We brought a white baby blanket to the hospital with us to hold Chiara in after she was born. We brought it home with us along with the memory box the hospital provided and the hat and tiny clothes she had been dressed in. I knew they were all in the bag labelled 'patient's belongings'. I wasn't quite sure I was brave enough to open that bag, and I was afraid of what I would see when I did. I knew they were stained with her blood and mine. I couldn't figure out if I wanted to see them, if they should be washed, or what we should do.
Yesterday morning I was so distraught and I could not seem to find any comfort. I opened the bag. The blanket has a splash of blood in the middle where it cradled her body. The little clothes are still wet inside their plastic bag. I held it all in all my hands and cried more, laid down in the bed with it all and just wept. I realized that although some people who have not been through this might find the blood disturbing, or my need to hold the soiled blankets and clothes strange or creepy, that what they truly are is sacred. These things, soaked through with her blood, are the only tangible evidence that she was ever here, that she lived so briefly inside me. My milk will recede, my belly will no longer look round and pregnant, memories of her kicks will grow more faint with time. The clothes and blanket help connect me to her, although I won't hold her again.