I picked up a bunch of baby stuff from my parents' basement and have been digging, sorting, tossing, donating. It turns out that I have 52 short-sleeved, newborn sized onesies that are not associated with an outfit. Suffice to say, I could have twin girls and not need any baby clothes for a good, long while.
So anyway, I was going through the newborn clothes. Abigail switched to 3-month sized clothing around 4 months old and it was perfectly timed to our move to Florida. And as I was sorting through these itty bitty newborn clothes, it struck me: Abigail only wore this onesie during the darkest period of my life.
In those early days, I took a lot of solace in shopping. As much as we were trying not to accumulate a lot of possessions so we wouldn't have to ship them back to Florida, I absolutely loved getting out to Carter's and buying cute, girly clothing. The baby aisles of Babys R Us, Carter's, Target were the only places where my life was normal. Where no one knew my baby was different. Where no one asked about heart surgery or told me stories about people with Down syndrome. And when I would get Abigail dressed in the morning, it was a chance to do something totally normal. Picking out a pink striped romper and guiding her tiny arms through the sleeves didn't make me think about her feeding issues, or her constant exhaustion, or our upcoming appointment to the cardiologist.
So we got the "all clear" to travel back to Florida, I packed these clothes in a box in September 2011 and didn't look at them again until March 2014. Pulling them back out was so very bittersweet. Seeing the onesies I made Abigail; both a creative outlet and a passive attempt to get people to see my daughter, not a diagnosis.
Her tiny little designer hospital gowns that a friend made us. A way to make her ours in the regulation of the hospital's sterile world.
Digging my fingers into the sore wounds - wounds I hadn't really known existed - hurt, but it helped too. Like stretching muscles sore from a new workout: it hurts, but it also feels good. And when I stuck the label on the tote and stacked it in the closet, those wounds felt more healed.
I am excited for this baby to wear those pink striped rompers and purple fleece socks. I don't want to burn the clothes and start over, but neither do I want to replace my early memories of Abigail. I want to make new memories to go alongside the old ones. The summer my daughter was born was the darkest time of my entire life, but it was still a part of my entire life. A part that broke me down, tore me up, and left me space to build again, but stronger and wiser.
There are lots of ways I could have gotten here, but life handed me open-the-heart surgery. And with every tiny-toothed smile and lopped-sided piggy tail hug, we get forget a little bit more about the pain and remember a little bit more about the baby oil smells and cute wrinkly feet.