The healthiest baby in the NICU

As I mentioned once before, Asher had to go to the NICU for about 12 hours after he was born. However, he was born at 4:23 pm, and didn’t go to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) until about midnight that evening. Nothing about labor/delivery/postpartum/newborn nursing has been familiar to me since college; nevertheless, I feel fairly confident in saying that this was an unusual amount of time between delivery and NICU admission.

See, Asher was pretty tiny when he was born–he only weighed 5 pounds, 2 ounces. He was born at just over 37 weeks, so while he was still technically premature, he really should have been bigger than that, thus earning himself the label “Small for Gestational Age”. SGA babies have their blood sugar checked shortly after delivery, and his was too low. I can’t remember now what the number was, but it was low enough that the nursing staff was a bit concerned (and not for the first time; I found out after the fact that his heart rate had gotten so low while I was delivering him that the neonatal resuscitation team had been called–they apparently rushed into the room at the moment he was born, heard his enthusiastic cry, then turned around and went back upstairs without me ever seeing them). So, they tried to get Asher to nurse, but probably as a result of the low blood sugar, he was too sleepy to be bothered with that much effort. To my dismay, they then whisked him off to the newborn nursery to give him formula to try and sweeten him up a bit (see what I did there?).

This was the very first photo I ever took of Asher. Look how big the newborn diaper was on him!

It worked. They wheeled me to the nursery a short time later for some much needed cuddles (much needed for me, he was too full and sleepy to care), and after re-checking his blood sugar we were sent to my postpartum room to get acquainted. This was going swimmingly, until a few hours later when my nurse came in to check his blood sugar again…and it was too low. I remembered enough from nursing school to know that wasn’t good news, because by then he should have been able to adequately maintain his own levels. It was quickly decided that he needed to go upstairs to the NICU for closer observation and possibly IV fluids. And then, for the second time in his life, my newborn baby was taken away from me.

I’m making that sound really dramatic, but at that moment it felt like my whole world was ending. I’d delivered him, had him taken away, gotten him back, then had him taken again, and I was a bit of a wreck about the whole thing (plus this had all happened a month before we expected him to even be born, and I was still in shock about that fact alone). When I was taken up to see him a while later, his nurse was giving him a bottle AGAIN, and that was the moment I knew he might never be able to breastfeed (and sadly, I was right). I remember that the Nurse Practitioner who was on call in the NICU that night was very pretty, and I’m sure she was compassionate, informative and reassuring, but I don’t actually know because I was crying too hard to hear anything she said.

As it turned out, Asher was the healthiest baby in the NICU for the entirety of his (mercifully short) stay. His blood sugar never dropped again, he never needed an IV, the NICU staff found me a hospital-issued breast pump and Dave and I got to give him his bottles of breastmilk every 3 hours, and Asher and I were discharged from the hospital together–something that wouldn’t have happened if he had needed any true NICU-level intervention. As an intensive care nurse myself, I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve had a patient in the exact same situation as Asher–really not sick enough to need an ICU nurse, but just a bit too iffy for the floor staff (who have much higher nurse to patient ratios) to feel safe keeping him on their unit. With hindsight being 20/20, it was pretty obvious that he hadn’t needed the NICU at all–but everyone was just trying to keep him safe.

But whether he needed to be there or not, he still went to the NICU. I still had to spend the first night of his life away from him, and only fell asleep because I was too tired to cry any more.

I don’t consider myself a “NICU mom”, because I would never dare to appropriate the anguish of a mother who can’t even freely touch her fragile baby inside an isolette. I never wondered if I would get to bring Asher home, only when. Nevertheless, that first night of his life was heartbreaking and terrifying for me.

As I tried to process through everything that had happened when Asher was born, I found myself in this bizarre gray zone of not being a NICU mom, but not being a non-NICU mom, either. I finally realized that, regardless of how not-sick my baby had been, I needed to give myself permission to grieve the loss of what I had expected for those first few hours of motherhood. Losing that time with Asher, and ultimately losing the ability to breastfeed him, are sad realities that I have had to accept as part of the story of my motherhood. The fact that other people had harder situations doesn’t undo the hardness of my own.

Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying that comparison is the thief of joy, but I think that comparison can be the thief of mourning, too. Sometimes the hard work of grief needs to happen in order to reassess and reassemble ourselves, then move forward into the new world we now face. Not doing that work because of someone else’s tragedy only serves to hamper our own progress.

I found a great deal of freedom from the weight of Asher’s NICU ordeal when I decided that it was okay to be hurt by painful things, full stop. It makes me no less compassionate for another person’s story just because I have chosen to acknowledge the low points in my own; if anything, I hope and pray that it will make me more so.

Is there pain or sadness that you’ve pushed to the periphery of your life because you know someone else had it harder, or because it could have been worse? If so, I’d like to humbly encourage you to pull it back to center long enough to identify, examine and assimilate it. Doing so may require great courage, but I truly believe it will be worth it…because I believe that weight will be easier to bear when you’re done.

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Sunday Stitch Count 7/30

It’s Sunday again! When I was pregnant, I was so hyper-aware of the passage of time–I absolutely said things like, “I’m 32 and a half weeks along!”–but without that looming due date by which to measure, days can easily sneak up on me. That’s why it’s fun to see what I have to show for a week, knitting-wise…one ENORMOUS difference between knitting and motherhood is concrete, tangible progress!

Find Your Fade by Andrea Mowry

I’m a little surprised by how not-different this project looks from last week, even though it’s a couple inches longer. Ms. Mowry tends to write patterns that are fairly straightforward but really let the yarn shine, so I’m hoping my next color change will really make a difference…otherwise I may end up in a dreaded shawl black hole!

Falling Waters by Knit-A-Bit staff

Now that’s progress! The irony of this pattern is that all of the panels between the cables are intentionally dropped at the bind-off, so a lot of work gets done to then be purposefully undone. It’s like a cha-cha with yarn! (How’s that for knitterly optimism?)

Fair Isle Coaster by Helen Ardley

The yarn is Cascade 220 Sport in gray, teal and cream, because once again no one over there at Cascade Yarns could be bothered to give these poor little colors a real name! It’s a bit of a travesty, really. As you can see, this little coaster is actually finished already, but there’s supposed to be 4 of them and I can’t find the one I already made (I blame the move, I can’t find my good blocking pins either!), so it’s really only 25% of the project.

And, of course, the obligatory Asher picture! He’s really starting to enjoy solid foods more and more–in this picture he had just polished off macaroni and cheese AND green beans!

Previous Stitch Counts:

Sunday Stitch Count 7/23

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Ode to a stretch mark

I was surprised you came alone, because I always assumed your sort traveled in packs.

But no, you had the strength of character to forge your way all by yourself.

In fact, I didn’t even know about you until the baby had been born for two weeks.

You were stealthy, stowing away on the underside of my belly where I couldn’t see you until I was the only one living inside my body again.

Did I scare away all of your friends with the slightly obsessive cocoa butter applications? The ones I would get out of bed to perform if I had forgotten, ignoring the protests of my husband that, “it will be fine if you skip it this one time”?

If so, this behavior of mine would definitely fall into the “sorry, not sorry” category, although I do feel bad for dooming you to a life of solitude.

Not too bad, but still.

I have to say though, at the end of the day I’m glad you decided to appear.

Of course, I liked the idea of making it through an entire pregnancy without any of your kind popping up, but that’s all just vanity–a point of pride that would only be meaningful to me.

But seeing you causes me to pause a moment and remember the flutters, hiccups and kicks. The rolling waves of my belly when the baby wanted a different pose. The way everything about my body changed to accommodate this new life. The way I longed to meet the stubborn little person who was simply convinced he could kick his way out into the world through my liver.

You are a tangible reminder of just how lucky I am to have carried and delivered a healthy baby.

You’re not the prettiest thing I ever saw, little stretch mark, but you remind me that I got to take part in a miracle.

And for that, I am grateful.

For you, I am grateful.

Just don’t invite any of your cousins over if we have another baby, okay?

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Don’t sleep when the baby sleeps (and other heretical advice for new moms)

Look, I know she meant well, but the wrath I felt towards the first person who cheerfully told me to “sleep when the baby sleeps!” while I was battling a terrible case of postpartum depression and had a baby with reflux, was truly a thing of awe. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely been that angry before, but usually over something that was actually meant to incite anger–not over some innocuous, if entirely unhelpful and ridiculous, platitude.

