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 :)
I made a car seat cover using the cotton fox print I had stashed with this pattern. It was so quick and easy! The whole thing is secured in the backseat of my car. It's still a surprise to me every time I go out to the garage and see it in place.
Today I am 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant. This photo was taken last week and I feel even larger now. A week ago tomorrow I had my membranes stripped at my weekly OB appointment and was so hoping I'd go into labor. My Doc said that most people are in labor within 3 days of stripping and no such luck. I go in again tomorrow and will have it repeated. I'm just done with pregnancy and ready to meet Marek.
I've been trying to walk and move as much as I can to evict my baby. We had some nice melty weather last week and I got a bit tearful thinking this might be the last time I walk my Lopi dog alone. Soon we'll always have a baby in tow. It is kind of a strange bittersweet feeling. I'm reminded of whenever I travel overseas on the last full day. I constantly think, "This is the last trip to the grocery store. This is the last subway/tram ride. This is the last time we'll sleep here," etc. At the same time you're excited to be going home soon but you know you'll miss what you experienced. As excited as I am to be having my son soon, I do worry and am a little fearful of the massive change/responsibility of caring for a child 24/7 for the next 18+ years.
We saw one of the neighbor dogs we hadn't seen all season and you can see how pregnant even my shadow looks. We were convinced we were in labor once already and it turned out to be false. It doesn't help that we're first time parents bumbling through this process not knowing what to expect. We also had an uneventful (thankfully) trip to the ER this week for another unrelieved migraine and were safely assured it wasn't an eclampsia presentation. We're both in the impatient phase of pre labor and ready to meet our boy. Hopefully by this weekend we'll have our new addition.
I think my mother was a construction contractor in another life and the fact that our baby room is up and running is proof. She stayed with us for a week and whipped the place into shape. I'd come home from work every day and couldn't believe all the progress she'd made.
She painted the room. She assembled all the baby furniture. She laundered and sorted metric tons of baby textiles. She organized and re-purposed items she found around the house for decoration and storage. She cleaned and sanitized hand-me-down baby gear we'd inherited.
Even down to the artwork on the walls. I'd been hoarding Peter Rabbit things for years because I love Beatrix Potter and we raised rabbits as a family and I thought some day if I ever managed to have children, I'd like a Peter Rabbit room. These are Wallies wallpaper cut outs I bought on clearance 20+ years ago. I think I bought them at a Ben Franklin store--that's how long ago it was! We went to the Dollar Tree and found these floating glass frames and Mom cleaned and assembled them and we didn't have to mess around with mats or coordinating papers.
This is a beautiful art print greeting card I bought in London or York probably 10 years ago: "The First Born" by Frederick William Elwell. It has been tucked away in my stash of printed matter all this time waiting to be put in a nursery. She framed and hung it and I'm so glad I can see it every day.
This is a framed print of sheep (you know how much I love wool!) I had in a box of stuff that still hasn't found a home since we moved in. I think I got this at the Cancer Garage Sale and the frame came from Joann's or Hobby Lobby or somewhere. She dug through homeless household goods and found it and made a good point, "Sheep are good for a baby room!" Up it went on the wall.
She made the curtains out of stashed Peter Rabbit fabric and lined them with stashed muslin. I'd bought the curtain rod months ago at Joann's with a coupon and up it went over the window. We used our Menard's rebate money to purchase a blind for the window and up that went. That little Ikea table was new and unused in the package downstairs and consigned to the baby room. That little trunk used to hold fabric in the sewing room and was dispatched to hold baby blankets.
She bought us that dresser as a baby gift and assembled it for us. That little bookshelf was already in the room but cleared of all the Katie books and now holds baby books and toys. The most painful part of the whole process was the carloads of books I took to Saver's to make room. That closet is filled to the gills with varying sizes of diapers we received from my coworkers. The dresser is full of baby clothes I've knitted, hand-me-downs from my sister and her friend, and more gifts from my family and coworkers. I have been so overwhelmed with the generosity everyone has shown for this little boy they haven't even met yet!
Here is my mother hard at work. She jokes all the time that she has a degree in furniture assembly. Doesn't she look like a little Ikea elf? I told her I was afraid I'd be charged with elder abuse because she was stuck here without a car and worked her tail off all day while I was at work. It wouldn't have gotten done without her, that is the plain truth of the matter. We appreciate all her hard work and I know she was happy to do it. I am thrifty and appreciate how she was able to do so much with things we already had. It makes everything so much more real now that we have a baby room that will soon be occupied by a newborn.
My oldest niece has a December birthday and this year she wanted "wool mittens". I really wanted to make these horse mittens because she is quite the horsewoman, but I was on a time crunch. Lovely as the design is, they are knit with sock yarn and size 1.5 needles and just wouldn't get done in time with all the other baby knitting I'd been doing. Maybe next year. In the end, I found this pattern and dug through my stash and found all the Cascade 220 I needed so I didn't even have to make a special trip to the yarn store! I gave them to her months ago without taking pictures of them and asked that she send me some knitting glamour shots. She came through complete with a winter snowscape and birch tree backdrop!
