Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Back To Work

Last Monday was my first shift back at work after 12 weeks of maternity leave.  I made a badge with M's picture on it for my ID holder and of course I cried a little when I left.  Dave is a total hands on father and quite capable and we're lucky he doesn't work in the summer so he can be home with him.  I truly was happy to see everyone and had a good first week back.
So far we've exclusively fed him breast milk because it is best for him but also it is free and formula is very expensive.  I know the day will come when he consumes more than I can produce and we'll supplement with formula.  Until that day I will keep pumping including when I'm at work.  This is one of the designated pumping rooms at our disposal.
I'm sure it seems to be a weird thing to blog about but I was very impressed with the facilities!  There is a microwave and fridge in there so you can eat your lunch while you pump and store you milk afterwards.  Pumps are provided as well as areas to store your tubing and containers. 
This room has "seating" for 3 mothers to pump but I've never seen anyone else in there when I've used the room.
Here is my favorite spot to use.  This was the first day back at work and I'd brought my pump from home.  Now I just bring my set of tubing that I saved from when we delivered M.  I always bring my phone and surf or check in with Dave.
This past Sunday was our first Human Father's Day and I brought David breakfast in bed.  We've had Dog Father's Day up until now and he shared some of his scrambled eggs with Lopi.  Marek and I gave him real Dad gifts too: a new wallet because his old one was SHOT, a digital alarm clock with a lightning USB port to charge his phone, and a new pair of sunglasses for him to use fishing and driving.  For Mother's Day, we went to the fiber festival where he kept M occupied in the stroller and worked on his FanDuel while I shopped for yarn.  I can't believe he is almost 13 weeks old.  Where is the time going?

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Bunad Lomme

Lomme is the Norwegian word for pocket.  In this case, it is the decorative purse on a Norwegian national costume or bunad.  Authentic Norwegian bunads are beautiful but they are also extremely expensive because they are hand embroidered and include hand made traditional accessories like woven belts and and silver jewelry.  When we were in Norway in the fall, we saw a couple banks that specialized in loans and on the advertisements there were pictures of cars, boats...and BUNADS!  Each county has their own design and style, and depending on the region a single bunad can cost over $6,000.  It is tradition to receive one on your confirmation and my oldest niece will be confirmed in the coming year.  My mother is in the process of designing and working on a generic bunad which are also worn.  I volunteered to embroider the lomme.
I like fussy but Mom is insisting this be simple.  She found some gorgeous thread dyed striped skirt fabric and already had a stash of linen in varying colors for the bodice.  We decided on generic black for the purse and found this image on the internet.  It is not a traditional motif by any means but we just liked the look of it and I thought I could work with it.  Now came the challenge of getting this design onto the black fabric.
I had two different brands of iron transfer pencils and totally wasted my time tracing this design because it did not transfer.  I thought the fabric was maybe too dark for the pencil to show up so I tried it on a scrap of white fabric and again nothing happened.  I started digging around in my sewing room looking for some sort of a white pen or fabric marker.  I looked online and found a white iron transfer pencil and decided against it based on the results I had with the colored ones, plus I was impatient and wanted to get working on the project.  I thought about a light table to transfer the design but the cheapest one I found online was $60 and I'd probably never use it again.  I started thinking about how I could "make" a light table...
I swiped the clothes storage container out from under my bed, dumped it out and stuck my sewing table lamp under it!  Hey presto--a light table!
I don't know why I did this on the floor in the middle of my hallway but I suppose I was just so excited to get started.  Start-itis is a powerful thing!
In the end I used a permanent chalk marker I got for $1 at the Dollar Spot at Target!  It worked beautifully but then my immediate concern was that the lines were too thick and it would be difficult to conceal them.  Being permanent, I couldn't launder the lines away like you can with a fabric marker.
Here is Lopi watching me as I paced and fussed in the sewing room.  She spends a lot of time in here just laying on her dog bed since the baby came home.  I think she comes in here because it is quiet and "safe".  She doesn't quite know what to think of the living room now that we have a bouncy seat and baby swing and bassinet taking up space in there.
I inherited my mother's stash of crewel thread complete with a vintage 1970's shopping bag.  To keep it simple, I opted for just red and green.  I wanted to do some netting like my bunad has and I used DMC antique silver since she will have pewter colored hardware.
I was a mere slip of a girl when I purchased the materials for my bunad in Norway in 1993.  I will never forget visiting with the shop lady in our respective broken foreign languages.  She made it very clear that I was to use a tight hoop and "make the net first".
I had to include a picture of my little coconut.  He is so darned cute!  I'm lucky that he naps a lot in the morning which is my most productive time.  He is 11 weeks old.  I just can't believe it.  I go back to work on Monday and I'm both dreading and looking forward to it.
Instead of a simple stem stitch, I opted for a chain stitch to fill out the design and obscure the lines.  I really liked the effect.
Our peonies are blooming and I'm enjoying them.  The shrub roses will be opening soon!
More progress on the design.  Note baby M in the background.  Thank goodness for baby swings!  He and I can visit and he's content and I have both hands free!
Here is the finished piece and Mom will do her seamstress magic.  That fabric sample is what will be used for the skirt.  She has yet to hammer out a few details like whether or not to make an apron and what kind of head covering to use, etc.  I'm excited for my niece.  I mentioned I have a bunad...in pieces.  I have yet to finish embroidering it!  I have been working on it for 25 years and I'm just a day or two of work away from being done but my fear is it won't fit me because I'm now fat.  I did go to 2 Husfliden shops while last in Norway and did a photo study of the construction and am so much more confident.  I'm also committed to losing weight now that I have a little one and will need the energy I can get.  I'll share more about my bunad later and I have yet to write about our Norway trip.  It was just one of the many things I thought I could accomplish since I'd be "just sitting around with a newborn."  Boy was I wrong!  It is amazing how busy such a little person can keep you!  And speaking of the little one, I have 2 generic baby boy bunads for him that I got at a thrift shop in Oslo.  I can't wait until he fits into them and we'll have his picture taken!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Spring Mixing