One of the potential symptoms of postpartum depression is an inability to sleep, and talk about adding insult to injury. It took many prayers, a very specific pillow setup, just the right amount of light, Dave reading to me from a particular kind of book, lavender essential oil and the blood of a virgin to get me to sleep at night. Jay-kay on the virgin blood part, but dang, I got desperate enough a few times that if it would have helped… ANYway, sleeping during the day was simply out of the question, because I physically could not do it. So being blithely told to “sleep when the baby sleeps” was a slap in the face, not only because it was dangling a carrot of something I absolutely could not have, but it made me feel like I wasn’t “doing it right” as a new mom.

So, here are my pieces of borderline heretical advice for new moms, because I really could have used some of that in the beginning!

Don’t sleep when the baby sleeps unless falling asleep is what you want to do and actually can do. If you can’t sleep, have a nice warm cup of something soothing, put your feet up, and enjoy a few moments of relaxation–don’t make yourself miserable trying to sleep if that’s not a reasonable expectation for you. Just take care of yourself however you need to be cared for at that moment.

(That’s not a trick of the light, I really had circles under my eyes so dark they looked like bruises. And awwww, newborn Asher!)

Keep your kitchen clean if that will make you feel more sane. Newborns truly are precious and miraculous and stay that small for a blink of an eye; however, it is NOT a crime to take 5 or 10 minutes to tidy things up if you want to. My baby came almost 3 weeks early when my OB had told me he’d be at least a week late, so absolutely NOTHING in our home was ready for his arrival. We’d installed the car seat, but that was only because I wanted the big box out of our cramped apartment! I was in a haze of shock and bewilderment for quite some time after Asher was born, and felt like I’d completely lost control of my life–except when I did the dishes. Washing dishes gave me a well-defined task, required only skills I was already adept at, and had a definitive end point. Nothing about mothering a newborn who couldn’t nurse and who arrived a month earlier than he was expected gave me any of those things, so the idea of ignoring the small stuff like dishes actually made me feel worse, not better.

If your child is an unlikable wretch in the evenings, it is not your fault. Asher did the very classic “witching hour” from about 5 weeks til 10 weeks–I called it “staging a coup”. He would cry relentlessly from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. every. single. night. We could have set our watches by it. We tried ev-er-y-thing to calm him, and actually only discovered the thing that worked best by accident–we made a pillow fort around him on the bed and then just sat by him while he kicked his legs and flailed his arms to his heart’s content. I still suspect that we may have been winding him up more with all of our efforts at soothing. Insert eye roll here. But anyway, when I went looking for advice about this, I kept finding articles that told me it was MY fault that he was so miserable, I clearly wasn’t giving him a good day since he was so unhappy at night, I was feeding him wrong, I was blah blah blah. It was total B.S., but I was exhausted and desperate enough to believe it. IT WASN’T TRUE. If your baby is throwing a fit every night, check with your pediatrician to see if she has anything to say about it, and then hunker down and do whatever it takes to get through it–drive around the neighborhood, put baby in a wrap and walk the halls, give her a warm bath, cry along with her, but do NOT believe that you are causing this problem. It is, unfortunately, just a thing that some babies do. And then someday, when they’re good and ready, they stop doing it. Sigh. Which leads me to my next point…

For the love, don’t Google everything! Or at least only click on the pages that look like respectable sources of information. If you want to know if something is normal, ask an actual person you trust, like your pediatrician, a friend with young children, or even email the author of a mommy blog (and I’m not just being cute there, I actually wised up and started reaching out to a couple mommy bloggers who seemed like women I’d be friends with in real life, and got some super encouraging responses for my trouble!).

And, perhaps most importantly, you don’t have to love every minute of new motherhood to love your child unconditionally and be a really good mother. I am so thankful that I was lucky enough to carry my own baby, so I love having been pregnant, but I honestly didn’t love being pregnant. In the same way, Asher’s newborn days were some of the most precious of my life, and I coo over my photos of him at that age all the time; but, they were also some of the hardest and scariest days of my life. I often got down on myself for not “loving every minute”, and I so wish I hadn’t. I love that I got to have a newborn, but I didn’t always love having a newborn–and that’s okay. Not every season can be your favorite, and there is nothing wrong with you if you don’t adore this particular one. Just take lots of photos to drool over when he or she is older, because that really is fun!

