I ’m not a neat freak. If the Sharpie marker line my kids drew on me doesn’t come off my hand after washing it twice, that’s it — I wait till it comes off by itself. Yet today, I find myself picking at my arms, pulling at the small hairs, irritating my skin trying to get all the gray remnants of Band-Aid off my hand.

I’m also a bit of a hoarder. If there’s a card or stuffed animal or trinket that has some meaning to something in my life, I have it stashed away — unless my mother made me throw it out, or my husband “accidently” cleaned up. But today when my husband placed a pair of scissors on the table, I picked them up and snipped the hospital bracelet off my wrist. He threw it out.

This is not my new year’s resolution, just something happened, and I’ve come to the realization that curated memories and fewer marks on my hand might make life easier.

I held my baby last night. For the first and last time. And I want to remember his perfection and beauty and none of the pain that came along with our first and last meeting.

They pricked me three times in the same place — Band-Aid number one. I had an IV line that contained and emptied four different treatments in less than 12 hours. The nurse had a hard time putting it in, told me I had tough skin and thin veins. I bled all down my hand. I ended up with bandages all down that arm. I don’t want to remember that I hate needles, and that I looked away every time. I want to remember my baby’s delicate nose, and his soft skin — that was so cold.

I got my bracelet Friday night when Hatzolah brought me in. I thought I was just being a hypochondriac. Twenty weeks and four days was too early for anything, no man’s land in terms of viability... but I wouldn’t let my mind go there, even if it did wander close for a moment. I was trying to figure out how we’d get back home with the Shabbos taxi when they’d inevitably tell me I was fine.

But they didn’t. They kept me through the night. With every passing hour they told me something worse. And only when I was lying in the Trendelenburg position, with my head 20 degrees lower than the rest of my body, and I realized that this birth was starting, much, much too early, and I told the nurse at my side, “It’s over,” and she patted my knee and said, “I’m sorry, honey” — only then did I realize that this really was happening.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 583)