Monday, February 28, 2011

For our third birth: 11 things we'll do differently

My first birth experience, Suzi's hospital birth, did not go the way I wanted. I was thrilled to have my gorgeous, healthy baby (and no c-section) but the process felt scary and unnatural. When we found out we were pregnant the second time, with Ivey, almost every decision we made was different. Homebirth instead of hospital birth, midwife instead of OB. Waterbirth instead of land birth. Natural sports drink instead of IV fluids, natural comfort measures instead of epidural. It was a major leap for us to get comfortable with everything a homebirth entailed, but it turned out to be perfect. We could barely think of a thing we wanted to change until we found out baby #3 was on his way! Although the big things are staying the same, there are a few things that'll be different. Here they are.

1) I'm not going to send Jordan to work. Since Suzi's birth had Jordan home from work for an entire morning needlessly, I figured Ivey's birth would be the same way. At his normal time to leave for work, things were just barely getting started, so I told him to go. Turns out I really could've used him at home to help get things ready, and then when I needed him to cope with pressure waves it took him half an hour longer than I would've liked to arrive. This time I will ask him to stay home as soon as I'm pretty certain things are underway.

2) We have purchased a birth tub instead of counting on our two-person whirlpool. We do have a nice tub, but it's not deep. I was concerned last time that if I tried to kneel or squat I might come up out of the water to the point that the baby's head would touch air when it came out (which would necessitate leaving the tub). Besides, the bottom of my tub is hard and the bottom of the La Bassine inflates to be soft and pillow-like. Better for my knees when I jump in on them and sit for 45 minutes. It also has handles to hold and soft sides if you'd like to lean over them and take powernaps between pushes like I do.

3) Jordan will be in the birth tub--hopefully catching the baby. Last time I guess I thought I'd be in the mood to have a birthing time conversation with Jordan about whether or not he should get in the tub, but by the time I made it there myself, I was already in "transformation" and didn't feel like discussing and changing a bunch of things. This time I've already told him I want him to get in, and to remember that just in case I forget to say anything.

4) Jordan will be more involved in general. Naturally empathetic and with two very different birth experiences (and three childbirth classes) under his belt, Jordan is an amazing birth partner. Last time I think I unintentionally gave him the idea that it'd be better if he stayed out of the way, but this time he knows I want him more involved. I'd especially like him to hold/touch the baby sooner. With both Suzi and Ivey, I held the baby for a really long time and it never occurred to me that Jordan had barely gotten to touch them and was patiently waiting for his turn. This is part of the reason I'd like him to catch, if possible.

This was taken about an hour after Ivey was born, and is the first time he held her.

5) I won't save too many birthing time projects for after things get started. There's nothing we missed doing last time that was really important, but it would be great if I already had a waterproof carpet guard (checkered picnic tablecloth) in place before I was having to concentrate on pressure waves. It would be nice if I had snacks all prepared and ready to set out for my birth attendants, in the event they are here long enough to get hungry. Julie told me she filled her birth tub part of the way with cold water ahead of time and covered it with a shower curtain so she'd be able to just add hot water and have it ready in a hurry if needed. I definitely think that's an idea we'll use!

6) I'll get the bed made up in layers first thing. Last time I thought there'd be plenty of time, but Jordan and Carey ended up rushing to do it right before I got in the tub. I love our bed and I want it made up and ready in case I want to spend some of my birthing time in it. Last time we made the bed in layers. First you put on a fitted sheet and flat sheet, then a waterproof liner, then another fitted sheet and flat sheet. That way if things get a little messy during the birth, or especially if you have your baby in the bed, you can just yank everything off down to the next sheet set and it's all ready for you to hop in and have a family cuddle (or nap) after the birth!

7) There won't be any worrying over what to expect or wondering if a homebirth is really a good idea. Last time I asked Carey what might happen in every rare unfortunate situation I could possibly think of. Thinking about all of that was torturous and unproductive. This time I know there is plenty of time to get to the hospital in the vast majority of emergencies, and there's no reason to think we will need to go anyway.