I’m not far down the road of motherhood at all, and I still have more to learn than I could dream of right now, but I have learned these things so far. If you are a new mom and need someone to just listen and say, “yeah, me too”, please send me a message or write a comment. You don’t have to go it alone, your motherhood is precious, and you are the mother your child needs.

Now go take a nap…or don’t!

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Sunday Stitch Count 7/23

I’ve decided it might be fun to do a Sunday Stitch Count post each week to keep track of my progress with various knitting projects–and hopefully keep me honest about starting too many without finishing the ones that came before! Ravelry has such features, of course, but much to the astonishment of every knitter who’s ever asked, I am either unable or unwilling to learn them. Full disclosure, the only reason this blog is evenly remotely usable is because I’m married to a very patient and helpful IT guy (thanks, Love!).

So anyway, here’s a look at what I’m currently knitting!

Find Your Fade by Andrea Mowry

The yarn is Tosh Merino Light by Madeline Tosh in Mandala, Odyssey and Stephen Loves Tosh (so far, I have a few color melts to go!).

Falling Waters, pattern from Knit-A-Bit staff for the 2017 NJ Wool Walk

The yarn is Avalon by Cascade Yarns in Sandshell. And yes, I am currently on Row 1 and have been on Row 1 since Tuesday, but in my defense this is the second of two panels, so it’s not quite as pitiful a start as it looks!

Slip Stitch Cowl, pattern from The Blue Purl staff

The yarn is Sarasota by Cascade Yarns again, in blue, green and gray (thank you Captain Obvious!). But I seriously can’t find color names anywhere on the label, so I’m assuming there aren’t names…in which case I really think I should offer up my color naming services, don’t you? And since this little number is being knit in the round, it is absolutely refusing to photograph properly…but it really does look promising!

And a completely unrelated but totally adorable picture of Asher to round things out:

Look how long those legs are! He’s already 9 inches taller than when he was born!

Happy Sunday!

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Lighting candles and paying the price

“So, knowing everything you do now, if you could do it over again, would you still be a nurse?”

When my Dad asked me this, it wasn’t an idle question. I had lived with him and my Mom while doing the most difficult and most transcendent job of my entire career, working as a transplant coordinator in organ donation. He had seen some of the lowest and darkest moments in my professional life first hand.

“Yeah, I still would.”

“Really? Why?” (I think he was genuinely surprised!)

“Well, I lit a candle that was worth burning. It cost me a lot, but I would do it again.”

“Honey,” he said, “you didn’t just light a candle in the lives of all those people you helped save. You set off a rocket.”

My Dad is pretty great, huh?

But shining encouragement aside, I still think of myself as having lit a candle worth burning in my life as a nurse. I count myself privileged to have done the work that I did, because it was immensely valuable; but valuable things are expensive, and I paid the price of taking part in so many incredible moments.

A story:

Let’s call him Matt, since that wasn’t his name. Matt had done prison time for various things related to hard drug usage; you could tell by the tattoos he was covered with that had been inked using a paper clip.

He was out of prison now, living with his dad, holding down a job, had gotten clean and was staying clean. Until he got the idea, God knows from where, that he would take one last trip before committing to the straight and narrow forever. But Matt didn’t consider how long he’d been clean, so the same dose that used to just get him comfortably high instead caused a major overdose. He never woke up.

Matt was one year older than me.

I can’t share all of the details here, but the time came for his father–let’s call him Steve–to make the decision to terminally extubate his only child. He knew it was the right thing to do, and there was unanimous agreement from the medical team that Matt would not suffer. But, because of Steve’s own experiences in life, he could not bear the thought of watching him die. He didn’t want Matt to die alone, but he couldn’t be with him, either; so he asked me if I would stay to hold Matt’s hand while he passed away, and tell him how much he loved him.

