Her straight-laced, no-nonsense, every day hair:
And her nightlife hair:
Um, seriously. I have the cutest baby ever.
Our Amelia Bel is a week old today. What an incredible, exhausting, exhilarating, transforming, scary, and intensely joyous week it’s been (there, made myself cry. Happens a lot recently.) You’ll be hearing about Amelia a lot on this blog… variously referred to as Amelia, Bel, Babybel, Stinkerpoo, Lil’ Pooper, Twitterbird, Beester, KB, AB, the little girl, Monkey Jr, and Honey Pie.
Last Wednesday morning at 9:00 I had a my 40-week prenatal appointment. It was the day before my due date. The midwife said I was 1 centimeter dilated, and would I like to have my membranes stripped? Just the exam hurt so much that I said, no. After the exam I sat on the table and asked her what kind of labor wimp I was going to be. She patted me on the back (my midwife, Lori, is one of the profoundly Good Guys in this adventure) and we scheduled an induction for March 28, which would be 41 weeks and 4 days.
Before scheduling the appointment and leaving, I stopped in the clinic’s restroom. And had a contraction that almost floored me. I had heard that exams could cause a few contractions, so I rode it out, made my appointments, and drove myself home. And had another contraction as I pulled the car into our driveway.
And another ten minutes later. And two more seven minutes apart. Then there was a four minute gap. Then a three minute gap. After that, two minutes. I had about six that way–ones that I couldn’t walk or talk through–and Sparks left work to take me to the hospital. I was admitted to labor & delivery without going through triage first. The wheelchair ride to the L&D ward is a hazy but surreal memory–it went through the hospital’s coffee shop (moan! moan! moan!) and up ten stories in an elevator that stopped at EVERY floor along the way (moooooooan… moooooan…). Finally we got to my room, I managed to put my gown on and get on the bed, and I laid down. I couldn’t do anything else. Trying to sit or stand was unthinkable.
I asked for an epidural right away (so much for nine months of good intentions!) and since I was only two centimeters dilated at that time, was put at the end of the anesthesiologist’s cue. It took three hours for her to get to me, during which I moaned and panted and was only half aware of my surroundings. Once the epidural had taken and I was back in the space-time continuum the midwife on call did another exam… and I was at eight centimeters. I had been in transition, unmedicated. So I’m sort of a badass, even with the epidural.
Then things got exciting. Amelia was pinching on her cord, and I had to be turned from side to side several times to find a position that didn’t compromise her heart rate. I was also given a dose of terbutaline to slow my contractions so she could rest. Then my blood pressure crashed; over the next three hours I was given three doses of epinephrine and four liters of IV fluids to try to get it up. I lay on the bed and shivered, but I was so happy about the epidural, I didn’t mind. Finally it was decided that the terbutaline had stopped my labor altogether (still at eight!) and that my blood pressure, which had been hovering around 70/40 for three hours, was unacceptable. My epidural was turned off and they started giving me pitocin.
An hour later, the epidural was very nearly gone and my contractions were back full strength, but I still wasn’t dilating. Amelia was wedged in an awkward place, and was face up. Without a lot of position-changing on my part, she wasn’t going to come out… and her heart rate was dropping again with the strong contractions. Everyone in the room had had enough, including the midwife. It was decided that I was getting a c-section. I gratefully signed the consent form, and was taken to an OR.
Once in the OR it was decided that the fifteen or twenty minutes it would take to get my epidural back to full strength was an unacceptably long stretch of time, and that they were going to put me under general anesthesia (and honestly, my thoughts when I heard that were, total win! I really can’t imagine being awake for abdominal surgery). Poor Sparks, who had changed into scrubs, was told that he wouldn’t be allowed in the room. I was put under. At 7:49pm, Amelia Bel was born, and Sparks heard her crying from the hallway. We had a little girl. We just (making myself cry here, again) hadn’t seen her. Sparks followed her to the nursery while the surgeons put me back together.
