Friday, August 20, 2010

Fall into the gap

So I was having a really stressful day at work today (actually, a stressful WEEK...) and what did I do on my lunch hour?

As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough go... shopping, lol.

But in this case, the going just got tougher, because I went shopping at... Baby Gap. (Really smart, eh?) I realized it was Friday, we are seeing FIL & stepMIL tomorrow -- & stepMIL's grandson's 2nd birthday is next week. We are not invited to the party (not that I wanted to be...!) but I knew we should probably get him a little something. Not many toy stores in the vicinity of my office, & I have no idea what sorts of toys would appeal to a two-year-old boy (never mind one who already has a gazillion toys). And I was walking by Baby Gap and for some reason, went in. It seemed like an easy buy.

And I did walk out 20 minutes later with a cute fleece hoodie in a gift box in a Baby Gap bag (which is so cute & classic you don't even need to buy a separate gift bag, I think), 30% off. Unfortunately, I also walked out feeling even more battered than when I walked in. (Are you surprised?)

I used to LOVE Baby Gap. Shopped there all the time for baby presents for friends & relatives. Used to joke I should buy Gap stock, since I spent so much money there. (I didn't, but I did follow the stock in the pages of the newspaper for awhile.) Dreamed of the day that I would be shopping there for my own wee ones.

When I was pregnant, I saw an adorable little white cotton summer dress there. I fingered it wistfully, and thought about how cute our daughter would look in it. (By then, we knew we were having the little girl we had always dreamed about.) We knew we would be attending a wedding in July 1999, & would at least be bringing the baby to the church ceremony. I briefly considered buying it now, but there were already clouds hovering on the horizon of my pregnancy, & I knew I could probably find something similar closer to the time. So I never bought the dress, to my eternal regret.

(We attended the wedding with empty arms, & visited the cemetery between the church ceremony & the reception. Thinking about how differently we'd pictured the day. Three other women had been pregnant at the engagement party the previous year; they were all there with their babies, of course.)

I used to have to trek up to the Baby Gap store at the Eaton Centre on my lunch hour. And then, in the spring of 1998, when I was pregnant, a sign went up in a vacant storefront in the office tower across the street from mine (easily accessible via the underground PATH): COMING SOON: Baby Gap. Needless to say, I was thrilled!!

So you can imagine how I felt when I returned to work after Katie was stillborn -- & there it was, open already. I had almost forgotten about it, & seeing it there was like a sudden, unexpected slap in face.

Needless to say, it was a LONG time -- years -- before I could bring myself to enter a Baby Gap store again. And my visits have been far less frequent than they once were.

Sometimes, it hasn't been too bad. And then there are days like today, when I'm greeted by an adorable dress like THIS

hanging on a rack right near the door as I walked in, paired with a little black cardigan. (It looks dark pink right now on my screen, but it was red in the store.)

Absolutely adorable.

Absolutely perfect for Christmas, & Christmas/November birthday portraits.

Absolutely heartbreaking.

I don't know why something like that still has the power to bother me so much, 12 years later. For one thing, if Katie were here, I certainly wouldn't be shopping for her at Baby Gap. She'd be a big girl now -- almost 12 years old -- going into Grade 7 -- GRADE 7!!! Junior high!!!

But that's just the point. She's NOT here. She never will be.

She never got to wear adorable little dresses from Baby Gap (or fight with me over the skinny jeans I'm sure she'd be insisting on having to wear back to school this fall). She never got to have dh's cousins buy stuff for her, the way that I bought stuff for their kids. She never got to have people fuss over how adorable she looked, the way I fussed over their kids.

Baby Gap will never be just another store to me. It will always speak to me of another gap in my life -- of broken dreams and unfulfilled due dates and a little girl who never drew a breath.

And little white dresses, never bought.

(Like this one.)


  1. sorry old Grief paid you another painful visit. Hoping tomorrow will be a better day.

  2. The Baby Gap dresses do have a rather wistful quality, I think, especially the very simple, classic dresses. A simple polka-dot dress that buttons up the back, with a round collar, fills my whole heart (and much of my throat). I have had several sad moments hurrying past that store. Once I went in to buy a gift, and it was awful. I overspent, too, because I couldn't stay to browse for a good deal!

