Baby Surprise Revisited

The other day Jonny and I were talking about our memories of our children and the fact that no matter how many photos or little video clips we take, we don’t remember what they were really like as babies.  I may recall that she cried at the glance of a stranger, or that he preferred to sleep next to me, but I won’t really remember the feel of his little body pressed against my chest in the night.  There’s nothing to do but immerse myself in each baby, to remind myself to be thankful for each moment.  Someday when mine are grown I may hold another, on reflex I may bend my neck to smell his head, but it won’t be the same, it won’t be my baby.  With our last few babies that reality has become more clear especially as the memories of our older children’s babyhoods slip from our minds.  (Excuse me while I wipe my eyes and loudly blow my nose.  If you’re doing the same, I apologize.)

This little blue striped sweater may be the most sentimental thing I have ever knit.  The cashmere yarn was spun especially for Silas by my dear friend Elizabeth.  She intended for it to be knit up into a Baby Surprise Jacket.  I spent the last month of my pregnancy with him knitting it, finishing it up in the first week or so after he was born.

Baby Surprise Jackets are known to be lacking in the sleeve length department.  Wanting to stretch the usefulness of what is now Job’s jacket, I added ribbed cuffs and replaced the toggles with regular buttons that will be more comfortable for him.  Right now with the cuffs rolled, it fits him like a long jacket.  Next fall he should be able wear it again with the cuffs unrolled.  No, I can’t keep Job a baby, but I can make this sweater last a little longer.

**To add the cuffs:  Using needles one to two sizes smaller than those used for the sweater pick up 35 stitches around the end of each sleeve.  For the first round K2, P1, P2tog.  (28 stitches remain)  For the remaining rounds K2 P2 until you reach the desired length.  Bind off loosely in pattern.


  1. I think God let’s us hold our babies in heaven.

  2. I think in heaven God lets us hold each of our babies again.

  3. You are wonderful! (is all I can think to say…

  4. Thank you for writing this. I have felt this way a lot and I used to think that if I had more kids, some day I would
    feel “done.” It’s comforting to realize that we all carry that ache, no matter how many children we have, and that the only answer is to love and treasure the ones we are lucky enough to have.

  5. It’s a wonderful post. The colors in that sweater are beautiful.

  6. So true–I was just lamenting over this yesterday as I went through baby photos of my youngest, putting together an order of photos for a book for his second birthday. It’s the same way with my oldest–I recognize them in pictures, but I don’t remember them being that baby way–it’s very distressing to me, but I am so thankful I have pictures to look at.

  7. Hi, Ginny. 🙂
    This is beautiful. I find you and I are very often thinking about similar things. Our fourth baby was born September 1st, not too long before Job. I enjoy watching Job grow and seeing the similarities between our babies. Our little boy was born at home as well. I have been super aware of exactly what you wrote about in this post with our last two babies. I am trying to soak up every second of babyhood. The funny thing is, it’s making me aware of the same kind of thing with my older 3 kids. My 10-year old will only be 10 for so much longer … my toddler is growing way too fast … and my only girl, the 7-year old, well, she’s my only girl …
    God bless all of you!

  8. I can totally relate to what you are saying. I try to soak my babies into my memory as much as possible. The same goes for when you are pregnant, feeling those kicks and movements. I want to cherish each one because it is such a unique and amazing feeling.
    And I tell my hubby that I will be a 90 yr old woman with baby fever, I don’t think it will ever leave me.
    We’ve had 3 losses in the last year trying for baby #8, so I know how precious life is and how we have to enjoy and relish each moment and stage. Just found out last week that with God’s Will we will have a new baby in October and I can’t wait for all the new babyness, soft sweet head and little snuggles on my chest.

    Love his sweater!


  9. As I have only one, and lost 3, I remember like it was yesterday, not 21 years ago. The way she turned her head when I said hello as soon as she came out. Her little cooing noises at a few weeks old. The smile on her face at 15 months old when she saw me after my being away for a week. Now she is 21 and when I see her sleeping, she has the same look on her face today as she did as a toddler.

    Ginny, I did sniff when I read your story. You are so very blessed indeed!


  10. I think you just described every mama Ginny. I miss holding babies and there are times when I wish I could have continued to have more, but I am thankful for the five I was given. But take it from me, having a grandbaby is a whole new kind of love!

  11. How absolutely sweet is this post and the photos. I love how you have made this piece work to last as long as possible. It’s so hard to put all that work into knitting for the little ones when they can only wear it so much.

  12. My “baby” is 33 and the youngest grandchild is 4 but if I think about babies, I can still sense that new baby smell.
    My advice to our daughter (the mother of our three grandchildren) was to enjoy your children. It is so hard when there is so much to do in a day, just to keep everyone fed and clothed.

    God has richly blessed you, love all those blessings as each day comes along.

    Love the cuffs on the BSJ, I just finished my first and don’t have anyone small enough to wear it. It will probably go to the crisis pregnancy center or the women’s shelter.

  13. Ginny, I was breathing in Matthew the other day and I told the kids that no matter how much I kiss him or smell him, I won’t be able to hold onto this moment. It is what breaks our hearts as mommas, isn’t it? The want to keep them little against their want to grow. It’s why I love looking through our old pictures which is bittersweet.

