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!



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

For Elise...

Bert has a little best friend, Miss Elise.

They've had a playdate together every Wednesday afternoon since they were born.

Sewing for a little boy is all well and fine, but I have to admit when Elise's first birthday rolled around I was totally jazzed to make something girly.

I've been wanting to make the Baby In The Hood Jacket from Anna Maria Horner's Handmade Beginnings book ever since the pre-baby days, so that is just what I did for Elise.

Little by little, stitch by stitch, stolen moment by stolen moment, I finally finished her jacket.

I used an out of print Denyse Schmidt canvas weight for the jacket's exterior, an organic Cloud 9 flannel for the lining, and I fussy cut an Anna Maria Horner print from her "Good Folks" line for the detail-y bits (along the button placket and down the middle of the hood).

As you can see, Elise has the most gorgeous hair, skin and eyes, so a lot of thought went into colors that would be just right for her, but with the added challenge of using what I had in my stash.

I also wanted to satisfy my craving to sew something girly but didn't want to make the jacket too "pink."  I never thought buying clothes for a boy would be easier than buying clothes for a girl, but if you aren't into pink it can be VERY hard to find something for a little girl to wear.

I love how it turned out, and it was a pleasure (I repeat: a PLEASURE!) to stitch up this jacket.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Handmade Beginnings book is just phenomenal.

I've yet to encounter a single mistake or poorly written direction, and I return to this book over and over and over again for all my baby sewing needs.

 I have some Christmas/birthday sewing I'd like to do for Bert, not the least of which is his very own Baby In The Hood Jacket.

Don't you think he needs one, too?




I've received some insider information that it may be getting hard/impossible to find a copy of Handmade Beginnings at your local quilt shop.  Once I got wind of the story behind the story (from Miss Anna Maria herself), I stockpiled copies for the shop.  If you're one of the few people who still doesn't have a copy and would like one, let me know and I'll set one aside for you before they are gone for good!