Funny Matters

The Grandchild She’d Never Meet….

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When I was clearing out my Mum’s clothes. A few weeks back. I found a bag of her knitting. Unfinished. What she’d been making before she’d died. Maybe not so much ‘unfinished’. More ‘barely started’: a little white baby matinee coat.

I don’t know whose baby it was meant for. I still can’t work it out.

I know she’d recently finished one for my best friend. And for the next door neighbour. But I can’t think who else had been ‘expecting’ back then.

Mum loved knitting. She’d get totally immersed in whatever she was making. Whether it were a simple scarf. A complex cardigan. A pair of chunky bed-socks. Obsessively lost in a grey blur of clicking needles.

But most of all – she loved knitting for babies.

The first whiff of someone’s positive pregnancy test and she’d have those Sirdar patterns out quicker than you could say ‘knit one purl two’.

She’d be analysing bump-sizes months in advance. Trying to work out if the new arrival would need a 14-inch cardigan. Or a 16.

She got a kick out of knitting for other people’s bundles.

But what she really wanted. Was for me to have a bundle she could knit for.

She was desperate for me to have children. She tried not to make a big deal out of it. She didn’t want to pressure me. But it was always there.

She’d be knitting something for someone. And she’d glance up. With that twinkle in her eye. Make a comment about what wool she’d use when it was my turn. A special pattern she’d found.

She tried to be low-key. Off-the-cuff. But you could see the excitement bubbling up.

One time. I was having dinner at hers. This was BC – Before Cancer. As casually as she could, she slid a newspaper clipping across the table to me.

Like a spy with a secret message.

It was about the importance of folic acid in women of child-bearing age. It mentioned asparagus as being a naturally folic-high food.

I could see how hard she was trying to come across as breezy. And I teased her for it. We laughed. And then the subject was changed.

But I did notice after that – whenever I came for dinner – how often asparagus was on the menu!

She’d have absolutely loved for me to have got pregnant.

Loved to have got involved in only the way mothers can with daughters. In just the way her mother had been involved when my brother and I had come along.

He and I were unbelievably close to our much-adored Nan. With pretty much every weekend spent at hers. It was our second home. And she was our second Mum.

So. My heart broke when I saw that ‘barely started’ matinee coat amongst all Mum’s stuff.

I hadn’t been able to give her the thing she so longed for. The thing I also so longed for myself. A whole other chapter of life. For us to share.

But there was another reason. An additional reason my heart broke when I saw the beginnings of that tiny weeny baby matinee coat.

And it’s something I’ve not talked about here yet. Mainly – I think – because until now I stupidly didn’t see it as connected to my story about Mum. But also. Perhaps. Because it’s still quite raw.

15 months after Mum died. This time last year. I had a miscarriage.

I was just before the 12-week mark. 3 months pregnant. The bit where you’re supposed to relax and start telling people. The time when the knitting needles would normally come out.

I’d even seen the heartbeat at 7 weeks. Had a little picture of it. True, it looked more like a chilli pepper than a baby. But. Hey – a picture’s a picture.

Also. Dangerously. I’d already decided this baby was ‘meant to be’ somehow.

I’ll explain…

You see. The official ‘start date’ of my pregnancy – the date my last period had begun (sorry to bring periods into this, but it’s what they use to work out your due date!) – was 14 July 2013.

Exactly one year. To the day. After Mum had died.

I know it’s precisely the kind of thing I excel at – finding meaning and importance in anything. Even where there may be none.

But somehow I’d decided that the significance of that date made everything ‘right’.

That even though Mum had cruelly missed this. By one bastard year. She was still involved in some way.

It made it harder somehow. When I miscarried. Not only that I’d I lost the baby. But with it, the comforting belief that was wrapped up in that bloody date. The sign that Mum was around in some way, still part of everything.

Like an earthquake dislodging the sea-floor, the miscarriage sparked an unexpected tsunami of grief in me.

