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