I woke up about two hours later, and after another hour of shaking off the anesthesia, was taken to my recovery room and we were introduced to our little Twitterbird. Her poor face was smushed and marked up from having been wedged and squeezed so hard. She was extra-puffy from all the fluids we’d been given in labor. She had brown hair and newborn slate-blue eyes. She smelled of chocolate and vanilla and marshmallows and flowers. She cooed and twittered like a little bird. In spite of all the dire warnings from crunchy-granola natural childbirth and breastfeeding books, she had no trouble feeding from the very start, and we had no trouble adoring her. Neither of us were very big fans of babies, as it were, before she was born, but it’s true… when the baby is yours it is the most adorable, fascinating, and utterly perfect little creature you’ve ever met. Amelia has personality. She has charisma. I can’t imagine who wouldn’t want to hang out with her. She’s also pretty… no, she’s beautiful. We had the prettiest baby in the maternity ward, no questions asked.
We spent two and a half days recovering in the hospital, at which point we were chomping at the bit to get out and away from the constant stream of nurses, techs, volunteers, and doctors. We brought Amelia back to Low House at noon on Saturday, and here we have stayed except for one weigh-in with the pediatrician who, poor man, spends his life telling hormonal new mothers what’s wrong with their babies, and who indeed scared the bejeezus out of me by suggesting we supplement with formula until my milk came in, and one appointment with a lactation consultant when Amelia had a brief nursing strike.
To pediatricians: like I said, you spend your lives telling hormonal new mothers what’s wrong with their babies. I don’t envy you.
To obstetricians and midwives: I feel that, given my decision to take an epidural and my inability to change positions with or without it, you all did everything exactly right throughout the labor. I was with you all the way. Sometimes things just don’t happen according to Ina May, you know? My labor story may sound a little fraught and frightening, but there wasn’t a minute that I doubted your decisions or that everything was going to come out okay.
To nurses: you have a heck of a job. Thanks for making the painful and profoundly embarrassing recovery as minimally painful and embarrassing as possible.
To lactation consultants: bless you. I love you all. I can’t say enough good things about you, or express how profoundly grateful I am for your support this week. We absolutely wouldn’t be breastfeeding today without you, and I would be an emotional wreck. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
(There I go. Does anyone have a tissue?)
I got an urge to make shortbread, so I pulled out my fancy shortbread mold
I found a recipe on Google, made the dough, and baked it. Then I got so excited that I tried to turn it out of the mold while it was still warm
Lesson learned. So I went to my sewing room to make some quick-and-dirty potholders instead. They are not examples of great craftsmanship, nor do I think they meet Sparks’ requirements–they’re too small and not floppy enough, which is entirely a fault of the heat-resistant material inside them. I think I need to make an oven mitt, or fingertip grabbers…
And I have also NOT had the baby yet, though I’m in spitting distance of my due date. If you are worrying about when I have it, keep an eye on the Twitter feed in the right sidebar of the blog–I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about that in the next few days. There are signs that things are progressing, which is good, but I know that there are miles still to go.
Here’s a closeup of the Park Slope cushion cover I made for the nursery:
I’ve been wanting to make a circle-in-square quilt with the Park Slope fabric ever since I got it, but was scared off by the curved seams. Well, I finally realized that I could start with just a cushion cover, which is practically non-committal, and see how I liked it. So I did. I made this pillow by sewing a circle through the “frame” fabric and a layer of white muslin, then cutting out the center of the circle, clipping to the seam, and turning the whole thing inside-out. Then I backed it with the center fabric. You are supposed to then secure the center fabric to the frame by sewing through all three layers around the perimeter of the circle… but I didn’t. It made the blocks fiddlier to join together, but it produced a fun three-dimensional effect that little fingers will appreciate.
