“Your death really feels like a prison sentence…Upon the slamming of those doors for the first time, one fights and struggles and wrestles trying to get them back open – trying to get back to freedom and the world you knew. Then, once resigned, you decorate. You hang up a photo of something pretty, buy a plant, and drink a good cup of coffee. You move in for good and get settled. You’re still imprisoned so it all seems a little silly, but you do it anyway.”-from “Notes from a Cell with Flowers” by Julia Cho
The room trapped me. Swallowed me.
It had a baby dresser, baby clothes, and baby stuffed animals. The beginnings of a nursery. Then we found out that the baby for whom that room was planned was not coming home with us. I begged that everything be packed away before we came home from the hospital after delivering a stillborn baby. The clothes and stuffed animals were shoved into a box. The dresser still needed to be moved.
I repainted the room a dark brown, perhaps to match my dark mood. I could not stand looking at the room that I had planned for my baby, the way that it was. Then I became pregnant again. I made no changes in the room, out of fear that I would not be able to bring a baby home into that nursery again. And after delivering my second baby still, I was relieved.
It was an office. It was my office. I repainted it again, to a dusty lavender. The brown was too dark and I allowed the room to brighten. I became pregnant again. I left the room exactly as it was: office. No plans. No furnishings. I knew in my head what would be needed if I brought this baby home, but I could not begin to make space in our home for that to be true.
And by a miraculous gesture of fate, we brought our baby girl home. It became a frantic few days of setting up a nursery: the dresser, the clothes, the stuffed animals. Everything previously packed away re-entered the room. Added a crib and a bookshelf and a glider, the pieces previously missing from the nursery I never got to finish. It was satisfying and it hurt. If there were a way in our home to not have that room be the nursery, to use a different room, I would have done it. But we had to use the space we had.
A few times, I have caught myself almost saying “Nelle’s Room.” Can you grab a blanket from Nelle’s room? It was Nelle’s room first, and I had already started to refer to it as her room. Autumn has been sleeping in the master bedroom in a bassinet. When I heard the words “Autumn’s room” I was momentarily confused. I thought of “Autumn’s room” as her bassinet space, not the nursery.
I cannot escape what that room represents. I’m held by the room that has been saved for our babies. I cannot change the room, so I make the best of it.