We are 36 weeks along this week. It is flooring me to think we could be literally having this baby any time now which makes the pressure all the higher to get things done. We bought our stroller/car seat travel system months ago with Cartwheel savings and Target $5 gift cards I'd been rat holing for some time and paid half the original price...and then it sat in a box in the den for almost 6 months. We got it out and acclimated ourselves to it this weekend. As Dave was unpacking the box I thought, "This is a Kodak moment," and snapped this picture in his moment of bewilderment. I think it is such a funny picture as he works with something so foreign to him. We chose the Evenflo Sibby system because of safety reviews and we're loving how easy it is to manage. I've been with people and tried helping collapse or connect their strollers and seats and you'd need a degree to operate the thing or lose your fingernails in the process. We were joking that we'd time each other like they do in the Army disassembling and assembling their rifles!
And speaking of that baby, here is another pair of Hosenmatz for that fat little boy who is coming. I used the same pattern as before with a sock yarn purchased at the fiber festival this year. I went down one size in needles (these are 2.75 mm) to make the fabric a little denser and to slightly shrink up the dimensions and am quite pleased. These are a nice neutral mottled colorway that should go with all sorts of tops. I have one more fiber festival manly blues colorway I'd like to use up on this same pattern in the 3-6 month size. After he outgrows those, I have a larger sized Drops pattern that uses DK and I have London yarn in mind for that one. On the subject of travel and knitting, I'm happy to be using my Twilley's dpn's I purchased years ago in Ireland to finish this project :)
I have not had time to participate in the Knitting Olympics this year or indeed watch much of any of the telecast, but I do know that Norway is a force to be reckoned with in these games!
What about water, salt and yeast? Then BOOM! You've got bread!
It is still very cold outside and sometimes you just need something comforting like fresh bread. I was on call Friday and Saturday night which really took a toll on me this weekend. David had the flu so I was taking care of him and yet trying to avoid him like the plague at the same time. I felt like Sunday was my only true day off and spent much of it in the kitchen.
Fresh French loaves are very easy and always welcome around here. I mixed the dough and let it rise while I did the shopping. I usually save time by making one fat loaf on a sheet pan but I got out my baguette pan for yesterday's bread. When I backpacked years ago, I ate so much fabulous bread all over Europe and couldn't wait to get home and try to recreate those loaves. I hunted for a perforated baguette pan as a trip souvenir but never found one over there so I ordered this one from somewhere when I got back. I love the look of the late afternoon sun dappling the shaped dough and later the baked loaves. Skinny loaves like this take only 15 minutes to bake in the oven and the upstairs was so wonderfully warmed by it's heat.
I was digging in my cupboards earlier in the week and found some old Lipton Soup mixes with a website on them for recipes and decided to take a look. They had a recipe for White Pizza Fondue and my interest was immediately piqued. And it couldn't be easier! I saw some sort of bacon soup/dip mix at Aldi which would also be good in this recipe. I was even thinking that some cooked crumbled bacon might have been tastier than the pepperoni. I always think pre-packaged dry mixes or sauces tend to under salt or season so I think this could have used a little salt to make it pop.
This is what we ate as a late lunch/afternoon snack yesterday. It wasn't very colorful but it was carb heavy and warming and comforting. Dave usually watches his sports TV in the downstairs living room but we sat together in the warmed upstairs yesterday and I put up with golf on my TV. We don't see much of each other during the week and we avoided each other as much as we could on Friday and Saturday because Marek and I do not need to catch the flu.
Are you familiar with these? They are little German made egg shaped chocolates that encase a small plastic capsule containing a small toy. They're awesome and sold all over the world. They're also illegal only in the United States. Apparently it is unlawful to place a toy inside a consumable.
I look for these in the airports on every overseas trip I take and was worried I was breaking the law by bringing them back into the States. They are clearly labeled a choking hazard but as I understand the law, it is illegal to re-sell or redistribute them to strangers in the United States, but if I want to endanger the small children in my life by giving these as gifts, that is perfectly legal. I have always found these delightful and the small toys require some assembly and are intricate and detailed. We just don't have anything like this here so I think they are fun little unusual treats that are always given and enjoyed under adult supervision. I brought back 8 from Oslo's airport and the cashier even warned me that I wouldn't be able to bring them into the country. I corrected her with my understanding of the law and I'm sure I sounded snooty.
I was in my HyVee yesterday and found these! This must be the US approved version of the treat. They were 4/$5 so of course I bought 4. One for me and one for each of my sister's kids!
I think they skirted the law by keeping the toy outside the consumable.
The egg separates into two sections. One side holds a white and hazelnut chocolate cream and wafer candy and the other holds the toy components.
I got a little robot in this one and built it while enjoying my treat. Hooray for this new and improved and approved Kinder Egg!