The Babies Are Coming




Forty-two years ago, Joan, darling wife that she was and is, gave birth to our first child. It was a baby. A girl baby. She was our first born. We had two more right after that, both boys. And in our extended family there were even more. My brothers' wives had babies. Joan's sister had babies. All our children grew up and they had babies. Babies and more babies. They're still coming. Two last year. One so far this year. Two more on the way. Grandchildren and nieces and nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews and cousins. Babies everywhere. And for what?


For quilts. All these babies gave Darling Wife a reason to quilt. Oh, she never really needs a reason to quilt, but the babies needed quilts; they will always need quilts whether they know it or not, whether they want them or not. So, when Joan finished her last quilt and was waiting for inspiration to give her an idea for a new quilt project, another baby, our grandniece Mia was born.

"Do you think I should have a sonogram?" she asked when we received the news and the picture of the newborn.

"Are you pregnant?" I asked. Of course she wasn't.

"For my brain," she said.

"You want a sonogram for your head."

"To look for baby quilts," she answered.

"Explain that," I said. It was a reasonable question to ask a woman who had recently been physically and mentally exhausted as she finished a queen-sized quilt. She had recovered from the physical exhaustion, but I was not so sure about what might still be in her head.

"There's our niece and nephew's new baby. More babies are coming. I need to make baby quilts. I have to make baby quilts, but I'm not sure I can think about what kind of quilt to make."

"You think you have ideas hidden in your head and that's what the sonogram of your brain will tell you?" That was exactly what she was thinking. I have been locked in step with this woman in my house since she had begun quilting several years before. I almost understand her quilting.

"I hear ideas rattling around in there, but I can't see them."

"They don't have sonograms for quilting ideas in brains," I said. An X-ray, an MRI maybe, but that would only show her brain was a quilt, and then the whole hospital staff would think she had some strange malady that medicine had never reported on before, and the doctors would fight over who would write up this newly discovered medical miracle of a quilted brain. Or something. "You'll think of something," I said.

"I'll get out the books and magazines again," she said.


It rained for the next week in our city where rain is rare. It poured, and the rain kept us in the house, and being forced to stay in gave her time to go through her books and magazines and save her brain from any examination and busybody questions from some neurologist or brain doctor asking her, "What are we looking for again?"

"Boy quilts and girl quilts," she said.

"You already made boy quilts and girl quilts," I said. She had made several baby quilts in the past several years, a couple very recently.

"I can't do them again. These are new babies. New babies want different quilts."

"I think it's you who wants different quilts. A baby would settle for a quilt made out of old socks," I said. I wasn't so sure of that, but it seemed reasonable that a one month old baby would not pay too much attention to the design of a baby quilt.

"A lot you know about babies," she said.

"It's really to please the parents, isn't it?" I said.

"You don't remember how much our grandchildren liked their quilts?" she asked.

"They weren't babies anymore when you made the quilts. They picked out the colors and suggested the design. Babies can't tell you what a color is," I said. So there!

"A lot you know about babies," she said.


It rained some more, and it rained some more after that, and the hillsides around our neighborhood were running with water and the streets were flooding and homes in Southern California were collapsing and sliding into canyons and the ocean. I went out into the rain to clear a culvert behind our house which was filled with silt and debris. "It's going to rain forty days and forty nights," I said as I came into the house, my clothes flooded and muddy.

"Noah's arks" she said.

"It was probably raining like this back then in Noah's time," I said as I wiped rain and mud from my head. "Noah's ark would help right now."

"Noah's Arks would be perfect for a baby quilt. I came across a pattern for that yesterday," she said.

"You said arks. Noah only had one ark," I said

"These are small arks. The baby wants several boats in case friends come over," she said.

"In case friends come over?" I asked. She didn't explain.

"Each of animals will have its own ark," she continued.

"You're giving a whole ark to each animal?" She didn't explain.

"And if it rains, the quilt can keep the baby dry," she added.

I gave up on the friends and the animals. But keeping the baby dry? "Which baby?" I asked. There were three possibilities that we knew about. One was already a girl. One was going to be a boy (the sonogram showed the parents that). One was undecided (too soon to tell).

"It doesn't matter. Whoever gets it will like it."

"The babies told you that?" Hah!

"How would they tell me that. I haven't seen the babies yet. Two haven't even been born." She gave me that look that said, "What's with these silly questions?"

"We have a picture of Mia," I said. Mia was a month old and pictures had been sent.

"Pictures don't tell what a baby wants in a quilt," she said.

"Then how do you know?" Hah! Again.

"I'm a quilter. I know," she said. "I'm making several quilts and matching them to the babies. I already made the sunbonnet baby quilt and the pinwheels baby quilt, and after I do this quilt with the arks, which can be for either a boy or a girl, I'll make another quilt. And maybe another after that. Maybe, if it stops raining, a sunshine quilt."

"That's a lot of baby quilts," I said. "Why so many quilts?"

"The babies are coming," she said. "The babies are coming."

Copyright 2005 by A.B. Silver


Click here to see finished "Arks Baby Quilt"

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