Hope and the Baby Sweater
First, let me say how immensely grateful I am to live in an affluent corner of a post-birth-control world. The very fact that knitting is a hobby we choose rather than poorly-paid women’s work is indicative of our vastly changed position in society. Women’s journey toward equality seems to me to be largely defined by our ability to choose whether and when to become mothers, a choice that we’ve only had (in some affluent parts of the globe), since widespread availability of the Pill in 1960 or so – a very short time in history.
I’ve had the luxury of making many of my own choices and defining my own life. While so much of life is down to chance, I have been able to make some things happen for myself and have worked to create a career and personal life that I enjoy.
But You Can’t Buy It
Reproduction is one of the things that the modern world has not conquered. Getting pregnant is something that we can’t control. This can be difficult for us modern, independent women. We can’t ‘work hard’ and expect it will come to us. We can’t save up to buy it. We can’t shop for it. It is something quite outside of our control. And there is a dark and sad side to it, as around one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage. Seldom discussed, this is a loss that a huge percentage of us will experience, first-hand or through the sorrow of a dear friend or sister. And tragically, some women are unable to conceive or carry a child to term no matter how long they try, which must be one of the most painful losses to mourn.
In the absence of control, that time when all we can do is wait and wish and wonder, what can we do? I advocate hope. For me, this hope was made real by knitting baby sweaters.
When I was ‘trying’ for a child, I spoke with a knitter who had been ‘trying’ for 9 months. She asked if I had knit anything for my hoped-for child, and I told her about my growing pile of baby sweaters. I asked if she’d knit anything for her little one yet, and she said that she hadn’t dared to, because she was uncertain whether she would conceive. Perhaps this is how you feel as you hope to become a mother, or are wishing for grandbabies.
Own Your Hope
We all live our lives in hope, full of expectations for the future. Expectation that the sun will come out tomorrow. Hope that your partner will continue to love you and treat you well. Hopw that you will be able to save enough to go on a holiday next year. But sometimes we are so scared to admit hope for the things that we REALLY want, for fear that they might not come to us. For fear that hope will ‘jinx’ us.
Don’t get me wrong… I am a pragmatist despite my romantic heart. I didn’t go out and buy the whole kit and caboodle until I was 20 weeks or so along. But I doubted in my heart that baby sweaters already knit would make me feel MORE sad if I lost a baby, or was unable to have one. These sweaters were a physical symbol of my hope, but without them, my hope was still real.
My story was a happy one. After 4 or 5 months of ‘trying’ and monthly mood swings when I peed on sticks and agonized that the process wasn’t within my control, I was suddenly pregnant. I was fortunate to have a healthy pregnancy, routine birth and a healthy baby boy.
Your hope is there. It is real. It cannot be denied. Pain and change and loss are part of reproduction for a very high percentage of parents. And there is some pain and change and loss even when you have a smooth pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby! But I would advocate not allowing fear to stop you from owning your hope. And for me, part of owning that hope was knitting baby sweaters.
Hoping for Grandbabies?
Many of our knitters are knitting for grandchildren, and I have heard many stories of knitters hoping for grandkids to knit for. I say knit away! Put those little baby sweaters in the ‘bottom drawer’. They will wait a few years until your children either reproduce, or somebody you know has babies who need woolies, or a good cause needs some beautiful hand-knits. There are always new babies popping into this world. Just don’t pull them out when your son brings his girlfriend over, PLEASE!
My Favourite TCK Baby Sweaters