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Dad Sparks Drama With MIL After Repurposing Late Wife’s Maternity Dress For Baby To Wear

Father joyfully holding young daughter

A baby’s first birthday, a typically joyous occasion, was already enmeshed with tragedy for Redditor Throwaway-macaron after losing his wife, the mother of their baby, to childbirth complications.

The Original Poster (OP) ended up getting into a fight with his mother-in-law at the birthday party.

This pushed the OP to subReddit “Am I the A**hole?” (AITAto ask,

“AITA for repurposing my late wife’s gown for my daughter?”

He went on to tell the story.

“This is going to be a little long, please bear with me.”

“I [Male age 38] lost my wife [Female age 35] in April 2022 during labor.”

“She had a premature delivery that lead to complications and eventually, she passed away an hour after giving birth to our daughter.”

“My daughter too had resulting complications which meant she had to be kept in a NICU for the first 2 months of her life.”

“Needless to be said, the entire ordeal was hard on us, especially her mother, who was a single mom to her only child.”

“Fortunately, my daughter’s condition grew better after those initial 2 months, and is as lively and joyful as any other 1 year old.”

“It was my baby’s first birthday a few days ago. It was bittersweet. I wished my wife could’ve been here to see our baby girl on her first milestone.”

“I wanted to honor my wife’s memory and also make my daughter feel the presence of her mother on her special day. My wife used to have a talent for stitching, and she’d taught me a lot of it too.”

“My wife had worn a beautiful dark green gown for her maternity shoots. She looked absolutely radiant in it that day, but after that she never wore it again.”

She said she wanted to see my daughter wear it one day.”

“The gown was left forgotten there with her entire pile of clothes after her death. I didn’t want to go through her stuff since it would’ve been too much for me.”

“Her words, the grief of knowing that my wife never got to know her daughter and my daughter’s birthday were what motivated me to get up one day, go through her closet and cut up that green gown into a tiny frock for my daughter.”

“And my daughter looked absolutely adorable in it. That colour suits my daughter just as it did to my wife.”

“I dressed up my daughter in the gown for the birthday party. My MIL saw her in it and immediately knew that this was that dress.”

“She pulled me aside, in tears, and asked me why I would destroy her daughter’s dress. I told her what my wife had said, that this was her wish too.”

“She said that my wife would’ve meant that for when my daughter was old enough to fit into the gown.”

“That she could’ve also said that assuming she would be alive to see her in it, and that her death negates what she said.”

“Her dress held a memory of my wife that no longer existed now because of what I did.”

“I told her that the dress had been lying forgotten in the closet along with all of her other belongings.”

“All her other special dresses are still there, her wedding gown, her baby shower dress, everything was still intact and perfectly preserved in her closet.”

“It was just this one dress that I used. The dress she specifically mentioned she wanted our daughter to wear one day. I honoured her wishes, a little earlier than intended.”

“The argument escalated, with other people joining in and taking sides.”

“Soon, my MIL left, along with most of the guests. She isn’t replying to my calls. All our relatives have mixed opinions about this.”

“I am devastated. All I wanted to do was make this birthday extra special for my daughter. Instead, her entire day ended in tears.”


Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided:

OMG, NTA! You created a beautiful tribute to your wife. You now have your wife’s maternity shoot photos and your daughter’s first birthday photos wearing the same piece of clothing.”

“There’s not only still the memories of your wife wearing it but now new beautiful memories of your daughter wearing it.”

“I WAS going to go with N A H owing to your MIL still grieving her child, but given how she took an already difficult event and attached bad memories to it by escalating the argument and invoking the other guests, I’m giving YOU the benefit of the doubt.” – WaywardMarauder


“Consider the alternative “plan” of your daughter wearing it as her own maternity gown in the future.”

“There is no guarantee she will ever be pregnant herself, and if she does she may want to chose her own gown at that point and not be pressured into wearing this one.”

“This was a good way of passing it to her while you can still appropriately make that kind of decision for her and draw a connection to her as a baby to her pregnant mother.”

Probably the best possible plan.” – TogarSucks

NAH. Your daughter’s first birthday is unfortunately also the first anniversary of your wife’s death and that is a hard day (as I am sure you know).”

“Your MIL is probably fighting all kinds of feelings and was overwhelmed by seeing the dress and realizing that the future she had hoped for her daughter was lost forever and she might have complicated feelings towards your daughter that she might be afraid to even voice.”

“But what you did was a beautiful and lovely thing. I would frame side by side pictures of your wife and daughter both in the dress and put them in your daughter’s room.” – Agitated_Pin2169

“NTA. I think your wife would have been delighted to know that her dress was right there to accompany your daughter on her first birthday.”

“I understand why your MIL would be upset but she doesn’t have any authority over your wife’s maternity dress.” – pluto0613

NAH, It’s quite touching what you did and at the end of the day the dress belongs to you by default.”

“But…… you’ve overlooked your MIL also lost a daughter, so it may have been better if you told her of what you wanted to do, just so she was mentally prepared to see the dress again.” – OnlymyOP

“NAH. I don’t think MIL is an AH; repurposing an adult’s dress for a 1 year old is your choice, but it also means this isn’t a dress your daughter will now get to wear over and over again because she’ll grow out of it.”

“I can see why MIL was upset. That said, you aren’t an AH either. It’s just a sad situation for you all.” – happybanana134

NAH. It sounds like your MIL is understandably upset and grieving in her own way. It’s not fair to you that she is lashing out about the dress but I don’t think it makes her an AH in this circumstance.”

“Give her some space for the time being and reach out in the relatively near future (~1 month) if you haven’t heard from her.”

“You’ve already apologized so continuing to reach out will likely only serve to make her more resentful.”

“Good luck, OP. You’ve been through a lot and it sounds like you’re trying to do your best in a terribly difficult situation.”

“There really is no playbook for navigating these kinds of situations and you’ll undoubtedly upset people along the way, but that does not always mean you’ve gotten it wrong.”

“This is a good example of that.” – Substantial_Papaya

“NTA— even if she didn’t understand the choice, she chose to ruin the day. You can’t keep your house a museum to your wife— you found a beautiful way to live with her memory and keep it alive.”

“It’s kind of you to invite your wife’s mother and other family to your daughter’s birthday party but you don’t really have to anymore.”

“She should understand that if she makes a habit of attacking you, she won’t get invited anymore.”

“I get that it’s sad for her to lose your daughter and be at the mercy of her husband to get any access to your granddaughter but that’s how it is.” – Pumpkinkra

“NAH – you and your MIL are still grieving and everyone grieves differently. You did something to honor your wife in a way you felt appropriate. Your MIL has a different perspective.” “

“I think, to mend some bridges, have a conversation with MIL about how to continue honoring your wife going forward and also what to do with her belongings.” – BlkWhtRedditAllOver

“NAH, you’re all suffering here Nobody was deliberately looking to hurt anyone else, it was just a hugely difficult day all round and emotions spilled over.”

“Anger is often used to mask other emotions, being angry, upset and blaming you would have been easier to cope with than the devastation of the anniversary of the loss of her daughter.” – mygreyangel

Hopefully this relationship can mend and everyone can lean on each other for support.

Written by B. Miller

B. is a creative multihyphenate who enjoys the power and versatility of the written word. She enjoys hiking, great food and drinks, traveling, and vulnerable conversation. Raised below the Mason Dixon, thriving above it. (she/her)