I spent last week mixing, shaping and freezing dozens of scones.  They really aren't that much work, no more than a glorified biscuit, but it's so convenient to just pull them out of the freezer and bake for a delightful bite with coffee.
The first chives of the year are up and I got a bunch of bacon with coupons and on sale so bacon cheddar chive scones were the natural result.  I love the colors of the ingredients!
My father in law really likes these so I always send a batch for their freezer and a rainy day.
I've been eating a lot of sweet potatoes in an effort to beef up my milk supply and couldn't resist throwing some chives in.  Again I love the colors!
I've used a recipe for cinnamon smear scones that involved grinding butterscotch chips into a paste and kneading/marbling it into a basic scone dough.  It always seemed like an awful lot of work and then I got the idea to use some Cinnamon Roll Filling Mix mixed into a paste.  I used the cream tea scone recipe, worked the cinnamon paste in and it was a hit.  I took a dozen of these home to my parents' house this weekend while my sister and her kids were visiting.  I also took a dozen cream scones and a half dozen of the bacon cheddar chive.  Breakfast was tasty and effortless.  All we had to do was make coffee!
Last weekend my brother and his family came to stay and we girls enjoyed a cream tea to celebrate the royal wedding.  My older niece baked a London fog tart and my younger niece made a tray of cucumber sandwiches.  We also had scones, jam and a selection of teas.  We are rooting for Harry and Meghan and it was fun to get out the dishes and use them.  These belonged to my grandparents.
Mother Nature provided us with natural wedding decorations.  Our ornamental apple tree in the front yard was blooming and dripping petals all over the lawn.  It looked like confetti in the breeze!  And as usual, we had about 25 minutes of spring weather before getting slammed with the summer heat.  I've just about got the garden in and then all I have to do is tend it and pick it.  I was ridiculously lazy with the garden last summer but I was pregnant and exhausted all the time.  I'm looking forward to being more productive this season but I'll be depending on M to nap so I can get out there!

