I just read Wheels on the Bus, and Lucy, Emily’s son Benjamin’s one-of-a-kind lovey, has gone missing. For a mom, this is a crisis situation. I left an encouraging message after recently having had a Bear Blanket close call. And I don’t want to think about what would happen if we lost Pink Bear.
When I was pregnant, my friend Brenda took me to Maternal Connection at El Camino Hospital, an amazing and rare resource for breastfeeding supplies and support. She told me to buy two flannel receiving blankets. One had a balloon pattern, the other Teddy bears. As only an experienced mom would know, these blankets were cut larger than most receiving blankets, so you could actually swaddle a baby in one. Of course, we didn’t know our baby would weigh 9 pounds, 13 ounces, at birth and quickly outgrow them for swaddling.
Brenda also took one look at me the first time she saw me at home alone with Carter, called El Camino, had me hand over a credit card, and registered me for the New Mothers’ Support Group, another amazing resource when taught by her same teacher, Laurie. My mommies’ group, all with babies born within weeks of each other, is still a lifesaver and actively in touch, as is Brenda’s. During a class, Laurie taught us how to train our child to have a lovey. The hope is a baby with a lovey in the crib will wake up, comfort himself with the smell of Mommy from the lovey, and fall back asleep without crying.
I started with cloth diapers (it’s a good strategy, as you’ll see, to have multiples). I’d put one over my left shoulder, where I would pat Carter after nursing him at bedtime. (I’d be in my bed. Sometimes, I’d fall asleep, too, and “forget to put the baby back.”) I’d put it with him in his crib and toss it in the wash in the morning. Eventually, I upgraded him to flannel blankets, and the El Camino blankets went into the rotation. As the years went by, and the El Camino blankets became the softest from the most washes, Carter settled on just the Bear and Balloon Blankets. He would sleep with them and use them to comfort himself. (When he’d get upset, I’d straight out ask, “Do you want a flannel blanket?”) They also had starring roles in many pretend play schemes. Then they went missing, turning up, finally, in all places, at Brenda’s house. (She had assumed they were one of her kids’ until I called searching for them.)
Late last year, we lost Balloon Blanket. Carter rejected the replacement from El Camino (yes, the shop still sells the same pattern nearly five years later) because it lacked the washed-hundreds-of-times texture. As a preventative measure, I cut Bear Blanket in half. Then one half disappeared. I cut the remaining half in half.
Then the other night, I found myself knocking on the door after hours at Frye’s trying to track down a 1/4-size piece of worn-thin flannel that looks like a rag. I told the man at the door, “It’s an emergency! My son lost his baby blanket!” (I left out that my son is now 5.) I retraced my husband’s steps and nearly assailed the salesperson cleaning up in the camera section, where the model trains live, too. He had seen it…and eventually found it in a back room! I could not adequately express my gratitude.
New rule: Both Bear Blanket halves stay home. Carter’s asleep with them now. And I had to find Pink Bear before he went to sleep. I hope I won’t have to ground her, too.