Blue Fleece Blanket

It’s cold out right now, especially by Vancouver standards. So tonight, I added a blue fleece blanket to Hannah’s bed. It’s dark blue – almost navy, but not quite. It was a wedding gift from Jon’s aunt, as I recall. Or maybe a bridal shower gift. It came in a hat box with purple flowers all over it. I still have the hat box – and the blanket. As I smoothed the blanket out on Hannah’s bed, I remembered a day very much like this, almost six years ago.

It was cold and clear. There was no snow on the ground, but it was icy and frosty and you had to walk carefully, especially if you were 7 1/2 months pregnant, which I was. On that day, which happened to be a Saturday, I woke up in the very early morning because my water broke. I thought I must be mistaken, though, because my due date was still six weeks away. It was too soon. But I couldn’t sleep, so I went downstairs to lie on the couch and watch TV. The furnace hadn’t turned on yet, because it was so early, so I wrapped the blue fleece blanket around myself.

I couldn’t rest, because I had to run upstairs every 20 minutes or so, as my amniotic fluid leaked out in gushes. Abandoned on the couch, the blanket waited, and I returned to it again and again, until I couldn’t ignore the signals anymore. I made the call, and then woke my husband and hastily packed a grocery bag with a few things. But not the things I actually needed, of course. I grabbed some towels, and wrapped myself (still wearing pajamas) in the blue fleece blanket for the ride to the hospital. I waddled into the emergency room with that blanket, as Jon parked the car.

The blanket was discarded someplace upon my arrival in the maternity ward. I don’t remember what happened to it next. I only remember, afterward, washing it. It looked clean, but I knew it had amniotic fluid on it, and it smelled of hospital. I hate that smell, and I had to get it out.

Later on, I discovered that an infection in that same amniotic fluid had triggered my early labour, and resulted in my daughter’s prematurity. The pathology report from my (or, I suppose, Hannah’s) placenta showed that. This blanket bore the signs of that. It probably harboured the very bacteria that my uterus had, at least for a time, splashed as it was with my uterine contents. But now, it is just another blanket.

I remember Hannah’s second year, when she would wake up at 6:00am and refuse to go back to sleep. I parked her on one end of the couch, with my feet on top of her so that she couldn’t wander off without my knowledge, and turned on Treehouse. Then I propped up my head on a cushion and wrapped the blue fleece blanket around myself and tried to sleep. I usually could, at least a little. Sleep deprivation does that, it lets you sleep in places and positions that you normally wouldn’t consider restful.

Today, the blanket is much more innocuous. It is not the spectator at a premature birth, or even a premature waking. It is just a way to keep warm. Really, I suppose that’s all it ever was. A way to keep warm, at a moment when I needed that. But now I will never be able to look at it that way. It is the Blue Fleece Blanket in my mind, and it always will be. Just as the lamp I made the night before Hannah was born is now Hannah’s lamp, and the bean salad that I ate and marveled at after Jacob’s birth will always be Jacob’s bean salad. Sometimes, life stamps an object, and changes it forever. Even if you’re the only one who can see it.

What objects are forever associated with momentous occasions in your mind? Can you ever use them without thinking of that occasion? I’d love to hear!

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  1. I love how you make me think of these things, wonderful memories that they are. I remember the day after I had Tegan – after being up all night with her nursing every hour – laying on our loveseat. The loveseat was covered with a soft fleece blanket that looks like a lambskin and I curled up there with Tegan beside me and fell into a glorious sleep. My midwives arrived about 15 mins into my nap and did our 24 hour check up and I laid there while they checked her over. We still have the blanket and it still hangs out in our living room. I also still have the outfit I wore home from the hospital, it doesn’t fit anymore but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it.

  2. I have a multi-coloured sheet set for our old queen size bed. When I went into the hospital to be induced, I took a pillow from our bed to have, and in haste grabbed that pillowcase from the linen closet. I wanted not to worry about a lack of comfy pillows in the often uncomfortable hospital beds. (I love my pillows).

    That pillowcase reminds me of the hospital and the first four days of my son’s life, and how strange, painful, exhausting, and exciting it was. I love the colours, and the pattern. I bought that sheet set when I bought the bed, with the help of a former amour. It always reminded me of him, so we never used it that much (obvious reasons), but now it has new meaning!

    I have to find that sheet set so I can take a pillow with that pillowcase again this time. Tradition, you see. 😉

  3. I can’t think of any objects that I associate with special memories. I do have songs with associations. One song reminds me of a road trip I took with my friends in high school, another reminds me of a summer spent in Boston studying ballet, another reminds me of my roomate at my first apartment, etc. There are a number of songs I cannot hear without thinking of a certain place or a certain person. I think of them as the soundtrack of my life.
    Shana’s last post … I am a motherMy Profile

  4. That’s a lovely story, I’m so glad you shared it..

    I have a box of “treasures”. Each item is tiny, but signifigantly attached to my childhood.
    A tiny rubber goat that reminds me of the summer on Gabriola Island when my sister and I would walk down to Silva Bay and play tennis (our version of it) and then find our way to the hole-in-the-wall gift shop with an assortment of all sorts of small items in our kid-budgets including my favourite, the small rubber critters.
    A little unicorn that reminds me of my very best friend as a child. She still has the matching one too.
    There is also a shell in there that reminds me of all the magic I beleived in as a child. The shell is horn-shaped, and I wished it was a unicorn horn, and pretended it was.

