I only made one quilt for Eleni. Though I never did finish it.
Just weeks before she was born, I started making these uber girly hearts to be appliqued onto a candy colored baby girl's quilt. I appliqued them by hand, relishing the process, and even saved a few for the birth itself. I was planning another home birth then. Maybe, in my dream birth scenario, some handwork would be a fun way to channel my excitement during the early stages of labor.
Of course, Eleni's birth was nothing like that. Afterwards, in my shock, I did finish appliqueing the hearts. I took many to the NICU for something to do by her bedside as she was always, always sleeping and couldn't tolerate being held for too long. When they were finished I joined the blocks together and then put the quilt top away. I hated reminders of life before the tragedy, especially reminders of how I thought things would be. I couldn't finish the quilt, didn't want it for Eleni, and yet couldn't see myself finishing it to sell either.
I feel that this pregnancy is my last chance to grieve for Eleni with my whole heart. I know that our new baby will shift my focus and put a new light in our family, which is a good thing. Of course I'll never forget Eleni, but maybe she'll never feel quite this near. Of course she won't. That's the thing about death, it puts real distance between you and your loved ones. Later when life slows down again, so much will have changed. I'll be less likely then to think of what could have been and more likely to be thankful for what came to be. At least, I trust so.
Part of my grieving is to deal with Eleni's heart quilt. It doesn't belong in a drawer testifying to what wasn't and never-will-be. I want to give it a life, and not one that is for this new baby I'm having, but rather one that is for Eleni still. Somehow, still for Eleni.
So, I've decided to tear it apart. I'm separating out the hearts and making quilts to donate to the NICU that kept Eleni. When she was there the nurses would wrap a quilt around her mattress, instead of a sheet, to make her bed slightly more homey. I'm sure they could use a few fresh ones. And probably some of the moms will appreciate a slightly more modern flare.
The way the nurses use them as substitute sheets, 32 x 44" is a good size. These are likely to be used for full term babies not in an isolate, so these are not the kind that cover the isolate to make it darker/quieter. In my series of little quilts, I'm thinking to use anywhere from 1 to 6 hearts per quilt, to yield a good number of them.
I made my first today. It's so simple. Maybe too simple? But then again, it's the baby who'll lay upon it that needs all the attention. I imagine the hearts near her head and her feet serving as bookends to her sweetness.
Eleni is already giving many things to her younger sister - clothes, blankets, toys and bottles. These hearts she'll give to other babies experiencing a harder start to life than they deserve. Babies that may not ever be "all right." I think she'd be pleased.