Daddy’s Lucky Duck

The one thing Ra-Ra hates more than anything – more, even, than being bathed – is being dressed. She hates having necklines stretched over her head and her hands coaxed into sleeves and out through the other end. I always bunch up the sleeve fabric to make it easier for her, and she always yells blue murder. It’s one of our rituals.


It’s not surprising, then, that I noticed when it started to get difficult to squeeze her head through her preemie vests, which Kanthan had bought from Baby Gap in Chicago soon after she was born. When her onesies began to get tight around the toes, I noticed too.


So for the first time, I’m retiring some of her clothing. Finally – finally! – she is big enough to fit into items meant for newborns. As of the 26th, yesterday, she is three months old, so the clothing is a sobering reminder of how much catching up she has to do – that, not only was she born two months too soon, she also lost a lot of ground.


She’s not quite there yet. She can still fit into her Baby Gap preemie long sleeved vest, the one that says “Daddy’s Lucky Duck”, though I hope it won’t be for much longer. Grow grow grow I keep thinking, hoping that the labels will give me the evidence I crave.


Ra-Ra is not short of clothing – besides the huge pile of hand-me-downs, there are lots of gifts from friends – though clothing that fits has been another matter entirely. In those early, crazy days, when she lived in an incubator and wore nothing but a nappy and a collection of probes, all of them went into my cupboard where they could wait to be sorted out. When she first came home, very little fitted her. There were the Baby Gap clothes, some Woolies things (a gift from a friend of her big sister Aura) and a delivery from Little Lumps, which knew I had a premature baby thanks to my tweets. Besides those, and a couple of items from my sister which were small enough to fit her, her wardrobe was seriously limited. I ordered more leggings and onesies online from Little Lumps and, with regular washing, that’s how we’ve managed since early April, even with the odd poonami (a delightfully apt word I picked up from Sheena Kretzmer via Facebook).


Today was the next big step. I packed most of her preemie clothes away – some will be kept to remind her (and us) of how tiny she once was – and sorted through everything else. Newborn into the box stored under her changing mat; 0-3 months and up back in the cupboard. Some of the gift clothing is so beautiful that it saddens me to think of the poo and vomit that will inevitably end up on them.


There were moments of anxiety. I would pick up a fleece onesie with anti-pill fabric, examine the label and think “0-3 months? Are you serious?”. To be honest, I still can’t imagine her getting big enough to fit into some of these clothes. She has to grow so much to get anywhere near them. And yes, she has grown so much already, but I’ve been a little too close to notice, and from my perspective, it seems painfully slow.


Still, today was good. The thought of those clothes unsorted in the cupboard bothered me, and now that I have ordered them, the world makes more sense. It has been something of a rite of passage, too. When every tiny little bit bigger matters so much, vests and leggings and babygros become trophies, signposts on the way to normality.


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