I couldn’t even work out what I was grieving for: the baby, Mum, the future that wasn’t to be. It was all indistinguishable. One huge fireball of loss, hurt, pain and regret.

Since then. I’ve had 3 more losses. One was an ectopic pregnancy in February (that’s where it implants in your tube instead of your uterus) for which I was injected with a chemo drug to destroy it. And then two very early miscarriages.

AlI-in-all. In the past 12 months. I’ve had 4 pregnancy losses. My most recent one was just last week.

So. Seeing the beginnings of that baby matinee coat. That Mum had started making. It hit me. In a complicated, mixed-up, indistinguishable fireball kind of a way.

Knitting crop

 

I can’t tell you how much I wish I had one of my Mum’s knitted matinee coats. For the day I finally manage a full-term healthy baby.

 

 

Maybe someone still has one somewhere. One she made them. Saved.

Perhaps they’ll let me have it when my time comes. I hope so.

I also have another crazy idea.

That when I am lucky enough. Maybe I can finish what she started. Take that bag of ‘barely started’ knitting and complete the pattern…

…Although. Who am I kidding? I’ve no idea how to knit!

Perhaps. Better still. I could ask my partner’s Mum to finish it. To continue the pattern just as Mum had started.

I like that idea. A joint grandmothers’ venture.

There’s something special about that. With – of course – my usual large side-dollop of meaning and significance!

So. No, I still don’t know whose baby that matinee jacket was meant for.

But I’d like to think it was mine. For the future grandchild she’d never meet.

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27 Comments on “The Grandchild She’d Never Meet….

  1. Lou
    October 3, 2014

    Oh Angela, I can’t begin to comprehend, not only having to deal with your Mums loss (that I can comprehend) but also dealing with the loss of your babies. All I can say is, so much much love to you. You’re very brave for sharing something so personal, I’m not sure I could.

    I have everything crossed for you, you WILL be a fantastic Mum one day.

    All my love xxx

    • Angela Wilson
      October 7, 2014

      Thanks so much Lou for the lovely message, really appreciate it xx

  2. MummyWrites
    October 3, 2014

    Oh this is heartbreaking. You must be experiencing so many emotions as well as the physical burden. I can’t say I know how you feel but I have a good idea, having lost two pregnancies just before Abi died. She’d even made a video to the baby, which I found after she’d gone. It was torturous. I do now have a rainbow baby and I know how lucky I am. I pray you can find some peace and will get a ‘sticky’ bean. Thank you for sharing and breaking down the barrier of miscarriage. Hugs x

    • Angela Wilson
      October 7, 2014

      Hi! Lovely to hear from you…and thanks for encouragement for speaking up about miscarriages, so important to talk about it I think and be more open where poss. Absolutely awful for you to have just miscarried when you lost Abi…and then to find that video. I can’t imagine! I’m so pleased to hear about your latest addition too!! Sending love xx

  3. Sharon Gavin
    October 3, 2014

    Brilliant and very upsetting, your mum made carter a gorgeous little cardigan was the only thing that fitted him, thanks for sharing your story Angie xxx

    • Angela Wilson
      October 7, 2014

      Ah thanks Sha Sha…and yes, Carter was so tiny. It was like a doll’s cardigan! xxx

  4. Richard Pettitt
    October 3, 2014

    Whoa, impressed you shared this Angela. Thank you. Heartbreaking to read and yet there you are joking about your lost chilli peppers. Your sense of humour and positivity amidst all this turmoil is astounding, and brilliant. xx

    • Angela Wilson
      October 7, 2014

      Thanks so much Rich. And yep, not sure if my sense of humour is a defensive armour or a tool to keep positive, but either way it does seem to be inseparable from me and how I see the world…May as well embrace it! Really appreciate you leaving such a lovely comment. Thanks again! xx

