Ages & Stages - Part 15
Apparently one of the clothing stores was having a big sale, and to say that Pine Street was congested would be an understatement, so Karen drove around the next block onto Maple to find a parking space. Here, she saw for the first time, "B L Specialties" and the new parking lot beside the building. As she retrieved John from his car seat, and grabbed her diaper bag, she saw the new signs on the side of the building. The first sign pointed left and read "B L Specialties - Apparel and Supplies for Children with Special Needs." The second sign pointed right and read "Baby Lane - Clothing and Furniture for Babies and Toddlers." Of course, there had to be a small sign beneath, limiting parking to "Customer's Only." She pulled John up onto her hip and turned right, as it only seemed fitting that he was actually a large baby, so that Baby Lane was most appropriate.
As she entered the store, Karen felt a sudden wave of motherly instinct wash over her body as she surveyed the displays of clothing, and furniture, and all the baby accessories one could imagine! Although Karen had passed this shop on Pine Street many times since it's opening five years prior, she had never had a reason to come in. Now, as she looked upon this warehouse of infancy, with her baby in her arms, she felt as if she had missed out on so much. She could see herself using so many of these things in front of her, her baby would be so happy with the toys and all the outfits. With the help of this place she could have her baby once again!
"May I help you, Ma'am?" a voice snapped her back to the present, "Perhaps you'd like to hang your coat?"
Karen noticed the coat rack next to the entry, "Yes, thank you." Karen removed her coat, and then pulled off John's coat and snow pants. As she removed his snow pants, the bulkiness of his diaper and padding was quite noticable beneath these short shorts he wore. Turning to the clerk, and nodding toward John, she asked, "Do you carry any snap crotch pants in his size?"
"I am sure we do. He must be a size six. I'm guessing size 5T would be a bit small for him." Leading them toward a rack of short-alls she pulled a size 6T from the rack. "Size 6T is the largest size we handle. If these don't fit, then I will send you over to the other section of the store," pointing toward the inside entrance of B L Specialties, "We carry clothing up to size 16T over there, and we can order anything up to 20T."
"Do you have a fitting room?" Karen asked.
"No, I'm sorry, but we don't. Since this is a store for infants and small children, the owners thought a fitting room would be a waste of space," she explained. "But you are free to try these on right here."
"Thank you." Karen reached down and pulled off John's boots, and then his shorts. John suddenly felt more self-concious of the fact that he was standing in the middle of a store wearing only a long-sleeve tee and a very thick diaper. He started to tear up a bit. "It's okay, Honey. Look at the other babies, they don't mind. Let Mommy try these on you." Karen unsnapped the crotch and pulled the short-alls over John's head. She direct John to lay down on a nearby bench and proceded to snap up the poppers up each side of the legs and across the middle of his crotch, nicely covering his diaper with the new garment. "Oh, these look adorable!" she cried.
Karen stood John in front of a mirror, and it was then he noticed big bird on the bib front of the short-alls. John studied the baby in the mirror. Was that really him? Try as he might, he couldn't see the twelve-year-old from just a few days ago, but was staring directly at the reflection of a toddler. John was suddenly overwhelmed with a wave of calm acceptance, maybe this is who he really was. As he stared at the baby in the mirror, he felt that all was suddenly right in the world. Funny thing, Karen was having a very similar experience, herself. Hre, before her, Karen's baby had returned to his mommy.
"I'll take it," she decided, "Do you have any more in his size?"
"Ma'am, we have at least a dozen sets, with all type of cartooon characters on them," she answered. "Any particular ones you would like?"
"Johnny, which ones do you like?" she asked. John stared at the rack and pointed out a Cookie Monster, an Elmo, and one with Ernie and Bert. "Slow down, Baby! Mommy is going to buy you three. Which three do you want?" Agian John picked out the same ones, including the one he was wearing. "Honey, that's four. We have to put one back." John actually started crying when he was being denied his favorites. Karen remembered the coupon pack in her diaper bag, and digging it out she found a coupon for 25 per cent off of short-alls. "Okay, I have a coupon, so if I buy these, then it's just like the fourth one is free; so I guess you can have all four." John clapped his hands in the same manner you'd expect from a happy toddler.
"Ma'am, I see you have one of our introductory coupon packs. Is there anything else you might need?" the clerk asked.
