There is a back corner of our garage where baby things accumulate. It's where we hid away the little red suitcase of things we'd bought or been given for Zainab when it became clear she wasn't ever going to use them, along with the pram and carseat. Over the last six months or so of this pregnancy it is where pre-loved baby things have washed up as dear friends have pressed them upon us. Yesterday was a clear sunny day, impossibly warm for Autumn but a good washing day, so El Prima and I started our excavations.
We started with the most recently stashed away things from friends, and then gradually dug deeper into the pile, finding the pram we'd bought second-hand for Zainab and pumping up the tyres, along with all the bits and pieces for it. And finally we took a deep breath and turned to the little red suitcase. I had imagined this as a little time capsule of all our hopes for Zainab - that we could open it, and while it might be sad, there might also be something bittersweet about her little brother wearing her hand-me-downs - a connection between the two. I should have known from the weight of it that something was up, but the moment I unzipped it, we could smell what had happened - somehow water had got in and everything inside was mouldy and mildewy. At first I just took a deep breath and started separating out the irretrievable things from the ones that might come good with a good soak, but as the extent of the damage became clear, we stopped and I wept. That time, when we had felt Z kicking, and had bought these small things in anticipation - was well and truly gone - the new clothes we had bought then are no longer new but decaying. The little gold sequined mardi gras shoes were still wrapped in plastic, so they smelt musty, but were mostly okay - the blue and orange overalls were so badly mildewed that the fabric fell apart as I pulled them out. The irretrievable things I packed back into the little red suitcase - it will have to go in the bin soon, but for now I needed some means of disposal that reflects the love and sadness we have for these mouldy little scraps and the baby who was supposed to wear them.
The other things, I soaked and washed and pegged out on the line - hoping that sunshine will help get rid of the smell, and that Adzuki won't mind if some of his clothes look slightly the worse for wear because they come from his sister. Wednesday will be 36 weeks, so chances are, we'll be meeting him in the next month or so. As scary as it is, we're putting faith in that thought.
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