For me the holidays always seem to oscillate fairly dramatically from being the most charming, camera-worthy, memory-making moments of our lives to being just pressure-filled, forced-festive moments. This year was no exception, Christmas and New Year’s Eve showed up with their bipolar personalities that we were looking forward to and dreading at the same time.
This is Baby’s first Christmas (exclamation point times about a thousand)– this was the tagline scrolling through my mind every time I stepped into a store and faced the gush of warm air, same old plain old holiday songs, and the usual parade of holiday shopping atmosphere makers: trees, lights, wrapping paper everywhere, glitter, the works! Of course baby would be too young to remember any of it, and of course she wouldn’t be excited to open presents, but I would remember all of it, there would be pictures for her to look at down the line, and I was excited to present her with all sorts of gifts (that would be duly commemorated with pictures) so as to prove that we marked the occasion: baby’s first Christmas, didn’t I mention the exclamation points already?!
So, off I was to buy my picture worthy gifts. June surely would look just adorable in a “baby’s first Christmas” mega-overpriced but totally-worth-it-for-the-pictures PJ, so my first task was procuring said PJ. Yeah, ha, right, did I forget that June had casts on her legs? No, of course not, but apparently the makers of all of those cute holiday PJs, all of which turned out to be footsies, did not plan on having a clubfoot customer. And so, the festive PJ idea was scrapped, and so was my holiday mood, for, I’m ashamed to say, quite some time.
Honestly, as shallow as it sounds, I remember going to various baby stores while pregnant and literally ONLY wanting to buy footsies. That was it. Back then I couldn’t have cared less about car seats, prams, cribs, changing tables, toys, or whatever other accessories expecting moms think they need; all I wanted to buy were footsies. To me there was nothing more adorable than outfits that had little feet sewn in. Little feet! Where my baby’s little feet would go! That was just too amazing for me, and I bought way too many footsies. So guess what? June wore footsies 24/7 for the first seventeen days of her life, and yes, on our way to that first doctor’s appointment I did tear up when I took off her last footsie and put on loose pants that would accommodate the casts. I still feel a twinge of sadness when I pack away old clothes and see a box of footsies in the closet. I can’t help but perusing all the footsies at baby clothes stores (my husband does on occasion have to tear me away from them). There’s just something about the little feet sewn in– something that ONLY babies can pull off, that is a symbol of how little and bundled up babies are, of how perfectly whole babies should be.
Anyway, needless to say, the pressure of finding that perfect Christmas-picture-worthy-outfit compounded onto the shallow sadness of not being able to buy my baby the footsies I so craved had put me in a deeply pensive mood: I contemplated all the things my baby wouldn’t be able to do normally, at least not for a very long time. Footsies were just the symbol for all we’d be loosing: being able to learn how to walk and run and play not hindered by braces, learning to swim, bathing normally, even going to bed without having to go through a procedure of strapping on whatever device we’d be using at the time– all things we wouldn’t have, for some time.
So, in the end, I celebrated this Christmas and welcomed the New Year for the first time with my family of three. Like most families treasuring their first baby’s first Christmas, we took holiday pictures (yes, June was in a festive outfit, not in a Christmas PJ footsie), saw relatives, cooked and indulged and exchanged gifts. Unlike most families we made adjustments for June’s condition, even scheduling doctor visits right before and after Christmas. We rang in the new year looking forward to our life to come with our growing family, like most new parents, and realized we were facing just the first year of many trying ones with this diagnosis. We’re starting the new year, not even a week into it by going to the doctor, but that’s our life, and the ups and downs of the holidays just mirror the ups and downs of normal life- just squeezed into a super stressful two week time slot. But hey, we got through the holidays just fine, in fact, we got through the holidays magnificently, and in my opinion, if we got through the intensive crash course, we’ll get through the rest also, magnificently, of course!