Friday, April 28, 2017

plaid at sea | a quilt for Harry

 One of my good friends is having her third baby soon, a boy after two girls (see their quilts here and here). I asked her if she had any ideas for his nursery yet and she sent me a few images of very classic, preppy, New England type rooms - blues and greens, plaid, and stripes. I love the simplicity of the flannel whole cloth quilt I made for Rory so I decided to make her baby boy a wholecloth quilt too. I chose a plaid by Robert Kaufman and then gave her a bunch of coordinating options to choose from for the other side. I quilted it in a grid, echoing the plaid, and bound it in a chambray polka dot that I love and will definitely be using for binding again. My boy Finn was happy to help as my quilt holder! He grew rather attached to the little dragon though, and begged to keep it - haha... luckily for him his Gram found out and got him his own ;)

my #tinyboxzippy

(pattern by Michael Ann Made, tested by me)

simple strips | a quilt for Benjamin

Friends recently welcomed their first baby and of course he needed a quilt. I've realized that I don't have a lot of greens or blues in my stash so I bought a scrap bundle to fill in the gaps. These simple strips came together quickly - I actually cut and laid them out when we had friends over for waffles one night! The back is made of scraps left from the front along with one big piece of cotton + steel clouds. In the photos it kind of sticks out like a sore thumb but I promise it coordinates quite nicely in real life. I can't remember how I quilted it except that I wrote his name, Benjamin, somewhere in the middle. He's already almost a month old and cute as can be - he has red hair like his mom and dad!
I love the polka dot binding, but I'm a little bummed that I didn't put a label on it. I kept forgetting to order more and I ran out and didn't receive my new ones until well after I gave this one to the baby's mom. At least his name is on it! Ezra and Finn were very helpful when I asked them to hold the quilt so I could take a couple photos before wrapping it up. I love these little guys so much!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

postage stamps in spring | a quilt for Appleby

Last year I made my second biggest quilt ever, a generous full size that's now on the bed of one of my best friend's daughters. Ari, my friend, had ambitions of making her daughter a quilt. She bought and cut a bunch of fabric (some of my favorites, like Bonnie Christine's Winged fabric, Tasha Noel's ducks, Heather Ross's strawberries and ballerinas, and Leah Duncan's Meadow prints) and even sewed a few strips together, but she ended up feeling overwhelmed and I asked if I could finish it up. I was so happy when she agreed to let me because it was such a nice quilt to work on. If I didn't love her and her daughter so much I'm not sure I would have been able to part with it!

I always intend to keep track of my progress better and I actually succeeded this time! Since Ari wanted a postage stamp quilt and had already cut a lot of squares I decided to make blocks that were 7x8 squares to make the project a little more manageable. I thought it would be more doable that way instead of piecing insanely long strips together at the end. If she had just given me yardage I probably would have used this tutorial because I think it would be faster and the prints would be randomized automatically. Anyway, I made sixteen of my 7x8 square blocks for a total of 896 squares! The back is from a sheet set that I saw at Target and suggested to Ari, small black plus signs on a white background. My mom offered to baste it for me (she knows that's my least favorite part of the process) but I ended up doing it over because of a problem area that I knew would be an issue when I was quilting. I did it early one morning before the boys were awake because whenever I baste a quilt they can't resist walking all over it which makes the task difficult, and that's putting it nicely. Ari and I decided on simple straight line quilting 1/4" on either side of all the seams, which is a lot of straight lines! It took me almost ten bobbins and between 10-12 hours, I lost track along the way. We picked Cotton + Steel Sprinkles fabric in black for the binding which gives the quilt a nice sharp finish, I think. Once it was done it measured 92.5"x89.5", and after washing it measured 82"x72", shrinking more than ten inches. I remember being really surprised at how much it shrunk, but I'm wondering if I measured that last dimension wrong now because that's a real lot. Hmm...

The pictures don't do it justice, but as usual I had Matt hold the quilt while the kids ran amok so we didn't have much time. We were at Meshanticut Lake, a little hidden gem in Cranston (okay, it's kind of gross because of all the goose poop sometimes and the swans are scary, but it's pretty if you can ignore those things, and I like to bring the boys there so we can illegally feed the ducks), and I love that I caught one of the swans in the first photo. Check him out up there! I love this quilt and am so glad I can visit it at Ari's house whenever I want :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

