Hook, Line and Sinker

It’s that time of year again for me. College Football Saturdays, fresh apple cider and hot donuts, and fall TV season premieres. Oh, and knitting. For some reason, I tend to pick up the “sticks” (aka knitting needles) and a fresh “batch” of yarn around this time of the year.

This year, instead of sticks I’ve picked up the “hooker.”

Uh … I didn’t say A hooker … I said THE “hooker.” As in a crochet needle.

Geesh. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Crocheting always reminds me of my Grandma Rose. In the years that she lived with us, and for decades after, I can’t recall a time where she didn’t have her crochet needles and ball of yarn inside her bag. She’d pull it out at various times; many times just to keep her hands busy.

Grandma had told me that she picked up crocheting to help with her debilitating arthritis; that it helped loosen her joints, which I can clearly remember looking incredibly swollen and misshapen. While I believe that she took up the craft for that very reason, I also believe that she continued to do so because creating something was incredibly satisfying. (I can’t tell you how many the heirloom tablecloths she made for every one of her children and grandchildren!) That, and the repetitive activity of pulling yarn through slipknot after slipknot was especially soothing.

That’s the reason I’ve enjoyed knitting and crocheting. The simple notion that continuously “picking” or “hooking” or “throwing” yarn over needles to produce a piece of art is calming. It’s a way for me to relieve some stress and yet still feel fulfilled that I’ve actually made something out of a skein of yarn.

Yet, while I love to knit and crochet, I only do so with an end project in mind. Otherwise I’d be making waay too many cup cozies or pot holders than any one of my family and friends would ever need. (Yikes!) So with the recent news within our circle of family/friends, it should come to no surprise as to what kind of project I’m currently working on.

After five years of knitting/crocheting hats & booties or blankets for various family members or friends, you would think that I’d be able to forget about my own issues and focus on the project at hand. And many times I can … In fact doing such projects and keeping such a blog is a very personal form of therapy for me. But there are those moments in the midst of making such creations where my childless situation hits me square in the chest.

But then my thoughts somehow switch to the very good friend of mine; the one that taught me to knit. And I remember how lucky I am in other aspects of my life.

Or, like last Thursday on the bus ride home, I remember my Grandma Rose; who taught me the basics of crocheting years and years ago. I remember each piece she’s ever created especially for me. And how much they mean to me; now even more since her recent passing.

And I remember that what I’m currently making is meant to bring up these emotions. Because feeling such sadness reminds me the importance that Hubby and I had placed on trying to have our own child … and exactly how strong our love is to have survived everything we’ve gone through.

Shades of Turquoise

Besides catching a movie on Friday night and going to the Lion’s game today, I’ve not been out of the house much this weekend. Truth be told, I had piles of laundry to do and a house that (still) needs a lot of polishing up. But really, the reason we spent most of the weekend at home was:

  1. The weather’s been incredibly crappy outside. It has been raining, what seems to be non-stop, since Friday night. And …
  2. I’ve been sitting in front of my computer working on a special secret project (details forthcoming in a later post).

In fact, I’m still working on said project while doing a load of laundry and writing this post. Talk about multi-tasking …

Another hand-knit Hat & Booties gift set
Another hand-knit Hat & Booties gift set to mail ...

Anyway, the combination of such yucky weather and listening to nice, jazzy music (read: Sade, EBTG, Julia Fordham, etc) has got me feeling a little melancholy. Not the waves of depression that I felt last week (and the week before). Just an overall sense of cheerlessness (is that even a word?!).

I’m sure part of the reason is because we just got word this past Friday of yet another joyful delivery into this world. Our good friends in Oregon welcomed their son, Matthew Elliot this past Thursday … and he looks absolutely adorable. Believe me, I couldn’t be more happy for the two of them. And yet …

As if having two birth announcements within two weeks was’t enough to throw me over the edge … the return of the missing punctuation mark (read: period) from months of Lupron Therapy certainly did.

