Saturday, April 28, 2007

Quilted (?!)

Has anyone heard about the Slow-Poke Socks Knit-Along? I read about it at my friend Becca's blog, and it sounds like just the thing. (By the way, check out Becca's stranded socks! While unwearable, they are quite pretty! If nothing else, it's a good lesson on functional vs. unfunctional colorwork.) I just joined today. I'm suddenly obsessed with knitting socks for myself. In the past I've mostly knit them for others, but I realized last week that I need an entire drawerful for the fall and winter, and have been buying sock yarn accordingly. I know, bad, bad me.

Yesterday was my first full day alone with the three children. It was challenging, and I'm sorry to say that I appear to have less patience than I had remembered, but we managed, and even had some fun moments.
In the morning, we went out with out brand new double stroller to mail something at the post office. There were rocks thrown in the stream, some ice cream was consumed, and the tiny one slept through it all.
I'm still considering all of the entries for the Name That Baby contest, so if you have something that you haven't suggested (even if you've commented already), I'm still open for suggestions. There have been a few though that I really like, so I will probably announce a winner over the weekend.

Especially of interest to Aunt Susie:
Yes, I quilted! It's my first quilt, which rounded out the birthday gift for my little sister Rachel. It's the perfect size for the Knitted Babe that I gave her last year.

I pieced it together without having a real plan, trimmed the blocks to square them off, then seamed them without worrying too much about lining things up. I'm sure that you can tell. I think it's kind of cute though, in a quirky way.

This is the backing. As you can see, I've machine quilted it in a zig-zag pattern, as much for convenience as for any other purpose.
I'm happy to report that Rachel loved it, and her doll can often be found tucked into bed, cozy under her new quilt. (These pics were snapped off before they left on Thursday.)

There was some fiber activity yesterday that involved spinning, but I would like to devote an entire post to fiber preparation, so I'll save that for another day. For now, I'm off to get my hair cut. I hope that the hairdresser speaks enough English for us to communicate...should be exciting! (I must note that yes, I do realize I should be learning more German and not expecting others to make up for my lack. However, as it stands, I still know very little, so...there you go. I know that this is terribly American of me, and I shall try to rectify it as soon as possible.)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Contest: name that baby!

Thank you for all of the birthday wishes, and especially to Elemmaciltur for congratulating me on his blog. (By the way, his site is well worth the visit for a peek into his most recent stash enhancement. Oh. My. Gosh.)

Answers to some reader questions:

Mouse wanted to know how many yards and oz. I used for the handspun Dandy Lion socks. Unfortunately, I never calculated yardage, since I was so impatient to just get them done. Somehow, even though I'm so anal, I forgot that step. However, I do know that it was 4 oz, and once Navajo-plied, it equaled an approximate sport-weight yarn. I was getting 5-1/2 stitches to the inch on size #3 needles.

Rebecca (blogless?) asked about the meaning behind the name "Baby L". On this blog, I don't use my children's real names, for the sake of privacy.

Sparky and Max are both nicknames that I thought kind of suited my boys, as well as amuse me. They are also the names of two little mice brothers that I make up stories about when a distraction is needed. They each know which mouse represents which little fellow, so they are endlessly amused by the most mundane adventures about the mice taking a bath, obeying their mommy, taking walks, etc.

All of this to say, I have not come up with a suitable name for the baby yet. Her real name starts with "L", which explaines her current title. The nickname needs to be something that can grow with her, so "Cupcake" is straight out. "Princess" wouldn't work either, because what if someday I have another girl? If anyone has ideas, I'm open to suggestions. I'm tired of calling her the non-descript Baby L, so please leave a comment if you can think of any.

In fact, let's make this into a contest. The person who comes up with the best name gets a skein of my handspun, plus some german Gummy Bears. Ready, set, go.

Speaking of the small fry...
Yesterday, the baby had her first real bath. The boys were in the tub, so I decided to just bathe her in a large bowl in the sink.
Some of the time she thought this was not so fun. Doesn't she look like a fat little Buddha there?

I've been working slowly on the Child's French Sock, but unfortunately, I'm going to have to re-knit the toe. I've already added some length and re-knit once...
But as you can see, still no good. At this point, I'm just going to rip back to the end of the patterning and add another repeat, because the toe has way too much "plain" length, even as it is right now. Oh well.

