Sew Small

IMG_1366Written by and photography courtesy of Meghan K. Smith

A Mom’s Mission to Find Peace Among the Patterns

WHO HAS TIME to meditate or sit still when you’re a mom with two little ones? That’s my question. My answer, however, wasn’t quite as stitched together — at least, not initially. At 34 weeks, my older daughter Kessen was born weighing 2 pounds, 12 ounces. The first year of her life was fi lled with scary numbers, new terms and more medical procedures than I care to count. Initially tagged with Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) along with Necrotizing Enter Colitis (NEC) shortly thereafter, which earned her a spot in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), her grand total reached 157 days in the NICU, nine surgeries and six trips to the pediatric emergency room.

While she had taken on the daunting task of learning to survive, I had to learn how to be present and stay positive. I had to fight for her and, more importantly, I had to know deep in my heart that she had a future. What
I didn’t know was how to concentrate on that without distraction until one of our amazing NICU nurses brought a Ziploc bag full of handmade hair bows to Kessen. Not only was the gift confirmation that she believed my daughter would survive to wear those darling bows, it was exactly the nudge I needed.

That night, I pulled out a stash of fabric and told myself I would sew for Kessen. Every moment
not spent bedside, I spent sewing burp cloths and simple dresses. My daughter was still too small for preemie clothes, but she eventually wore the first dress I made, sized six to nine months. Almost six years later, Kessen is still small, but healthy and 100-percent spitfire. These days that spunk presents itself in constant negotiations over pretty much everything. Even the everyday tasks have taken a toll, nothing like the past, but a toll just the same.

In search of a change — and perhaps a little peace — I came across an article on mindfulness. I read one and immediately looked for more. Then I decided to try it. For some, mindfulness equates to meditation, yoga or running. Not for me. As a new mom again, if I sit down in a quiet place, the only thing happening is a nap and just for the record, the idea of a downward dog pose does not bring me peace. In fact, the thought of yoga gives me heart palpitations … and running?

The closest I get is a shirt that reads, “If I am running, someone is chasing me.” Thankfully, salvation came a few days later when I found the first dress I ever made. I felt a wave of peace, quickly attributed to the fact that I have a second daughter who can wear it, but as I held the dress, I realized sewing is my mindful activity. That statement of a bright future also happens to be the process that quiets my mind and brings a sense of calm to an otherwise slightly crazed day.

Matching fabric with trim, cutting and creating, the hum of the sewing machine, even the concentration required to rip out a mistaken seam — in an unexpected way, these simple actions kept me aware and in the moment five years ago, just as they do today. Turns out, piecing together a little peace is what I’d been missing lately, and both of my daughters now have a new handmade dress to prove it.