Friday, August 23, 2013

Waiting to meet you

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot) recently wrote a post about how some people are superstitious about knitting for babies before they're born, as though it would "jinx" a pregnancy or tempt fate. She sees it instead as a sort of optimism, making it clear that this baby is expected and paving the way for it to arrive.

Her post spoke to some things I've been mulling over lately, as someone who's been spending a lot of time either preparing or thinking about preparing for the arrival of two little ones.

Since this picture I've finished the back and started on the sleeves!
I have often thought about how people are basically programmed to respond to babies and very young children with love. They are cute, most people smile at them, some stop to gush over how adorable they are. All human beings are meant to be loved, and loved unconditionally, their whole lives; but how important in those first years, when their sense of who they are and the world they exist in is just forming, that they hear this message:

Welcome. We're glad you're here. Your life is a gift. You are worthy of love.

And what better way to welcome a baby than with warmth that is literal as well as metaphorical? I firmly believe that all babies deserve handknits, to be wrapped up in love in a physical, woolly way. So I try to knit for babies as they're born, although sometimes I have too much on my plate. (Alas, some babies in my life have been left knitless; and then they become toddlers and things take more than one skein of yarn and more time and measurements and ... well, it just doesn't happen.)

But it is most beautiful to me, especially as I knit for my own babies, that through knitting you are able to nurture, care for, and love them--before they're even on the outside. Knitting for babies in the womb affirms their lives as something beautiful; it says "You exist, and you are loved, and I cannot wait to meet you."

Still doesn't have a second sleeve ...
Some of the commenters on Stephanie's post said they couldn't imagine what it would be like to have those knits if something bad happened--like coming home to a fully decorated nursery that will remain empty. But I noticed that most of the people who actually experienced loss, even while they acknowledged the hardship of those baby knits going unworn, also wrote of the meaningfulness of being able to pull those things out of the drawer now and then, a tangible reminder of the life that was, the love that was given to it.

There is a group on Ravelry called Elephant Tears that donates baby blankets as part of bereavement packages for families who lost a child due to premature birth. I missed the most recent deadline because of knitting for my own babies, but I really hope to participate in the future.

As for my own babies ... Praise God, I have not known that kind of loss. But even if I knew that one or or both of them would be diagnosed tomorrow with a fatal disease or disability and that I would never meet them in this life ... I would keep knitting. It would give me a way to still nurture them, to affirm their lives as beautiful, no matter how short. A tangible way to still say: "You exist, and you are loved, and I cannot wait to meet you." Even if that meeting isn't in this life.

 I hope this post doesn't sound depressing, because it isn't meant to! I've just been doing a lot of preparing and planning for babies lately, and pondering over the meaning of these things. There is something to them that goes beyond the merely practical.

Anyway, I think I've posted pics of these outfits before, but I wanted to share them again--do you like how they sort of match the sweaters? Happy coincidence! I have my eye on some Malabrigo in Cumparsita for the second blanket, which happens to fit the color scheme too ... might as well embrace it, right?

And then there's these guys just 'cause they're cute.

I bought some more newborn onesies today and a maternity belt (yay!), and then I had to walk out of the store because if I'd stayed any longer I would have spent ALL the money. Babies'R'Us/Toys'R'Us could be a problem for me come Christmastime. 


  1. Oh Rosemary, this post makes me miss you so much! I went through a lot of these emotions and thoughts when I learned Paige wasn't growing and could have serious health problems or not make it at all. I remember worrying about all the decorating I had done in Paige's room and how I would feel if she never got to see it. Then I thought I had decorated, knitted, picked clothes out with her specifically in mind. These would be Paige's even if she never saw, snuggled in, or wore them. I felt comfort in that.
    Hopefully this doesn't sound morbid. I am writing this so you know other people have these same thoughts!
    I hadn't heard of Elephant Tears before. That sounds like a wonderful organization.
    When Paige was in the nicu she was given a blanket made by a group called The Linus Project. I absolutely cherish this blanket! It reminds me of her rough start and how far we both have come since then.
    I know I felt so loved when we received the sweater you made for Paige. Hand knits have a funny way of doing that! So in the spirit of love and warmth, knitt on!
    Sending love to you and all of your boys!

  2. I hadn't heart of Elephant Tears either although I have donated blankets to the children's hospital in town. I shall have to check that out.
    I like your sentiments a lot. didn't seem morbid to me. I continue to send happy thoughts your way.

  3. Beautiful, Rosemary. While our little one wasn't here long enough to have any knitting done for him/her, I do have a couple of onesies that were gifts from family. I keep them in a box with a few cards and other little things. I can't imagine not having something tangible--just knowing those things are here reminds me that our baby is a real person, that it wasn't all a dream.

    I didn't knit yet then, but I've wondered since I started, when God blesses us with another baby will I wait to knit him something until the second trimester or later? And I've realized that I'll want to start immediately, because who knows if that will be the only time I'll have, in your words, "to nurture, care for, and love them."

  4. This is a beautiful post :) I have recently started to tackle the task of knitting, I am not yet ready to take on a little cardigan, but I can make a plain scarf lol!

    Good luck in the future :)

    Lorraine xx

  5. I'm completely with you on the knitting as optimism, and I'm excited to meet you in person! I think we'll have lots to talk about. :-)