After a month long visit, my mom and little brother and sister had to go back home. They left a few hours ago, and I've been a little weepy since. It's very hard to be so alone after all of this time with help and companionship. It doesn't help that my husband won't be home until possibly after I go to bed tonight. Making this even worse is the fact that I have no idea when I'll get to see my mom again, or (possibly more importantly) when my children will be able to visit with her again. Living across the ocean is so hard sometimes, and today it just feels tragic.

Trying not to think about all of that right now though, or the hormones will just take over and I'll feel utterly hopeless. I'm trying to focus on happy (or at least peaceful) things. I have some wool that really wants to be spun up into some sock yarn, but my back is hurting too much right now to sit up for that long. Maybe I'll just work on the French socks.

It's on days like this that I need to guard my credit card, because online shopping feels like just the thing...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

27 years young!

It's my 27th birthday! Thank you to sweet Skylar for the e-card. You made me smile this morning.

Notice the beautiful teal skein above? That's from (blogless) Linda, who I swapped Koigu with a few weeks ago. She sent me this skein of sock yarn last week as a baby congratulations! Thank you thank you! Yarny gifts are always hugely appreciated. =) I've never even heard of this yarn before. It's called Dream In Color sock yarn, and it's dyed in very subtle varigations of the perfect teal.

Speaking of yarn, I was planning on buying myself a birthday gift today at The Loopy Ewe, and my parents gave me a gift certificate to help me along! Shopping bliss. I adore gift certificates, because it feels like I'm cheating the system somehow.

The lovely carrot cakes that my mom made for Baby L and I. (Recipe can be found at the podcast blog!)

My day will be full of knitting and baby snuggling. What could be better?

Monday, April 23, 2007

It's all about the socks

In the time that it took for Baby L to finally make her appearance, I had time to not only spin, but also knit this pair of socks. This photo was taken today, and I am happy to announce that I have ankles again! I must celebrate this point, because my legs and feet were so swollen that they just looked grotesque in the last few days before the birth. It's such a relief to have them looking and feeling healthy and normal again!
Pattern: my own. 40 stitches for foot, increased to 44 on ankle because I wanted to wear them immediately after the birth, when I always get the chills, and my ankles were generously sized at the time. Knit toe up with short-row toe, backwards heel-flap, 2x2 rib on cuff.
Yarn: my handspun Navajo-plied (a 3-ply) Dandy Lion superwash wool from Spunky Eclectic fiber club. Approxomately sport weight.
Needles: Size 3 Knit Picks Classic Circulars to get 5 1/2 stitches per inch.
Notes: These are thick-ish, cozy, and soft. I love that the colors are so "spring" yet they're nice and warm for wearing around the house when it's chilly outdoors. This colorway is so cheerful.

This is what I was knitting while waiting for labor to engage.
I really can't stop knitting these now. They are the only thing that I want to work on at the moment. My knitting time is greatly reduced at the moment though, so they're growing slowly, but I can't wait to put them on my feet! It's the Child's French Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks in Lorna's Laces Grapevine.

Also on the needles:
Sparky socks in European Online sock yarn (mentioned in last podcast). This isn't the best picture of the stuff, but you'll just have to believe me that it's the best self-striping I've felt. I can tell that it's tough, yet it's so soft, and the colors are jewel-toned. I will certainly be knitting some plain socks out of this for myself in the future, and I have a pair planned for my mom. If only I could stop working on those French socks for a few minutes...

These shots were taken yesterday. Baby L is getting so much more alert now. She still spends most of her time sleeping, but now when she's awake she really looks around and studies things carefully.
She makes some rather funny faces while doing it.
So there you go. As expected, she looks exactly like a squishy little newborn, but I think that she's 100% precious.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I have some pictures of my new little family all together with a fantastic cake that you have to taste to believe. I'll post them tomorrow, along with the recipe. If God serves carrot cake in heaven, it will surely be this one. For now, it's time for some sleep.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The long and the short of it: a birth story

Thank you so much for your overwhelming congratulations! Baby L and I are being very well cared for by my mom, siblings and husband (my sister, sadly, had to leave yesterday), and are getting plenty of rest.

For those of you who are interested, here's the story of how the crazy short labor happened.

On Tuesday morning (9 days past due date), I woke up tired, swollen, and still absolutely full of baby. I'd already tried several strong herbal labor starters from my midwife, walked up huge hills, taken a homeopathic "body harmonizer", cleaned my house, completed some spinning and knitting projects. The day that my sister had to leave was creeping closer and closer, and it even seemed that the baby might wait until my mom had to go as well (at the end of this month).

