A year ago today I gave birth to my little boy, Charlie. This was not to be a story with the happiest of endings as Charlie’s heart was broken and with it, a little of mine too.
Thanks to the developments of modern medicine, we had received some warning of this outcome, a precious few hours for parents to try to come to terms with the devastating news and just enough time for the knitter to pick up her needles. After everything, what else could I do?
My initial offering of a hat was inadequate, as were the clothes we had brought: Charlie was too small to fit into these yet my valiant mother altered the hat to, quite literally, make it fit. However, in those dark times, we were not alone. Not only surrounded by the love of our wonderful family and supported by a superb team of medical professionals, we were also cared for by a group of amazing knitters: You. You knew better than I the requirements of my son and, through your generosity, provided a blanket in which to wrap him and an "Angel Pocket" in which to clothe him. As a mother, it was so important to wrap up my baby to keep him warm, a need that you recognised, better understood than I, and made possible, and for which I thank you. Thank you so very much.
In the time afterwards, I was able to follow your more experienced lead and use my own needles to provide Charlie with his "Angel Pocket" and more suitably-sized hat. His original blanket and pocket we have kept and I suspect we will always keep. The blanket currently resides beside our bed and I don't really remember how it got there but neither Husband nor I have shown any desire to move it. In time, no doubt, it'll become part of our family toy box, randomly pulled out by a child to wrap a doll or teddy bear, a little piece of our family history brought back to life, again giving comfort and pleasure. For reasons none other than timing, Charlie's original pocket and the hat that I knit for him are elsewhere: Although we left hospital with his blanket, it took the dedicated determination of our funeral director to find and retrieve Charlie's clothes that had become separated from his body after his post-mortem, and these sit in a box, with other keep-safes from the time, in our sitting-room. I honestly can't tell you why Charlie's wardrobe has never been re-united, until now I don't think that the inconsistency has been apparent to me, but now that it has, perhaps his cherished knitwear will be re-united.
I suspect we will never meet and I will never have the opportunity to thank you in person, but dear knitters, please know how much your thoughtfulness and kindness, meant to us a year ago and continues to do so today, both as grieving parents and, also, as a mother-who-knits. You knew what our son needed far better than we and we will be forever grateful that we were able to maintain some of the "normal" rituals of birth and death and dress our littlest boy – something we only achieved with your help. Please know that you have inspired other knitters to pick-up their needles for other babies and parents in similar situations and I thank these fantastic family and friends for their generosity and support. I too, one day, hope to be able to follow your lead and theirs.
I am pregnant again with baby due at the beginning of January. Given our experiences with Charlie, I doubt that I will ever be fully relaxed until I hold this baby, alive and well, in my arms – a normal reaction, I know (and probably only a short-lived respite as we all know that it is after birth that the real fun begins!). But Charlie gave us the opportunity to learn, in so many ways, and I know that, if we needed, you would again be there. You taught me how to be a better knitter, a better mother, perhaps even a better person. And I thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,