8) I want to wear something different. I'd like to be wearing something for my waterbirth so the baby's first pictures won't be R-rated. Last time I wore a tank top with a shelf bra that I really wanted off during pushing, but was afraid it would get stuck on my head or something in the middle of a birthing wave if I tried to take it off. This time I'm simply going with a bra, so it'll be easy to get off if I need it off but otherwise I'm minimally covered. I also want to make a birthing gown or two that tie or snap in the back (but better than a hospital gown!) so they're easy to get off if I want them off. That's a sewing project I haven't tried yet. We'll see how it turns out.

9) I'll get in a better position for pushing. I've been practicing squatting--not as much as I should, but more than last time. During Ivey's birth, Carey suggested squatting to push but it was just too much to wrap my head around at the time (plus I was worried about the depth of the water), so I ended up lying in a funny position, between my back and my side.

10) There will be pictures. We asked our friend Jenn to come to the birth and take pictures for us, and she said yes! She is a good friend and a fellow Hypnobabies grad and takes great pictures. So she'll be perfect. Last time we had a few pictures from right after the birth and they are treasures, and this time I want more taken pre-birth. We don't have any of me from before Ivey was born, except the final belly shot my mom took when they picked up Suzi. I was too busy to think to ask anyone to take pictures, and there wasn't much time for it anyway. We had a video camera set up on a tripod to capture the moment of birth, and luckily Jordan noticed the tape run out a few minutes before Ivey made her appearance. He quickly grabbed our Flip camera just in time to video the birth himself. I would've been sad not to have that. This time we are contemplating setting up two tripods and putting the Flip on one and our Sony camcorder on the other, so that we only need to press a button to continue recording if the tape ends at an inopportune time.

Last photo to come off my camera before the birth...

And the first to come off after. Ivey oh sweet Ivey!

11) I'll be using Hypnobabies scripts and techniques. We've done Julie's six-week Hypnobabies class, and even thought we haven't done the scripts every day like we were supposed to, I feel pretty certain it will benefit us during our birth. This is one major change from my first two births. I probably won't spend the whole birth tuned into scripts like some women do. I know approximately what it will feel like without self-hypnosis, and I'm not worried. I will be using it part of the time, though, and taking the class to prepare has already changed things for me. I can tell it's going to be better, and I'm looking forward to this birth like it's a party or something. It's going to be amazing!

Friday, February 25, 2011

A melted-hem dance skirt

This is something I made a couple of weeks ago after getting a couple of polyester silky pieces at the Goodwill clearance center. I used a red silky blouse and more of the prom dress from the cape project to make Suzi a little dance skirt.

First I made some flowers, which was a lot of fun. You've probably heard of this technique--seems like everybody's trying it! It's an ingenious way to use some old polyester (and no, it won't work with real silk). Here's a tutorial I just found at Restorative Living for some big, fluffy flowers! Very pretty.

This is my flower all stacked up but not yet sewn.

Anyway, for the skirt I measured around Suzi's waist and decided to cut leaf-shaped pieces that were about 7 inches wide at the top and larger at the bottom. I folded the fabric in half to cut like this.

Then I cut a rounded edge upward sort of like this.

So once I unfolded it, this is what it looked like.

It only took me a few minutes to melt the bottom edges, and it was fun.

Then I sewed all the pieces together, one by one, up the sides. I cut five pieces but ended up only using four once I saw how big around it was looking. I didn't want it too poofy.

Once they were all together in a circle I pinned down the top edge and sewed it to make a slot for elastic, leaving a little gap between where I started and finished.

Then I threaded the elastic through with a safety pin (it got stuck once--annoying!) and sewed the ends together.

At this point I realized it might not allow for the freedom of movement required in dance class. It was a little longer than I envisioned. So I snipped a little further where two of the leaves came together to create a little slit. This goes over the left leg. I did have to go back and very carefully melt those new cut edges.

Then it was pretty much finished. I just safety-pinned one of my flowers over the spot where the slit was.

Another flower on a hair clip (made with a button from that same blouse) finishes the outfit.

What I don't like: It turned out 2-3 inches longer than I really wanted, but that's what happens sometimes when you don't use a pattern. The fabric is also stiffer than I'd like. I really wanted to make a red skirt out of the other fabric, which was softer, but Suzi wanted a green skirt. Her favorite color and all. I think next time I'll also use a thinner (weaker) elastic.

