The day after losing my unborn child, I started knitting a scarf. It was for my three year old son and he had selected a pumpkin spice orange yarn–the kind of orange that warms you up when you look at it. He had picked this yarn out well over a year ago, but I had barely started knitting before the project got lost in the shuffle of holiday hubbub. But now, in my helplessness and grief after delivering a baby long before he was ready, I felt a sudden urge to make something–something I knew I could finish. I desperately needed to feel productive while spending most of my time in bed and on the couch so my body could heal.
I had selected the number of stitches determining the width of the scarf long ago, and as I started to knit, I could see that the scarf would engulf my little guy’s neck and probably his face too. Not only that, but it was so wide that I might not have enough yarn to make it long enough to wrap around his neck securely. But I was stubborn. I kept going. There’d be enough yarn, I kept telling myself, as the soft orange creation got longer and longer.
But not long enough.
I had nearly used up my one and only skein of this cozy orange yarn when I tossed the knitting needles aside in frustration. I had indeed made the scarf too wide. I didn’t have enough yarn to finish. I would have to undo a day’s worth of knitting and start over. Tears of failure spilled out in bitter heaves. Why had I so foolishly convinced myself that this would work out? Of course my frustration wasn’t really about the scarf.
Looking at my silly, simple knitting project, I cried for the baby I so dearly missed. Why couldn’t I hold onto him? Why did he get such a promising start, only to leave the safety of my body long before he could survive? Why didn’t he get to finish growing? What was I supposed to do with my pile of unrealized hopes and dreams for this tiny person? Unlike the scarf though, what happened to my beloved baby wasn’t the result of my stubbornness or negligence. Sure, the evil spirits desperately want me to think it’s my fault. That I somehow did something wrong and caused the miscarriage. But I know it’s not true. I will never understand why this happened, but it did. And, unlike my minor knitting mishap, there was nothing I could do about it.
I guess that’s why I woke up the next morning with a new resolve to finish what I had started–even if it meant starting over. I wasn’t helpless this time. This time, I could fix things. My unfinished scarf looked so cozy and soft as it was, but I knew it could never serve the purpose it was meant for unless I started again. The thought of undoing my work had devastated me the day before, but now I was at peace with simply slipping the needle out and letting the stitches unravel as I carefully wound the yarn back into a ball. I held that ball in my hands and smiled. It wasn’t a scarf anymore, but it was still that warm orange and so delightfully soft. It was a cozy little ball of potential that was meant to become something new. And as I started knitting again, this time adjusting the width to truly suit my son, I felt hope and a renewed sense of purpose. I could finish this.
The love I have for the baby I lost isn’t gone. It will be with me forever. It just has to take a different shape now. And I trust that whatever good things the Lord helps me do with that love will make the world a little cozier and softer.
“For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139: 13-16
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the Lord for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
Isaiah 55: 10-13