I sleep with a blanket. Not just the kind of blanket that covers me up at night, but an actual, bona-fide security blanket. And I am comfortable enough with myself to admit it publicly. (Which maybe is a bad thing? Unsure. But I don’t care.)
Twenty-seven years ago, when the Grandparents Laird learned I freshly born and a girl, they dropped what they were doing and rushed to the baby store in Ankeny where Aunt Michele worked. They bought all the stuff (which, knowing Grandma, was probably a lot) they had picked out in the event of a firstborn girl and drove straight to Iowa City. Once there, they presented me with a bunch of stuff I don’t remember and, most importantly, Blankie.
As I grew up, I never slept without the Blankie. Not if I could help it, anyway. I caused my parents GREAT STRESS when I forgot it at the home of our Grandparents Laird after they moved to Indiana. It was seven hours away from me, and I think I cried for seven hours straight. Poor Mom went through all the towels in the house trying to find one that I was willing to accept as a substitute. (I recall it was pink, but had formerly been a shade of purple before it faded.)
I’m pretty sure I can re-create the frantic phone call that transpired between Pops and the Grandparents:
Pops: Jenna forgot her Blankie, we think it’s at your house.
Grandparents: OH NO. (scurry scurry scurry) Yes, we found it; she left it in the sheets that got taken to the laundry room.
Pops: Good, at least we know where it is.
Grandparents: What time is it? 7:30 p.m.? Well, if we started driving now and went really fast, maybe we could make the 7 hour trip before she fell asleep.
Pops: It’s not likely. And she’ll survive, she’s a big girl. This is probably good for her anyway.
Grandparents: Well, we’ll send it Priority Mail first thing in the morning. Tell her not to worry.
The mail was much slower back then, because I think it took about three months to get my Blankie back from Indiana. In reality it was probably about three days, but the pink towel was just not the same thing and each night was extra long since I obviously couldn’t sleep without my Blankie.
But I’ll have you know, I watched out the window every day until the mailman showed up with my Blankie in a box.
One summer when I was about eight, I spent a week with my Grandparents Richardson, and Grandma (who is a whiz with a needle) noted how awfully holey and shabby my Blankie was getting. I had literally loved the stuffing right out of it, so she offered to mend it for me. She took me to her material scraps drawer, and told me to pick my two favorites. So I felt each one of them for the Very Specific Attributes that were necessary in a Blankie, one of which was that it had to have a certain level of what I referred to as Fuzzy. I couldn’t explain it to you, though, but I knew it when I felt it.
Grandma very carefully matched the two materials I picked out, and I stood over her shoulder and watched her sew them carefully on to and around Blankie. I was kind of upset that Blankie would be different, but Grandma reminded me that Blankie was right underneath these new materials, and that Blankie was getting so fragile that he might fall apart in my hands if we didn’t fix him.
Then, after Blankie was nearly finished being re-covered, Grandma handed it to me so I could make sure I approved. I did. Then she let me pick the decorative stitch she’d use to tack the material down in Blankie’s midsection. I chose a rose.
After Blankie’s improvements, I always loved the fact that my favorite possession was now from both of my grandparents.
Way, way, way too many years went by. Every so often I’d try to quit sleeping with my Blankie and put him in my baby box, but about two to three days later I’d dig it out in the middle of the night.
I tried when I got into junior high – failed, but then I didn’t try that hard.
I tried when I hit high school – impossible, but I didn’t bring it on any basketball trips or overnighters.
I tried when I got to college – no dice, so brought it and announced it to my roommates first thing. They didn’t seem to judge me.
I tried when I was a counselor at East Iowa – couldn’t do it, brought Blankie along and hid it in my bed. No one ever found it that I am aware of.
And then, once I got engaged, I thought I really had to do something about this whole Blankie thing. I lived in Ankeny and Mom and Dad still lived in Robins, so I took him home with me and put him in my baby box again. As Joey and I drove back to Ankeny, I literally FREAKED OUT in the car. There was no going back for Blankie now.
For four years, Blankie had remained in the box in the blue room at Mom and Dad’s house.
Then in May, when we lost our baby, I was so upset that I would literally cry over and over that I wanted my Blankie, that my Blankie would help me feel better. I don’t think it was so much about wanting my Blankie as it was about wanting to feel some kind of security and normalcy. But Joey, who is and always will be amazing, told me there was no reason why I couldn’t get it next time we went back home.
So, in July when we went up for the weekend of the 4th, just about the first thing I did was march up to the blue room and excavate the closet until I found my baby box.
There was Blankie, right on top just waiting for me to come dig him out again, like always. (I don’t know why, but Blankie has always been a boy.)
I sat down on the floor and held my Blankie just like I used to when I was little. I felt through the re-covered layer to the original Blankie and just the simple act of finding my Blankie made me feel like, for a few seconds anyway, that everything was right in the world.
I brought Blankie back down to Texas with us. I decided it wasn’t worth it to leave the poor thing in a box in Iowa. Blankie missed me too; I could sense it.
After a few months, I really did try to put it away again. It lasted for three weeks. Joey informed me that he really didn’t care so much if I slept with Blankie still, and I decided to quit trying not to.
I’d totally fail at Blankies Anonymous because I fall off the wagon all the time.
All this to say, it may seems ridiculous and weird to y’all, but it’s amazing how that piece of cloth makes me feel better when I feel like I CANNOT DO THIS INFERTILITY THING ANYMORE.
And, if we get pregnant, you can guarantee I will not be messing around when it comes to picking out blanket(s) for our kid(s). Security blankets are crazy important.
Even 27 years after the fact.
(I’d take a picture of Blankie and post it, but he’s not looking his best right now. He really needs a bath, but I hesitate to wash him since he’s so old. And…stop thinking that’s gross, it’s really not so bad.)