“Ooh, look at this one,” the mama-to-be cooed to her husband. She was only ten weeks pregnant. They hadn’t told any friends yet, only their closest family members. They were spending a warm spring Saturday afternoon window shopping, only she just had to go in to see this one. The sweet Peter Pan collar and delicate stitching caught her eye. It was white and yellow and met the criteria of being gender-neutral since they didn’t yet know the sex of the baby. It was the first purchase for their much-anticipated, much-desired baby.
“Here’s a bag of a few things we bought. I just can’t keep them. I know there will be more babies in the future, but these were for that baby,” her dear friend confessed, on the verge of tears. “But another baby should wear it, and he should still be little enough once you get home.” The first pictures of a baby in that onesie were taken only a few months later when that precious baby boy came off the plane from the land of his birth to the land of his adoption.
“Honey, take this bag,” he called from the top of the attic steps. “It says 6-12 months on it, so hopefully there’s some stuff she can wear in here.” The tired mama stepped over a mountain of toys and laundry to reach for the bag, and the memories came spilling out. Now that baby sister had arrived, she needed clothes, too, and the budget was tight. Friends shared generously, but there were also a few gender-neutral things their son had since outgrown. This one–with the yellow ducks lined up in a row following behind their mother–reminded her of her own life. Although, sometimes her ducklings didn’t seem to follow as quietly or as nicely.
“Look at this one. It’s really cute and looks like it’s in good condition,” the older woman showed her daughter. “Yeah, I like that one,” her daughter replied. She added it the large shopping bag she brought with her to the consignment sale. She was a little overwhelmed by all the people and the seemingly endless racks of pink and blue baby clothes. But she was just so happy to be buying baby clothes at all. They had tried for so many years and had undergone so many treatments. Finally, it worked. At nearly 40, she knew this would be her only baby. She wanted to soak up every moment.
“Would you like to know if it’s a boy or a girl?” the ultrasound tech asked. She planned to say no, but before she could answer, the words slipped out. “Yes, please,” the young girl responded. “It’s a girl. There’s her heart beating, and do you see her little hands? She’s waving!” the tech said. From the moment she saw her, she knew she had to find a way to keep her. At only 17, this was far from what she planned. Still, she was determined that this little life would flourish despite her circumstances. When she got home, she opened the gift bag from the crisis pregnancy center. There were diapers, wipes, and gently used clothes. The onesie with the ducks caught her eye. She set it at the foot of her bed where it stayed for months as a reminder of the joy she carried.
“Here’s the last box,” the woman said as she placed it in the U-haul. It wasn’t a box per se, but a trunk of special items from her daughter’s childhood. There were school report cards, art projects, her christening gown, and a few other mementos. The woman opened the trunk one last time before she sent her daughter and her new husband across the country, days after their wedding, to their new home. At the top of the box was the little duck onesie that she saved.
“What’s the story with this one, Mom?” her daughter asked, gently touching the stitching. “It seems to have a special meaning.” “Oh, it does,” the woman answered. “When the days were hard when I was pregnant and scared, this little outfit reminded me that you were real–that you were worth it.” “Thank you, Mom,” answered the not-little-anymore girl. “I’ll keep it always to remind me that before I was loved by anyone else, I was loved by you.”