by Crochey Day
I went into labor with my son seven weeks early. My water broke before they could stop it, and that was that – he had to come out. Looking back at it now, it’s terrifying to realize how early that is, but at the time the doctors were only telling me how big and strong and healthy he was, so I was tense and excited to meet my baby but not scared.
Unfortunately things don’t always go the way that we think they will, and one emergency c-section later I was being moved to recovery. I hadn’t even seen my son – they whisked him off to the NICU without a word – but after I stopped shaking enough to think, my husband showed me the few pictures he had snapped as the doctors were intubating him. Once they had him settled, my husband went down to the NICU and took some more pictures for me, but that was all I had: I couldn’t get out of bed, and my son certainly couldn’t leave the NICU.
The next day I was allowed to begin walking, my IV stand in tow, and after a few careful trials the nurses sent me off to the NICU to see my baby for the first time. He was big for a preemie, five pounds, with a head full of downy brown hair, but I couldn’t hold back tears as I listened to the explanations for each tiny tube and wire attached to my baby. Despite the oxygen tubes in his nose, his tiny chest sucked in as his underdeveloped lungs struggled with the overwhelming burden of inhaling and exhaling, and he lay in his little incubator – for the most part – very still.
Over the next week, visits to the NICU lost that sharp edge of pain and became a little more routine. I recovered somewhat from my surgery and was discharged; my son began breathing easier, and there was even talk of removing the little tube that fed milk straight down into his stomach so he could try nursing. I visited him every day, for as long as I could, and our little curtained-off section of the NICU began to grow familiar.
One day, after he was moved from his incubator to an open-topped bassinet, I noticed that the blanket that padded the bottom of his bed looked handmade. Pushing aside some wires and peeling back the flannel receiving blanket, I saw that my initial guess had been right: softening the bottom of the little plastic bassinet was a handmade quilt. I looked up, and suddenly I saw something I hadn’t really noticed before. Every single incubator, bed, and isolette was touched by the hands of crafters. Little handmade beanies covered the heads of some of the babies. Quilts and afghans softened beds up and down the row. Even lacy afghans found a home covering incubators to filter the light.
I can’t describe the feeling that I had as I realized that the entire NICU was filled with tokens of love and support from crocheters, knitters, and quilters that I had never met. I didn’t know a single person who had made even one of the hats or blankets there, but I knew many who had sent blankets and hats to other hospitals, for other babies, and I felt in a bizarre way that the NICU was full of friends. I know it isn’t logical, but seeing that made it easier for me to leave my baby when it was time to go home – I wasn’t leaving him alone, I was leaving him with friends.
My son was able to leave the hospital after three weeks in the NICU and is now a strong, healthy, happy child. Even though it has been years now, thinking of the love that I felt from so many people during one of the most difficult times of my life still brings tears to my eyes. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has ever made anything to donate to a NICU or hospital: the odds aren’t great that your blanket or hat was one that I saw, but I want you to know what a difference it made to me to see them there. Thank you. I appreciate it.
About the Author
Crochey Day is a mom and a crocheter who loves to find new patterns on the internet. She collects links to free crochet patterns in the Crochet Day to Day directory!
Article © Crochey Day. All rights reserved.