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Giving away baby things

(17 Posts)
debs2 Mon 24-Feb-03 15:57:04

I'd really like to know what others think and what you would do about this problem - it's caused me a lot of heartache. (Sorry this is long). DH and I had big fertility problems - took many years and IVF attempts to have DS. Perhaps I should have settled for one child but we tried for another and I had what seemd like three very early miscarriages (after IVF). So giving away the baby things was never going to be easy. Then DH told me that he had agreed to give our baby gear to some friends who were expecting their first - I don't know whether he offered or they asked or a bit of both. I was very upset by this and didn't really say yes or no. Then they rang to say that they had to come and pick up the stuff in case the baby was early - I guess I stuck my head in the sand and just went out to avoid seeing the things being driven away. I knew that I could not just leave the stuff in the garage forever so I guess it was a feeble way of avoiding the problem. After their baby arrived they turned up at our house and the baby was wearing one of DS's outfits - I was absolutely shocked as I thought that DH had only given away the equipment but not the clothes. When I asked for the clothes back (I hadn't even had the chance to go through them and keep some things) they made a huge drama of it - saying that I had really upset them. Eventually they returned some of the clothes but a lot were missing. Their baby is now 2.5 years old and I decided that I would at least like the cot back so that if we have visitors with a baby I can at least use it again. I have finally accepted that we will never have another child but know that they are trying for another. DH is furious with me for 'stirring things up again' and says that I am acting out of spite. I have tried to think objectively about this - I know I took the path of least resistance when the things were taken away but am I being unreasonable?

Chiccadum Mon 24-Feb-03 16:05:56

I can never fully understand what you are going through but in answer to your final question NO, you are most definately not being inreasonable. If this couple knew what you had been through, then they could have been more sensitive and made sure their son was not wearing something you had given them. As for giving away the clothes and wanting a reminder, you have every right to do so, I have both the outfits that both my girls came home in and also a couple of little favourites behind. To be honest I cannot understand your DH's attitude about stirring things up, you have feelings and you had not opportunity to voice these before these items were taken away.

Just a word of warning, PLEASE make sure you are getting the cot back for all the right reasons, you don't want it to bring back too many memories. After all I would say that 90% of parents who have young children nearly always have a travel cot.

I don't know if I have helped, but I really do hope you feel better, and once again you are NOT being unreasonable.

jemw Mon 24-Feb-03 16:09:20

I don't think you are being unreasonable, Ithink baby things are v personnal and I have saved favourite items of my ds and dd - if dp had given them all away I would have been horrified.
i guess some of it depends if your dh has given or loaned the things and also if your friends know about the failed ivf/miscarriages - they may be more sympathetic if they know why you feel that way.
Can you compromise on things, say that you would like the cot back for visitors coming but they can always borrow it again if needed?
Sorry not much help, but sympathise with you...

bundle Mon 24-Feb-03 16:13:08

I don't think you're being unreasonable. I had no trouble conceiving (twice now) but I still shudder at the thought of getting rid of our baby stuff eventually..which is why I loaned it out to close-ish friends on that understanding. I can't believe you weren't even given the chance to keep a few of your precious favourites

debs2 Mon 24-Feb-03 16:23:45

Thank you - I feel reassured to be told that I am not being unreasonable. I should explain that these friends know very well what we have been through and at one stage asked me if I planned to go through IVF again. I think that one explanation for DH's behaviour is that he wanted some resolution of the issue. I am not sure that I really do want the cot back for the right reasons. It was a present from my parents and I justified - to myself at least - asking for it back so that my niece could sleep in it if she comes to stay - but of course she has a travel cot. But I think the real reason is that I want these people to know how I feel.

Philippat Mon 24-Feb-03 16:37:32

I've got to be honest here, debs2, I think the issue is up to you and your dh to resolve between you. I think if he agreed to give stuff away and actually did the giving, without your consent, the issue is between you two and not your friends.

I expect they turned up with their baby wearing your ds's clothes because they wanted to say thanks and showed how lovely he looked in them. I've given away a lot of dd's things (I admit I have been through none of your tough experiences) and I LOVE seeing my friends' babies wearing/using dd's things - it's like I am passing some of the love I have for dd over to help cement their relationship too. I've also received clothes from friemds with older kids and I love that for the same reason - I make a special effort to dress dd in clothes they gave when I visit and show how proud I am that we have this shared childrearing link.