the story of Rory

Our third baby is almost five months old as I write this, his birth story, and I'm overwhelmed with thankfulness that he's here and part of our family. Like the births of my other two children, I ended up having to be induced, but this time it was a scheduled induction. Rory was due on July 28th and as my due date came and went we started thinking about ways to get things moving so I could avoid being induced. I walked a ton, ate an entire pineapple, bounced on an exercise ball and a trampoline, drank literally gallons of red raspberry leaf tea, and did everything else an expectant mother might do to naturally induce labor. The forty-two week mark was approaching and still nothing. I had my membranes swept at the next appointment and scheduled the induction, but I still felt I would go into labor eventually. With Ezra (read his birth story here) and Finn (and here's his birth story) my water broke and basically not much happened so I ended up being induced with Pitocin once we were at the hospital. Even though I was hopeful that I might be able to labor without the help of drugs, a small part of me wondered if I would have to actually drive to the hospital while not in labor and be induced. Like, not in labor in any way and then pushed into being in labor. So I kept trying everything I could think of to get labor started - homeopathic remedies suggested by the boys' pediatrician, one visit to the chiropractor, and two visits to an acupuncturist. I spoke with my midwife Deb on the phone and she was willing to wait a bit longer so we pushed the induction out a day or two, I don't remember exactly, to give everything time to work. The new date was exactly two weeks past my due date, August 11th. Ezra had been five days late and Finn was eleven days late, and it made perfect sense that this third baby would be even later, ha.

Anyway, on the night of the tenth I tried to get plenty of sleep and explained to the boys that I would be gone when they woke up in the morning. My mom was coming over to stay with them while Matt and I went to the hospital. It was so weird driving to South County even though I wasn't in labor. We stopped to get gas, not in a hurry at all. When we arrived we were introduced to our nurse, Ashley, and in typical Rhode Island fashion we recognized her. It turns out she had gotten married earlier in the summer and Matt knows her photographer and had seen some of the photos from her wedding. Ashley got my IV started at around 8:30 and then we waited for Deb for about forty-five more minutes. At this point I was only 1 cm dilated, 70% effaced, and the baby was at 0 station. Deb inserted the Foley and it was a lot less comfortable than I thought it would be. It wasn't as bad for me as it was for Matt though, because he almost passed out and had to go lie down, haha. Soon our friend Karissa arrived and I felt better having her there. Matt is a great support during birth but sometimes he just doesn't get it, never having given birth before, I guess. The Pitocin (at level 6, though I forget what the number means) started flowing and I had to be monitored throughout the morning, but I was able to use a telemetry unit so I could walk around the floor. That's what we did for the next two hours, and then my friend and doula Courtney arrived, and I had one of the labor popsicles I brought (highly recommended if you're going to be having a baby soon). I spent the morning pretty discouraged because Deb had mentioned that she had another patient recently who was induced the same way and the baby was born in early afternoon, and here I was at almost noon and the Foley hadn't even fallen out which meant I wasn't even at 3 cm yet. For unknown reasons - I'll blame it on hormones - Matt was driving me crazy with his positive attitude when all I was feeling was disappointment and fear. I'm thankful I had Courtney and Karissa there to encourage me and support Matt, too. 

Finally at 12:00 the Foley fell out when I went to the bathroom to pee. The baby was moving a lot, kicking the monitor, so Ashley had to reposition it a lot. Deb came to the room to check on me and she turned the Pitocin up to 12. I was having contraction about every 2-3 minutes and they were getting stronger but I was still feeling fine. Matt thought the Pitocin should be turned up because of my history, and at 1:20 it was turned up to level 18. Just ten minutes later it was turned back down to 12 because my contractions were coming too strong and close together. I was 4 cm and 90% effaced, and Deb said I should lay on my left side for the next hour. After about an hour the contractions were getting a lot stronger and I a lot less comfortable. Another half hour and I wasn't having a good time anymore. I didn't want to talk and nothing could make me laugh. I was breathing through the contractions as best as I could but I was also crying during them, and I was worried about the rest of the labor. I knew things would have to get worse and I felt like I had a long way to go. I'm choking up right now as I write, remembering the way I felt. At this time I remember a PA student coming in and Deb telling her that I was close, in transition, that she could tell by the way I was behaving. I knew I wasn't close though, and hearing that others thought I was close to delivery was hard. The thing that helped encourage me the most was having a good support team. I remember asking Matt to put the song Oceans by Hillsong United on, and it was a comfort to me when our friends started quietly singing along. Being surrounded by fellow Christians (even Deb is a Christian!) was very uplifting and helped to remind me that God was always with me. 

Around this time there was a shift change and a new nurse came on, Susan. At 4:30 the Pitocin was turned off. Deb was hopeful that my body would keep up the contractions on its own. Sure enough, I was 6-7 cm dilated and 100% effaced; the baby was still at 0 station, not as close as Deb had thought. The contractions were still coming strong and regular and I felt sick. I was laboring on my hands and knees, burying my face in the pillow with each contraction with a basin close by. At around 5:30 Deb asked if Courtney had her rebozo with her and she did, so she used it for a while, "sifting" to help the baby turn. [I should mention that Courtney was pregnant at this time, too - only a month behind me, so she did all this while eight months pregnant!] We were thinking the baby wasn't in the ideal position and therefore wasn't coming down the birth canal to put pressure on my cervix. I don't remember exactly who realized it first, but my contractions had become less frequent. I felt that I had more time in between them, and I knew the Pitocin had to be turned back on so at 6:45 it was coursing through my veins again. 