Each day after my due date I'd been having strong and sometimes regular sets of Braxton Hicks contractions, but nothing that was actually "labor". I even contracted for 8 hours straight on Monday, but still nothing to really call labor.

My midwife told me that she had one thing left in her "birth trigger" arsenal that she uses only as a last resort, because it can produce such violent contractions. I decided that Tuesday was the day. I went out and bought the following ingredients:
a large spoonful of nut butter, 200 milligrams of Sekt (bubbly, cheap alcoholic stuff), 20 ml Castor oil, 2 drops Verbena oil. I mixed it all together with 1 cup of orange juice.

Looks tasty, no? It smelled sort of like bread dough, but bad. I was supposed to drink it in a half-hour or less, and was warned that it would likely make me throw-up, as well as give me other intestinal troubles. I felt that it was completely worth it though -- nothing could deter me from chugging the whole "cocktail" in one go.

Then I sat around. And sat and knit and sat some more. The alcohol gave me a light head, and the entire brew made me feel a little sick to my stomach, but nothing else. I was afraid to leave the house, lest the effects of the Castor oil come on suddenly, but still, several hours went by, and nothing. The midwife came by to check the baby's heartbeat, and my blood pressure. All was well. She was shocked to find that I was not throwing up. I was kind of discouraged, thinking that somehow my body was unable to respond to anything. Finally, I took a nap.

I woke up a half-hour later and realized that I was having a huge, hard contraction. This lasted for a good 5 minutes, wavering in intensity from strong to much stronger. Finally it passed, and I called my husband to come home from work. Smaller, crampy contractions followed, but by the time he got home an hour later, I was sitting in the kitchen, eating an apple. We were all frustrated, wondering if it had been a false alarm. Then the cramping started again, and progressively got stronger and stronger. Still, they lasted no longer than a few seconds each, so I called my midwife and asked her to come in about 2 hours.

In all reality, it was hard to believe that I was actually in labor after all this time. None of it seemed real, since the contractions were so short. My husband changed out of his work clothes, and in that time, the contractions changed so that I had to breath through them. He started helping me with acupressure to manage the pain, and we both locked "labor mode".

My mom came back from a walk with the kids. They went to the other side of the house to watch the movie "Cars", and she came to where I was, in the computer room. One look at me, and she was sure that this was for real. My sister was making soup for dinner, and left it on the stove to come help. Since they knew that I'd called the midwife, no one thought to calculate how long it had been since I said "two hours", and she wasn't called again.

The contractions were still no longer than a minute or so, but close together. The last thing that I remember my mom saying was "maybe we should start timing them", and suddenly, I was pushing. Five minutes later or less, Baby L was in my arms.

A few minutes later, someone thought to call the midwife again.

At that moment, the children walked in. Lightening McQueen had reached Radiator Springs (in the movie), and they were taking a snack break. To their surprise, they found that there was a new little person in the house.

So that, my friends, is how my husband delivered our baby on the computer room floor.

Note: Please know that I am not advocating an unassisted birth in any way. I know that some people hold to that convention, but I personally feel that births should be assisted by someone who has been trained to handle complications, should they arise. My husband, mom and sister, however, worked perfectly together as a team, and I remained confidant and peaceful through the entire thing. Thankfully, all went well, and it's the best birth experience I've had.

Also, please do not use that labor trigger recipe unless you have consulted your midwife or doctor.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ladies And Gentlemen...

Welcome Baby L! This is Faith's husband, Greg. Baby L was born today, at 5:30 pm, after only an hour-and-a-half of labour, and she weighs 9.5 lbs, and is 21" long.
Faith and the baby are doing wonderful, despite being very tired, so subsequent posts will follow in a few days.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Someone is just too cozy

This baby is just too comfortable in there. I have tons of amniotic fluid, which means that my placenta is functioning beautifully, and the baby has room to move, lots of food, and feels great. The midwife was here on Monday morning, and said that she thinks at least 4 or 5 days. 4 or 5 days?!!! How is this possible?! I want to scream and possibly jump out the window. I realize that eventually this baby will come out, but at the moment I can't even imagine it.

What do you do when you can't have a baby? Besides begging God to send me into labor, I mean. Well first, I finished spinning up the Walkabout wool blend from the other day. Then, I spun and Navajo-plied Dandy Lion (this month's Club color) for some thick-ish socks (ended up being heavy DK, and will self-stripe). Yesterday we went to the library, to a museum, food shopping, post office.

