FOREVER LINKED QUILT & WHAT QUILTING MEANS TO ME

Lindsee McKinnon (@sugar.and.blue on Instagram) designed the Forever Linked quilt for her friend who miscarried twins. The design represents a chain-link fence to remind those who have suffered loss of any kind that they are forever linked to their loved ones. When Lindsee called for pattern testers I volunteered because this quilt, and the meaning behind it, means a lot to me.

My husband and I got married in August 2015. Two months after we got married I had a miscarriage, but it was so early into our marriage and I had never experienced being pregnant before so the miscarriage did not effect me emotionally very much. I remember feeling guilty that I did not feel sad about the miscarriage because I thought I was supposed to grieve a lot more than I did.

Shortly after that miscarriage I got pregnant with our son, Leo. That is when I bought a sewing machine and started quilting. The first quilt I made on my own machine is the quilt that Leo still uses in his crib today at two years old. When he was born in July 2016 it was the most magical moment I have ever had the honor of experiencing in my life, and I knew immediately that I wanted to experience that birth-day many more times.

I grew up with eleven siblings. Growing up, and even now as an adult, I have been forever thankful for the gift of many siblings. We didn’t get many expensive toys, or clothes, or even a lot of unique foods, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. My siblings are the greatest gift my parents could have ever given me, and as a parent, my greatest wish is to be able to give Leo the gift of a sibling.

When I was pregnant with Leo I only made two quilts: a baby girl quilt, and a baby boy quilt. I enjoyed quilting but it didn’t mean a whole lot to me at the time, other than a hobby to pass the time and something special to make for my child. When he was around 6 months old, my husband suggested I pull out my sewing machine again and make some quilts for our church market because I was so bored when I was home alone during the days with Leo, so I pulled my machine out of the closet and made a few quilts, but still didn’t sew a whole lot.

When Leo was 11 months old I had a second miscarriage. Again, I was not strongly affected emotionally by the miscarriage because it was a very early miscarriage and I was not concerned about my ability to get pregnant in the future because I had no problems getting pregnant with Leo, and the pregnancy with him was so by-the-book that surely nothing was wrong with my body. I was sure it was just a random occurrence that I had miscarried a second time.

Shortly after that second miscarriage I got pregnant again. I had all the symptoms of pregnancy that were similar to the pregnancy with Leo, and saw my midwife at around 9 weeks pregnant. She did an ultrasound that showed that everything looked great; baby had a heartbeat and was moving around just like s/he should. At 12 weeks pregnant, in September 2017, I was excited to be nearing the end of the first trimester when I started to have spotting. I knew in my heart that I was miscarrying again, for a third time. That miscarriage was so devastating for me emotionally. I had twelve weeks to become attached to that baby and to imagine life with a second child, life with a sibling for Leo. There were days that I felt like I couldn’t get off the couch because all I could do was cry while it felt like my heart was being ripped out. After that miscarriage is when I really dove into quilting, and spent time with my machine almost daily as a way to cope with the grief, and a way to distract me from the pain of loss. Quilting became a way for me to create something beautiful from the pain.

A month after my third miscarriage I started having off-and-on pelvic pain. I went to the doctor several times but they didn’t do much about it. Five months after the miscarriage, I got pregnant again and stopped worrying about the pelvic pain because I didn’t think it was a big deal because I had been able to get pregnant. We became so hopeful that maybe now would be our chance to give Leo a sibling. Around 7 weeks pregnant, I miscarried again. It was just as soul-crushing as the third, most recent, miscarriage I had experienced and I began to worry that maybe we won’t get the pleasure of inviting a second child into our family. At that point I was already quilting a lot, but I again dove into quilting as a way to cope with the pain of losing another pregnancy. There were days that as I sewed, I had to stop because I couldn’t see what I was doing past the tears, and then other days that I was so excited and so happy with what I was doing and where life had brought me. I still have the occasional day, although now far and few between, where I have to stop what I’m doing because the tears are blurring my vision.

Now, back to the Forever Linked Quilt. As I’m sure you can now tell, this quilt, and quilting in general means a lot more to me than simply making a quilt. It is a way for me to find joy and excitement when it feels like my heart is being crushed with sadness. It is a way for me to create something beautiful during the cloudy days. It is a way for me to create something to cherish for those special people in my life. It gives me something to focus on other than motherhood and the struggles that can come along with it. Through these experiences, quilting has become a passion of mine, and I don’t doubt that it will continue to lead me through the dark times that I know are ahead as we try to continue to grow our family. This quilt reminds me of those babies that I got to spend time with. Even if just for a short moment, I got to be their mommy and I got to bond with them in the unique way that a pregnant mother bonds with her unborn child.

We don’t know what the future has in store for us. What we do know is that there is some medical issues going on, although we have not yet found answers. We hope with our whole hearts that the future has a baby in store for us, and a sibling for Leo, but we can only pray to be given acceptance for whatever may happen on the road ahead.

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