    The wedding and baby card aisle at Target has been beating me up for years and shows no signs of letting up.

    This was another very moving post. I wish you had that dress, too.

    The hoodie is a perfect gift, and no, you don't need another gift bag. : )

  3. Big hugs!

    It still has the power to bother you because Katie is still with you, forever in your heart. The pain [unfortunately] will never go but it will dull over time and as it does a little more peace will creep in every time.


  4. sending you hugs ... who knew that such heartbreak could still come upon you when you were expecting a fairly straightforward trip.

    On a recent trip to the cemetary in my hometown, where my grandparents are buried, I went to find the headstone of Sarah - a little girl who drowned at 3 in the family pool, back when I was probably 10 yo or so. Her death still touches my heart although I didn't know her well. It was my first trip to see her resting place. I also went to the area where other wee ones have been buried, and thought of all the dreams and heartbreak that most people don't see and acknowledge as time goes on ...

  5. Hugs from someone who know how hard it is to go to Baby Gap. Wishing you a gentle weekend.


  6. I think she would have looked delightful in either and both. I'm so sorry she couldn't wear them. I would buy every one and send them to you, if that would help.

  7. My heart breaks for you. sending lots of love and big hugs.

  8. This post really resonated with me. I still feel like a giant faker when I walk into children's stores, and for some reason especially so at BabyGAP. I think it was because the first baby present I ever bought was for my oldest friend who had her first child at 19 under less-than-ideal circumstances. And I always thought, 'Someday, I'll be buying clothes there for MY kids,' the subtext somehow being that *I* would have kids at the right time and under the best of circumstances. How arrogant I feel now looking back at that time.

    Anyway, I did venture in to a BabyGap this past fall, and I did manage to buy a thing or two (foolishly, given that what I bought is seasonally inappropriate given the boys' size and the current weather!). But I walked out feeling like the biggest fakest person in the world, and I haven't been able to go back in since then. Sigh.

    Anyway, great post. Oh, and weirdly, I was just remembering their 1990s ad campaign the other day with the "Fall-In-to-The-Gap" line... weird that I just randomly thought of that so recently and here it's the title of your post!

  9. Loribeth, this is one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking posts I've ever read. Huge hugs to you, and know that you're in my thoughts often.

  10. I wish you'd been able to buy and use that little white dress, and I wish you were fighting Katie over the appropriateness of skinny jeans on a 12-year old right now.

    I was on a pregnancy chat board on iVillage when I was pregnant with Thomas, and all the other moms are now littering Facebook with "My son/daughter" is a Kindergartener!!" posts, and all I can do is walk past rows of back-to-school clothes and wonder what that's like.

    It's a strange existence.

    I think it's very sweet that you risked breaking your heart (again) to buy that little hoodie yesterday. I hope they truly appreciate it, and understand what an incredible and thoughful effort it was for you.


  11. i wish you had that dress.
    beautiful, heartbreaking post.

  12. I am so sorry. I wish there was something more I could say.

  13. Me again!

    This is interesting:

    And the soul cysters reading your blog might want to have a look at this too:

  14. It's incredible the things that can trip you up. There are times, events and places we prepare ourselves for, knowing they will be painful and will cost us a piece of ourselves, and then there are the things that come out of nowhere. Sending you a huge hug.

  15. Oh Shit Loribeth, this is so tough. I'm impressed beyond measure that you even went into the store. It's odd, but even I still walk very very quickly down the baby aisle and make decisions extremely fast so I can get the hell out of there. Some of those stores come with a whiff of Joyful fantastic (and completely unsarcastic) optimism that makes me a bit ill.

    I would have bought her cute patent leather shoes for with the first, and bought you a bucket of bleach for the second. Much love.

  16. It's the approaching fall and school year, isn't it? It gets you thinking of time passing and the what ifs.

  17. Thinking of you and Katie, and wishing your heart some easing. Those dresses are lovely.

  18. It's funny (but not really) the things that get to us, isn't it?

  19. A little late, but (*hugs*)

    Those little reminders can be so very hard. I don't like going to baby stores, near baby stores, or even around baby sections in supermarkets... my heart goes out to you.