Having done that, I now FINALLY have inspiration for a quilt to make with my beloved Mendocino fabric. I’m going to make a lot of these circle-in-square blocks in a larger size (8″ maybe?), with solid colors for the frames and the Mendocino fabrics for the centers. It will look like a wall of fish tanks, I think, full of octopuses and mermaids and swimming girls. It’s going to be great.
But for now, I’m chasing the Nicey Jane success by using up my Dolce design roll in another simple, all-rectangles quilt top. I will quilt it to a fuchsia fleece backing and bind it in orange. It’s going to be straightforward and awesome.
Nicey Jane might just be my most-purchased fabric collection of all time. For one thing, it’s adorable. For another thing, Fabric.com had it on discount right from the get-go. For a third thing, it’s great for home sewing as well as garment sewing. For a fourth thing, the promotional pictures for it were delicious.
After I finished sewing the two big pillow covers for our fireside nook last spring, I had half of a jelly roll left over. I found a cheap quilter’s cotton that went with the collection well, and set out to make this quilt.
Once made, the quilt top languished in my sewing room, until this weekend when I found a piece of polar fleece that was big enough to back it, and said, lets do this thing.
I quilted it in one direction, with straight lines. Done this way–and given that the quilt is relatively thin and floppy because it doesn’t have any batting–it was easy to sew even on my home machine.
Then I bound it with yellow cotton that originally came as a set of 1930s solids. I bought these fabrics… um… in 1997. So it’s time to use them.
About quilting the top onto fleece, which was an experiment for me: there are some stretching issues with the fleece, as you’d expect. If you want to try quilting a top directly on to it, I’d recommend you take the following steps:
1. Cut the fleece backing generously, because it gets eaten up in the quilting process. Have at least four inches on all sides… but then, your mamma taught you to always leave four inches on all sides for quilt backings, so you know that.
2. Quilt from one edge of the quilt to the other, in bars that go the full length of the quilt. I know that a lot of machine quilting instructions say to start from the middle, but I think you’d inevitable end up with pleats if you did that.
3. If you plan to do any hand-sewing on the binding, I recommend that you sew it onto the fleece side with your machine, then hand-sew it to the quilt top side by hand. I had an awful time trying to get pins through the fleece and I can’t imagine what an ordeal hand-sewing it would be.
Oh, Pudding. She LOVES blankets, especially new ones, and always has to get in on the action when one is being photographed. Short of opening windows, laying a new blanket flat on the floor is the most enriching thing I can do for her.
New blankets are even more interesting than dead bugs.
Mmmmm hm. See? Now she has her own little fort. No humans allowed.
Did I mention that this is supposed to be my special sitting-on-the-couch throw? Did Pudding hear me? Can you imagine how much trouble I had getting back up off the floor after taking this picture?
This weekend for the first time in, maybe, ever, I don’t have any honey-dos for poor Sparks. I’m also not really up to going anywhere myself. So Sunday morning finds him happily in his workshop and me happily in my sewing room, both of us occasionally pottering into the kitchen to check the progress of the ham & beans in the crockpot. Eventually I’ll need to make cornbread to go with it, and empty and re-load the dishwasher.
But mostly I’m working on this. I started this Nicey Jane quilt top last spring when we visited my parents. It’s been finished for months, and now I’m quilting it to a piece of white polar fleece. No fuss, no muss, no batting to wrestle with and with only two layers, accurate stretching and basting is less of an issue.
All of the pretty fabric in my sewing room is quite a distraction, though. I often go in there to look at things and end up creatively overwhelmed… there are too many possibilities, and I just have to shut the door. Such is preggo-brain, toward the end.
I had intentions to make a baby dress or two yesterday, but then I thought about the (exhausting!) process of washing and drying the fabric, finding the pattern, reading the pattern, trying to follow the pattern (when I can barely follow a menu, right now), finding elastic and buttons and things, the inevitable seam ripping…
It all made me feel so tired. Pushing a quilt through the sewing machine in straight lines, though, that I can do right now. And so I am. I’m listening to Moby’s album Wait For Me while I work. It’s so perfect… so mellow, so spiritual, a little sad and so happy at the same time. It’s good music for me, right now.