After I had stopped the injections back in mid-June, I thought that maybe the magic of Lupron might just have “jump-started” my female bits.* And because I also expected that my cycle would return by mid-August and it was already nearing mid-September … part of me thought maybe … just maybe … I could have finally gotten knocked up.

But obviously Mother Nature (and God) once again had other plans.

Hence the shades of green and blue I’ve been emoting for the past few weeks. Because of that, I’ve decided that turquoise is probably my new favorite color. A nice brilliant bluish-green color that reflects my mood.

The most recent place I’ve seen such a beautiful shade of turquoise was the lakes in Canada’s Banff National Park. Now if you’re familiar with this Canadian National Park, you’ll know that it’s located within the Canadian Rockies. The bodies of water within this park are primarily formed by the melting of glaciers. And the brilliant hue of turquoise comes from the mixture of glacier-made lake water and glacial rock flour (rock sediment that has been ground by the movement of a glacier).

Beautiful Turquoise Moraine Lake in Canada's Banff Nat'l Park
Beautiful Turquoise Moraine Lake in Canada's Banff National Park

Yes. It’s the perfect color for how I’m feeling. Green with envy for what I want, mixed with blue for the sadness that comes with what I don’t have. Glacial for those cold emotions I’ve had for others, mixed with rocky sediment (sentiment?) for the way my relationships with others have been lately.

The fact is, I’m still reeling from the events of these past weeks. And it seems like every time I try to float to the top to catch my breath … yet another event happens that pushes me back under water.

So forgive me for once again, being downcast. I am trying to shake this feeling of sorrow. And one day, hopefully sooner than later, these shades of turquoise will fade.

* As Lupron would while using it short term prior to an IVF cycle, or even “plain old” medicated-cycles, for that matter.

Penance Purls

In the years since my failed IVF attempt and the end of pursuing further infertility treatment, I learned to knit. A good friend of mine, who also happens to be a co-worker, taught me the basics of knitting during our lunch hours. And as I learned to knit, I found that it was a great way to distract me from the emptiness of infertility. Knitting gave me a purpose; it gave me something to work towards. Each knit and purl stitch I made got me closer to completing a project. And once finished, I felt as if I’ve put every effort I could into crafting something unique. I felt as if I’ve given birth, so to speak, to the sweater or hat or purse that I’ve made.

In the knit / crochet world, there is such a thing called a prayer shawl. The idea behind crafting this type of shawl is to give it to someone in need of prayer. Someone perhaps, who is going through a difficult time in life in which prayers are needed. That is because with every stitch that is knitted or purled (or crocheted), the person creating this artwork is literally saying a prayer for the receiver of such a gift.

The best way I can describe it (in my Catholic-school upbringing) is that it’s much like saying the rosary, but at the end of the prayers, you actually have something to show for all that you’ve done. And the best part of it is that you have the opportunity to give such a gift to the person you’ve made it for, knowing that you’ve sent good vibes / well-wishes (or whatever word you’d like to replace “prayer” with) to a person who is in most need of such sentiments.

I, myself, have never made such a shawl. Instead, I’ve made other thing like chemo caps for kids or premie hats for the babies in the NICU. What started out as a hobby for many of us at work, soon turned into a project last Christmas to make as many knitted or crocheted caps and hats for the children at a local hospital. For me, it was a way of honoring my nephew, Liam, who spent his whole 4 months of life in that particular hospital’s NICU.

When my SIL announced she was pregnant with Liam, the bottom dropped out beneath me. By then, I had spent ten years trying to get pregnant and had one (and only one) failed IVF attempt behind me. It had been two and a half years, at that time, since Hubby & I stopped actively trying. And as a first (or second, I can never get it right) generation Catholic Filipino-American girl, I worked very hard at stifling the sadness, hurt and anger so that I could save face. But the thought that my SIL (who, by the way, is the same age as I am) was able to get pregnant within five months of getting married completely and utterly devastated me. And when my SIL found out at 24 weeks that Liam would most likely be born with some congenital imperfections, well … I guess you could say that I felt guilty (darn Catholic in me!), as if my jealousy and thoughts of ill-will were the reason behind such a difficult pregnancy.