Friday, May 11, 2018

St. Judy's Comet

March is National Arts and Crafts month and Dave and I completed the ultimate crafts project: we made a baby boy!  We went in to the hospital on a Monday to be induced and we were both so naive thinking we'd be holding our son by about 7 PM that night.  It wasn't to be and we were there until the following Sunday.  Throughout this whole pregnancy I've been asked about my "birth plan" which is a term I hate.  I'm not a fussy person.  To me, "birth plan" is a word a bridezilla would use because they want everything just so and they want it how they want it.  My "birth plan" was to get my baby out as easily and safely as possible.  In the immortal words of Prissy from Gone With The Wind, "I don't know nuthin' 'bout birthin' babies!" and was fully prepared to put my trust in the experienced OB staff.  They know what they're doing and I was ready to follow instructions and take their suggestions.  It was not their first rodeo even though it was mine.
I was given 3 or 4 doses of cytotec before they could even start the pitocin drip the following morning.  I labored through Tuesday afternoon and made it to 8 cm before I was given an epidural.  I really wanted to do it naturally but by then my blood pressure was 189/105 and I was told I met the criteria for pre eclampsia and to get my pressure under control, my pain needed to be under control.  At that point they didn't need to twist my arm.  I pushed for 4 hours and Dave was awesome and took charge and helped me.  Marek basically got stuck.  I'd push him forward but he wouldn't quite get past my pubic bone and each time he'd retract back up.  We did that for the last 2 hours before the doc came in and called it and off we went for a C-section.  Again I didn't feel bad about the epidural because I would have gotten one for the surgery.
The C-section was the biggest trip.  I was awake and aware, albeit scared to death, throughout the whole thing and I personally knew the MDA and CRNA because I work with them so that was a comfort.  I was numb from the chest down but I could feel them lifting and positioning my legs, I could feel them actually spreading my incision and I could feel them literally pushing Marek back up so that they could release him with the C-section.  I could feel these things but they didn't hurt.  It was the weirdest sensation of my life.  Our MDA was awesome and telling us what to listen for as the surgeon worked and kept us abreast of the progress.  The moment we heard those first cries we both utterly dissolved in tears of joy.  The doc came around the corner of the drape and showed us the baby before whisking him off for his initial cares and assessments and Dave immediately ditched me to go be by his side.  We had an awesome OR nurse who just plain took the camera from David and snapped all these pictures for us so he could be mentally present.  He was born very early on Wednesday morning and we'd been subsisting on stolen moments of napping the whole time.  As exhausted as we were, we'd never been more thrilled.
His was considered a "traumatic birth" because of all the pushing down and then shoving back up.  His right shoulder was bruised and he had scrapes on his back and head from all the manhandling.  He was also on the head trauma protocol and wasn't supposed to wear hats so they could monitor for signs of bleeding or swelling.  We took this picture with his first hand knits before we knew the hat was forbundt.  Looking at these photos, I can't believe he was ever that tiny!
Newborns are such strange little creatures and they seem so fragile and delicate.  They sound like cats with the faint cries they make.  And I've never been more nervous about everything in my life.  You want to care for them and keep them content but there's not much to do for them other than keep them warm and diapered.  It is hard to accept nature's design.  They don't really eat because you don't start making milk for a few days and have to just trust it will come in.  It is normal for them to lose up to 10% of their body weight by the time they leave the hospital which scares you to death.  I felt like I was making bricks without straw because I didn't have what I needed to care for him.
When they do start eating, their stomach is the size of an almond and they're literally full on a single teaspoon of breast milk.  Your milk comes in gradually too so it's true that your body makes everything the baby needs it when it is needed.  I had such a hard time trusting in this.  And did I mention that Dave was a rock star?  I truly couldn't have done it without him.  He comforted me through labor, coached me through pushing and soothed me as I lay on the operating table.  Watching him fall instantly in love with our little boy is something I'll never forget.  He was so eager to hold him and feed him and help with him and he slept on that wretched fold out bed all week.  He went back and forth home to spend time with Lopi and pick things up and drop things off.  He'd bring gas station coffee and doughnuts too!  He also played messenger with our families keeping them up to date.  I can totally see why people try to save their marriages by having another baby because I've never been more in love with my husband than I was throughout all this.
And of course I was just dying to put knitted things on this boy!  He was swaddled in nothing but a diaper and a blanket his whole first day.  I never realized how big of a challenge it is to keep babies warm and how it affects their alertness and functioning.  I'd brought the cashmere vest, hat, and booties I'd knit and put them on him over a onesie as well as a diaper cover.  All these items fit him for about 10 minutes!
We dressed him in a hand-me-down onesie from my nephew Erik.  Marek is a little Norsk boy so he had to wear the flag when we had company.  I can remember visiting my sister at Mayo after she'd delivered Erik.  He was wearing this onesie when the nurse came in to check on him and she'd asked rather enthusiastically, "Oh, are you Canadian?"  Yikes.
My mother and sister and her kids came to visit us in the hospital and it was nice to have a little company.  Lisa brought us flowers and Easter treats.  Erik had put together a little gift for Marek of some of his old little boy trinkets and treasures which was so sweet.  He is particularly excited for a boy because hitherto he is the only boy cousin in our family.  I love how even Marek is looking at the camera for this picture!  Lisa is wearing the sweater I knit for her!  :)
