Pandora's Box

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Dear, sweet Bea,

I opened your box the other day. The one with the little dresses that I bought for you the day that the amnio came back negative for some deadly chromosomal disorder. They are all sweet dresses- I bought them with a clear picture of you in mind, sitting on the steps of our house blowing dandelion seeds from a tall stem.

The last time I opened them, I cried, imaging you as an almost two year old little girl dressed so sweetly in these dresses. I remembered the hope that I felt when purchasing them, and how careful I was to choose sizes that were at least 12 months, because I was sure that you were coming home, but I thought just not right away. I remember thinking that I was in the clear because of that amnio.The thought that doctors wouldn't be able to fix you didn't even cross my mind. I didn't know about all of the terrible things that prenatal testing doesn't show you.

I hung the little dresses inside of the old steamer trunk that will be Matilda's closet while she rooms in with us. I imagined doing the same for you. I wish I would have.

I felt a sense of betrayal, and jealousy over you- that this new little girl would even dream of wearing the dresses that were purchased with so much more than the dollars in my pocket- dresses that were purchased with my hope.


I don't know if the dresses will stay there. I haven't bought this new girl any tiny girl things yet. I think I just wanted to see your things up and ready to fit on a live body. I think I just wanted to see her closet hung with soft pinks and bright flowers.

I don's know if I will be able to physically dress this new Matilda in those dresses that I bought for you. At one point, I contemplated sending them on a mission trip to a baby's hospital in Haiti. I couldn't bring myself to do it, even though everyone thought it would be such a good idea. I greedily horded them away in their box.They are yours.

Sometimes, in my bereavement, I pulled them out, and I could see you dance. You were my girl, and I couldn't imagine loving another like I loved you. I almost feel like it will be impossible to, and I grieve the loss of part of the me who so wants to be the mother of a girl. I sometimes feel that this new baby is foreign- that she is not mine, because she is not you. And I so want you.

I feel guilty, and ungrateful. I can't help it- even with a whole new life moving in me I want you.

I think that instead of mellowing my grief, this new girl magnifies it. Although I had children, I was not the (biological) mother of a girl- and now I will know some of what I missed with you. I will know about hair barrettes and tights.

I will paint her toenails.

It is not just the dresses that she will be inheriting from you, but a host of other things. She will be inheriting my dreams of mothering a daughter. She will be inheriting the joy feelings at her birth. She will be inheriting all of the things that were supposed to be yours. Bubble blowing and butterflies. Chalk on the sidewalk.

She moves around in me, and I am jealous for you- that you never moved so much inside of me- my sweet, still girl.  She has already inherited that sacred place where you were alive.

Sometimes the grief is too difficult to contain, and I try to put it off as pregnancy emotions. I wonder what I will blame it on when I am not pregnant.

Post-Partum depression?

I want to be happier. I want to envision you and this new girl- my two girls with their old-fashioned names.

Matilda and Beatrix.

I should put those lovely dresses away. They should go into the box where all of the other things that are yours are. The box where all of my innocence is stored.

I am sorry, dear girl. So sorry that I can't leave you be-  and that I can't completely hold what is here because your ghost clouds my vision.

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