Steve said goodbye to his son, and was helped away, weeping, by a close friend. And then the time came for Matt to end his journey on this side of eternity.

I did exactly what he asked me to do. Matt passed away quickly and absolutely without pain, and I held his hand the whole time. I told him how much his father loved him. I told him how proud he was of him. I told him how sorry I was that he had been in so much pain, that drugs had seemed like his best option. I told him how I wished we could have been friends.

When the attending physician determined that Matt’s heart had stopped and pronounced his time of death, I wept as I have wept very few times in my life. It is a great privilege to be assigned by God as the one present when a soul leaves this world; it is no less of a privilege to be assigned by a father to walk with his child as he goes.

Standing vigil as the sole mourner at the death of another person’s child has changed me in ways that even now I can’t fully articulate, years later. But I can tell you that while it cost me a great deal (for innocence is indeed a currency), it is a price I would gladly pay again to be present for that moment.

Valuable things are costly. Motherhood is one of the most valuable, and by far the most costly thing I have ever done. But just as I would choose to be with Matt again, I wouldn’t trade the last 7 months of my life for anything, because being Asher’s mother is absolutely worth every last thing I’ve sacrificed and suffered to be here. I have once again lit a candle that is well worth burning.

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How do you get through the day?

Through my circle of “mom friends”, I recently met a lovely woman who is expecting her first child this fall. We hit it off right away and had a lot in common, so I invited her to go paint some pottery together a few weeks ago (side note: how is it that I can tackle just about any knitting pattern I want badly enough, and yet I barely made it through writing the words “Father’s Day 2017” on a mug with my sanity intact?).

(Asher decided the mug should really be his, since it has his footprints on it.)

As we were painting, my friend asked oh-so earnestly, “I’ve always wondered, what do stay at home moms do during the day?” Now, that could definitely be a loaded question, but in this context it wasn’t, so I tried to give her thoughtful and honest answers.

I told her about how much time it takes to feed Asher every day (he’s never been a very motivated eater, a trait he definitely didn’t inherit from me!); about how I read him both picture and chapter books each day; about singing and dancing along to my Baby Einstein station on Pandora; about watching Sesame Street together; about how he usually prefers to nap in my arms; about how any errand I need to run now takes about 3 times longer than it used to. It’s truly not a stretch to say that knitting is an analogy for motherhood–I do the same few things a whole bunch of times every single day.

Which is why I think that “how do you get through the day?” is a more interesting question than “what do you do all day?” to ask a stay at home mom (or anyone else, but I’m trying to stay relatively on topic for now!). The answers to the first question probably say a lot more about who a mother is than the answers to the second–after all, every child needs nurturing, so it’s not terribly enlightening to hear that a woman feeds and entertains her little ones. The first question, however, gets to the heart of the matter–it can be extraordinarily lonely to operate outside the workforce, and if the weight of that loneliness is not managed it will ruthlessly crush a soul.

These are a few of the ways I get through the day being home with a baby:

Audiobooks. Honest to goodness, I don’t know what I would do without the Audible app on my phone–I have a book playing for at least a few hours every day. I try so hard to continually talk to Asher, and I read scads of books to him (I just looked and I have 25 books checked out of the library, zero of which are not from the children’s section!). But it is so. dang. hard. to carry on a one-sided conversation all day, and even with a stack of books I eventually just run out of things to say! Audiobooks help so much with the *cricket*cricket*cricket* feeling I get when I’ve run out of words. Plus, I love that Asher gets to hear a wider range of voices and accents than I could otherwise expose him to, so it’s like a two-for-one bargain!

Knitting. That’s a super shocker there, huh? But seriously, knitting helps keep me tethered to my identity as someone other than just “Asher’s Mom”. In the tough moments of mothering (like teething, *shiver*), I can slip into a misery loop of “the only thing I will ever do for the rest of my life is try to comfort a crying child and my child is still crying so I’m not even good at the one thing I can still do”. It can be a bit ugly, to be honest. Knitting is tangible proof that I’m still in there somewhere, that I can still do things and do them well.

(“Mama, this tastes like sheep!”)

The New Yorker. This is another identity thing, because I’ve enjoyed this publication for years now. I honestly skip most of the articles about politics these days, so sometimes I’m only left with a handful of the columns each week; but even then, learning about things that are happening in the world makes my soul feel fizzy.