"Well, I could use some waterproof baby pants."
"Great! Those are also 25 per cent off with the purchase of any clothing or cloth diapers today." she informed Karen. She led Karen over to a display of plastic panties, where Karen chose several pair. She picked out some translucent white ones, and some that were baby blue. Karen also found three pairs with nursery prints, which would only act to further reinforce John's regression. "I see you are using Pampers™ on your little boy, do you use cloth diapers at home?"
"I used to, and have thought about it again. I have four or five dozen at home now." Karen answered.
"Are they flat, or pre-fold?" the clerk asked.
"Both." Karen answered.
"Do you happen to know the size of the pre-folds?" the clerk inquired.
"I think their just the standard size Gerber™ or Curity™ diapers that you get at Target or Walmart. I really don't know the dimensions. I thought I could fold the flat diapers to fit Johnny, and then put one or two prefolds inside for added absorbancy," Karen answered. "Oh, I threw a couple in his diaper bag!" Karen reached into the bag and retrieved one of the prefold diapers.
"Using these as a doubler is a pretty good idea," the clerk remarked, "but let me show you something even better." She pointed out to Karen a display of cloth diapers, in various sizes. "Because your little boy is in size 6T, I would recommend these," she said as she held up a package of "Super Toddler / Small Child size" prefold gauze diapers. "As he grows bigger, then you could go into the 'Youth' diapers that we sell in our other store, and still use both these, and the prefolds you have at home, for extra padding and absorbancy."
Karen looked over the package of larger diapers, thinking that it might be better to use cloth on John, at least at home. After-all, she had just purchased enough baby pants to switch to the cloth diapers. She pondered how much more John would resemble a baby if he was in pin-on cloth diapers. She reminissed about the past, when she would wash and fold his diapers, and hanging his diapers out in the summer, on the clothesline to dry. Oh, how good it felt to hold her baby with his padded bottom resting on her forearm, or how she would hold him each evening as her nursed a bottle of formula. Her thoughts went back even further, thinking of how she used to cuddle him as he nursed at her breast. Looking at the clerk she remarked, "These are kind of pricey."
"A little, but still much more economical than using disposables all of the time," the clerk argued pleasantly. "Look, we have a sample six pack, why don't you start with these?"
"I don't know," Karen retorted, "are you sure they will fit?"
"I'm sure they will..." and the clerk gently grabbed Karen by the arm, "let's find out!" With that the clerk led Karen and John to a changing table, placed strategically for customer convenience. The clerk grabbed a couple of diaper pins out of a small bin on the edge of the table, and instructed Karen to lift John onto the device. Karen reluctantly lifted John onto the changing table and laid him back. She unsnapped the crotch of his short-alls and removed his already damp Pampers™ diaper. John was even more surprised than Karen that he was already wet. The clerk handed Karen two of the Super Toddler diapers, and as Karen lifted John's legs and slid them beneath him, the clerk stopped her. "Wait a second, fold up the prefold you brought along like this," she said, as she folded the prefold lengthwise into thirds, making a long, thick pad. "And try one of these," she said as she handed Karen a Bumkins™ diaper liner, "In case he poops, it makes clean-up so much easier."
Karen spread the biodegradable liner on top of the three diapers and slid it in place beneath his bottom. After laying his feet back onto the table, she pulled the diapers up between his legs and then firmly pinned them into place. After being reminded by the clerk that John would need baby pants, Karen slid a pair of the nursery print ones up his legs, and over the bulging diapers. After tucking the loose portions of the diaper into the leg holes of the baby pants, Karen snapped the short-alls back into place. "Oh my gosh!" she thought to herself, "He really is a baby again!" As Karen inspected the fit, she realized that the diapers at home might work at night, but these fit so nicely, she was convinced that these were the best option. "I'll take two twelve packs," she said.
"You can use the rest of the prefolds you have at home as cloth doublers," the clerk suggested, "but these really fit nicely. I think you've made the right choice." The clerk paused a second, then asked, "Where do you change him at home?"
"Usually on his bed, or the livingroom carpet," Karen answered.
"Would you be interested in a good, solid changing table?" the clerk asked. "It is so much more convenient and comfortable for Mommy, and safer too."
"That's very tempting, but they are not cheap!" Karen responded. "The changing table I have at home has been relegated to the attic... it is only rated to 50 pounds."