Last night, out of shear frustration, I cast on for Child's French Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush, which I've been dying to knit forever. The yarn is from two skeins of Lorna's Laces in Grapevine (I think?) that I swapped with Rachel for.

At the bottom of the picture is a rather dark picture of the fluted top Husband Socks which I still need to fix (possibly using tubular tutorial suggested by Janice at Knitflix).

Plans for today? Clean the entire house. Scrub bathrooms, wash all windows. Spin second skein of Dandy Lion, knit socks out of them. Fix Husband Socks. Work on the purple sock. Have baby.

Let's see how many things I can check off of that list.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Baby Wood Nymph Hat Pattern

This is a hat that I created with the springtime baby in mind. Regia Bamboo is nice and light, yet warm enough to keep a newborn snug. (Click picture to enlarge.)

A trouble with newborn hats is that they often do not stay on. Regia Bamboo is not very stretchy, which added a challenge. This is worked in a wide rib to account for both problems, and the hat looks just as cute with the cuff up as it does with the cuff down, so it will grow with the baby.

Please let me know if you find errors in the pattern. Also, if you happen to knit this, please send me a picture! I'd love to see it!

Yarn: Regia Bamboo, or other fingering weight yarn. I got the hat and a pair of booties out of the one 50 gram skein, and still have a bunch left over. (The pattern is just for the hat. You can find the pattern for Christine's Baby Booties here.)

Needles: size 1 circular needle, 32". I knit this using the magic loop technique, but you can also use DPN's instead.

Size: newborn, but very stretchy, and it can be cuffed or not to accommodate different sized heads.

Rib pattern: K 4, p 2

CO 90 sts and join in the round, being careful not to twist.
Knit in rib pattern for 5".
Decrease round: *k2tog, k2, p2. Repeat from * around.
Next 2 rounds: *k3, p2. Repeat from * around.
Dec round: *k1, ktog, p2. Repeat from * around.
Next 2 rounds: *k2, p2. Repeat from * around.
Dec round: *k2tog, p2. Repeat from * around.
Next 2 rounds: *k1, p2. Repeat from * around.
Dec round: *k1, p2tog. Repeat from * around.
Next 6 rounds: *k1, p1. Repeat from * around.
Dec round: *k2tog, p2tog. Repeat from * around.
Dec round: *k1, p1. Repeat from * around until last stitch. Knit last stitch together with 1st stitch of next round.
Next 6 rounds: *k1, p1. Repeat from * around.
Dec round: k2tog around (7 stitches remain)
Next 4 rounds: knit

Use darning needle to pull yarn through 7 remaining stitches twice, and pull tight. Weave in all ends. Crochet loops on top if desired. (I have 5 loops of 10 stitch chains.)

knitting sanity (?)

40 weeks today. I was hoping that I wouldn't get to take this picture.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it! Very unfortunately, the baby has still not shown up to celebrate with us. Today is my due date, and I still have not observed any body signal that would indicate labor. It is becoming increasingly difficult to walk, and I'm rather crabby, sore, and anxious feeling.

I've never been pregnant this long before. From Thursday up until now, I've had this insane desire to knit baby things and get as much done as possible. Today I'd be knitting too, except that I think I overdid it a bit, and my left wrist is giving me some grief. Instead, since it's so beautiful outside, I've been spinning out in the wintergarden.
It's a wool blend from the Spunky Club. This is the January color (I think it's called Walkabout)
I'm spinning it as a heavy DK weight singles; it will self stripe.

Thank you so much to everyone who gave such great feedback to my last post! For those who are not interested in taking part of this conversation, please scroll down to further fiber related business. =)

Katura: My family is very supportive about my birth choices. My mom delivered me in the hospital, seven at a child birth center (with midwives), and the youngest at home. I'm not sure what I would suggest in the way of reading material, since I've come about my information through community as well as personal research. I suppose that doing searches online for alternative birth choices and just getting as informed as possible would be the best way to determine if it's the right thing for you.

Skylar: Yes, I gave birth to both Sparky and Max at home as well. Diet-wise, I attempted to get as much protein as possible, since that helps build the baby's brain, without me gaining too much weight. I adore carbs, so there was never any danger of me not getting enough of that. Instead, I just focused on working protein into every meal and snack, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. With Sparky and Max, I was so turned off by meat that I became mostly vegetarian (in doing this, I was still careful to get complete proteins and the proper balance of diet so that the baby could continue to grow properly). This current baby has brought me around 100% the other way, and now I crave meat all the time.

