Where’d My Baby Go?

Oh the memories

Oh the memories

We’re doing serious purging at our house right now.  We’ve been vicious.  Haven’t played with it or used it in a while and not donation quality? Purge. Nothing has been spared: old televisions, clothes, toys, pots and pans, etc.  It has been cathartic watching the pile of junk in our attic, closets and guest room dwindle.  Cathartic hearing the heavy “thunk” as we chuck something into the dumpster.

But I’ve had a lump in my throat all weekend.  I was tempted to blame residual grief over last week’s work drama for the lump, but that didn’t seem quite right.

In our zeal to purge, we went through Daniel’s baby gear, and I set aside items to take to a coworker and took a lot to a local thrift store. Pack n Plays (we have 3). Bouncers. Bumbos. Snap n Go. The car seat in which we brought Daniel home from the hospital.  As I sorted, I realized that I was sad about giving away these tokens of Daniel’s babyhood.  Many of these were items we registered for at Babies R Us before his birth, giddy and still somewhat in disbelief that we had reached that milestone. Allowing ourselves finally to ponder the specs on car seats and the combo stroller vs the lighter weight Snap N Go. The bouncy seat that calmed him but also induced rage when he felt taunted by the animals that hovered just above his grasp. The play gym that amused him and was the source of many coos and giggles. I think its music is permanently stored in my memory.

We have tons of pictures of Daniel.  His babyhood is well documented, and I’m sure we have multiple pictures and videos of him playing with or in these items, but it stung to acknowledge these tangible reminders of his infancy, of our euphoria at finally achieving our hard-fought goal, as items we no longer need.

Part of it is due to how fast life is moving. I know that Daniel is growing up.  Hell, he’s almost 4.  FOUR!!!!!  Each night as he whines about some aspect of the bedtime routine, we’ve responded, “We know you can do this.  You’re almost 4.” It’s true and it works, but holy shit, how did  he come to be almost 4???? Last time I checked, he was a tiny baby. What worm hole did we enter?

The other part of it is our infertility history. While never ignored or forgotten, it manages to pop up when I least expect it.  I don’t know if we’ll have another child.  I hope we will, but if we do, it is still likely a few years off.  Keeping bouncy chairs and bumbos for a potential sibling that might not materialize for years seemed silly at best and masochistic at worst.

I did keep a few things.  Items that have so much meaning that I can’t quite bear to part with them. Maybe I’ll have to part with them in a few years, but I’m not ready yet.  I’m not quite sure how I got to the point where a car seat was so symbolic, but it is.

Despite my sadness, I’m glad to be able to pass on what we could.  I like knowing that the items we chose so carefully or were gifted by generous friends and family will help another family.  I like thinking about my coworker’s baby boy playing with the toys that we picked out for our sweet boy when he was a baby. I don’t want to become a hoarder who saves everything because she can’t bear to get rid of something.  It helps knowing some other child may get great joy or some other family will have their needs met by our items.

I’ve enjoyed every stage with Daniel, truly.  Infancy was sooooo sweet.  Toddlerhood was challenging but exciting. He’s a definite little boy now, and every day he comes home with new knowledge and cheek and makes us laugh and melt with his sweetness.  Sometimes, though, I wish I could press pause.  Time is moving so quickly. Too quickly.  In a few years, we might be selling his train table and trains on Craig’s List.  It’s a good reminder to try to enjoy every single moment.

This wistfulness? They don’t mention that in the parenting books.  It hurts. A lot.



  1. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I don’t know where that worm hole way, but we entered it too. And like you, I had an initial purge when it just didn’t make sense to store things that we didn’t know for certain if we’d need, especially things we could get easily again. And yet, getting rid of those things gutted me. We also did it in two (or really more) sweeps, and there are still bags and bags of clothes, boxes and boxes of toys. Part of me feels badly hording them from the rest of the universe. Part of me feels like they’re all I have beyond the pictures to remind me because they’re so grown up.

  2. All I’ve done so far is donate clothes we didn’t like/didn’t use/duplicate outfits and let a friend borrow the bigger items and equipment. I packed up a bunch of 0 – 12 month clothing and I cried like a baby doing that. Even though we still own it, even though we’re planning on another child (and I don’t think we should expect we can’t have another, although I suspect we’ll have to do the same treatments we did before, hopefully it won’t be harder than it was) and it was HARD. It’s hard to feel like you’re packing up all the tokens, as you said, of that small space of time that you can only get back in photos and memories. Moving forward is good– and purging stuff from one’s house feels REALLY good– but it IS hard to feel like you’re leaving something behind.

    I do hope that, if it’s what you want, you get a chance to acquire a few new baby things someday. ❤

  3. I’m with you. It goes way too fast. I have kindergarten registration on THursday. I’ll need a certified birth certificate, proof of residency, vaccination card and box of tissues to make it through.

  4. We’ve been purging here, too. Luckily (or not) we borrowed a lot of gear, so it was easier. And when we had N, we borrowed everything. But there are other things that have been going away. And I feel a keen sense of loss, yet a need to throw it all away. I’m caught between erasure and preservation. It’s a strange place to be.

  5. I can’t even bring myself to purge. My husband has gotten rid of some stuff (behind my back!) and I’m simultaneously mad and grateful that I didn’t have to make the decision. Because I cannot make that decision. The decision to get rid of even one single piece of baby clothing is in my mind the decision to let go forever the dream of having more children. And yes yes yes on the wistfulness and the hurt. I am full of wonder & pride at how my 3 year old is growing up, and it breaks my heart, all at once. There is such loss in parenting…its a constant process of letting go…they don’t mention it, do they? Or would we have understood it if they did?

  6. It does hurt. We’ve hung on to almost everything, since we’re hoping to either have a biological child through fertility treatments, or adopt, within the next 5 years- but every time I pack up his things for the attic, or get rid of something, I wonder if we’ll ever need that again. And I’m hit with how big my little guy is getting, I mean it feels like we just brought him home from the hospital! It’s flying by too fast.

  7. Ah, I had a lump in my throat reading this. I’m in the same spot (3 yo and not sure if there’ll be another), except that I haven’t given a single thing away. Our garage is packed. I feel like giving anything away is letting go of the dream of another and accepting that my son’s babyhood is long gone. No, they didn’t mention this one in the parenting books at all.

  8. My reaction to this point was rather bipolar – I was super energized by the purging part because I LOVE getting rid of stuff. It’s the best feeling – extra space in your house, knowing the stuff is going to people who can use it, etc. My husband is quite a saver, so it’s especially exciting when I get the chance to get rid of stuff. On the other end of the spectrum, my heart hurt reading about how quickly kids grow. My two-year-old has been so ornery and uncooperative lately (the legendary terrible twos), and I find myself hoping it goes by quickly. AM I CRAZY? A year from now, and especially five, ten, fifteen years from now, I’ll be wishing I had this time back. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  9. I’m doing this right now. It’s hard. I’ve purged through the same 3 bins of baby clothes twice now. The thing is I’ll never need any of it again and someone else will. It makes me sad too and a little crazy. Thanks for pointing out the positives on giving babyhood stuff away. It helped me.

  10. Here from Creme de la Creme. Thank you for this post! I’m resisting the purge because I badly want a second child though I don’t know if I have the energy to keep trying. Infertility has knocked all the wind right out of me. I’m exhausted. So our garage is full of baby gear that I try not to look at because I’m not ready to give up but not sure I can go on.

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