achievement unlocked: cross stitched cat necklaces


Every year, I make a New Year’s resolution to be more on the ball with the birthdays of my loved ones. Send cards, make gifts, throw Ramona a decent birthday party, etc. The people who benefit most from this resolution are always the people born in the first half of January, because I suck at actually achieving this goal. Sorry, friends born in December. Sorry, my only child, born on November 30 & constantly getting the birthday shaft because you’re not only born at the end of the year, but also at the end of the month.

My friend Robin was born on New Year’s Day, & my sister’s birthday is January 14. I made them each a cross stitched cat necklace. The next birthday is coming up on January 29th & I have no idea what to do for it. If you have any brilliant ideas for a 40-something male librarian, let me know.

Robin’s necklace is the one with the gray cat. Her cat is really more cream-colored with some gray tiger-like markings, but cream wasn’t going to show up very well on my white Aida cloth. Ultimately, I should have erred on the side of lighter gray colors & a mix that helps the markings stand out more (you might not be able to tell, but I used three different colors of gray to mimic his coloring), but hey, live & learn.

My sister’s cat is black & he has a snaggletooth. That’s the white thing sticking out of his mouth.

I used 18-count Aida cloth & made up my own pattern for the cat faces. I used two strands of floss, & used just a single strand for the pupils of the eye, the mouth, & the whiskers. I bought the wooden pendants & chains in the jewelry-making section at Michael’s (Jared gave me a gift certificate for Christmas, which was AWESOME) & attached the finished cross stitch with craft glue. Making both necklaces, start to finish, only took maybe two or three hours. It was really nice to tackle a project that was essentially instant gratification after spending so long on Ramona’s birth portrait.

I think my sister’s necklace will be arriving in today’s mail. Robin posted on Instagram when she received hers.

I can think of a few more people who might be receiving very similar gifts from me as the year progresses…Assuming I don’t just tap out at the end of January like I have always done in the past.

& in cancer news, my hysterectomy has been scheduled. For Valentine’s Day! I could have picked a different day, but that was the earliest date they offered (& I really just want to put this whole thing behind me ASAP), & I thought it was just kind of hilariously apropos to have my uterus & cervix removed on Valentine’s Day. It’s also the anniversary of my first ever colposcopy, way back in 2005. Oh, the memories. I remember feeling so sorry for myself that day, that while other people were out on romantic dates, I was stuck at the hospital having an overgrown Pap smear (because it was scheduled for the evening, for some weird reason).

If all goes according to plan, my surgery will be laparoscopic, & I will spend one night in the hospital. Recovery at home sounds like it will be long & difficult, maybe even worse than my Cesarean because this time, actual body parts are being removed. Not just a baby. & since I am losing my cervix, the surgeon has to create a “vaginal cuff”. & we all know how challenging cuffs can be, hahaha. I started reading up on vaginal cuffs the other day, & whoa. A potential complication is a “vaginal cuff tear,” which can result in “pelvic organ prolapse” (!!!) & potentially deadly systemic infections. I took to my bullet journal to doodle my anxieties away.

I am really torn between being all stoic & saying, “It’ll be fine, whatever,” & being very melodramatic & wanting everyone to feel sorry for me. I mean, this whole thing is a pretty big goddamn deal…but it will also all probably be fine in the long run. My uterus is really acting up today & reminding me why I won’t be sorry to see it go. I actually took  Percocet because the cramps were so bad, but not before Googling the idea & reading a bunch of people saying, “Don’t do it! You’ll get hooked! I started taking Percocet & before I knew it, I was up to forty pills a day & my life was in ruins!” Considering that I still have Percocet left over from my Cesarean more than four years ago, I am not too worried about devolving into junkie-dom.

I’m still figuring out what I need to get ready for the recovery period. I’m putting together a list of TV to watch (I’m open to recommendations; bear in mind that I don’t like sci-fi/fantasy stuff). I bought a fancy heating pad. I bought a really nice lap desk…after seeing it linked on someone Facebook as a bougie garbage thing that only people with more money than sense would ever buy. What about people that are going to be spending a lot of time in bed? The top lifts & can be locked in at different angles so you don’t strain your neck by looking down too much. It’s really nice! & the little bracket that keeps my laptop from sliding off can be removed to turn it all into one flat surface for writing in my bullet journal.

Everything I read says it’s helpful to keep a small pillow on hand to help support the belly/pelvis when coughing or moving around in bed or whatever. I’m thinking about making myself a uterus-shaped pillow. Just for laughs. I am also wondering if I have enough time to whip up a couple of bralettes. I have only worn a bra like twice since October because I’ve been so sick, but the twins are feeling pretty ache-y. I’m wondering if it’s because they are getting zero support. I’m also wondering if it’s breast cancer, because, you know…I got diagnosed with cancer once! So now I am convinced that everything is cancer. I saw a doctor once for some dizziness & numbness I was experiencing & he was like, “Okay, do you think it’s cancer?” & I was like, “…No?” & he was like, “I just ask because you seems really anxious about this.” Uh…should a woman in her mid-30s really just be going around fainting & losing the strength to turn door knobs? I mean, it did kind of seem concerning to me. That doctor was kind of an asshole. Anyway, now I would be like, “Sure, why not? Cancer happens, bro.”