    There are other memory items I cling to, some that remind me of my dad, other remind me of trips or significant events…. thankfully most are small.
    *pol’s last post … Mountains of FoodMy Profile

  5. This is a lovely story. I only wish you had included a photograph (I’m picturing the blanket in my mind’s eye, though). 🙂

    On another note, I so wish that I’d followed up on the pathology report from my placenta from my son’s birth – he was born unexpectedly at 36 weeks… I have a feeling I was leaking fluid slowly for several weeks previous. I’d really like to know what story his placenta held. The doctor said it was prematurely calcified, but that’s all I knew.
    kelly @kellynaturally’s last post … Hearty Vegetarian Bean &amp Mushroom SoupMy Profile

    • I didn’t follow up on the pathology report, they got back to me. I think it’s like a lot of medical tests – you only hear if they find something worth telling you about. I gather that they don’t usually find anything.

  6. Amber, I just clicked on the link you provided to your weather averages. Really, it doesn’t get below freezing or out of the 70’s there? I’m jealous… sounds idyllic.
    kelly @kellynaturally’s last post … Hearty Vegetarian Bean &amp Mushroom SoupMy Profile

    • It’s below freezing now – but just barely. And we do get hot snaps, but not many. Most people (myself included) don’t have air conditioning. The climate in Vancouver is pretty much identical to Seattle. Lots and lots of rain, and not many extremes.

  7. I know exactly what you mean. What a lovely post.

  8. The lambskin Eve still can’t sleep without at age seven — which we all call Eve’s Fuzzy. The old, smooth wooden spoon I took from my mother’s kitchen when I moved out. Angus’s Baby Charlie.
    allison’s last post … My Biblio YearMy Profile

  9. That blanket has had some adventures. I can’t recall any object having a connection to a momentous occasion. I’ve sat here for a bit thinking, but I’ve got nothing.
    Marilyn @ A Lot of Loves’s last post … Loving the NowMy Profile

  10. I have so many family treasures that are memory holders: the big turkey platter given to me by my now deceased MIL that I use for every Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner and my simple silver candlesticks that not only graced the many family dinners but had a place of honour at my childrens’ weddings and several family funerals.Then there’s my sewing kit, given to me by my young husband for our first Christmas, and which, at the time, disappointed me because it was so practical, and which now I hold very dear.

    I have kept many of my children’s and grand-childrens drawings and almost all of the hand-made cards and valentines. I even have some hand-crafted Christmas ornaments that have survived the years and enjoy thinking of my friends as I place their ornament gifts to me on the tree. And, although I have little left of my Dad, outside of family photos, I have a card he gave to me which I carefully keep in my treasure box.

    I also have the old family bible and a letter from a great-uncle written to my grand-father in Norwegian on the eve of Armistice Day in 1918.

    I find anything that was hand-crafted by family members is a treasure and so I have tablecloths, lace and doilies whose workmanship I marvel over. And, yes, I still keep some soft sweaters knitted for my children. As well, we have a big trestle table made by my FIL 50 years ago and a corner china cabinet made by my husband’s grandfather.There’s an old embroidery sampler and a small water colour, precious only to those of us who remember the people who made them many years ago. And I warm myself with the scarves and afghans made for me by friends whose gifts keep my body and my heart warm.

    I have collected seashells and rocks from all around the world and especially treasure the small red pebble from Ayers Rock (Uluru.) And there is a piece of coral from a cay although I did not take anything from Pele on another shore.

    I have an old copy of Gifts from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg and I read it every few years as I move from one passage to another. I also give copies to the women and girls in my family so they, too, can think on the wisdom of passing time.

    From my mother I have teacups and a rosary and the precious recipes for turkey stuffing and potato salad.

    As I packed up all of my things to move, I was struck by how valuable the most humble possessions can be. I decided I could bear losing most of the more “valuable” household goods, but that these keepsakes were hugely important to me.

    Thanks, Amber, for the chance to think about some of my family treasures.

  11. I home birthed in a really ugly long shirt that I had owned forever. Well, I didn’t think it was ugly before I birthed in it, it was one of my favourite shirts. But now it is my “Homebirth shirt” and I will likely never be able to part with it even though I can’t bring myself to wear it anymore. I wish I had thought more about what I wanted to wear at my birth because it is on all the pictures and it is not a restful shirt at all. Very loud.
    I have a gravy boat that has a lot of sentiment associated with it. Weird huh? I even wrote a post about it. I can’t think of anything else though. I loved your story. Very beautiful. But where’s the picture? 🙂

    • Now that a couple people have asked me this question, I have to tell you that I wrote this post at 11pm last night. I was not in a position at that time to get a photo. And if you did see one, you would likely be unimpressed. It’s dark blue polar fleece, with the occasional bit of link stuck to it.

  12. What a nice post. I’m a firm believer that stuff is, yes, just stuff, but it also has the power of evoking special memories and of carrying family histories.
    Francesca’s last post … Three days in JanuaryMy Profile

  13. I have an old battered purse that I’ll always remember as the one I carried with me in London, a diaper bag I used to haul all of my early-insecure-mom items around, trimmer bag for later outings . . . I get attached to bags.
    Lady M’s last post … The Big Boy BedMy Profile

  14. Two years ago or so my husband was hospitalized and diagnosed with a chronic illness, totally changing our lives forever. I trashed every bit of clothing, even pieces that were brand new, a month or so later, everything I wore or bought during that period.

    Usually though I believe that stuff is just stuff, and there is not much I hold onto for sentimental value.

  15. What a lovely story. Memories triggered by things can be so powerful that we attach that meaning to the object, there is just no getting around it. I really try to let stuff be stuff, though sometimes unsuccessfully. My sentimental side fights with my de-cluttering side often.
    Amber’s last post … Knit Baby Blanket Contest on Make Baby StuffMy Profile

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