Charity: Although my belief in God does play a vital role in my life, I don't think that it's played a direct role in choosing a birth method. I realize that some people hold certain views about the medical system and alternative methods because of their faith, but I would not feel comfortable with that, personally. I would rather know that I have come to my decisions through my own channels rather than allowing a religion to make that decision for me.

Katy: Yes, it is true that sometimes recovery from a natural childbirth can be rather long and arduous. The main cause of this is generally tearing while giving birth. Some women take much longer than others to heal from a tear (which, of course, can also depend on the degree of the injury), which can be very frustrating as well as painful. However, the risk of a tear can be greatly reduced by regular perineal massage in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy, and even more effectively by using the Epi-no device. Both of these methods should also make an episiotomy needless. (By the way, if anyone is interested in getting an Epi-no in the States, you can currently get one at a great discount through I highly recommend using the Epi-no, and I wish that more doctors and midwives State-side knew about it. I would go so far as to say that it's an absolute must for all first time moms.

On to fiber fun! (Or obsessive behavior?)

All this week, I've been knitting frantically on baby things. Yesterday, I decided to lay everything out that I've completed so far, and realized that I have quite a set. No wonder why my wrist hurts.
Bottom row from left: Fiber Trends Baby Basics lace edged hat and booties with Baby Bolero (from One Skein) in my handspun merino/cotton; Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Sweater in my handspun merino; Bunny Ears hat from Itty Bitty Hats with Berry Baby Booties in Rowan Cashsoft DK Baby.
Top row from left: Christine's Baby Booties with Wood Nymph hat (my own design, pattern to follow) in Regia Bamboo Color (white/pink tweed, don't remember name); Marshmallow Bonnet from Itty Bitty Hats (finally finished it last night!) in Rowan Cashsoft DK Baby, Roll Brim Hat from Itty Bitty Hats with rib-cuffed booties from Fiber Trends Baby Basics in Rowan Cashsoft DK Baby.

If you want to see it all in a little more detail, click the picture to enlarge.

Here's a better pic of the pink booties and hat. Now I really want the baby to be a girl so that I she can model these. The point on the top of the hat is all kinds of Dr. Seuss-ish, and I almost made more crocheted loops for the top to fill it out, but then I really liked how spindly it looked.
Here's a close up of the back of the Marshmallow Bonnet. The pink things are just Oh My Gosh! I love it.
I knit the 6 month size, because it would be just too cute for stroller rides in the fall.

If this baby is a boy, I have a friend who's having a girl in a few weeks, so anything girly that I knit will still be well loved and used.

I must go, because I can't bear to be at the computer any longer. Must spin...or knit...or something. Really, I'd just rather have a baby. Will keep you all posted...

Oh, an if anyone has anything else to say about birth related issues that I brought up in the last post, please continue to ask or discuss in the comments. It's been rather fascinating to see what everyone thinks about this topic.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Opinionated Faith: Birth Matters

Still knitting booties....I'll have some knit-related pictures to show you tomorrow, but for now, here is some straight birth talk.

For those of you uninterested in the following topic, I've scattered adorable unrelated pictures of the boys throughout. Feel free to just scroll through to view, and then go forward with your day. Otherwise, come back tomorrow for a more knit related post

First, a disclaimer:
All of the following is my opinion, and should be taken as such. If you choose to do differently, please feel free to do so -- the point of this post is to encourage you to think for yourself. I am very strongly opinionated, but that doesn't mean that I think your birth choices, should they be different than mine, are wrong. The most important thing to me is that you feel and are safe, healthy, and in control of your pregnancy and delivery. I don't want to make anyone upset or angry. I just want to get you thinking.

Also, please be aware that I have experienced both the medical side of things (as I have had a doctor for this entire pregnancy up until about a month ago when I found my midwife), and the "community homestyle" or "natural" side of things.

Second, a clarification:

There are many kinds of doctors, and several types of midwives. Some Obstetricians (OB's) have been specifically trained to deal with nutrition and preventative health. Most, however, have not. In this post I deal with the issue of the latter.

Midwives in the states come (as far as I know) in two flavors: Certified Nurse Midwives and the "illegal" Uncertified Folk Midwife (my own title for them). The certified tend to act as a cross between a doctor and a nurse, working under direct supervision of a doctor. They are allowed to prescribe medicine, do prenatal care, and deliver a baby, but they cannot do c-sections. Folk Midwives, on the other hand, operate illegally in their communities, using knowledge that they have not only gained through study, but through intense, hands on apprenticeship through another established Folk Midwife. These midwives also almost always assist you in delivering your baby in your own home. In this blog, when I say "midwife", let's assume that I'm talking about the Folk Midwife, and home delivery.