We had to stay until Friday before we could be released because I was now a surgical patient.  We were excited and looking forward to going home and he was taken off to be circumcised.  When they brought him back, the doc mentioned she thought he looked a little yellow and had labs drawn.  Sure enough he had elevated bilirubin levels and we had to spend another night with him in the nursery under the bili lamps.  Dave and I both cried like babies when we were told the news because we just wanted to go home.  At the same time though, thank goodness they caught it because if he'd gone home and his levels continued to rise, he'd have become more and more lethargic and you can eventually suffer brain damage if left untreated.  Dave went home and slept at the house with Lopi and I slept alone in our room and got a more decent night's sleep.  I'd go out and look at him through the nursery windows and I'd hear other babies crying in their rooms.  I'm thankful it was only jaundice but I was so sad and upset being away from him like that.
Saturday morning his rechecked bilirubin was much lower and on that front, we were approved to go home.  I was showered and dressed and actually packing and organizing when the on duty OB came to see us.  My blood pressure was still elevated with systolic numbers in the 160's and my incision was looking red and warm.  Once again our discharge was delayed but this time because of me.  I was started on a blood pressure med to go home on and given 24 hours of IV antibiotics and Marek spent the night in our room on a Bili Blanket.  We could take him off for 30 minutes at a time for feedings and diaper changes.  He looked kind of like a lizard sunning himself on a rock!
Sunday we were finally released and Marek was such a trooper in the car seat.  My sister warned us that he would probably cry and scream the whole time and there's nothing you can do about it.  Not a peep.  Of course it was still winter in Minnesota and I agonized he wouldn't be warm enough. I rode in the back seat next to him because I was just sure he'd obstruct his airway with his chin tucked down like that.  Mom said he looks like Winston Churchill in this picture.
Poor Lopi was such a good dog while we were in the hospital for 6 days.  She didn't get into anything or make any messes.  Such a good girl.  Of course she was curious about Marek, but she immediately sniffed and licked him when we brought him home.  She was a little skittish with the noises and quick movements he made but she was immediately concerned about him.  I think she knew he was a human puppy.  Whenever he would cry and we were in the other room, she'd come running up to us with a worried look on her face.  It was if she was Lassie telling us Timmy was in the well!
Easter weekend was also my 40th birthday so my sister and her kids came for the afternoon.  She brought baked potatoes and a 7 layer salad.  We had a coupon for Buy 5 Get 5 White Castle burgers and the kids were pretty excited about that. 
Erik and Lopi have always been buddies but now he has 2 buddies with Marek in the frame.
The following weekend my cousin Anna hosted a baby shower for us in her beautiful home.  Here is my mother and sister holding him in the knitted suit I couldn't wait to get on him.  He was such a good boy at the shower.  I was so nervous those first few times leaving the house with him.
My dear friend Melissa and her daughter came up for an afternoon that week.  They brought along gifts and all kinds of sewing she and Brenda had done for Marek!  We never had our winter sewing get together this year.  And speaking of company, everyone and their mother has come to see us lately.  Last Sunday we had 4 of Dave's siblings and his mother all come visit at separate times.  I told Dave that our neighbors are going to think we're selling drugs out of the house with all the comings and goings.
I spend a lot of time sitting in front of my breast pump every day.  By now everyone in the free world must know that I have inverted nipples and have been unable to successfully nurse him but I've been able to pump and produce more than we need which is such a relief.  I even have a stash in the freezer in case I'd have to pump and dump for whatever reason.  My sister calls this the milking parlor.  I do more of my paperwork and phone calls while I'm pumping.  I read emails, read the baby book, do my bible study and watch Netflix.  I'm a little bummed I haven't been able to nurse him, but I'm also a control freak and I like knowing how much milk he's taken.  Also Dave is able to help with night feedings.  I get up and make the bottle and he grabs the boy.  I hand him the bottle and he feeds while I go pump.  Divide and conquer.
Marek and I have coffee together every day.  I drink the coffee and his bottle is warmed in a coffee cup.  We've used our electric kettle constantly since coming home.
Nights haven't been too bad.  We feed him before bed between 2300 and 0000 and he'll sleep until 0400 or so, sometimes even later.  This was the beautiful view of the moon and pond the other night
while I was stumbling around the kitchen making a bottle.  The pond was silver glass.
And of course it is so much fun dressing him in all the outfits and embarassingly cute things we've acquired.  I paid $10 for this pacifier at the Science Museum of all places.  We took Erik there this summer while he stayed with us.
We're getting to know each other and learn his habits and signals and mannerisms and there is a lot of trial and error.  In this picture he'd just had an Exorcism-caliber silent huge spit up.  It was just a massive unending column of spit up out of his mouth and as I sat there looking at him in shock, he smiled at me.  How can you resist that face?
It has been a joy watching him grow these last 7 weeks as he becomes more and more aware and responsive.  I can't believe the difference in him every day.
I wish I could walk around inside his head to see what he's thinking and what amuses him.  Here he is gazing at his baby jungle gym.  My mom and sister were instrumental in acquiring used baby gear for us.  They knew what we'd need and found it on Craigslist or at Saver's and garage sales.  Dave's nieces with young kids also gave us a bunch of stuff. 
More precious smiles!
My brother's family was visiting and I had my niece take some family pictures of us.  We showered and combed our hair especially!  All I've worn lately is a series of crappy tee shirts that catch a lot of spit up. 
We've been singing a lot of St. Judy's Comet to him too.  "Little boy, little boy..."  I can't believe we have a little boy :)