That's not to say it's not appropriate to want to keep some things that are special. And it might be OK to ask for some things back if you explain what and why to your friends. But don't blame them. And remember these things are part of their childrearing experience too, now.

Chiccadum Mon 24-Feb-03 16:39:30

Have you thought of the possibility that these friends, having known what you have been through, are a little embarrassed that they were given things without you having chance to go through them and now are trying to hide the fact by saying you have upset THEM. If these friends know what you have been through, invite them round one afternoon for a coffee and try and explain what these items meant to you. They should be willing to go and get them there and then

elliott Mon 24-Feb-03 16:43:44

debs2, I really sympathise with your feelings and have some idea why these things are so precious to you - we are currently trying for our second with IVF.
I'm not sure how to word this, so I'm sorry if anything I say upsets you. You are NOT being 'unreasonable' - your feelings are valid and certainly understandable - but I think you are at risk of allowing your friends to be caught in the crossfire of your emotions, and I think you should think carefully about what you really want to achieve here. You were understandably angry with DH (and maybe you haven't resolved this between you), but from their perspective, it seems they took the items in good faith and were probably rather bewildered when you were upset about their ds wearing your outfit (fwiw, I usually make a point of putting ds in clothes I have received from people when I see them, to show that I like and use them - perhaps they were doing the same?)
I think the real issue is that there is a lot more going on here emotionally for you then perhaps your DH, and certainly your friends, will ever understand. Is it worth trying to talk it over some more with DH? It seems from your posting that this issue causes a lot of emotion for you both.

Do try to remember that nothing can take away the memories that you have of ds's babyhood - that is the important thing, rather than clothes and equipment gathering dust.

I do understand that it is painful for you to think about your friends making use of your cot for their second (although I do think, honestly, that that would be the best use of it. Of course you can get it back, but what would that really achieve now?) The topic of getting pregnant again came up for the first time at my NCT group last week (the babies are all around 13-14 months) and I was taken aback at how emotional I suddenly felt - almost in tears. It really reminded me of how I used to feel when trying for ds and I heard about other people's pregnancies. I think the pain takes a long time to subside even when we think we are over it - grief is not a rational thing after all.
Anyway I am rambling now. I'm sorry if anything I've said is uncomfortable - I DO see where you are coming from completely, just think you may be hitting the wrong target here, and it won't necessarily make you feel any better.

elliott Mon 24-Feb-03 16:54:53

debs2, it took me ages to compose that posting (!) so I missed loads of messages. Phillipat has some wise words, I think.
You say you want your friends to know how you feel - but I think you may just make them feel awful themselves, and they may end up feeling defensive and say something hurtful to you. I guess you know them so you may be able to judge - but I know that some of my friends really are not able to understand/sympathise with my situation at all - they haven't got a clue. But I try to forgive them

WideWebWitch Mon 24-Feb-03 17:58:51

Debs, I can't add to this much since I think phillapat and elliott have made some really good points. It seems to me too that this is between you and your dh, although I don't think he should have given away the things without asking you first. Your friends have been a bit caught in the middle of it, although they could have been a bit more sympathetic by the sound of it. Wasn't this all quite a long time ago if their baby is 2.5? Could you bear to just let it go? Sometimes it's easier than fighting on about something, even something you feel strongly about. I know this to my cost, I often keep on going with a fight when I really should lie down and die You say yourself that you want the cot back for the wrong reasons and that really you want them to know how you feel - could you try explaining it to them instead? Sorry to hear about your miscarriages too.

debs2 Mon 24-Feb-03 18:12:55

Thank you to everyone for your words of wisdom - it has helped me to see things from their point of view and I agree that the fundamental issue is the way DH handled things and our miscommunication over it. The only person I have ever discussed this with was my sister who was outraged on my behalf - but of course could not be objective. Elliott - thanks for pointing out the actual memories cannot be taken away. I have thought about the whole saga some more and realise that my feelings over this have become more intense because of the way these friends have handled parenthood. I won't go into all the details here butfor example one of them pointed out to me that they have been able to buy the most expensive pushchair they could find because we saved them so much money. I think the whole thing has been hurtful and embarrassing to them but I do think they have been less than tactful and sensitive towards me. I was prompted to post this after reading the discussion about feelings about being pregnant again and the conflicts of interest between parents, particularly those with one child and those with more.