Thirdly, a request:

Please leave any questions or concerns you may have in the comments, and I will follow up with answers (or, in the least, clarifications) in the next post, so that we can all be involved in the conversation.

I know this isn't a "real" belly shot, but here I am at 39 weeks. (Photo taken last Sunday)

Many people have asked me at different times why I make seemingly ancient and/or "hippie" choices about pregnancy and birth. With all of the technology available to us -- and it's free for me, because of my husband's job and our medical coverage -- why not take full advantage of the benefits medical science has brought us?

Those are good points, so I'm going to share with you my pregnancy and birth philosophy, and then perhaps you'll understand.

I am not a patient. When a woman becomes pregnant, she is immediately treated as a sick person. Have you ever heard the phrase "in her condition", when referring to a pregnant woman? This, apparently, is a condition that needs careful monitoring by the medical system, and likely intervention to free her from her state.

In the first visit to the doctor, I was informed that I would need to take a class on all of the tests they would like to perform on me and my baby, mostly having to do with invasive procedures to discover if my baby had any abnormalities such as Downs Syndrome (my question: What am I expected to do if the baby does? also: Do you realize that none of these tests are 100% accurate, and that you can easily test a false-positive?).

Several visits later, the doctor started to set me up for a routine ultrasound. When I declined, he was shocked. As it turns out, I am the first person in his 20 years of practice who has ever turned down an ultrasound.

Now, viewing the baby inside has it's place. If there is something suspected to be dangerously wrong (like Placenta Praevia, or similar), you would definitely want to verify this (although a skilled midwife or doctor generally tells this by listening with the SonicAid or fetal stethoscope for the location of the placenta). I am all about medical inspection and intervention if it happens to be needed. Also, if you wish to know the gender of your baby before it's born, that would be another good reason.

However, using ultrasound just to check the position of the baby, size, gestational age, are all unnecessary. A skilled OB or midwife should be able to verify all of these things with no trouble through prodding the mother's belly. Exposing the baby to ultrasound waves for these purposes alone is completely needless.

My midwife prescribed this tea for me to drink in the last few weeks, along with crushed linseed, which I eat in yogurt. It's not actually as bad as it looks, but I don't think I'll be craving this after the baby's born. =)

I believe in preventative health. In medical school, OB's-to-be are usually trained to think in terms of "fixing things". There are so many nutritional ways of increasing health and preventing different complications, that I find this surprising, and more than a little bit disconcerting.

I choose to entrust my life and the life of my new little person to proven rather than just certified hands. Upon completion of their training (which includes some hands on experience), doctors receive a certification, and are released to work with the paying public. If the OB tends to have a terrible bedside manner, or a high rate of complications or deaths for patients in their care, it doesn't necessarily affect their certification status. It's also difficult to discover these stats, since those things don't qualify or disqualify him/her from his/her job. Doctors tend to be trusted for their medical opinion, because they have been certified.

Throughout the ages, folk midwives have depended on apprenticeship training, passing down their knowledge from older to younger, learning through doing, as well as research and study. The new (and generally younger) midwife proves her skill in the community while working with her mentor. She becomes known for her skill (or lack of), and her reputation follows her. If she's good, she'll get work. If not, she'll have to find a different profession.

I would rather have prenatal supervision than prenatal care. It may not seem like there would be a huge distinction, but to me it goes back to the whole "I am not a patient" thing. An OB will usually consider the woman who comes to them for prenatal check-ups to be under his or her care. A midwife considers the woman to be in control of her nutrition, health, and overall well-being, coming to the midwife for the purposes of guidance and knowledgeable friendship.

It is important to me that the person who sees me prenatally will be there for my labor and delivery. When a woman in labor is admitted into a hospital, she is attended by the staff of nurses until she is ready to literally push the baby out. She is usually hooked up to all manner of devices to assist the staff in caring for her, since it's usually impossible for a nurse to stay with her physically the entire time. The woman is given internal checks to determine the status of cervical dilation. It is then that the doctor is called in (hopefully the one that has been seeing her for prenatals the whole time is actually on call at the time!), delivers the baby, and hands the little person over to the pediatric specialists. Then that's it. Their job is to see her through her pregnancy, develop a relationship with her, then literally deliver her baby.

