Show and Tell: Blanket

January 25, 2009

ER update: Angela Bassett’s character had her egg retrieval! Spoiler alert: didn’t go well. Several aspects of the depiction were nothing like I’ve ever experienced (ultrasound to count the number of follicles the day of retrieval, husband in the operating room, private room for post-op recovery) but I suppose since the doctor on the show is an OB/GYN instead of an RE, anything goes. On the upside, the extensive talk about follicles and high-grade embryos was a triumph for infertility awareness. It also served to debunk the myth that IVF is a guarantee for older women (or anyone).

And now, Show and Tell. Years ago, I wasn’t yet a potter. Instead, I was a knitter. I was a very slow knitter, but I made a few lovely pieces — mostly scarves gifted to family members. I particularly enjoyed working with complex stitch patterns. Because I was so slow, I quickly figured out that I should only use very high-quality yarn — it was impossible to rack up a high yarn bill when it took me two months to make one scarf, and it’s much more pleasant to work with cashmere, silk, and merino wool than acrylic.

The last piece that I was working on before a computer-based repetitive stress injury ended my knitting career was a baby blanket — for the baby I was expecting to have in the near future. Periwinkle, because it’s gender-neutral. Cotton, because at the time we lived in a warm climate.

I actually learned to crochet just so that I could make the border of this blanket. I was almost finished with the border when I realized that the last ball of yarn I’d used for the main body was from a different dye lot than the rest. This means that there’s a few inches at the end that are a slightly different color. The border is a different color on purpose for contrast, but the different color within the body just looks strange. A perfectionist by nature, I realized that I would need to rip out the border and then unravel the section of the blanket with the wrong yarn. Around the time of that realization, I also realized that my repetitive stress injury was being aggravated by knitting… and then I had my first miscarriage, and I didn’t have the heart to keep working on the blanket.

And so, for five years this blanket has sat in a plastic bin in the closet, with a half-finished border and a discolored strip. I’ve figured that whenever I do finally get stay pregnant, I would fix the mismatch problem once and for all. Hasn’t happened yet, but whenever it does, I’ll bring it back out of the closet and finish what I started so long ago.


What caused me to bring the blanket out of the closet after all of these years?

In a blog comment on one of Cara’s blogs, I made an offhand remark about knitting. She responded by emailing me to ask me if I still knitted, and if so, would I be willing to make a few buntings in which to bury babies. I sadly told her that I no longer knit, but I kept thinking about the tiny babies and their grieving parents, and the knitting that I used to do.

Last week I invited people to cost me some money by commenting ($1) or delurking ($2 for first-time commenters), which I would then donate to charity. My secret idea was that I could make up for my lack of knitting by subsidizing others’ knitting. For the four posts since I announced that plan, you’ve cost me $97: 26 new commenters, and 45 returning commenters.

I am donating the money to Share Southern Vermont. Some will be earmarked to cover the cost of yarn for some knitters in Cara’s area who are donating their knitting skills to make buntings, and the rest will be used for the general startup fund. If you’d like to help bring Share Southern Vermont closer to their goal, head to Building Heavenly Bridges or Share Southern Vermont to make a donation (and enter the scrapbook raffle). And if you happen to knit, I’m sure Cara would welcome a bunting. Unfortunately, the demand never stops.

Join Miss Lollipop and the rest of the class at Show and Tell.

I haven’t heard anything in the IF blogosphere about the most recent episode of ER. I think I may be the only person who’s still watching after all these years.

Ladies, time to set your TiVo’s — and not just because John Stamos is hunky.

Outspoken stirrup queen Angela Bassett is a regular cast member this year as the new Chief of Emergency Medicine. Her character is fair but tough; the prickly exterior turns out to result from her grief after the death of her young son several years earlier (one flashback episode heartbreakingly portrays his death). It has offered an unusually nuanced portrayal of the loss of a child.

But this past week, the loss storyline became an IF storyline! (Perfect Moment #1)

She and her husband decide that it’s time to rebuild their family. Following one failed cycle with charting (!!) and timed intercourse, Basset’s character considers her advanced maternal age and immediately consults the Chief of Obstetrics (who, frankly, is not the person I would approach for fertility issues — I would go straight to an RE, but the OB is a recurring character). The OB tells her that her estradiol and prolactin are fine, but that her FSH is elevated. I’ve never heard all of the IF lingo in such detail on television before, with acronyms and terms tossed around casually just like on our blogs.

The obstetrician tells her that the odds for IVF with her own eggs approach zero, and that many fertility clinics won’t even attempt IVF on someone with those FSH levels. She lays out alternative options: “adoption, surrogacy, egg donation.”

A realistic portrayal of odds and options! I was shocked. My husband kept exclaiming, “Blog! Blog!”

Bassett’s character decides to take one shot at IVF with her own eggs and then pursue the other options.

As with the second season of Mad Men, I am so excited to see what happens next. This is the last season of the show, so there isn’t a huge amount of time to go through an extended portrayal of multiple routes to family-building, but there is time for her to do an IVF cycle or two.

Perfect Moment #2: What’s particularly exciting about this for me is that Angela Bassett and her husband Courtney B. Vance (who also plays her character’s husband on the show) have talked openly about their 7-year battle with infertility and successful use of a gestational surrogate, resulting in boy-girl twins. It is so gratifying that not only has she been forthcoming about the difficulties she encountered bringing her children into being, but she is drawing on her experiences to bring an intelligent, informed infertility storyline to a network television show.

About 6 or 7 years ago, I saw Angela Bassett in person. I’d always found her to be somewhat pretty on the movie screen, but in person she was absolutely stunning. And, if I do the math, she must have been dealing with infertility at the time I saw her — despite that, she had an aura that drew the eyes of everyone in the room. Many people didn’t even recognize her at first, but just had to keep staring at this unknown woman with magnetic beauty.

She seems to have dealt with her infertility better than I have been dealing lately. Hundreds of turned heads is not what I get when I walk into a room. Most days, I can’t even manage to put on actual pants.

Perfect MomentHead to Weebles Wobblog to see more Perfect Moments.