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!