When the laboring woman calls a midwife, the midwife goes to the woman's house. She stays with the woman throughout her labor, assisting and advising as needed, suggesting different laboring positions that might speed things up or slow things down as things progress. She has built a friendship with the woman through the prenatal visits, and has earned her trust and respect. The husband, if he is at home and willing, is called upon to help make decisions if need be.

The husband and the midwife work as a team to assist the mother in delivering the baby in the most peaceful, graceful way possible, with minimal interference. The woman is not hooked up to any monitors, because there is no need -- her birthing team (husband, midwife, and whoever else has been chosen to be there), stays with her the entire time, monitoring her progress personally.

Internals are needless in this situation; they are only given if the woman wants to know how far along she is. (Even so, you never know when you might get temporarily "stuck" at a certain point of dilation for an hour or so, or if you're just about to suddenly open up all the way -- there's no way of knowing, so I don't find the information helpful. On top of that, it is less than comfortable on a good day -- way worse when you're actually in labor, and who needs that stress?)

One intervention leads to another. Many of my friends have been induced to start labor. As a woman nears her due date, Doctors will often reassure them that the doctor won't "let" them go more than 2 days past their due date, although it is perfectly safe to go two weeks overdue. "If you don't go into labor by Sunday, come in at xx:xx am, and we'll induce you." (At this point, I often wonder if the doctor truly thinks that the baby will stay in there forever without their help. Has this ever happened?) When a woman is induced, she is given an intravenous drip of pitocin which causes artificial contractions.

While a natural contraction has an arc of intensity -- beginning, middle and end -- the artificial one only gives you the peak sensation, with no build-up. It is very possible to endure and even work with natural contractions through methods such as total body relaxation (like the technique taught at the end of a Yoga session) and acupressure.

When on a pitocin drip, it is often physically impossible to imagine enduring even a few of these with no help, so medication is often the only option. These medications may or may not even have the desired effect on the woman, and it can even vary from one labor to the next with the same person.

One of my friends had an effective epidural with her first baby, but when she asked for the same method with her second, it worked until she was 7 centimeters dilated, and then suddenly quit at the height of her pain. Another friend had something to take the edge off of her contractions (I think it was Demerol, but I'm not sure), and she just had the feeling that, while her pain persisted, she felt completely helpless and miles away from her husband, who was standing right there next to her.

Besides the fact that the pain medication may not work as expected, it can also cause complications. While the pitocin is slamming the baby's head down, over and over in a mechanical style, the pain medication can actually slow labor down at the same time, since the woman can no longer actively work with the contractions. In the end, forceps might be needed to get the baby out (often because they're so jammed in the wrong way because they could not naturally flex their head and make their way down), vacuum suction, or even emergency c-section.

I cannot count the number of times I've heard an awful birth story end with "if the doctor hadn't been there, I would have died". What I want to say (although I don't), is "if you hadn't allowed the doctor to interfere, your life wouldn't have been endangered in the first place."

Also, there has been a huge increase in recent years of planned c-sections. Sometimes there is a good reason for it, such as when a baby is presenting breech. Although it is still possible to give birth naturally in this case, it can actually be life threatening for the woman and the baby. When women choose it for convenience sake, however, I often wonder if they realize that they're choosing to risk their life through major surgery. That the surgeon will need to slice through 7 layers of the woman's person, and then go back through and sew them all back up. That the recovery time is terribly painful; everything is a challenge, from lying down to sitting to standing, since it's the stomach muscles that have been affected.

If, for whatever reason, a woman chooses to be induced or plans a c-section, I do not hold it against her or think less of her in anyway. I do, however, hope that she realizes that she has a choice and realizes her risks and options. It is also important to realize and that the doctor may or may not want to respect her opinion. I also hope that the woman realizes that she has the right to disagree and go against medical advice (AMA) if something doesn't seem right or necessary.

I choose to be fully involved in my labor and delivery. I've made a decision not to use pain killers during my labor. This is not because I want to prove something or show that I can "handle it" better than the next person. It is simply that labor is a rather intense thing, and I would be very nervous if I couldn't tell what was going on. I'm not a sucker for pain, and that's why I use Acupressure (booklet available for free PDF download here), which helps to manage it greatly. I like to be able to make the conscious decision to relax my entire body, Yoga style, even while the most intense contractions imaginable grip my body. I feel powerful being able to work with my body, feeling the strength of the uterine muscles doing their job. I am able to walk around, sit on a birthing ball, lie down on a bed, focus in a rocking chair. I am free to move around, not trapped by pain medications that slow down my mental state, and impair me physically.

