Scouring through bags of hand-me-downs, I am looking for pants without the cutsie details, or just buttons. I can sew buttons back on the hem- a cute detail. Am I thankful for hand-me-downs? YES! I have been able to make matches out of things you could not even imagine, and I’ve passed on so much to moms at our church and my in-law’s church. But the thing about clothes is… I’m naïve.
In fact, I’m so naïve, that when I went to the store the other day, I saw a matching outfit that had the cutest shorts and top options that I tried them on Addie. I picked up the shorts knowing they would fit, and the top knowing it would not. I knew there was no way Addie’s head would fit through the opening. But I tried. I failed. I cried in the bathroom of Carter’s. As I walked out to hang the items back up (a routine I’ve grown accustomed to), I noticed that the toddler versions of these outfits were tank tops. What the heck!? If they had tanks in smaller sizes, the head opening would fit my girl! I was bummed. As I hung up each piece, the woman working asked me how they were. “The head,” I announced. She was familiar with my heartache and well-versed in our clothing struggles, so she just gave me a knowing smile. I felt better.
With all of my research, how am I still SO gullible? I have no idea. Here’s how I stumbled upon my my recent shortcoming: Addie’s birthday bag.
A birthday bag? Yep. I’m an all-year-’round shopper. We don’t get large sums of money as a bonus or otherwise acquired cash at any time of the year, so I’ve adapted and purchase things when I see them, if I see them for a good price. In this manner, I created a birthday bag for Addie. I’ve been putting books, toddler toys, a dish set, and clothes in as I come upon them, and thus far- she’s set to have a wonderful first birthday with most of her summer wardrobe and some new reads. What I didn’t expect, as I rifled through the “loot” Dave and I have gotten over the last year, are the clothes I was so clueless about.
When Addie was diagnosed, I was concerned about her clothes. Sure, it was the LAST thing that went through my mind, but as I dressed her in the same newborn outfit week after week, I wondered: could I return what we had in her closet? The answer, in some cases, was yes. I was blessed to have met some of the most amazing people at our local Carter’s Store in Garden City. I truly adore the employees of that location who helped me return and try different things on Addie until we found what worked. However, some of what worked in my head didn’t translate to real life. As so much of this first 12 months of Adelaide’s life has not.
As I pulled out different outfits from our birthday bag, I was pleased. I had made these purchases with multiple discounts, coupons and reward dollars shared by my Mom. They were all 0-3 month shorts, 3 month pants, 3-6 month onesies… then they weren’t. In the bottom of the bag laid an un-bagged layer of clothes.
I picked each piece up. I remembered the day I had gotten them. Dave and I went to Khol’s after Addie was diagnosed- maybe only a week or so after- to exchange something. While we were there, we wandered the store a bit. Being summer, there were sales going on, and we made our way over to the children’s clothes. What we saw seemed like the Holy Grail: three shelves of capri pants! After going through all the colors, I settled on just one pair of capri jeggings and one in black, in 9 and 12 month respectively. From the bag, I pulled out those pants, as well as the 12-month owl shirt (WITH buttons, thank God), and slid them into a bag of their own to be gifted at a [much] later date.
Addie, at 11 months, wears newborn or 3 months- and the 3 months are for her hips and require cuffing.
Then, there was the outfit I’d dreamed of.
It sounds SO silly to parents who have kids that can wear those whimsical t-shirts and pants right off the rack, but to me, I was heartbroken when I saw these two pieces. I knew that the beautiful head I kissed every night would never fit through this t-shirt, and the pants… 12 months? As I mentioned, the biggest pants she wears right now are 3 months. Thankfully, I saved the receipts and Carter’s, as usual, was wonderful to me. But, as I searched for new pieces I came across my new conundrum: Some onesies with buttons are not made of a forgiving fabric. This means that though there are buttons that seem to widen the head opening, they do not stretch, thus they will not fit without struggle (resulting in tears) over Addie’s head.
I’ve learned a lot about sewing this year, and some of what I’ve learned includes the harsh reality: some items are not made to be altered. Inexpensive, single layer fabrics can be more work than they’re worth, and I choose to spend my days with Addie, not just sewing for her. This reality makes it hard to find matching outfits, but my beautiful girl in just her diaper is perfect for us!
So… When it came to clothes, I
was am [still] a bit naïve. I truly believed that I could just shorten 12 month clothes when she was 12 months, because upon diagnosis, I didn’t know what dwarfism meant; almost like I had to see what the internet said before I could believe it (a sentiment I think more people should consider before agreeing with everything that WWW has to say). I hope that as I become more familiar with my Brother Sewing Machine, I will be able to alter more items, but until then… I shall scrutinize everything I bring home, and I will never forget the days I thought I knew better!
As a closing to this post, I want to disclose something I am (and might forever be) insecure about. I added Addie’s wishlist to her birthday invitations. I will tell you, Reader, that I was torn when I made this decision. I felt like I was asking for gifts, when in truth, I want people to know that she doesn’t need anything. There are so many times that I feel personal disappointment in myself. Addie has some amazing friends who have gifted her some of the most beautiful dresses I’ve ever seen. Designer jeans, and name brand sneakers. But she will never wear them.
In my wording on the back of her invite, I stated …due to Addie’s “little” differences. It’s true, Addie’s differences are just in size, but her difference is forever. She can’t reach most water-tables that many friends have at their homes and want Addie to have, too. She can’t wear any shoe that’s even remotely narrow, beautiful clothes from small boutiques collect dust- always plaguing my mind for a chance to be worn just once. But Addie isn’t in those sizes yet, or her body shape (the same small waist and larger hips I grew up with- just on a grander smaller scale) doesn’t allow for a certain style to fit her. I keep the things that cannot be exchanged because Addie might be able to wear these things one day, and if not, maybe a sister or cousin can. I made the final decision to add the list on Addie’s invite for my own personal reasons. Knowing that Addie won’t wear the items that people spend their money on makes me ill. The economy is killing us out there- this time in our country is a war. It’s a battle everyday to pay bills, and I know that. I want Addie’s friends to come and play, for parents to have a glass of wine and watch our babies interact so innocently, as this is the only time in life they will be truly innocent. If someone wants to bring a gift- I want them to know that we will cherish, use and love them all the same for that purchase. I would be disheartened to see something I gave someone in the box or with tags months later. That’s why mom always made us wear that sweater grandma knitted (you know the one that hideous holiday sweater parties are based on). People put hard work into choosing a gift, and now more than ever, we have to put in more work to be able to afford such a gift. I thank everyone for their support… your gift is your reading, spreading awareness, educating and for loving Addie- all 24 1/2 inches of beautiful (almost one!) baby that she is.
I thank everyone for reading about Addie, educating yourselves about dwarfism and understanding that being a mom, no matter how many blaze the trail before you, is always an uncharted territory left for one lone woman to traverse.