The local farmer’s market. This only happens once a week, but I really look forward to it! It’s so fun to listen to the live music, smell all the yummy things for sale, chat to other moms with strollers, and stock up on things like marinated mushrooms and homemade biscotti. And it’s probably made more precious by only occurring once a week!

Coffee. Trader Joe’s organic, fair trade kind. Need I say more?

So now, let me ask you–what do your days look like, and how do you get through them?

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A eulogy for a pediatrician

Now hold on just one second–this blog is supposed to be about motherhood and knitting, so why exactly are we busting out funeral words on post two?

As I’ve thought through the stories I want to tell about life with my favorite tiny human, I realized how many of them are either related to, or informed by, the passing away of the wonderful pediatrician that Asher went to for the first 4.5 months of his life. So, before we go any further I’d like to take a moment to tell the world about the man who cared for so many young lives and who honestly, truly, in the marrow of my bones, made me believe I was a good mother, when I was absolutely convinced otherwise.

Dr. Richard Lon lived from 1956 until his sudden passing on May 24th, 2017.  He was only 60 years old when he died. His family has chosen not to disclose his cause of death, so I, along with scores of other parents and patients old enough to understand, can simply hope and pray that he died at peace, knowing how much we adored him.

Because we did. If you look him up online, you’ll immediately find the heartbroken outpouring of love, respect and appreciation for this man. He wasn’t warm and fuzzy, but he was kind, he was patient, he was humble, he was caring, he was open, he was good. Pediatricians are some of the lowest paid physicians out there, and yet Dr. Lon invested himself in his patients and their parents, and he made himself available quite literally 24/7/365.

I once called Dr. Lon at 10 p.m. on a Saturday, and as a nurse who has been fire blasted by a doctor for calling about his patient at the “ungodly” (his word, I’m not making this up) hour of 7:30 a.m. on a weekday, I was bracing myself for a torrent of abuse. I never got it. He gave me advice for the immediate problem, and told me to call him the next morning with an update. In the morning we talked three separate times, sorting out a prescription, dosage and plan of action if that prescription didn’t help the problem. On a Sunday.

I cannot stress this enough: I do NOT trust doctors. Not in the more common “they’re not out for my best interest” way, but in the pernicious “they’re not good people and I’d like to run the other direction” way. I come by this honestly (one can only be called names, hung up on and shouted at by physicians so many times before concluding that they are not a nice sort), but I’m at least self aware enough to try and consciously overcome it. I’m getting there–I like my OB just fine, the hematologist I was sent to at 7 weeks pregnant was very nice, my husband’s psychiatrist seems genuinely invested in his well being; but the moment I met Dr. Lon I knew Asher was safe with him, and by extension I was safe, too.

The real crux of the matter, though, came at Asher’s 1 month appointment. Asher was born “late pre-term”, meaning he was almost done cooking but not quite (that’s another story for another post!). As a result, he was sent to the NICU for about 12 hours, and while he was there he was bottle fed–there was no other choice but a tube down his throat. Three lactation consultants later, my child was deemed too small, too weak and too unmotivated to breastfeed. Now, breastfeeding was the ONE thing about motherhood that I was holding to with an iron grip. The rest could come and go, but my baby would be breastfed, come hell or high water–I didn’t care how much it hurt, how many times I cried, how much sleep I lost, this was non-negotiable for me…because I didn’t know that breastfeeding doesn’t only “fail” because Mama can’t do it, it can “fail” because Baby can’t, too.

So I pumped, and pumped, and pumped. I pumped breastmilk that Asher got from a bottle, and my heart broke a little more every time I pumped, because it meant I wasn’t nursing and was getting that much further away from my vision of what being a “good mother” was.

And then, with a three and a half week old baby, my milk dried up.

I know some women who have been able to fool their bodies for nearly a year, and have given their babies breastmilk almost exclusively in spite of an inability to nurse. My body wasn’t buying it. There was no baby connected to this setup, so why put the effort in to producing sustenance?

