Three years ago today, I was lying on a gurney being debriefed about the possible complications of a Cesarean section at a dead sprint to the operating room. Jeffrey’s heart had stopped, and the doctors had to get him out as soon as possible. There wasn’t time to wait for my husband to get back to the hospital, or for me to get an epidural. The last thing I remember before they put me under was the nurse telling me they were going to do everything they could.
Many hours later, I was wheeled into the NICU to see my firstborn for the very first time. Even with my perception blunted by the pain medication, it was a terrifying sight. I don’t remember a lot about the first 24 hours, other than the 3 am wake up to tell us that Jeffrey’s left lung had collapsed and they’d had to insert a chest tube.
From that point on, Jeffrey’s recovery was nothing short of miraculous, and 12 days after he was born, Jeffrey came home. Today, we are celebrating 3 years of being blessed with a joyful, healthy, bright little boy.
And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to provide some comfort to the babies who find themselves where Jeffrey was 3 years ago.
When I first started knitting, I was searching for baby patterns on the internet, and I stumbled across some sites dedicated to patterns for preemies (Bev’s Country Cottage is my main source). Then I found some groups who have formed specifically to knit items for NICU patients, like hats, blankets…and, sadly, burial gowns. I knew I’d found something I wanted–and needed–to do.
I’d made a few burial gowns and hats for practice, without having a specific goal, and then during a conversation with another mom I’d recently met she mentioned she worked in the NICU at our local children’s hospital. I immediately asked if they accepted donations of knitted items.
She assured me they did, and talked about the various items that were donated. I told her about the things I’d been making, and she said, yes, they were more than happy to accept those, although right now they were pretty well stocked with most things. They did have one big, pressing need, though, she told me. Socks.
“Socks?” I asked.
Yes, socks. For too many of these babies, the NICU team was unable to get across to their parents that their children needed socks. My new friend spoke sadly–and a little angrily–of parents showing up with brand new cell phones or the newest teeth bling, but who were unable (unwilling, really) to part with a couple bucks at Wal-Mart to buy their child socks. The NICU nurses were buying them for the children.
Socks. So basic. How easy it is to forget the little things.
My first stop on the way home from that visit was at the craft store to buy my first sets of double pointed needles. Then I hit the internet for a good (and simple) sock pattern. I found the Tiny Tube Socks pattern on Ravelry, and it was perfect for me (no heel shaping!). I discovered I’d stumbled on the perfect choice for another reason when I asked for advice on the Knitter’s Review Forum and a fellow knitter who worked in the NICU pointed out that socks could also be used to cover those tiny hands to keep the babies from pulling on the wires and tubes that tend to be everywhere. This pattern should be flexible enough for that:
As you can see, I’m not quite done, but I’m determined to finish that first pair of socks today. They’re a little bigger (wider) than I wanted–my first shopping trip came up empty for the right size needle, so I had to go up a size–and are a bit wonky…but I think they’ll still keep a small pair feet warm. I don’t think the babies will mind my shaky knitting skills.
EDIT: Socks complete! As you can see, the socks don’t match the hat size-wise; a baby that can wear that hat will have those socks coming up to his knees. But it’s a start!