After Infertility: Saying Goodbye To My Stash Of ‘For Future Baby’ Clothes

baby clothes

There is a baby in my head. He’s the one that I thought I would have someday. His name is Oliver, though my husband and I call him Ollie. I’m not quite sure why the baby of my dream is a boy, but he is. And over the past few months, I’ve begun the process of saying goodbye to this future child, the one that I’ll never get to have. I’ve grieved for him. Now, like with any other loss, it’s time to get rid of all his stuff.

Over the years, as my husband and I have been trying to conceive, I’ve collected quite a collection of “For Future Baby” paraphernalia. I have Beatrix Potter themed nursery decor, some that I’ve bought and some that I’ve actually made. I have a plethora of baby clothes that I simply couldn’t resist and got on sale. I have baby blankets and small toys that I bought, pretending that I would use them for future baby shower gifts but knowing that I didn’t want to give them away. And finally, I have gifts given to me during my last pregnancy, before we realized it was ectopic and had to remove it.

All in all, we have a tub full of baby stuff. It’s a tub for Oliver, my imaginary never-to-be child. And even if we should decide to adopt an infant at some point in time in the future, I’m just not sure that I’ll feel right passing these things along to another child.

It is time to say goodbye to Oliver, to my idea of him. To do that, I know that I need to let go of all the stuff I’ve saved for him. I need to say goodbye to the clothes and the toys and the nursery I thought he would inhabit one day.

Trying to find the best way to let go of all this stuff, and subsequently, the baby I bought them for, has proven more difficult than I imagined. Throwing them away feels callous and wasteful. Giving them to someone else feels like handing my heart over to another person. It makes me worried that I’ll always get emotional every time I see that child. They’ll be wearing a onesie or playing with a stuffed giraffe that I thought I would need to use for my own child, and I’ll just start crying over someone else’s kid. I don’t want to be that lady.

Donating my baby gear feels like the safest, most thoughtful way of saying goodbye to everything. I won’t have to run into my own clothes and blankets at unsuspecting moments. I’ll know that it helps a family who needs it. I can feel some sort of good about such a sad ending.

Donating makes the most sense. I’m 99.9% positive that in the next few weeks, I’ll take my tub of broken dreams and donate it to another family that will have a use for it. But I have a sad feeling that I’ll be crying on the car ride, struggling to say goodbye to everything those clothes and blankets mean to me.

Getting rid of all this stuff is the next step in saying goodbye to Oliver, to the child I always believed that I would have. I know that it’s necessary. I know that it will go to help someone else. I still don’t think I’ll make it through with dry eyes.

(Photo: Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock)

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  • Melissa

    You will be crying in the car, on the way there, on the way home, and probably many times after that. And that’s okay. The loss of a child that you never really “had” is still a loss, and sometimes the only people that understand the pain of that loss are the others of us who have lost a child, one who is “imaginary” to everyone else, but very much real to us. It is okay, even normal, to grieve for Oliver. It is a beautiful way to honor your son by donating his things to another little boy or girl in need.

  • Jennifer Thorn Forsman

    No words will make it any easier. I know, because I’ve been there.

  • chickadee

    Would it make you feel better to donate them to a children’s shelter? Probably not much will help….I have never been in your position, but I am hoping for the best for you. You’ve been really honest in this column, and we are all pulling for you whatever happens.

  • anon

    Obviously, I have no idea what your medical history is, except for what you’ve written and published. And, I can understand why you’re very sad, and I’m very sorry that you’ve had trouble becoming pregnant again (especially sorry about the ectopic pregnancy – that must have been very scary). However — you’re still in your mid-20s. A lot can happen in the next 15, 20 years that will make it totally possible for you to have another baby. You just never know. Even if there are no scientific breakthroughs, women who previously thought they were infertile become pregnant all the time — many of whom are much older than you are. Do what you have to do about the baby clothes, but I wouldn’t give up hope just yet about having a little Oliver.

    • anon

      PS — I vaguely remember you writing about how annoying it is when people (including doctors) dismiss your fertility concerns by referencing your age. Please know that my comment above isn’t meant to be dismissive, but encouraging and hopeful.