So by the time of Asher’s one month appointment, he was drinking Similac full time. When Dr. Lon asked me how breastfeeding was going (he had recommended the third and final lactation consultant at our newborn visit), I had tears in my eyes and I honestly felt like I was confessing a crime when I told him that Asher was on formula. I had failed as a mother, my body had failed, and my baby was going to suffer the life-long consequences of that failure.

And do you know what that good, kind doctor said to me?

“Your baby is thriving. He’s gaining weight, and he’s healthy. You’ve done exactly the right thing. He’s not going to be any less smart, any more allergic, any more obese, any less healthy, because you gave him what you could and now you’re making sure he’s getting everything he can get. You are a good mother.”

If that sounds too good to have really happened, you can ask my Mom–she was there, and we both could have kissed him.

Other people in my life (i.e., my husband, my mother, my father, my sister, dear and trusted friends) had told me the exact same thing that Dr. Lon did that day; but they loved me and were obligated me make me feel better (right?). He was in the unique position, as a relatively unknown but trusted entity, to say the right words at the right moment that released me from my shame, my guilt, and my conviction that I had failed. He believed I was a good mother, and because he believed, I could, too.

(Dr. Richard Lon’s Facebook profile photo)

I wept for a full week when I found out about Dr. Lon’s passing. I still get teary when I think about it (like in writing this post). We are now with another pediatrician, and she is fun and spunky and lovely and informative and everything I could ask for; but she’s not Dr. Lon. No one ever will be, of course, but as much as I’ve grieved his loss, I am so thankful that we had those few short months with him to know what it feels like to immediately trust a doctor, to learn from him, and to be the recipient of a truth only he could give–I am a good mother, even when life looks different than I’d planned.

I just wish I could thank him one more time.

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One stitch at a time

“Look, I’m almost done!” I proclaimed proudly as I held up my nearly complete lace cardigan. Just 3 more rows of 1×1 ribbing on the hem, and I could cast off and wear my lovely mint green creation. After weaving in the ends. And blocking it overnight. Even when you’re done knitting, you’re still not actually done.

“Wow, how long has that taken?” my Dad asked.

“About two months.”

“Wow,” he said again, “you’re really patient”.

Now, this struck me as funny, because in my mind completing an entire lace cardigan in two months had been remarkably fast. In fact, a few days later I texted a picture of myself wearing it to the knitting buddy who had been with me when I purchased the yarn, and her response was, “damn you’re amazing”. But when I thought about it a bit more, I realized the absurdity of considering something that took 2 months to achieve anything other than glacially slow. It’s 2017 after all; if it’s coming from the right warehouse, I could buy a mint green lace cardigan on Amazon right now and have it in hand before bedtime tonight.

But I didn’t set out to knit my cardigan because it was the most efficient way to obtain an article of clothing. I did it because I love to knit, the pattern looked challenging and fun (Hitofude by Hiroko Fukatsu), and the yarn was scrumptious (Madeline Tosh Twist Light in Havana).

(This was my triumphant announcement photo sent to my knitting buddy)

And as I thought about it, I realized how much knitting and motherhood are exactly alike. Neither knitting nor motherhood is a terribly efficient endeavor; ask any woman who has carried a child, and she will tell you about how relative time is, and that it slows all the way down in the last month of pregnancy. Adoption can be an even longer and more assiduous journey. If all you wanted was a cute little creature to love and raise, a puppy is a much faster solution that will have absolutely zero impact on how your favorite jeans fit. And as we’ve already established, two months is considered “quick” for knitting a cardigan that could have been bought in two minutes.

By both knitting and mothering, one is often tossed from a high of “this is the best and most beautiful thing I’ve ever done in my life!” to a low of “what was I smoking when I thought I was capable of pulling this off?” in approximately 7.4 seconds.

As both a knitter and a mother, people will sometimes peer at you suspiciously as you say, “I really do love this” while tears ruin your mascara.

In knitting and mothering, you have no choice but to faithfully do the same thing over and over and over again, day in and day out, and trust the designer that you’ll eventually end up with the finished product you dreamed of when you first thought, “what if…?”.

So, I knit and I mother, one stitch at a time. I am an expert at neither, but if I am anything, it’s a try-er! Knit Up A Child is about my life doing both. I’d love for you to join me!

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