Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Quilt for Christmas


 As some of you know, Bert did not arrive on his due date, nor anywhere near his due date, but instead was born thirteen days past his due date, which meant he was born on December 25th: also known as Christmas.

For the record, I don't think they should give you a "due date," because fixating on one day makes you completely psychotic at a time in your life when you don't need any help in that department, especially when every time you leave the house, someone inevitably says to you "You STILL haven't had that baby yet?!?"

May I propose instead that we all have due "time frames?"

(...And that no one ever be allowed to utter the phrase "You STILL haven't had that baby yet?!?")

The further and further (and further) I went past my due date, people would see me sans baby, and still very much with belly, and say one of two things:

"Maybe you'll have him on Christmas!"

Or the more frequent advice (as if I had some control in the matter):

"Whatever you do, DON'T have him on Christmas!"

My response was always "I don't care when he comes as long as he comes on his own."

I was lucky to have a midwife who supported my decision to "wait it out," and I'm so glad I did, because Bert did come on his own, and I personally think it is very cool to have a baby born on Christmas.

My memories of the time Ollie and I spent in the hospital with our newborn baby are probably my favorite ever...

I remember finally making the phone calls to our friends and family that baby Bert was here, my mother and sister driving over at 3 in the morning for Bert's first snuggles, my father arriving at 5 in the morning with tears in his eyes, my three best friends sneaking away from their own families for a visit in the afternoon, joking that the baby Jesus may have had three wise men come visit him, but Bert had three wise women!

I remember the OB had to give me a few stitches and me asking him exactly what kind of stitch was he using, because I was a quilter and liked to know such things...

(Too much information?)

I remember most of all a very round head and two huge eyes blinking up at me when we finally saw each other for the first time: not so much with the look of "instant love" you always see in the movies, but more with a look of "what the hell just happened to us?"

And I remember my midwife kissing me on the forehead, telling me I had done a good job, then looking at the clock and saying: "He was born on Christmas: you get to take home the quilt!"

Say what???

What I did not know about having a Christmas baby at Miles Memorial Hospital in little Damariscotta, Maine, was that there was a quilt-y tradition involved...

 Of course, had I known, I would have been gunning for a Christmas baby all along!

The tradition began in 1995, when a local lady, Julie Stegna, (who also happens to be a FABULOUS quilter) had a Christmas baby of her own.

She made a small quilt and brought it back to the hospital to be given to the next Christmas baby, and she wrote her good wishes for that baby and their family on the back of the quilt.

Instead of keeping that quilt for themselves, the family who had the 1996 Christmas baby kept it for one year, then wrote their own good wishes on the back of the quilt, and returned it to the hospital in the hopes of continuing the tradition for all future Christmas babies.

When I received the quilt in 2012, it had gone to 7 families total, and each of those families had kept the quilt for one year, written their sentiments with a fabric marker on the back of the quilt, then brought it back to the hospital.

The quilt is in amazing shape for something that has been well-loved and passed between 7 different families (8 including ours) for the past 18 years, but here's where the line between coincidence and divine intervention gets a bit blurry:

When it came to us, there was only enough room on the quilt's backing for one more family to write their wishes and memories.

Does this qualify as a Christmas miracle, or what?

That the quilt should come to me (someone who happens to have made a quilt or two in her day), when the tradition may have come to a close had it gone to a non-crafty mom, is beyond priceless: if I read this in a story or saw it in a movie, I wouldn't believe it.

Perhaps even less plausible is the fact that over the past few weeks I was able to piece and quilt a new Christmas Baby Quilt for the hospital.

Although my quilt could never have as much love as the original (I confess it never would have occurred to me to make a quilt for future Christmas babies if this local lady hadn't done so first),
I'm honored and blessed to bring the Christmas Baby Quilt tradition full circle, and I look forward to a future full of new traditions, quilt-y and otherwise, with my own Christmas baby.

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, from the Alewives MOM!




Sara said...

That is an awesome story!

DianeY said...

what a wonderful tradition and wonderful story! And I'm all for the time frame! Both my kids were exactly 14 days past due dates and I know what you mean about the question!

Donna M said...

What a great story, Rhea. Thanks for sharing it with us. And the new quilt you made is just great. Merry Christmas!

Tamie said...

What a cool tradition. Of course it was meant for you to continue. I know your town is small- ihad there always been at least one Christmas baby?

Rhea Butler said...

No, Tamie! There are about 200 births a year at Miles, and between 1995 and Bert's birth in 2012 there were only 8 Christmas babies total, including Bert! Looks like this Christmas Eve at Miles was going to be slow, too. We dropped off the quilt at 6pm and there wasn't a soul in the maternity ward except for the nurse. It was all very anticlimactic. Oh well, maybe next year.

Susanne said...

Love this story!

Heather said...

What a wonderful tradition! My newly-minted one year-old was born Dec. 26. I am kind of glad no one gave us a box, though. Lol

Andrea said...

That is all kinds of awesome! I love the birth story and the birth-of-the-quilt stories.

Sigrun said...

What a lovely story! And a lovely new quilt as well!

Bree said...

What a great tradition and story! We had our last 2 at Miles and loved them-staff and midwives! Merry Christmas!

Unknown said...

How wonderful! You should send this to a quilting magazine- I bet they'd love it for next winter's issue! :) And happy belated birthday, Bert!

Suzanne G. said...

What a special story and how wonderful that you kept the tradition going! Kudos to you, Rhea!

Sally said...

This story is incredible!! I just happened here from a link on Soule Mama's website, and this story brought tears to my eyes and made my day. I love it when true life is better than fiction. Beautiful, thanks for sharing! (From a mom who had a baby on Dec. 19th - so close to Christmas - and he was 10 days "overdue" but he arrived right when he was supposed to.)