Most importantly, perhaps, is the fact that once I do give birth to the baby, I am able to experience and enjoy 100% the joy and the elation of holding that brand new person for the first time. I will be able to feel the giddy excitement and adrenaline rush that can only come after such an intense physical feat.

Babies naturally have about an hour of alert time immediately after birth, to learn how to eat, and connect with their moms. I can be alert and connect with my baby during that first hour, after which I, too, will fall into a wonderful, deep sleep.

When the mother has received pain medication during her labor, it not only affects her, but also the baby (a tiny bit of it goes into his or her system, often making him/her sluggish). This, obviously, can get in the way of the whole After Birth Experience.

I do not look forward to the intensity and pain of the upcoming birth. However, I do know that I will, once again, come out on the other side of it amazed at the strength of my body, the endurance that I am capable of, and the gorgeous baby that I will be able to enjoy.

I want to know that I have made my own, informed choices. The most important thing to me is that each woman knows the choices available to her. That she realizes how her choices will affect the baby, and that she is able to relax in the knowledge that she is having the very best birth experience possible. Whatever that means to her, whether it be giving birth in a hospital, a childbirth center, at home, taking advantage of technology and medication or not, it is paramount that she is confident and at peace.

My hope is that no one feels bad about making choices that may differ from mine, but instead that you make your own informed decisions on each thing surrounding your birth.

Please leave any thoughts and questions in the comments so that I can respond to them in the next post.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bootee Epidemic

I've suddenly gotten the urge to create endless baby sets. Here's the first, knit out of my handspun Golden Fleece (50% merino, 50% organic brown cotton). It's the same stuff I used for the bolero, except this is the two-ply.
Pattern: Fiber Trends Baby Basics
Yarn: My handspun 2-ply merino-cotton
Needles: Size 2 Knitpicks Classic Circulars (when knitting with any cotton content, I always have to go down about 3 needle sizes to ge gauge.)
Notes: Fun to knit. Simple, with just enough "tang" to keep them interesting.

I love the construction of the Fiber Trends pattern. Very satisfying, quick and clever. My favorite part of the hat is the little knitted button on top:
So cute! This hat is knit from the lace brim, then the work is turned around to the "wrong side" and the ribbing is started, then the stockinette and rest of the hat. When everything is completed, the lace is folded up and the right side shows again. Sounds way more complicated than it is -- the directions are very clear (certainly more clear than the way I've just described it!), and it's simple to do.

My only concern with this knit is that the booties are too small. I can't remember if Sparky's feet were big or not, but Max's were already too large for newborn sized baby booties when he was born. These have been knit to gauge, but I'm wondering if I should also work up the next size too?

I'm pretty sure that I'll be pregnant forever. With four days left to go, I cannot remember how it feels to be my own person, and have my own body. I always feel this way at this point, so I do realize that the baby must come out at some point, but feeling like a swollen water balloon with no ankles, and having sore and achy joints and muscles constantly kind of puts a damper on things.

To show the height of my delusions of pregnancy forever and ever amen, check out what I've printed from online pattern sources:
Those are all bootee and newborn sock patterns. How many do you think I'll complete before this baby makes it's appearance? I'm sort of panicking at the thought that this baby might be a girl and therefore won't have any clothes to I'm knitting pink, purple, red booties. Any and everything girly will be on the needles. Currently I'm working up Christine's Baby Booties out of Regia Bamboo Color, which I picked up at my LYS two days ago.

As mentioned in the latest episode of the podcast, here are my little brother and sister, Rachel and Joel, learning to finger knit my handspun:
Oh! I almost forgot to post this. (Blogless) Linda swapped Koigu with me last week. She sent me the two reds for my multi pinks...and then sent a few extras! The three little blue skeins are Koigu mill ends that she picked up at the Maryland Sheep And Wool Festival last year, and the pink/purple is laceweight from
The Koigu mill ends especially warmed my heart, because I haven't been able to go to any fiber festivals yet since my foray into the fiber arts world, and I know that's the only place to score the ends and other such lovelies. Thank you again, Linda! You totally made my week.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Podcast finally!

Episode 11 is live! Thank goodness, all of the recording worked out this time. I've got some cute baby knits to show you, but first I need to go take a little rest.


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