So what does all this have to do with knitting and the “prayer shawl” (besides the obvious reason for making caps and hats for the babies and kids in the hospital)? Well, during my SIL’s 2nd trimester with Liam, I knew that I had to come to terms with this pregnancy. While I knew my feelings of longing for my own pregnancy would never be fully resolved before Liam’s birth, I still felt as if I needed to do something to make sure that Liam (and subsequently, my SIL) knew that I would love him with every fiber of my being … despite the sadness I felt for myself.

And thus, the “Therapeutic Baby Blanket” project began. Much like the prayer shawl concept, I crafted this blanket with an image of Liam in my mind. With every knit stitch I made, I wished love and happiness for every single day of his life. And with every purl stitch I made, I wished for forgiveness from both Liam and his mom for any ill-will I ever thought. I put my heart and soul into this blanket and its matching hat and booties. And because Liam came much earlier (by 9 weeks) than expected, I can remember rushing to finish this massive blanket in time for the baby shower (the sucker measured 4 ft x 4 ft!) , which subsequently turned into a “Welcome Liam” party instead. What makes me a little heartbroken is that Liam was never able to come home from the hospital and actually use the blanket. Regardless though … I have to say that doing that blanket was simultaneously the hardest and simplest knit project I have ever done.

Now … in a little more than one week’s time, my SIL is scheduled to deliver (by c-section) a baby girl. For reasons that are hers and her husband’s alone, the two of them decided to start trying immediately after Liam passed away last September. By end of December, she was once again pregnant. And while their new still devastated me (I mean, really … how can she get to be pregnant twice in one year and I can’t even get a frackin’ positive pregnancy test?!), this time my feet managed to stay firmly planted on solid ground.

I can’t say that I handled this pregnancy any better or worse that I did with my SIL’s pregnancy with Liam. There are days where I still feel incredibly weary and downtrodden. And yes, there are days where I frankly don’t think things are fair. However, I do know that I’m not as heartbroken and devastated as I was the first time around. I’d like to think that knitting Liam’s baby blanket had a part in reeling back some of those emotions.

It was only natural for me to want to knit something for this pregnancy as well. Because yes, the good (?!) Catholic girl in me still felt horrible about feeling sorry for myself. And, at times, succumbing to jealousy. So with yarn purchased from both here in Ann Arbor and in San Diego, I started to knit my next project while on vacation in California.

I’ve poured my heart and soul into this project, officially known as the “Therapeutic Baby Sweater.” And just like the blanket, I’ve projected my love and happiness with each knit stitch. And with every purl stitch … well, it’s as if I’m trying to make amends for every bit of sorrow and jealousy I’ve felt in these past 9 months. A penance, if you will, for the sins I’ve committed.

My only hope is that whenever my SIL dresses her baby girl in this sweater that she knows, despite my actions (or lack thereof), that I love her baby girl with all my heart. That I am truly and honestly happy for her. And that despite the hardships endured over the past 18 months, she truly deserves this happiness.

Not Stirred or Shaken … Just Chilled

This morning I’m taking a little time for myself. I woke up just a tad later than I usually do for work. And I’m doing it because it’s officially my scheduled day off from work. Not one of those days I had to call my boss in the morning and let her know that I wasn’t coming in because of my Dad or because I was waiting for a service man to repair our furnace.

Nope. Today was a day that I officially scheduled off because of a previously arranged doctor’s appointment. And for once, that appointment had nothing to do with the “nether regions” of my body.

