When Finn was a newborn and doing his time in the NICU after his surgery, I was given a little flannel doll by the nursing staff.  I wrote about it during that dark and woozy time:

I walk around with a ragdoll the NICU provided me with, stuffed into my bra for Finn. I sleep with it as well. I hope when he is able to have it, my scent will help him remember his mommy when I can’t be there with him. I hope it makes him somehow feel how very much I love him.

It was a sort of bridge between me and my new, sick baby.  I couldn’t be with him all the time, I couldn’t snuggle with him and wrap myself around him as I longed to do, and the doll came to represent his missing form for me on some level, and a way for him to know his mommy’s presence through scent.

When he came home, I placed the doll in his bassinet with him, where it remained until he finally outgrew the bassinet and moved into a crib in his own room.  At that point, I put it away in a drawer in his room.  He had never really developed any attachment to it; I think I had hoped it might become his “lovey,” but it never did.

All this time – three years now – it’s been stowed away in the back of a drawer, along with baby blankets long outgrown.

Then this morning, I found it in the girls’ playroom, casually tossed aside with a pile of toys, forlorn and undone.

It used to have a little yellow flannel hat stitched on, and a yellow length of yarn tied in a bow around its neck.  Now it was just a shapeless piece of flannel with a gob of cotton stuffed inside.  I felt like crying.  I was furious.  Furious that the girls had taken something that didn’t belong to them and ruined it without a thought.  That they so casually demeaned something that, as it turns out, means so much to me.

I ranted and yelled at them.  And I felt a grief well up inside me.  Why did this silly doll mean so much to me?  Why have I hung onto this talisman of sadness in the first place?  Finn was never attached to it – I don’t even know if he really got something from it during his time in the NICU.  I’m still trying to figure out exactly what my attachment to it is.  What does it represent?  An ability to do something during a time of what felt like utter helplessness?  Maybe.  And what about now?

Maybe it’s as simple as being a sometimes much-needed reminder of a tough time we got through.  Intact and thriving.



3 Comments on “Remnants”

  1. DS Class of 2008
    March 26, 2012 at 2:09 am #

    They may not remember much and in reality it’s kinda GREAT that they don’t attach a huge stigma to that time and that they LOVE the doll. And aren’t (weren’t, they are now!) worried about touching or have their own taboo memories. They likely have FOND but odd at times feelings attached to the memories.

    As a person whose house had a lot of shrines, your kids reaction was great. Work on yours and keep treasures in places that are shrines or known sacred places. Losing a ribbon and new missing details are a reminder that IT’S FIN’S doll to cherish the stories you tell him about it and HE’S FINE NOW. Remenants remain and good cause you learn tons about you. Hug yourself and lots of kiddies and show them what is sacred and sometimes it’s a doll. I’m praying the doll remains FIN’S and you can transform it now to what you intended as you put it in the drawer–a long treasured and honored piece of good luck. Fin can treasure it in his own way, with or without your help and odds are that way may change over time. Maybe a shadowbox that has a front or back you can open or a secure box with any other treasure from NICU. You can make it come alive for him and your family and YoU too. Or a shoebox marked FIN-SPECIAL!! That works too

    Enjoy and thanks for sharing.

  2. C J Vander Wielen
    March 26, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    On the top shelf of my youngest daughter’s closet, WAY back in the corner, there is a small little blanket. It carries the name of another little girl, embroidered on top of sunshine and rainbows. And every now and then, I take it out, I hold it close and I remember. Then I put it back, until the next time I need to re-visit the love it contains within its fibers. I get it. I totally get it.

  3. TUC
    March 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    For me, these things become like a talisman, and when I see how easily it can be destroyed I feel a strong sense of loss, as if I am reminded that my child could have come undone just as easily.

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