Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thinking Back

Thinking back on all the time we were spending in hospitals a few years ago makes me realize how time does heal feelings. For a while there, we were visiting specialist after specialist, week after week, not knowing what to think about our little baby who had made The Farmer and I a family. Would she survive? What would she be like? Would she talk? Would she walk? There were so many questions and no answers whatsoever. The control freak in me disintegrated before my very eyes. I couldn’t do anything. I was helpless. All I could do was ask questions, find the doctors I had confidence in and live through it all.

That first year crawled by. It was torture. Still when I see a baby, I don’t insinctively want to grab at it or want to hug it or care for it. Babies just aren’t for me. But then when it was my child, she was there and she needed me. I knew it and somewhere I found it within me to hug her, cuddle her, soothe her. To lie on the couch with her and have her fall asleep on me. To dance with her in my arms to music in our empty house. I remember each moment as if they were yesterday even though those days of being able to lift her high above my head vanished long ago.

Somedays I read the blogs of others, mostly design obsessed blogs written by women who are at least twenty years younger than me. I read them and am interested in what they are liking and shopping for. I follow the bloggy trends. I find them totally entertaining. And then, I get a twinge and I almost feel pity for them, that they are so obsessed with the beautiful, the precious, the perfect. I think to myself, these girls just need something else to do with their time. But then I think, hey, I was probably like that at one point, before life hit me on the head, before my daughter was born. I realize that they too could be going through their own personal struggles – they just don’t chose to talk about them with the rest of the world. Their blogs are about the passions that they share with the world. Or their blogs are professional vehicles to find a job, a freelance gig, a book deal. That’s absolutely okay. It’s just that I have moved past that part of my life. I’m in survival mode, into helping my child find her way, hoping she will find a place in the world. I’ve put my career at the “do what you can, when you can” moment of the day. Take care of the child first – she’ll only be living and sharing our lives for a short time. Do the best I can even if it isn’t the best. Love her and make her feel loved. I know I have been given the chance and it could as easily have been taken away. It’s not that I am “super-mom” – by all means, I am not. I am way too casual for such a role and I know that I can’t control very much and so I go with the flow.

As for the precious and the beautiful…. don’t get me wrong…. I still love decorating with color and design and knitting and stitching. It’s just that it isn’t the be all and end all for me now. I use these loves and passions now as a vehicle to get through my days. I like to be creative. I like the act of creating. But sometimes I can’t see the forest from the trees. Give me a set of watercolors and paper some days and I’ll just stare at them and do nothing. I won’t be able to move a pencil across the paper.

The one thing though that has gotten me through my recent life’s stumbling blocks is my yarn and my needles – whether it be knitting or stitching. I remember one of the early visits with a neurologist in Boston with Julia. Mark and I drove to Boston with Julia and we met up with my friend Cathy who lives in town. We all went to the doctor’s appointment and after a long wait, were ushered into a small room and waited some more for the doctor. We sat in there, the four of us. I had a project going – I remember it like it was yesterday – it was going to be a zippered sweater for Julia in a 2 x 2 rib in a varying palette of odds and ends. I sat there knitting while Cathy and Mark entertained Julia while we waited for the doctor. The doctor came in finally and I sat there knitting and knitting and knitting and listening.

K3, P3, answer a question
K3, P3, answer another question
K3, P3 ask a question
K3, P3 listen to the answer
K3, P3 process the answer and ask another question

I saw the doctor staring at Cathy, then at me, with a quizzical look on her face. I could read it – she was completely confused. How could the nanny with the knitting be answering the questions for this child with the medical condition? She asked who the mother was and I told her. Me, silly, you think because I am knitting means I am not capable of being a mother and answering your questions. I put down my knitting although there was really no need to. The doctor didn’t realize how calm my knitting made me, how knitting gave me purpose to my time in the office, how this brief moment of wrapping yarn around my needles made me worry less. But then a non-knitter will never know this, will they?

It’s a rare doctor’s appointment now that I don’t have some kind of stitchery with me. I’ve just got to bring it and have it in case I get stuck for hours waiting. Most times I don’t have a minute to stitch – I’m too busy entertaining my chatty daughter and meeting other patients in the waiting room. But it is always by my side when I need it – my silent friend, that is.

The other thing that got me through those difficult days was our friends and family members. Every time, Julia was hospitalized, they took care of our many animals – our sheep, our chickens, our dogs. They drove said dogs many miles to stay with other relatives. They stayed away from the hospital and came when needed. They brought me good coffee and food to shore me up as I sat by the hospital bed. They broke up the monotony of sitting next to a small baby who couldn’t express her needs, her discomforts, her likes and dislikes. They got me through all the waiting time for doctors. They helped me organize my thoughts and questions. I can’t thank them enough and I remember every kindness to this day.