"Let me show you something," the clerk suggested, "We take trade-ins, and... follow me..." They walked over by the entrance to BL Specialties, "This one just came in. The client's son just hit 125 pounds, which is the limit of this table. I can let you have it for a very reasonable price."
"I don't know..." Karen hesitated. In her mind she was fighting a battle, was her son really a twelve-years-old tween, or was he closer to a toddler? Was she a bad parent for wanting her son to return to infancy? But then again, this hadn't been her decision. John was the one who had started wetting the bed. It was John who began wetting his pants and requiring daytime diapers. As she reasoned this out, she thought of how eagerly John had taken to the pacifier, and had returned to the sippy cups. And it was only a few hours ago that John, himself, had said, "Not big boy! Me baby!" The clerk handed Karen a slip of paper with a price on it, "I don't know, this is more than I had in mind."
"Wait here a minute," the clerk instructed and off she went to her manager. While she was gone, Karen thought about the mothers this morning at the doctor's office, how she had suddenly fit back into that group. Then there was the lunch encounter, when Barb had encouraged her to let John be a baby a little longer, how she had even suggested breast feeding him once again. Yes, John was returning to infacy, and it was important that she be a good mommy, and she needed to care for her baby, in the way that he needed! "Here you go... the owner is willing to give you the same 25 per cent discount on the changing table that you are receiving on the clothes, the baby pants, and the diapers!"
Karen thought about it for only a second. Changing John's diapers on his bed was a hassle, as well as getting down on the floor in the livingroom. There was plenty of room in her bedroom for the changing table, and this would get the supplies all in one place. "Okay, I'll take it!" Karen announced. "Can you show me how to break it down to put in my car?"
"This one doesn't fold up or break down, I'll just add this to your tab," the clerk said, "and we can deliver it on Tuesday. Is there anythig else you might be needing for your little one?" The words struck Karen as comforting, but odd. Her "little one" was actually twelve-years-old, but now dressed as a toddler, and having just come off of the changing table minutes before, seemed more fitting to be referred to as a "little one," or even "baby" in all of his attire. Karen was slowly becoming more and more comfortable with the thought of John being a baby as each minute and transaction passed. "Did I hear right? You have been changing his diaper on his bed?"
"Yes, that's right." Karen answered, "But that won't be a problem any more, now that we've got this beautiful changing table!"
"Is your baby sleeping in a big bed? You may not be aware, but on average, twenty to thirty children are injured each day by falling out of bed. Does he ever fall out of bed?" the clerk asked. She was really good at her job, and wasn't going to let any oportunity for another sale slip by.
"Well, yes, occasionally," Karen answered.
"We have some really nice youth cribs over in B L Specialties, made for larger babies, like yours," she coaxed, "You surely wouldn't want his to hurt himself one of these times when he falls out of bed! Over here we have some with swing gates instead of rollup gates. So much easier to deal with." te clerk was pointing to a group of very large cribs. "Some of these use a standard twin bed mattress, so he isn't going to outgrow his crib." Karen looked in awe, she had never dreamed that they made cribs so large. A particular crib in oak caught Karen's eye. "This one would match the furniture in my bedroom, and my room is plenty large enough for both a crib and the changing table along one wall," she caught herself pondering aloud. "But, I don't know, it's a lot of money to spend... I could just put rails on the side of his bed."
"Ma'am," the clerk interjected sharply, "Do you have any idea how flimsy those bed bars are? You love your baby, and you certainly don't want him to get hurt." Then lowering her voice, she suggested, "If you could get your doctor to write a note or prescription for one of these cribs, your insurance would probably pay 80 per cent."
"Why, yes," Karen responded, "Johnny has an appointment in two weeks. I'll ask Dr. McDade to write a prescription!"
"Even better," the clerk said, "We have several of Dr. McDade's patients as clients. Because of privacy, I can't give names, but one of the mothers of a patient just got one of these cribs last month, and the insurance paid nearly all the cost. I think their co-pay was around $150 to $175." If nothing else, this made Karen's desire to put John back into a crib even stronger. Everything was working out perfectly, John was well on his way back to infancy! "Is there anything else I can help you with?"
Karen thought a second, started to answer, and then bit her lip.
"I'm sorry, was there something else?" she asked again.
