I was almost to my due date when I found out my baby died, so I already had two baby showers and set up my nursery. I even had sheets on the crib. My family has offered to clean out my nursery before I get home from the hospital. I don’t know if I want them to do that. Is it OK to leave my nursery set up for now?
After a pregnancy loss, you have so many unmet expectations. So many what-ifs and feelings of lost opportunity. In a late pregnancy loss, you’ve got the expectations of your friends and family as well, since the news was most likely common knowledge by the time you were approaching your due date. Baby gifts and nursery equipment are all part of that.
What to do with your baby’s things is a very personal decision. You probably already know what your gut reaction is. If you do have a strong feeling about what to do with your baby’s things, trust your instincts. Just be sure to tell your friends and family very clearly what your decision is.
Sometimes your loved ones will try to help you by taking anything baby-related out of your house before you get home. They have your best interests at heart, of course, but if that’s not what you want, they’re actually causing you more harm than good. It might not be the first thing on your mind, but if you have any feelings about it, speak up.
If you’re not sure what you want to do about your nursery yet, here are some suggestions:
- Let someone clear it out - If you don’t want to be reminded of all the things you prepared for your baby, ask a trusted friend or family member to do a sweep of your house. If you’re not sure you want to part with it forever, try to find someone who could keep it for you on a temporary basis.
Leave it as is - Maybe you’d like to leave the room preserved just as you left it. It may help you to remember your baby and work through your grief to see all the time you invested in this little person. It’s certainly one way of coping to take your time and make decisions slowly. Turning your nursery into a permanent shrine, on the other hand, may be a sign you’re not coping well. If you find yourself paralyzed by the thought of getting rid of anything intended for your baby, it may be advisable to seek counseling.
On the other hand, it could be you’ve already decided to try for more children. In that case, you may want to keep your baby’s things in preparation for another baby down the road.
- Store everything - Some women prefer to have the time to decide later. There’s nothing wrong with packing up your baby things and giving yourself a breather. You’ll know when it’s time to make a decision.
- Donate to a charity, or someone in need - If you’re certain you’re not going to use those baby items again, perhaps you know of a struggling family who could benefit from them now. Whether you know right away you want to give, or you’re making the decision later, there will always be someone who will be delighted by your generous donation.
- Sell it - Even if you’ve opened items, or washed clothing, children’s items can be readily re-sold.
What about gifts?
If you’ve had a baby shower, you no doubt have lots of gifts. Even without a shower, a lot of people can’t resist giving baby gifts. Some women wonder if they should return gifts to the people who gave them after a loss. The quick answer is: no. A gift is just that—a gift. No one will expect you to return items to them now that you can’t use them. The loss of a child is tragic, and most people would consider it insensitive to approach you about getting their gift back.
If, however, you feel strongly about returning gifts to the givers, you should feel free to do so. Your loved ones may want you to keep the gift, particularly if they are handmade or personalized gifts. If you aren’t comfortable keeping them, explain that. Perhaps a simple note will do.
For sample notes to write in regards to gifts, click here.
As with so many aspects of grief, the nursery question is a very personal one. In the end, you must trust your instincts. People will be understanding of whatever decision you make if you communicate your wishes.