I promise you, I'm back to the regular vibe with my next post. I just had to say write these two little posts so I can remember it all. And I can't thank you all for all the comments last week. I thought long and hard about putting that last post up there.


Tana said...

Both of your posts about Julia have so warmed my heart. I like them because they are so human, so real. And the perspective - funny, isn't it, how some experiences can give us such different perspective. Thank you so much for sharing.


Willow said...

Again you have expressed true love, mother love, so eloquently. I have often said that I don't much like children, but I LOVE my children. My dd Kiti is expecting her first baby and she doesn't much like kids either. This post of yours reassures me that all is well and will be well. We love our children. I too seldom go anywhere without my knitting, often for the same reasons you have carried yours; knitting centers and calms me at home resting, in hospitals caring and in classes helping me concentrate. We knitters have always known this.

anmiryam said...

Both of these posts are lovely reminders of the importance of accepting and adapting to life's vagaries without letting the difficulties become an excuse for unhappiness. Thank you for sharing.

Sarah said...

I too, have such profound gratefulness for the friends who supported us while our child was hospitalized. At one point, she stopped eating and my friend came EVERY DAY with fresh porridge and cream and a cup of GOOD coffee. Just seeing his face every morning was so important. And then the time when my husband was on overnight and I arrived home in another huge snowstorm to a cold house and no power. The neighbors were lying in wait, came over, lit candles, tucked my older daughter and me in bed, and brought a warm breakfast in the morning. I will treasure these gestures of goodness during times of helplessness forever. They have touched me inside deeply.

Gammy aka Peggy said...

Once again, thank you for sharing your heart and your story. Prayers and love you and your family's way!!!!

Tracy said...

Your family's story is so inspiring that I had to leave my first comment. Thank you. I am a children's librarian and first found your site after admiring your Kids Embroidery book. After reading your last two posts, I think you might enjoy a book that moved me as much as your story has. Its called Expecting Adam: a true story of birth, rebirth, and everyday magic by Martha Beck. Thanks for all of your work-the beautiful outside stuff and the beautiful inside stuff.

Penny said...

{hugs} yay! mother's love. thank you.

and i wish i knew the doctors that gave my mum all those really scary predictions when I was born.. (i'd never get adult teeth, my bones would break, we won't even start on what my brain could and couldn't supposedly do)... :) l'chaim!

for each of these i'm thankful. i know my limits and am just amazed each day.

here's another {hug} for everyone.

Cher said...

Add me to the chorus of those who are deeply honored that you chose to share these two posts with us.

And you're so right: I think most (if not all) of us have a whole heck of a lot going on that doesn't get posted. You phrased it so wonderfully: the obsession with that which is beautiful, precious and perfect is what gets us through to the next day, as we deal with that which cannot be controlled.

Heidi said...

So true, how knitting and creativity can get us through some of life's toughest times. Yarn and friends!

Brigitte said...

Kristin, thank you!!!!!

Leslie said...

I will admit to wondering about people's private lives and know it takes a lot of courage to put some things out there for public consumption. Thank you for the grace and dignity with which you have done so. Julia seems to have enriched your life and sharing her story enriches us all.

Snarled Yarns said...

I used to be a perfectionist until I had children. I gave it up though for something more important. Love. something that you have obvoiusly discovered yourself.

Kristin Nicholas said...

So nice to hear more from all of you! Thanks for your warmth and well wishes and understanding.

Anonymous said...

Kristin, you described my days at NEMC exactly, but I was working on chemo caps. We probably sat in the same waiting rooms at some point, waiting to see the same specialists. We still head in there every few months. I won't forget Julia's story nor her beautiful smile, so I'll be sure to say hi if I see you two. All the best,

-- Grace

Caroline said...

I didn't comment on your last entry because I didn't really feel like I had anything to add. I think it might be easy to see people who create beautiful things as having these flawlessly "perfect" lives too. It does sound like you have created a beautiful life with your family but thanks for sharing the struggles that have come along with it too. It reminds all of us to be thankful.

Elizabeth said...

I do love learning the back story of bloggers lives, not just the pretty pictures. Thank you for sharing your story.
You mentioned having to put down your knitting in the doctors' office and you know, the same thing has happened to me. Even in my own home. I had invited someone over for coffee and a chat and when I pulled out my knitting her eyebrows hit her hairline and the conversation faltered. She considered it rude that I would knit through our conversation. I found it amusing and intriguing. Is it the multi-tasking people don't trust? They don't think they are getting enough of your attention? Everyone needs a little k1p2 meditatoin in their lives.