    • sparklesmcgee

      You should read this:

      Often it’s easier to move on by giving up hope completely. I too hope she is surprised in future, but its very painful to love in hope and disappointment, much healthier to move forward.

  • Valeri Jones

    Oh Lindsay. This post made me cry. I am so heartbroken for you and for your husband and for little Oliver, never-to-be child that won’t have the privilege of having such wonderful parents. This makes me want to have a baby FOR you as a surrogate, even though I don’t even know you except for the glorious honesty with which you write on this site.

    I, too, have suffered a devastating miscarriage. Also, like you, during my brief pregnancy I collected so much baby paraphernalia. It hurt so bad to look at the stuff when I came home from the hospital. I just wanted it gone. Most of it was taken out by my best friend, but I chose to hold on to a few things. Now, almost 3 years later, I have a son. But I also still have those few baby items from my sweet little Cayman, my never-to-be son. And it still hurts to look at them. Sometimes I think I should just get rid of them but I can’t bring myself to. Just as I couldn’t bring myself to use them for Conner when he was born. I do understand where you are and I wish you the best for everything. I will definitely keep you and your husband in my prayers. <3

  • Rachelle


  • Shelltx

    Oh how I understand. I am now 40. Every dr I’ve ever seen says there is no reason I shouldn’t be pregnant someday. But, alas….my womb was never filled. I’ve seen the two kids I gave birth to once in a dream many years ago. They are now a distant dream. And they will never be. But, God granted me the two most precious gifts through adoption. And yet my body still aches to be pg, my heart is full with two angels that call me mom. Bless you dear one. I understand.

  • LLK

    Giving up and letting go is the hardest. After 3 horrible m/cs and unsuccesful IVF over 4 yrs, I let all my baby things go (some from my first baby, some new) through selling them, gifts to my niece that lives far away, and the rest donated. It was really hard, but I really felt like I had to clear out the house. Start over. And feel genuinely happy for the babies that would use things from my stash.

    I then spent the next two years tracking my cycle and ttc, and slowly accepting the idea of a donor egg. That was hard, too. But on the day of my first DE appt, I got a positive pee test. Against all odds, she stuck and I delivered a baby girl at 44.

    Regardless of your ultimate baby journey, I hope you will feel a weight lift if you decide to donate your special baby items. Please save at least one item to keep for yourself to remember. If you decide to adopt, you may find you are able to use some of your stash with joy.

  • Jessica G.

    <3 I know exactly how you feel. We've been struggling with infertility issues for almost 10 years. I have some things that I'm just not ready to let go of yet. Being brave doesn't mean that you don't cry, it just means that you move forward even though its tough.

  • Seriously.

    You have a 5 year old, though, right??

  • BubbleyToes

    I have been unable to get pregnant with my first child at all since I started trying 2 years ago. Even though my husband and I are still young, I just feel in my heart that it is not going to happen for us. It breaks my heart every month. I am sorry you are dealing with this and I dread the day I have to say goodbye to my little imaginary Piper too :(

  • kellymitch

    Um, really? If you dream is to truly have a child, what’s wrong with adopting one? I, too, was unable to have a child. After 3 difficult pregnancies that ended far too soon and took a big chunk of my heart with them when they died, my goal was to have a family, not just procreate. So we are in the process of adopting. So, it is with this in mind I say to you…..stop being such a melodramatic ninny. If you truly want a child, then adopt. I can’t imaging filling a nursery and buying clothes for a child you do not have, and may never have. You were just torturing yourself.

    • rhonnygyrl

      Your comment and name calling was mean and unnecessary. I have a sister who is adopted, and our family would not be complete without her, but not everyone can create their family that way. I have never struggled with infertility, but certainly feel for those who have. Just because that was your solution doesn’t mean it works for the masses

    • kellymitch

      I stand by my comment. If it is about having a child and a family, then she will find a way. To make this a whole melodramatic thing about all the “stuff” she bought for an imaginary child she never had…..well, it’s just over the top. So she tortures herself over all the “stuff” instead ?