Posted by: Louise | January 16, 2011

Comfort

The Little Boy Racer has a ‘Dotey’. He likes to smell it.

He’s had it all his life. He has always liked the feel of fabric over his face. It calms him, helps him sleep. When he was only a few months old I put him into his cot, head facing the end and feet at the top, for a short while as I ran to do something. I returned to find him with all the blankets pulled over his face, from above. He was struggling. He couldn’t get them down off his face (because he had pulled them from above) and what was meant to comfort was causing fear.

I remembered the little comforter I had made for the Giraffe Princess when she was born – a small quilted triangle with a head and a long hat. She had never taken to it, always preferred her flower blanket, so I found it tucked away in a drawer and gave it to LBR. Initially I would lie it over his face to help him sleep. It was small enough never to be a breathing risk. Nowadays, and for the last number of years, he smells Dotey’s hat.

A year and a half ago, Dotey’s face began to wear thin. I’ve smelled my Dotey too much, the LBR wailed as he noticed the fraying fabric. I fashioned a new face over the original one to buy sometime. Last winter the body started to fray…………..and fray…………..and fray.

Dotey is not a pretty sight. Astro Boy has banned him from his bed. He smells too bad. I find bits of Dotey around the house as his disintegration picks up speed. A few months ago I made new Dotey. I thought if I transferred the hat onto new Dotey, this might solve the problem. NO. The two Dotey’s share LBRs bed, but not his love. There is only one Dotey.

We went abroad to a brother’s wedding. I found a cloth bag to tuck Dotey’s fraying remains into – Dotey’s wedding dress – his hat peeped out the top. We know and love Dotey, but the rest of the world just wouldn’t understand.

The Giraffe Princess took to her flower blanket when she was hospitalized at ten months. It graduated from being the blanket that warmed her legs in the buggy to essential comforter. It may have been her comforter for months, there warming her legs, traveling with her wherever she went. I noticed how much more than a blanket it was when she was hospitalised.

We lost it when she was four, left behind in a motorway service station. I was pregnant with the LBR. Nightmare. All our efforts to find it failed. I had already bought a blanket for the new baby, which by chance had giraffes on it. Her passion for giraffes was well established. She accepted the replacement. A few years later K was talking to her about his deceased father and was trying to describe the loss he felt at his father’s absence. I know, Daddy, she said. That is how I feel when I think about my flower blanket.

Astro Boy is more matter of fact. There is bunny and there is blanket. They sleep with him. That is that. He loves them. They travel with him virtually, but there is no smelling, no neediness attached to them. They just are.

When I was pregnant with Laura, I had her blanket picked out. It was a Gymboree blanket – they each had one. Hers would have butterflies on it. My sister-in-law was in the States on holidays, heading to Gymboree for me when she got the message that Laura had died…..

I never got a blanket for Laura.

A year after Laura died, I spotted her blanket on ebay and I realised how much I wanted it. It has been on the chair beside my bed for months.

In early December, a very dear friend of mine, C, went into hospital to give birth to her twins. Her journey to this point had been a particularly long one, filled with heartache and loss. I was to be her birth partner. It felt like such a gift. I wasn’t blind to the emotional mine field that this gift was nestled in.

I practically ran down the corridor to her delivery room, past the first cries of living, breathing babies entering the world. One of her doctors, who had been on my care team when I had Laura, gave me a second look. She came back into the room a short while later and walked straight over to me. I knew I recognised you, she said. I braced myself. You are a parent in my daughter’s school. I was negotiating the mines like a pro.

In the early hours of the morning, C got cold and the midwife found a blanket for her.

My heart stopped.

It was the same hospital issue blanket Laura had been wrapped in when she was born. I sat beside C, staring at the blanket. There was so much emotion wrapped up in that fabric. The sweetest and saddest experience of my life woven into its threads.

I reached out tentatively. I just wanted to touch it. I rested a tiny portion of the blanket on my knee and allowed my fingers to trace the weave, allowed my body to remember, held my baby again just for a moment.

Are you cold? C asked and the land mine exploded with a slow trickle of tears on the labour ward.

She promised she would get me a blanket – a hospital issue baby blanket, a comforter threaded with love and loss. A few hours later she had two babies in her arms and had been thrown into the deep-end of parenting. The blanket was forgotten.

Last week I popped over for a visit, not the first visit since the babies arrived. Is this Laura’s blanket? C asked, as she handed it too me.

A slow trickle of tears fell again.

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Responses

  1. Oh Louise… what an amazing post. I don’t think I have ever read something quite like this. I am so very glad that you got the blanket.. I hope that you might be able to wrap it around your shoulders in those moments when you just need to feel a whisper of weight.
    A dear friend gave me a huge blue fuzzy blanket after Cullen died. I go to it often for this same reason.. the softness, the weight, the warmth, the color. I wish I didn’t need it as much as I do, but I am grateful for it just the same.
    love and light….


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