When I first saw the prompt for Kate’s Love Your Blog challenge, I knew exactly what I was going to write. The prompt for this week is “Beginnings.” I’m not going to write about how or when I started knitting, or blogging, or the beginning of my design career. I’ve said all of those things before. What I am going to tell you about is the knitting project that helped me through the beginning of Liam’s life. It’s time.
My pregnancy with Liam was…complicated. Pregnancy after infertility, horrible morning sickness that in retrospect, I should have asked for medication to help me through it, gestational diabetes, ultrasounds (so many ultrasounds), emergency appointments with a maternal-fetal specialist, conflicting reports from doctors, and the words “Chromosomal abnormality. May not be compatible with life.” I’m not going to rehash it all. Just know that it was simultaneously the best and the worst time of my life. August 2006 may have been the lowest point I’ve ever had in my life.
Through it all, I knit. Most of the time. I couldn’t knit much during the first trimester because knitting made me sick, just like everything else in the entire world made me sick. During the second trimester, I picked up my knitting again. My project was the Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn Clark that appeared in an issue of Interweave Knits. I had my yarn, and I took that project everywhere. It came to work with me, and I knit at the end of the day while I waited for my husband to pick me up to go home. It came with me to all the appointments. I worked on it at the hospital when I was there for the 3 hour glucose test. I kept working on it. Bit by bit, it grew.
Liam was born 4 weeks early. My water broke as I was eating dinner on a Friday evening. I was terrified. My first child, and there was a small chance that things were going to go horribly wrong. Labor and delivery were normal. When he was first handed to me, I didn’t see it. After he was taken by the nurses and cleaned up, he was handed back to me. I saw it in the shape of his eyes. He had Down syndrome. In my head, I panicked.
The rational part of my brain kicked in. “Look at this baby. Most adorable baby ever. This is what you wanted for years. Gah, this kid is adorable. No one has ever had a baby this cute.” We saw neonatologists. We saw geneticists. At some point, my husband brought me my knitting bag. We left the hospital with a baby, a pile of paperwork, and a to do list a mile long.
We made appointments. We started Early Intervention. We saw more geneticists. We saw cardiologists. We saw the regular pediatrician. And I knit.
We soon fell into a routine. I’d take care of Liam during the day when my husband was at work. He’d take over when he came home and would be the primary caregiver until around midnight. Those hours when he was doing almost everything, I knit. I took my shawl in progress down to our basement (it’s a finished basement not a dark scary place), and I knit. I’d shut the door behind me and I knit. I listened to podcasts or watched movies, and I knit. In the quiet, I knit. All of my focus was on my knitting. I couldn’t worry about the what ifs and the hypotheticals when I was focused on lace. I processed what this diagnosis meant as I knit. Stitch by stitch, I worked my way through those complicated new baby days.
Then one evening, I spread my stitches out on the needles to admire my progress, and stitch after stitch popped off the end of the needle without me noticing. When I did, I panicked. I rushed to get what I could back on the needles. Then I put the project away. Even with a lifeline a few rows down, I couldn’t deal with it.
Life went on. He was definitely the most adorable baby ever. He was far and away the easiest baby I’ve ever been around. Things were good. I cast on for other projects. Knitting when I could find the time.
A year later, maybe two, I decided I wanted to finish that shawl. I picked it up and ripped back to the lifeline. I don’t know why, but getting the stitches back onto the needles was difficult. I put it away for another day. I soon picked it back up.
I ripped. I ripped it all out. All of that work. All of that time. Time spent at appointments. Time spent crying. Time spent worrying. Time spent at the hospital. Time spent in the basement. Time spent coming to terms with a new diagnosis.
I cried as I ripped.
The yarn is still in my stash. I have no plans to knit that shawl again. I am grateful though. That project allowed me to put all of my uncertainties and worries into it when our life with Liam was just beginning. Uncertainties and worries that I let go of long before the day I ripped it all out.