If anyone reading this has ever had a hysterectomy, feel free to hit me up with suggestions & recommendations. I am all ears!


Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

8 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: cross stitched cat necklaces

  1. I feel like there’s a real difference between people who “like to eat breakfast in bed” (as per the listing for that desk) and people who kinda don’t have a choice in the matter. If you’re imagining someone lounging around because they have like a butler or some shit like that, i guess it would seem bougie? But I would think it’s pretty obvious that there are a lot of people who have to lie down a lot and would prefer to get their own damn breakfast if they could.

    I really like those little pouches that are filled with rice and you heat up in the microwave. They feel nicer than a heating pad that you plug in. The only problem is you have to keep heating them up, which doesn’t work so well if you’re convalescing. Maybe a rice pack that Jared could heat up for you when he’s home? Or maybe a standard heating pad works just fine for you and I’m just a weirdo who has heating pad preferences. 😛

    1. I got the heating pad & it works great. If you can believe it, we don’t have a microwave, so a microwaveable rice pouch wouldn’t be very useful. I think we must be the last people in the United States who don’t have a microwave, nor a dishwasher. Those are both things that would have come in REALLY handy in the 17 months that I exclusively pumped for Ramona, but instead, it was 17 months of washing all those pump parts by hand…

  2. My mom had a complete hysterectomy back in the early 70s she had a huge tumor they took everything out. Shes 84 now & still chugging along. Your lap table is great what ever works for you. Your the one using/ needing these things not someone else.
    Have you watched the Gilmore Girls? Very funny 7 seasons Plus a recent 4 part mini series avail on Netflix.
    As for your recovery from surgery everyone is different. It all depends on how your body heals, tolerates pain & attitude (yours & everyone elses LOL). If someone could help out the first few days home that would be good.
    You sure are doing great with your xstitch! I’m amazed at your proficiency. I really suck @ it (don’t like the whole counting thing) but enjoy regular embroidery, quilting, garment & home dec sewing. Best wishes for a healthy surgical outcome & speedy recovery.

    1. I had my hysterectomy a couple of weeks ago. Just the uterus, cervix, & a little bit of the vagina. I am officially NED now (no evidence of disease). The recovery’s been a bear though. I am still in bed full-time &it’s been almost three weeks.

      Thanks for the compliments on the cross stitch! I have a theory that people either enjoy cross stitch or embroidery, but not both. I love cross stitch, but I hate embroidery (as in, I hate doing it; I like the way it looks). But maybe there are some accomplished needlepersons out there who love it all!

  3. Hi Ciara,
    Since you asked I’ll volunteer some experience/advice. Some people are too tender to have anything that rests on any part of their body. Had a friend who rented a hospital style bed table for our surgery friend on a one month basis.
    Also the someone to help out for a few days. That depends on how your household works but plan that you will want/need a body (buddy) that will only take care of you. No other demands on their time. It will save wear and tear on your spousal relationship. 🙂
    Last, spend a day now paying attention to how many times you bend over or lift things. It’s always a surprise how restricted you are after surgery (and a HUGE pain in the butt). Oh, and speaking of THAT; that was a surprise complaint. → No side sleeping restriction. (I’m hoping that isn’t one you get.) I always get pissed off because they come up with crap your not supposed to do (AFTER you asked, and asked) when it’s time to go home and too late to have ( ) on hand.” Its called planning people!” You scream at the discharge nurse! “Why didnt anyone tell me I’d need an ice chest?!” Almost forgot, you’ll want someone who’s good at dealing with crap like that who is not the one caring for you.
    ( don’t get me started on how they discharge everyone WAY too early these days or that you need a nurse in the family because family does what nurses and hospitals used to do!) I’m off the soap box now.
    It’s mostly the no lifting, bending, or pushing of feet that’s the bitch.
    Lastly, plan on wanting to be babied. So much easier to say “turns out I don’t need you” than to try and “buck up” when those hormones make you feel …….
    Let’s just say PMS on steroids PLUS “I got an oweeee!”
    Good luck and very, very best wishes it goes super smoothly!

    1. Thanks! The hysterectomy was almost three weeks ago & I am healing up very nicely, but recovery has been a bear. I don’t have much pain from the surgery anymore, but I still get tired REALLY easily (like, taking a shower requires a three-hour nap afterward). I also caught a cold due to my over-burdened immune system, & it is lingering because my body is so overwhelmed with all the healing it has to do.

      I was surprised at how much I couldn’t do at first. For the first five days after the surgery, my pain was getting a little worse every day, even though I was taking plenty of painkillers. Like, I would be in so much pain that I was actually nauseated. I finally called my oncologist & she clarified that I really needed other people to do EVERYTHING for me, including adjusting my pillows & blankets in bed.

      I’m past the worst of that now, but still stuck in bed full-time. Someday I will wear shoes again…

    1. Yeah, I have also daydreamed about finding a way to turn my sewing & stitching into some kind of income, but…easier said than done. It can be difficult to convince people to pay you a figure that adequately compensates your time & materials, & I’m wary of turning something I enjoy into a job.

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