I know it doesn’t seem like much, but pants can become a big deal when you’re caught in the rift between what almost was and what devastatingly is.
In one of my first days off from work after learning Dakota’s diagnosis, B and I bundled up in layers and drove out to Montauk to build a beach fire and talk. It felt like a transformational moment at the time, this meeting of the minds to shore up our confidence in facing the uphill climb, to take stock of the reassuring aspects of his prognosis, to commit to his treatment and make a plan. The following day I packed up all my regular clothes, which were exploding from every drawer and hanger, into winter and summer bins that were moved promptly to the garage. I finally picked through the mother lode of hand-me-down maternity stuff I had been hoarding for weeks in the spare bedroom, followed by a trip to Motherhood to buy a few things for spring that made me feel pretty with my big belly. I filled the empty closet and drawers with knit dresses, ruched t-shirts in Easter egg colors, and sock-waisted jeans. I was committing myself to him, the pregnancy, my role as his mother, and the moral imperative to stay strong for our sick child.
It wasn’t until Philadelphia that the outlook veered wildly to the left. The MFM here had missed a horde of things on his ultrasound, and Dakota’s situation was grave. In a manner of weeks we had gone from blissfully expectant to grieving parents morbidly making private burial arrangements for our boy. And since it’s not enough to lose one’s child to a lethal birth defect after nearly six months of carrying him, I also had to make arrangements for him to come out. A woman spilled her entire cup of coffee on my belly at the Au Bon Pain in Penn Station that day, effectively ruining the new pastel sweater I had purchased just a few weeks earlier – so much symbolism in the clothes.
Today I’m struggling with this aching hole in my chest, and just finding the gumption to shower, brush my hair, leave the house seems impossible. I’d rather cry into my blanket on the couch, drink wine before noon, take Xanax and sleep all day. I’m fighting against this powerful lure into the cocoon, so I went into the bedroom to find something to wear out into the Sunday sunshine only to be confronted with a closet full of sweet things meant to attire a reality that doesn’t belong to me now, and it was almost enough to send me back to bed. Fuck it, though: I need to go buy some pants, ones that suit the rift, unpregnant with baby weight, in hopes that it’ll be easier to get dressed tomorrow.