  14. Your post made me smile thinking of years gone by now that I have an empty nest. My 3 daughters have left and now have families of there own. But with that comes the beautiful relationship that you re-build with your husband, we now have time for each other to share hobbies and holidays, its like falling in love all over again.

  15. Ahhh, Ginny…what mama cannot relate? Right from the beginning with my oldest, I promised myself never to wish away the current phase we might be in…for it will change, without question. That has carried me through many sleepless nights, many long crying episodes, sicknesses, and arguments. I have my three little blessings, and would have liked one more…but with our situation, that would have been too much, I am certain. My youngest is 3 1/2 years old, and it is all so very bittersweet as they gain independence and achieve accomplishments. I think a mama is forever holding on to those ties of babyhood…
    xo Jules

  16. Great update to the sweater. Totally understand your post today. I have an empty nest now but I had a boy and a girl and we were “done”. I would have liked more but we decided I would be a stay-at-home mom and finances at the time dictated just two. Watching my daughter grow was bittersweet because the next baby in my arms would be a grandchild. None of those happening any time soon but probably sometime in the next ten years. Enjoy every second of their lives.

  17. I did tear up, it’s been on my mind a lot lately too. My youngest is 4 and is giving up all the last lingering babyhood…things. In another situation I think I’d have lots more babies but I’m thankful for my four.

  18. Oh I love the cuffs, I just finished my first BSJ on Monday and absolutely love it! Mine fits my daughter like a cardigan because she is a very large 7 month old, but I’m already scheming for my next one probably in a worsted weight to make it bigger. Love the cuffs, I just bookmarked that to add to the next iteration as well-thanks!!

  19. Yes I did get a bit teary eyed. I know my baby days are over but look forward to my grandbabies, which I hear are even more wonderful. I love that little jacket. I think I am going to knit one of those for my niece who is due in June.

  20. This post was so very appropriate for me today. Today is my 30th birthday. My husband and I decided to start our family 5 years ago and three children later we’re fairly certain that we’re “done”. It’s been hard for me. I struggle with feeling like I haven’t taken enough photos, or videos. I watch old family movies with my children and scarcely remember them other than how they are now. But I think that’s how it’s supposed to be, yes? And I think making things for them, having them wear them well and saving them in a box in the basement is such a wonderful way to remember those tiny bodies and minds that fit in those little clothes. Thanks for the reminder. I LOVE the cuffs on the surprise jacket. I made a new (giant!) one for my 9 month old but the sleeves are very short in proportion to the body. I’m excited to add cuffs for next fall so he can get some more wear out of it. Your blog is such a place of peace and direction for me. I read it every day. Thank you so much.

  21. I’m right there with you! I recently went on a little trip, and I was nursing my 13 month old before we left and the thought crossed my mind, “What if she doesn’t want to nurse when I get back? What if she is our last? What if this is the last time I nurse a baby?” She did want to eat a few days later when I got back, and she may not be our last, but the idea that she could be is so sobering, and tear jerking. We are living in exhausting, precious times.

  22. I completely understand. And I am so bad…I have no baby books, but what we both DO have…is these blogs…and all the stories and memories and photos…so I think that is almost a better keepsake. But yes, with Sorrel…I try to linger just a bit longer…with him at naptime and bedtime…and just watch him. It goes too fast and I just want them all to stay babies forever…but not really. Yes, crying too.


  23. Hi
    I am knitting a hat, as always, and gloves, as often and just finished crocheting a laptop bag. I am reading “The Reason I Jump”, about autism.
    Waving hi from RI
    Esther, a sock sister

  24. Kim Jeffery says:

    You are so wise to understand that you need to immerse yourself in your babies while they are small. When my first grandsons were born (twins!) I was horrified that they didn’t adore me. All the babies I had known adored me. What was wrong? They let me hold them, they didn’t seem to mind me, but they never looked into my eyes and acted as though I was the most wonderful person they had ever known. Was I somehow not an acceptable grandmother? One day I was doing exactly as you described, snuggling a warm little boy against my shoulder, inhaling his sweet baby scent . . . and watching as his eyes cast anxiously around the room for his mommy. Suddenly I understood. I was a perfectly fine Gran, but I wasn’t his mommy. Babies save adoration for their mommies which is right and good. That was both a revelation and a relief to me, but it was bittersweet. I haven’t been adored for more than 25 years. I kind of miss it. That’s the sort of thing you don’t entirely forget.

  25. sending a HUG your way… it’s a beautiful jacket… one thing you do have is your blog and so many wonderful pictures… it is something that captures some beauty that is in your life; but I know that this does not replace the experience of it itself… I remember my dear sister-friend whose youngest son is my godson and seeing her and him when he was about 6 days old… he’s two now… but the image of him so small, with his mother bathed in yellow lamp light and me meeting my godson for the first time… yes, I can’t hold or see him that small again; but that I held him for his first communion after he was baptised; I will always have that.

    sending love to you this day! God bless and keep you all!

  26. Yes, this post totally did make me cry! <3 <3

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