Even though the contractions were hard, I think I handled them better than I did when I had Finn. I was able to keep my voice low and breathe through them, focusing instead of getting frantic. I had asked Karissa to take notes (she did when I had Ezra and didn't when I had Finn, and so many great details were on the pages of the notes from Ezra's birth) and here she wrote that I said, "I want to be done," and "it's taking too long." Predictions about time had been very discouraging to me. The other patient of Deb's had had her baby in the afternoon. I know every laboring mother's experience is unique, but I couldn't get that out of my head. I don't like to get my hopes up, especially in a situation like this, and knowing how my other two births had progressed I didn't think it likely that this one would be wildly different, and it wasn't. At least not yet. 

At 7:30 the Pitocin was turned off again and monitor came off, too. I was dilated to a "stretchy" 8, and Deb thought the baby had flipped again and was posterior. We discussed my options which included breaking my water, taking a shower, using nitrous oxide for pain relief, and attempting to stretch my cervix. I opted to have Deb try to stretch my cervix and it hurt a lot and didn't work. I remember crying again at this point. I didn't know what to do and felt stuck. We all (Deb, Matt, Karissa, Courtney, and me) talked about what the next step should be, and Matt thought Deb should break my water, but I didn't want to do that yet. I remember thinking about how much more intense the pain would get and I already felt like I was at my limit, and I was still holding out hope that it would break on its own.  I got up to go to the bathroom and I vividly remember saying, "don't try to convince me to break my water!" to him, angry and frustrated as I walked away. I sat there with Matt crouching beside me and said I didn't think I could do this again, this meaning labor. Karissa wrote in her notes, "congratulations, you are a forever family of five" which makes me smile now. At the time I was miserable. I had already been thinking those words in my head that day, but I deliberately spoke them out loud because I wanted Matt, Karissa, and Courtney to be able to remind me of the way I felt. At this time I also reminded Karissa that she had told me to remind her she doesn't want to be pregnant again. What goes on in the mind of a laboring woman?!

We were back to deciding the next course of action and I opted to get in the shower, hoping the warm water might help relax me, I had brought index cards with scripture written on them, and Courtney read them to me from the other side of the curtain. It was such an emotional time. Matt had put on his bathing suit and was helping direct the shower head because I was in too much pain to stand. I was on my hands and knees, and like many women in labor, I felt like I had to have a bowel movement - finally a sign that the baby was descending. At about 8:30 I got out of the shower and back onto the bed. I was so hot during contractions and then cold in between them. I remember struggling to get the sheets off of me each time a contraction started. Karissa said it looked like I was sleeping between contractions. After about ten minutes I agreed to let Deb break my water. I think I said I just wanted it to be over. The amniotic fluid was clear which was a relief. Unfortunately I was still only 8 cm. Deb tried stretching my cervix again without success. At this point the baby's heart rate started to drop so I had to wear an oxygen mask. Things continued to progress though, and at 9:12 I was finally ready to push. He came pretty quickly, and after a couple minutes Deb told me I had to get him out right away.  The baby's heart rate wasn't coming back up and Deb was barking at me like a drill sergeant. The details are hazy for me here, but I think his head came out and Deb continued to basically shout at me to keep going. I remember breathing heavily as I tried to listen to her words, and she told me I couldn't breathe through this, I had to push. So I did, with everyone encouraging me, and then he was born, at 9:16, just four minutes after I started pushing. 

Deb brought him right to my chest and I got to hold him briefly, but the cord had been wrapped around his neck and under one arm so he had to get checked out to make sure he was alright. Within five minutes he had a perfect APGAR score and was back with me again. I thought he looked like the boys, and I was so relieved that he was finally here. We didn't name him until the next morning, just about an hour before Ezra and Finn came to meet him. We named him Rory, the name that Ezra preferred out of the few choices we had been trying to decide between. He's such a sweet baby, always smiling, a truly wonderful addition to our family.

I told Karissa as I was writing this that I loved it (the writing) and I hated it at the same time. My births have been difficult but not unbearable. None of them went the way I wanted them to, but through them I have learned so much and I'm thankful for the growth I've experienced, and that I can help encourage other moms with my stories. So many tears but so much joy, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Rory Calvin Celeste | August 11, 2016 | 9:16 pm | 8 pounds 11 ounces | 21 inches

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