  5. Melissa White
    October 3, 2014

    Angela, I can’t even begin to say I understand what you’re feeling… I don’t, but somehow I feel that when the time comes and you do deliver a beautiful, and very much wanted child, your Mom will have had a hand in it somehow. Maybe it won’t have anything to do with a significant date and there won’t be any obvious sign, to speak of, but you are a continuation of her and of her mother, and her mother’s mother… just as your child will be a continuation of you and your Mom. I think you are brave and strong and fearless and love how you express thoughts and feeling that as I know, are impossible to express. Melissa xxx

    • Angela Wilson
      October 7, 2014

      Oh Melissa – on every level I know you are right! (that my Mum will inevitably have a hand in it somehow, but not in an obvious way)…I’m just such a sucker for a ‘sign’! Thanks so much for following along with all these random reflections, it means a lot….and ahem, seaside coffee one day!! xx

  6. Caroline T
    October 3, 2014

    What a heartbreaking post but as usual you manage to deliver it with humour! You have had a very rough ride & thank you for sharing your story. Your writing is brilliant. Look forward to more.x

    • Angela Wilson
      October 7, 2014

      Thanks Caroline for such a lovely comment and for reading my ramblings. I sooo appreciate it! xx

  7. Zibby
    October 3, 2014

    Beautiful post, thank you. Xx

    • Angela Wilson
      October 7, 2014

      Ah, so glad you liked it Zibby – and thanks for leaving a comment – I do love a comment or two! xx

  8. Beata
    October 3, 2014

    Angela,
    I can’t even imagine how you feel. But I do know there is hope, more than hope. There is reality of women who miscarried multiple times and went on to have healthy babies. One of them was my friend, who had a beautiful daughter after four early miscarriages and another lady I know had two lovely children after a number of miscarriages. Have faith, Angela, you time will come, too.
    Beata x

    • Angela Wilson
      October 7, 2014

      Beata – thank you so much for such a kind and thoughtful comment – I really appreciate it….and yep, I aint giving up yet! lots of love xx

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  10. anna
    October 4, 2014

    Dear Angela, sending you lots of love and thinking of you. Your mum sounds so wonderful. I am so sorry to learn of yet more grief for you. You are such a sweetheart, big big live to you xxxxx Anna

    • Angela Wilson
      October 7, 2014

      Thanks so much lovely Anna for leaving a comment and for sending me your much welcomed love and thoughts, they are v. gratefully received!! 😉 lots of love to you, your big man and your little man! xx

  11. Martin Cleaver
    October 4, 2014

    Deep, Angela, and breezy with it.

    I really wish you the best with getting pregnant. Do look out for food though – your Mum was right: there are a myriad of things that we eat that make a huge different to how everything functions.

    M.

    • Angela Wilson
      October 7, 2014

      Thanks Martin – and yes! totally agree with you on the food-front! Thanks for leaving a note, it’s v appreciated! xx

  12. Julia
    October 7, 2014

    Your honesty and your courage never cease to amaze me dear Angela. I am so moved, as ever, by all that you shared here. So many layers to what you must be feeling. Sending you love and hoping that your partner’s Mum is able to finish what your Mum started for your very own healthy baby. x

    • Angela Wilson
      October 7, 2014

      Thanks Julia, that’s lovely of you to say – I’d love the world to be a more open place where no-one feels alone in how they feel, whatever that may be!…so if I can help in some small way via my random ramblings, then that’d make me v happy! xx

  13. Cass
    October 7, 2014

    Very brave Angela and you have a real style when it comes to writing. Estoy seguro vas a hacer una Madre marevillosa! x

    • Angela Wilson
      October 10, 2014

      Ah! Mil gracias, Cass! xx

  14. Michela
    October 8, 2014

    Oh Angela, thank you for sharing something so personal with us all, my heart goes out to you, having to deal with the loss of your dear mum, and then the heart breaking miscarriages, as if one or the other wasn’t enough, life is funny that way.
    As always your writing makes me feel like I know you so well, like i’d want to come over for a cuppa one day! and just sit and talk life.

    • Angela Wilson
      October 10, 2014

      Thanks so much Michela for such a lovely response…and yep, would be great to have a cuppa with you and put the world to rights…ha, you never know, perhaps one day! xx

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