| Musings |

My Forever Baby    

And anyway, I shouldn’t be buying a baby pink hat on the day I discover that I’m finally expecting


he sky is bluer and the grass is greener, the leaves have that satisfying crunch, and the air is refreshingly cold on that glorious, glorious day during midwinter vacation. There’s this pocket of excitement, this thrill that fills me, growing with every passing second.

I need to go somewhere, see someone, do something with all this joyous energy coursing through me. We do a girls’ day out — my mother, my sisters, myself — at this expensive boutique, half-price sale and all. We have fun dressing my sisters in gorgeous stuff (when did Sari get so big, Ma?) and narrowing down our options. It seems funny that I’m the only one aware of the latest discovery in my life.

And then I spot it: the tiniest, most precious, most perfect baby hat, baby pink and rose gold, a single soft pinch forming a gorgeous bow. The label says Sonia Rykiel, size zero to three months, $100.

“Ma, for my baby,” I say, putting it atop the heap of clothing in her arms. I say it quietly, so the shoppers don’t hear, but casually, so that she doesn’t suspect a thing.

“Gorgeous,” she says, fingering it gently, and putting it right back onto the shelf it came from.

I can’t tell her yet. It’s too early. We haven’t even absorbed it ourselves yet. And anyway, I shouldn’t be buying a baby pink hat on the day I discover that I’m finally expecting.

Sari gets stuff: an all-year-round Shabbos dress and some cute weekday tops, the little girls get matching dresses, and I walk home with empty hands but a full, full heart.

I tell my husband about the hat. I fall asleep that night with thoughts of that hat. When I share the news with my mother, I remind her about the hat we saw.

“If it’s a girl, I’m for sure getting it.”

“Our minhag is not to buy stuff in advance,” she says. My mother’s a real stickler for minhagim.

“One hat won’t make it or break it. Anyhow, I’m still weeks away from knowing if it’s a girl.”

And then — it’s not a girl. It’s not a boy, either. I lose the baby, and it’s the most painful experience in the world: losing my dreams, my hope, my naïveté, possibly forever, wondering how something so tiny and short-lived could cause such tremendous pain and heartache, havoc and mourning, and trigger such intense feelings of loss.

I cry and talk and cry and talk and repeat my story yet again, and begin to process my loss.

But I need something more, something concrete to hold on to, to look at and remember that I have a baby, even if only Upstairs; that I’m a mother forever, even if I never saw my child.

I’m in that boutique again later that season, buying a gift for a colleague who’d just had a baby, when I see that hat again, marked down. Something squeezes my heart and I take it, swipe my card.

“Should I pack them together?” the saleslady asks, displaying white, white teeth.

“No, separately, please,” I answer. She wraps the hat, first in paper, then seals it with a sticker with the boutique’s logo on it, then some ribbon, a spritz of a delicate baby perfume that instantly brings images of fuzzy pink blankets to mind, puts the whole package into a neat box, and finally into the store’s signature bag.

I stand there silently, but internally screaming. No one’s ever going to wear that hat. It’s just for me to hold on to, a physical memento of my baby, the baby I’ll never hold until Mashiach comes. It’s for me, to remind myself that my pain is real, and my baby really was, only not down here, not for the world to know or see.

I thank her, flash a perfect smile, and leave.

I’ll be glad if that hat turns yellow or white or gets cupboard stains. Because it’s a hat never meant to be worn, belonging to my forever baby, just there for silent, painful nights, for when friends share their good news, for difficult days or lazy Sundays.

It’s a tiny hat, baby pink and rose gold and perfect, a concrete reminder that I am a mother. That I have a baby. It gives me permission to remember, to heal, to move on, to laugh.

My darling, I love you.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 818)

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