Hung out to dry... life with a newborn
For some reason, I never considered that I would carry little N to term. I was sure that I would be one of the lucky mothers who shaves the last painful week or even just a few days from the standard 40-week-haul. My estimated due date was set for the day after Easter, and I was absolutely confident that Nettle would be with us in time to celebrate the holiday. What I wasn't taking into account was Nettie. And Nettie has ideas of her own.
So as her due date came and then went, I had to find ways to fill the time. Aside from several painfully slow and laborious walks a day, I found myself almost compulsively knitting and crocheting tiny hats. Because babies need hats, right? Their tender little heads get cold without them. Good mothers of newborns keep them in hats. I was determined to have a healthy supply of handmade hats. No cheapy, thin, store-bought hats when I had time to make them myself. I had found a new calling in life: making tiny hats. My yarn stash went from six skeins to 50 in about a week. No joke. I started with crocheted hats made with "chunky" yarn. These were easy and quick. Then I knitted beanies. I tried a turban, then two. I crocheted bonnets. I even made one of these pointy, elfin-style hats that I thought I didn't like. Turns out I do like them. I knitted one of my own pattern. Added embroidery. Nothing was going to stop me; if I wasn't eating or sleeping, there was a crochet hook or knitting needles and yarn in my lap. I was working on a diaper cover and booties to match the pointy yellow cap the night I went into labor.
And of course, as it happens, our baby only needed ONE hat. And it wasn't the adorable gray knitted hat with the embroidered sheep (never mind that it was so small that it fit like a yamaka; see photo below). It was the generic blue-and-pink-striped hat that all newborns have jammed on their slimy little heads.... and which I struggled to keep on her bobbing, butting, stubborn, hat-hating head for the next six hours, until she had her first bath.
Then we sent it home with Grandma to have the cat smell (This is supposed to help prepare pets for the soon-to-arrive baby. That's assuming they come near it, as our cat would not.) I tried to replace it with a sweet little sherbet-colored knitted hat with a pom-pom on top. A battle followed that lasted the morning, but by lunch-time, it was clear that one of us was wearing thin and the other's efforts were only redoubling. I flew the white flag, or more appropriately, the ecru scalloped crocheted bonnet... and that marked the end of Nettie's hat-wearing career.
Four weeks with a newborn has taught me to leave all expectations of what you would like to have happen behind. Actually, if you don't come to terms with that in the first week you're in for a lot of disappointment and pointless struggle. So I haven't fretted much about the dozen-odd, unused hats I spent weeks making and will never see her wear for more than a minute at a time. Or the crocheted shoes or knitted jumper and diaper covers. I'm too tired to fight her and I'd rather just enjoy my baby. Which I can do well enough when she's just wearing a diaper, or her favorite ratty, hand-me-down sleeper.
But just for posterity, I thought I'd try to get a few photos of Nettie modeling some of her hats... Okay, okay; you'll see I didn't really try that hard. So there are a few photos from the hospital when I was still fresh and not as fully-acquainted with my strong-willed child. I did try with a few of the hats once we got home and then gave up and just cheated and took photos of them out on the clothesline. But here's a little Dr. Seuss-inspired-rhyme to go along with the pictures. (Nettie is partial to Dr. Seuss.)
One hat, two hat
grey hat, blue hat.
There are many hats in this world.
Some are big.
Some are small.
And some are made from little balls
of soft, pink yarn
your mother knit
that made you cry and throw a fit.
Some hats are old.
And some are new.
And some are made by aunties, too.
There are hats with holes.
And hats with points.
But all leave Nettie out of joint.
Why would a hat make a baby so sad?
Don't ask me why. Go ask your dad.
Now dry your eyes
and go to bed
and rest your sweet little hat-less head.