on them, a light turquoise polo-style shirt with puffed sleeves, a pair of socks, and her little pink Nike tennis shoes, a Christmas gift from her Grandma that she wore every day. Plus diapers, wipes, and the other usual things one finds in a diaper bag. And the discharge report from the pediatrician from the morning of May 10, ordering us to return the next day to check in. An appointment we would not make it to, for by that time, Hudson was in a coma from which she would never wake.
Again and again, I tried to somehow deal with the diaper bag, which sat under Hudson’s memorial table in her playroom for nearly a year. I tried to deal with it when I rearranged that room to accommodate my new sewing habit. And again when I washed all of Jackson’s clothes and all the other baby gear we would be reusing for him. And again when I finally organized the nursery the day before I went into labor with Jackson. But again and again, I couldn’t bring myself to empty it.
So when Jackson was born, I still had not done anything with the diaper bag. And I also couldn’t bring myself to buy a new one, because it just seemed so wasteful. So for those first few days, when we went to the pediatrician, we took some diapers and wipes in a ratty old tote bag from our rather large collection. The next week, we were preparing for our first trip to North Carolina. I realized in the days leading up to the trip that we really needed the diaper bag and I kept promising myself that I would empty it so we could use it. By the night before we were supposed to leave, I still hadn’t done anything with it. Ed offered to help, saying we could do it together, and I said that would be fine, but still, it didn’t get done. I told him we’d have to deal with it in the morning before we left. The next morning, as I got out of the shower, he came into the bathroom and asked me what I wanted to do with something that was in the bag—I can’t even remember what. I told him I was surprised he had started taking it apart without me. He said that he had put the pediatrician’s report in the recycle bin—I didn’t want that, did I? I said, “I don’t know” and before I knew it, I just burst into tears. He felt awful and so did I. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t bring myself to empty the damn thing. He said we didn’t have to, and so we didn’t. I did, however, finally move it out of the playroom and into the closet in the nursery. I don’t know if that was really any kind of progress, though.
So on the way out of town, we stopped at Buy Buy Baby and bought another one. I tried to find one that I liked that was different from the one we already had, but ended up buying an identical bag—it had all the features I liked and was simple. There was a reason I had bought it in the first place. And I liked it just as much this time as I had before.
Last Wednesday, I picked Ed up from work because he had several large things he needed to bring home that would have been unmanageable on the train. I took Jackson upstairs to say hello to a few of Ed’s colleagues who had not yet met him. I took the diaper bag with me in the stroller basket, knowing I might need it while I was up there. Somehow, it didn’t make it back home with us. We have no idea where it got left behind, but it is lost. There was nothing of real value in it except the nursing cover that I used when Hudson was little, but that has only sentimental value, as I have abandoned those things altogether this go round.
So we were left yet again with no diaper bag. Again, I threw some diapers and wipes and a burp cloth into a tote bag in a pinch yesterday when I had to go out. I’d been trying to decide if losing the brand new replacement diaper bag somehow meant that we were just supposed to use Hudson’s.
Ed’s folks are in town this weekend and this morning we were getting ready to head out for the day. I was changing Jackson’s diaper in the nursery and Ed came in and asked where the makeshift diaper bag was so that he could refill it. I sighed and said, “I’ll just go ahead and empty Hudson’s and we can use that.” I walked over to the closet and bent down to pick it up, and honestly, it was almost like how people say their lives flashed before their eyes. I touched the bag and felt almost electrified—in an instant, I mentally catalogued its contents and flipped through a series of sad images conjured by them. And then dissolved into tears again. I dropped it and said, “This is crazy! It is a totally visceral reaction!” Needless to say, we left it there and took the makeshift bag with us today.
I theorized before that maybe keeping the diaper bag like it is somehow preserves a moment in time for me, a moment before all hell broke loose and our lives changed forever, a moment when Hudson was here. Or maybe it’s just another form of denial—as long as I don’t empty that bag, there’s still some crazy possibility that Hudson can come back and we can use it again for her. Or maybe it’s just a PTSD-like reaction.
I don’t know what it is, but I don’t guess it matters, either. I don’t think I’m ever going to empty it. So it’s time to buy another one. Again.