lorne Mon 24-Feb-03 19:08:00

Hi Debs2,

I have one ds who too was conceived through IVF.
We would love another child but probably know that it won't happen. I feel very blessed to have one child as there are so many couples out there who are not so as fortunate as us. As for ds's clothes etc I have given various friends bits and pieces. I would never give away the special outfits i.e. outfit ds came home with from the hospital but I do like seeing other babies wearing the outfits etc or using the baby chair etc. I still have my lovely pram and I will probably give that away quite soon. It will be a thought but I will be happy for somebody else get the use out of it.

Take care of yourself.

Lindy Mon 24-Feb-03 21:21:30

Debs2 - so sorry to read of the situation you are in - however, it has made me realise that I am probably just like your 'friends' - when I was expecting (much later than all our friends!) we were offered a lot of baby stuff which we were very grateful for; one couple in particular gave us loads of really nice stuff. To be honest, I had never given it much thought until I read your message - but now they are expecting a second child after IVF treatment (their first is 8 years old) - all the 'loans' were arranged through the husbands, perhaps the other wife didn't even know what was going on until it was too late; fortunately we have kept everything in good condition & will of course be returning it now, but you have made some very good points - thank you (don't know if that has helped you!).

Batters Tue 25-Feb-03 09:47:46

debs2, just to echo what others have said really.

Your feelings are perfectly valid, I can only imagine the heartache that you have been through, but I think your friends may be caught in the cross-fire. Perhaps they are really embarassed that this has arisen. And as for them saying that they can afford a really expensive push chair as your baby stuff has saved them loads of money, do you think this is a clumsy attempt at them actually saying thank you?

KeepingMum Tue 25-Feb-03 10:15:53

Aside from all the emotional issues here, I always assumed that anything people passed on to me was as a 'loan' and I have returned it when ds has outgrown it. Apart from the fact that I don't necessarily want to store lots of baby stuff, surely these things aren't mine to keep anyway. Lots of people have told me to just pass them on to other people, I would never do this without asking the original lender first. I'm also a bit worried now that this means that all the stuff I have 'lent' out won't come back now that #2 is on the way.

debs2 Tue 25-Feb-03 11:50:46

Maybe one lesson from my experience is to be very clear about the basis on which baby things are passed on - yes - obviously I wasn't clear about very much when all of this happened. I am sure the reason these friends asked whether I would do IVF again was that when I said no they just assumed then they would not need to give the things back. When I asked for the baby clothes back the husband said 'but we assumed the things were ours to keep' but of course nobody had made that clear and it was complicated by the fact that I didn't even know they had the clothes. It has helped to 'air' this issue - I just wish I had been more assertive in the beginning.

aloha Tue 25-Feb-03 11:53:52

I was given stuff and have given stuff away. I have to admit feeling very, very attached to all of ds's things and would be more careful about who I loan to as one person hasn't given stuff back even though I asked for it - only a few clothes but I hate to ask again - though I probably will. I am still thinking about having another though don't know if it will be possible so haven't given away anything really vital - though my babycarrier went to a very good friend. On the other hand, a friend of mine who has one child and is over 40 now hasn't asked for her stuff back and whenever I offer to bring it over, just says, "Oh, no, I've got so much stuff to put away as it is" and I don't know if she means it or that it would be too painful to have it back. It's hard to tell. I also suspect the comment about the pushchair was a thank-you, and that bringing the baby dressed in the clothes you had given them was intended to be a thank-you and a compliment - I too like to dress ds in gifts when seeing the donor. I think they probably didn't/don't understand how painful you have found the prospect of not having another child. When you both had one child, this probably didn't seem an issue to them - to them you had a child so what was there to be upset about. I know this sounds stupid, but it probably wouldn't have occurred to me either - one seems plenty when it's your first and they are very young. Maybe the fact that they are trying for no 2 has stirred up some difficult feelings for you. I sympathise totally with you in that you have clearly felt a lot of sadness over this issue. I am very sorry that your IVF didn't work. If we never have another child I know that I will find giving away/selling ds's things will be very painful.And there are things I will always keep.

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