“It’s a girl,” the ultrasound tech said. I smiled at my husband who was standing next to me and squeezed his hand. "A girl," I thought. "Huh."
“And she looks totally healthy,” the tech added with confidence. A wave a relief swept over me, but why was I feeling sad? When I said I didn’t care if we had a boy or a girl, I believe I really meant it. But then again, I had only envisioned having another boy. A boy to sleep in Jake’s crib. A boy to wear his clothes and swaddle in his blue blankets. A boy to fill the crooks of my arms that were still aching to hold him. I never envisioned a girl.
A year and a half ago, 36 weeks into my pregnancy with Jake, I went into labor. A short time later, we came to the awful realization that his heart had stopped beating in the womb. He was delivered by C-section. Before Jake was placed in my arms, he was dressed in a blue sleeper and swaddled in a bright yellow knit blanket. He was warm and soft and so beautifully perfect. I imagined he was just asleep. One week later, I stood at the cemetery watching the smallest casket I had ever seen lowered into the ground.
After Jake died, it was painful to look at all of the things that had been ready and waiting for him at home. And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to put some of them away. For several months, the changing table stood in the living room stacked with diapers and a full wipe warmer waiting to be plugged in. The empty wooden cradle rocked next to my bed—a painful reminder every morning when I peeked into its emptiness. And even though I eventually stored those things away in the basement, I couldn’t bring myself to touch his bedroom. It seemed to be the only proof he ever existed—his own room, freshly carpeted, with a new white dresser. Angel figurines, gifts from friends and family, posed on every inch of the dresser top. A large paper bag filled with sympathy cards and left over bulletins from his funeral sat on the floor. The bright yellow knit blanket was draped over the side of the crib. His tiny blue sleeper lay folded in a satin box where I could take it out and hold it to my face, trying to breathe him in. That room held all the remaining hopes and memories and treasures of Jake.
So, as I lay on the ultrasound table that day, I realized having a girl meant I would have to pack those things away. I could no longer leave the room as it had been—waiting for Jake. And as much as I wanted this little girl, the wave of sadness that passed through me was for the little boy who I was still missing.
In time, the idea of having a girl really did grab hold of my soul. Jake would always have his own space in my heart. And even before she was born, this little girl found her own space in my heart too. Now I needed to give her her own space in my home. And that space would be Jake’s old room. So when the time came to pull those blue clothes out of the drawers and replace them with the pink ones, I cried tears of grief for the life that had been taken from me, but I also cried tears of gratefulness for the life I was about to be given.