Aug. 13th, 2012

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One of the most fascinating aspects of having a child has been seeing everyone's response. From gawkers at the grocery store (ranging from touching smiles to fear responses - perhaps they think I am going to go into labor suddenly?) to stories shared in line at the post office, people respond immediately and sometimes fiercely to a child in the making. Although I've never been surprised at the intensity of the debate over reproductive rights, certainly I can see even more now where the intensity comes from; I've hardly met a single person who didn't have a notable reaction, whether negative or positive, even just in passing.

One of the sweeter, and stranger, oddities I've come across is clothes. Not only the curiously quaint pink-or-blue issue, but the fact that almost literally every gift we have been given has been clothes. In fact, at our two (generous, loving) showers, only one person gave us anything off our registry.

This wasn't a problem; we simply moved our budget from clothing to other items (we literally have more than enough clothes for her for the entire next year), but we were a little confounded. Certainly, baby clothes are precious; but the gifts we were given were not all delicate dresses, but in general, hard-working onesies, blankets, and pajamas, chosen with an eye for practicality. This suited us quite well - a few darling outfits, and a wonderful selection of everyday clothes - but how exactly did this universal decision come about?

In light of our preterm labor concerns, I was reading up on preemie clothing (note: almost impossible to find in brick-and-mortar stores, with the exception of Babies 'R' Us), and there was a sentence that caught my eye on a hospital website. Specifically, it noted that premature babies could be placed in clothing, and staff in fact encouraged it because it helped to normalize the relationship between parent and child, allowing the parents to focus on the baby as a baby, as opposed to seeing the medical situation, in addition to helping them feel more secure.

It is humanizing, in short. Clothes are a visible act of protection, and of recognition. It came to me then that my friends and family know the child's feeding needs are taken care of, and they know that we have a home. Of the fundamental needs of food, clothing, and shelter, only clothing remains, something that not only comforts but, as with a name, is a fundamental acknowledgement of a human being's humanity. It is, in short, both a physical and spiritual blessing.

I feel quite warm indeed.

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valancy_jane

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