So today, before I make an appearance at the hospital, I’ve decided to stop by my local cafe and chill. Catch up on some blogs. Do a little knitting. Do more research on finding that new OB-Gyn I need. And hey … maybe read the paper and catch up on some local (damn Kwame … ) and national (and now the ex-NY governor?!) news.

Because to tell you the truth … I’m feeling just a little anxious. And exhausted. And I want to take a moment to sip my Leprechaun Latte and enjoy the sounds and smells of my favorite cafe.

Twas the Week After Christmas

So it’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted. But believe me, it’s only because the past weeks have been hectic, especially with the holidays. I mean, it’s gotta tell you something about my general lack of time (or energy) if Hubby & I didn’t even bother to send out any Christmas cards, let alone put up our Christmas tree, this year. However, unlike last year (when I didn’t even want to celebrate the season), it’s more because I simply ran out of time.

A Picture of all the hats I made

The weeks leading up to Christmas was spent trying to get some shopping done amidst trying to organize all of the knitted and crocheted hats my co-workers and I made for for premie babies and chemo kids. If you can believe it, we donated over one hundred-twenty hats to the local hospital… the very one my nephew, Liam, spent all his days at. I invited my SIL along to drop of the hats at the hospital on the Friday before Christmas. We visited the NICU and delivered the hats along with a sweet treat for the nurses that my SIL brought. After all, the whole meaning behind making the premie caps was to honor my nephew. I hope that we did him justice. And I truly hope that it helped my SIL to start closing this sad chapter in her life. At least that was my intent when I invited her that day. In any case, this project of mine certainly kept me busy enough … but it truly helped me get into the giving spirit of which is Christmas.

Aren’t we cute?

Hubby & I managed to spend the weekend before Christmas wrapped up in our own little “bubble.” And while the majority of it was spent buying those last minute gifts and then boxing and wrapping every single one of those presents, we still managed to find time to spend precious time to celebrate Christmas and exchange our gifts together. Every year, that precious time together is all important for the two of us. Especially (as I mentioned in a previous post) since we know that the next few days is going to be spent with family.

This year, instead of our usual Christmas Eve madness (both of our families tend to celebrate the Eve instead of the Day), my in-laws planned on doing lunch on Christmas Day so we weren’t feeling so rushed. And my side was planning on going to midnight mass on the Eve and then open gifts afterwards. However as usual, my side decided to change things at the last minute (or at least not tell me until the last minute) and celebrate lunch on Christmas Day instead.

And Tyler just LOVES his gifts

And with that said, I do have to thank God that my in-laws are pretty accomodating; because they did, at the last minute, change their celebration to dinnertime. It was a low-key event at their house this year, as many of his family that live in our area was out of town. But nonetheless, it’s always fun watching my nephew, Tyler, getting excited as he opens his gifts. Lucky boy this year got a PS2 from Santa with some new games and toys from us. Since his old GameCube no longer make new games, he was so happy to get a new system with new games that he didn’t want to let go of them despite the fact that he was getting tired.

My Dad’s side of my Family

My side of the family spent lunch time on Christmas Day at my Aunt’s house. I have to say that I was really looking forward to it because it was going to be the first time in a long time that all of my Dad’t brothers and sisters (along with many, but not all, of their kids) were going to be together in the same room. I have to honestly give props to my younger cousins for putting this together as (knowing how lovingly dysfunctional my family can be) none of this would have been planned without them. And I also have to give credit to my older cousin who came up with the idea to put together a photo album of all of the cousins throughout the year to present as a Christmas gift to our grandmother. It turned out to be a hit with not only my grandmother, but with all our parents, who didn’t know we were putting it together.

The photo collage on the front of my Grandmother’s Gift

So that’s the story of our Christmas this year. I honestly had a wonderful time this year, as compared to last year. And spending time with my cousins was probably the highlight of the holiday. That, and of course, the wonderfully awesome gifts that my dear Hubby got me.

To see more pictures of our holidays, check out my album:

Christmas 2007