What I do like: I think this is a fun, fast way to make a skirt, and I don't regret trying it. Suzi wore it to dance and it was cute. I also think it'll be useful later as a dress-up item or if one of the girls wants to be a fairy or something for Halloween. And hey, she put it on. That alone makes it a success!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mama's projects and Suzi's

Several weeks ago I made a little upcycled silk ballet skirt for Suzi, but the chore of hemming the thing outstripped my attention span by a mile. I still have about half of that hem to do! After making some singed-edge flowers I started to wonder what else you could singe the edge of. I thought it would be fun to do a little dance skirt and have the hemline resemble petals or leaves. So I made this for Suzi out of more of that prom dress, and it was fast. She wore it to dance yesterday and I think it was mostly a success, but also a learning experience. I might blog about the process later.

I frequently set up to craft at the dining room table and tell the girls this is my project, but I'll get them started on one of their own. Now whenever Suzi is working on anything she calls it her "project!" And it's very important that no one interrupt her or mess with it! The project from yesterday and on into this morning is cutting paper into tiny bits for her Grandma and Grandpa. I gave her a Charlie's Soap bag to put her finished confetti in. I love to see her working on things and getting excited about them.

Projects for today/this week/whenever I have time and energy include:

1) Organize all the girls' toys that have lots of little pieces and put them together in a closet where they can only take one out at a time, so Mama doesn't have to turn into a garbage-bag-wielding witch at clean-up time.

2) Get more comfortable with my new serger. Yes! We bought one Sunday! I got it threaded and can do regular serging and a rolled hem so far, but only in straight lines. I want to learn to do a lettuce leaf edge and make some little jersey knit tiered skirts for the girls. It might be a while before I'm there though, and I'm trying to be patient while I learn.

3) Make some little activity bags for the girls, inspired by these that look like so much fun. I've already made some, but I need to go shopping for a few things. I want to dye pasta!

4) Declutter the bottom of our coat closet to house the activity bags.

5) Organize the craft room (again) to fit in a portable clothes closet for all my thrift store finds which are waiting to be transformed. I can't figure out what to make if my inspiration is buried in a pile where I can never see it. Our futon is covered in sweaters and stuff right now, and I need to get to crafting and try to stay out of Goodwill for a few weeks!

This list doesn't even include birth-related stuff (that'll be another post), but it should keep me busy for a while.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Suzi's first haircut (and a day with Mama)

Grandma (Maw, Ivey says) picked Ivey up Friday morning so Suzi and I could spend some time together. First we played Don't Break the Ice. Then, after we took forever getting ready to leave the house, we went shopping at our favorite local consignment shop and got a great deal on some new clothes for Suzi and Robert. Ivey gets hand-me-downs, but really, all my kids do whether they are from our family or someone else's. It's a good thing.

Then we went to get our hair cut. Suzi had whined and whined about how she didn't want to get hers cut, citing concerns that if she did it would "look like Grandpa's." Grandpa doesn't have much hair on the top of his head. Suzi knows the lady we went to from church and, after watching me get mine cut, consented to have hers done. But she wasn't happy about it.

I wouldn't have insisted that it be cut in the first place except that it had tangly dead ends and they kept pulling and breaking off when I tried to brush it.

She wanted me to hold her hand, so I had to put the camera away.

Miss Caren tried to put in a little green clip but Suzi didn't like it. She didn't want a bobby pin either. She likes her hair "all curly and crazy." So she yanked the offending accessory out of her hair and felt much better, especially after Miss Caren gave her a sucker.

And she felt better yet when we went to the mall and she got to ride "Samson," her favorite horse on the carousel. She said it was a magical carousel and when I asked her how she knew, she said "because it's so shiny and pretty." Funny girl.

Then we went back to Grandma and Grandpa's to get Ivey. Here we are with our new haircuts!

And here is an awkward self portrait of my hair, since you can't see it very well in that one. I got four inches cut off and it's layered a little too. It feels so much better. I think this is a good length. Not too long, but not one of those mom haircuts that look so awful on me either. I wish I could pull off a cute, short cut. But I can't.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A day so wonderful I had to make a list

1) We got our tax refund this morning, a day or so early. Hooray!

2) I ordered my birth tub, Suzi's new car seat, and a couple other things we needed to get before Baby Robert comes.