And I have such a nice room for all this. Sparks put it all together… he’s good people.
This teensy calico from 3 Sisters’ new line Oasis reminds me of all the teensy prints that Alicia Paulson is making baby dresses out of… even the color palette reminds me of her blog.
In my dreams, I’m going to find the energy to make a tiny baby smock out of each, and some ruffly white diaper covers. In my dreams.
All right, I decided to compensate for poor lighting using Photoshop. The nursery is completely put together… Just Add Baby.
Thank you ANYA for the gift of the crib. It’s dressed with a white breathable bumper, pink jersey sheet, and a skirt I made out of Parisville by Tula Pink fabric. Curtains are from Amy Butler’s Love Home Dec collection. The Dutch houses prints are by Etsy seller LauraAmiss, and I LOVE them.
Teapot and teacup prints by LauraAmiss, bird prints by Etsy seller yumi yumi. The patterned diaper bags are Vera Bradley and the diaper & wipe pods are JJ Cole. Thanks Mom and Dad for the gift of the glider, and to Tasha for most of the stuff on those shelves.
Yesterday I was 38 weeks pregnant. Frack my back hurts.
My mother asked me to please not post any more bare-belly shots, they’re too painful to look at.
I had a prenatal appointment yesterday, at which it was pronounced that I will almost certainly not have the baby this week.
Meanwhile, we’re having springtime storms today and the light is too crummy to do the proper nursery photo shoot that I want to do–but the picture frames finally arrived and all of the furniture is back in its proper place, so as soon as we get a little sunshine, there will be more pictures.
This is the stuff, people. I mean it. You MUST try this.
(Thanks to Pinky Has A Brain for this recipe!)
Put some baking soda in a bowl, then stir in liquid dish soap until the mixture is the consistency of cake frosting. Now, using a sponge, a rag, a toothbrush, and/or a scrubby pad, proceed to quickly and joyfully clean all of the fixtures in your kitchen and bathrooms. I know I did.
Miracles this stuff performed for me yesterday:
* Removed soap scum and hard water buildup from my shower
* Removed dried gunk and toothpaste from my bathroom sink
* Removed black marks from my white kitchen sink
* Removed a purple dye stain from my white countertop
* Removed baked-on gunk from the inside of the microwave
* Removed burned-on gunk from the top of the stove
* Smelled divinely of “green apple” while I worked
* Softened my hands
I can’t say enough good about this miracle mixture. It smells good and is gentle and does everything I’ve asked it to do and LOOKS LIKE CAKE FROSTING, PEOPLE! I should put it in tiny jars and sell it on Etsy for $26. I tested it head-to-head against Comet powder, in the two sides of my kitchen sink, and it worked better than Comet. And smelled better and was nontoxic.
There are a couple of things you should know about it…
* While it will drastically cut down on the number of germs on a surface by removing the grease and grime they like to grow in, it doesn’t actually disinfect. If you need to get rid of cold germs, bring in something stronger. But for everyday cleaning, well… you eat off of dishes that have been cleaned with dish soap, so obviously you trust its efficacy, right?
* Use the correct tools to make sure it gets down into any little grooves and crevices you’re trying to clean, and make sure the tool you’re using stays a little moist. Some of the stovetop crud required a soak and subsequent scrubbing to come off.
But think about all the advantages of this stuff…
* It’s pretty and fun to use
* It smells of whatever dish soap you make it with, with no harsh chemical aftersmell
* It does its job with a minimum of elbow grease
* It’s cheap to make, and you probably have the ingredients on hand
* It’s non toxic (to the degree that dish soap is non toxic)
* It’s a gentler scrub than many powdered cleaners, but dang, it works
* Did I say that it looks like cake frosting?
Disclaimer: I am not nesting. I am not going into labor, ever. I will be pregnant forever. Don’t get excited.