Karen stumbled over her next answer, "I was just wondering... maybe... do you carry... milk thistle?"
"Oh, yes, of course," she prodded, "You want to return to nursing after it's been awhile? Or are you planning on expressing for his sippy cups? If you are planning on expressing your milk, then we have some wonderful breast pumps."
"That is what I am considering, I have a really good breast pump at home. I only plan on expressing my milk. Johnny's a bit old for breast-feeding, but I would like to give him something more wholesome than cow's milk. Johnny has allergies, and I was told it might help with his allergies. He's too big to nurse any more. I mean, mother's milk is good for allergies, and he could drink it out of his sippy if I pump it. I don't think he'd latch on, given his age." Karen rambled on, stumbled and stammered, obviously caught in her thoughts of nursing her baby.
"Well, how old is he?" There it was, the question. Should Karen lie? She hated being untruthful. But she had put herself into this little trap, by her own words and manerisms.
"He's between birthdays, it seems like his fourth birthday wasn't that long ago, but I know he's looking forward to his next birthday," Karen answered, just as she had rehearsed in her mind many times over.
"Oh, Honey, four is NOT too old to breast feed! We have customers with children as old as six and seven who still nurse their children," she said compassionately. "Here's a bottle, just follow the directions. And let me give you this pamphlet on extended nursing."
Karen followed the clerk to the front register. As she rang up Karen's order, she asked Karen if she would like to purchase a package of the diaper liners. Although Karen knew these were meant for babies that still messed their diapers, she accepted the offer. "Who knows, maybe he will regress to that stage as well," she thought to herself, thinking fondly of having to change dirty diapers as well as his frequent wet garments. Unlike so many mothers that dread dirty diapers, Karen didn't mind them at all. It never bothered her to change a poopy diaper, and she often volunteered for her friends when their little ones needed changing. Even if John doesn't return to full time use of his diapers, he might still have the occasional accident.
As the clerk started to ring up Karen's purchases a young stock-boy, about 17 or 18 years old, wondered over. The boy watched over her shoulder as the clerk wrote up the delivery order. "Mrs. Carmel, my friend Tim lives about a mile from there... I drove my dad's pick-up to work today... I'm supposed to go to Tim's house for supper... we could deliver that for you..."
The clerk looked up from her paperwork, "I don't know, Jimmy, Mr. Carmichael might not like that."
"Could I ask him? I'll go ask him." as with that Jimmy took off across the store, yelling, "Hey, Mr. Carmichael! Mr. Carmichael!" He was back in a flash. "Mr. Carmichael said he'd give me $10 for the gas and I could stay on the clock for an extra hour, so it's okay with him if it's okay with the customer."
"Call me Mrs. Matthews," Karen responded, "Yes, that would be wonderful if you and your friend could deliver it tonight."
The stock boy left to get help loading the changing table into his father's pick-up and the clerk went back to ringing up the order. Karen handed her the copon pack, and the clerk scanned the appropriate coupons. "Oh, you have the 'New Mothers' pack! Let me get you something..." She reached under the counter and pulled out a decorative package that said "Baby's Sample Pack" on it. "There's samples of baby powder, diaper rash paste, diaper cream, baby oil, and a few other goodies," she said.
"Umm... Thank you, but Johnny isn't exactly a newborn," Karen apologized.
"That may be true, but he is in diapers, and this is your first time with us, so you still count as a 'new mother' regardless," she reasoned. "We usually have a 'Toddler's Sample Pack' but we are all out of those right now, so I'm writing your name and number down, and we'll call you when they come in, and then you can pick one up on your next visit." After paying for her purchases, Karen met the stock boy out at her car in the parking lot. She gave him some more detailed instructions for his delivery.
"I'll be over as soon as I pick up my friend to help me. Thanks, Ma'am!" Jimmy called as she drove off the lot, "I'll see ya in a little while."
It was well past John's nap time and approaching dinner, and Karen watched in the mirror as John nodded off. As she pulled into the garage she could see that John was really "out of it," so she decided to open the car windows. After shutting off the car, Karen opened the door to the kitchen and left it ajar, so she could monitor her baby. She quickly unloaded her purchases, hanging the new clothes in John's closet and tossing the new diapers into the washer for a short run. Fifteen minutes later she heard a knock on the front door.