3) I got haircut appointments for me and Suzi tomorrow, which is the day my parents can keep Ivey, with the person I wanted even though she was really already booked.

4) I had a playdate with two of my favorite mama friends after being stuck at home lonely and sniffly for a long time. My friends are awesome and I missed them.

5) While I was at the playdate I bought some adorable cloth diapers from Jenn and she gave me a great deal. They are so cute and soft I just want to cuddle them and squeal. And Jenn also did a wool wash/lanolizing demonstration for me, and it's not as confusing as I thought.

Size zero Kissaluvs with a special snap to stay off the umbilical cord. 25 of em. 100 times better than what we had when Ivey was born.

This one is so sweet. We won't be needing any pants for Robert, just t-shirts. Don't want to cover up his awesome diapers.

6) And then Jenn agreed to come to our homebirth and take pictures for us, which is exciting.

7) Megan and Jenn and I discussed belly image and now I am feeling better about how mine looks, even though it is not stretch-mark-free or "perfect." I've been wanting to post a picture of it since this post by Hobo Mama, but I kind of want to ease into it. So here. This is Robert popping out to help me during a crafting session.

8) The kids all played pretty happily together, and it wore Ivey out so well that I brought her in from the van asleep and she stayed asleep until a few minutes after Jordan came home. Suzi watched a movie, so I had a little time to myself!

9) Jordan and I finished up a big project--a timeline of the events in his grandparents' lives, which will be displayed at the party we are attending this weekend. I think we did a good job.

10) A friend is getting rid of some clothes and offered me some wool sweaters for craft projects. Yay!

11) Jordan told me a few weeks ago that he thought we should get a little netbook for me to use after the birth when I will be upstairs in bed, and to have something we can take with us on trips. We went tonight and found one we liked and came in well under budget. Because Jordan is a geek, it was easy to pick one out, and he is setting it up for me now. It's really for both of us but I'm going to sew a girly, flowery case for it. That will mark it as my territory.

12) It was so warm outside, even after it got dark. What a welcome change!

This has been such a good day I don't want to go to bed. I don't see how tomorrow can possibly top it. I don't. But I'll be getting a desperately needed haircut and enjoying some Suzi-Mommy time so it'll probably come pretty close.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

WW: Ivey loves to say CHEESE!

I've gotten into the habit of snapping photos during various stages of my craft projects, so that I can blog about them later if I want to.

Ivey can be in another room totally absorbed in her own activity, but when she hears the camera turn on she comes running because she thinks I want to take her picture.

Cheese! Cheese! CHEE-eese!

It's so cute that I can't help stopping to take about ten pictures of her, every single time.

So in my picture folders there will be a bunch of photos of fabric and needles and thread, and then these.

And then more fabric and stuff. I couldn't just let them sit in my picture folders anymore, I had to share the cute!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How-to: Thistle beer bottle cozy from sweaters

For my dad's birthday gift, I decided to try a beer bottle cozy decorated with a Scottish symbol of some kind. I'd seen several examples of these made out of felted sweaters (like this tutorial from instructables) and had been wanting to try it. I decided to decorate my dad's with a thistle, and after looking through various images I came up with a simple drawing of what I wanted to shoot for. Luckily I have been hoarding sweaters and I had the colors I needed already felted.

I only had to cut five separate pieces for the thistle and it didn't take very long.

The bottom of the flower part extended down into the green, which gave it a 3-dimensional effect. It also allowed me to attach the purple part at the same time as the top of the stem. I sewed through a total of four layers of fabric.

Then I sewed on the leaves.

I didn't actually stitch the purple part, except to add details with some purple embroidery thread. I thought the edges would look better loose.

Then the fun part was over and I had to figure out how to make it fit on a bottle. I used a very sophisticated method.

I rolled the top edge of the tube down twice and sewed that down, and before I tied it off I stretched the top just a bit to be sure it wouldn't be too tight to get the bottle in.

Then I sat the bottle on top of a piece of my fabric and cut a circle for the bottom, and sewed that on. Before I sewed too far, I matched the edges of the circle together with the edges of the tube just to be sure the bottom would go on smoothly and wouldn't end up being too big or too small.

The only thing left was to turn it right side out and see how it looked. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out! I'm seriously thinking of trying a Celtic knot next time.

handmade projects