Monday, March 30, 2015

Little Lion's Birth Story

It took us 5 months of trying to conceive this pregnancy. Having never had any trouble before, I was truly concerned and had begun tracking basal temperature. I had one month where the home pregnancy test was ambiguous... almost a line, but not very distinct... and then a week later, nothing. Finally I read something about certain kinds of blood pressure medications preventing conception (calcium channel blockers) and my husband went off of one of his medications. The next month we we had a positive pregnancy test!

This time our care was in the hands of our favorite midwife, the one who had delivered Bug, from the beginning. We had a confirming ultrasound at about 8 weeks, and everything looked great. Our midwife knew of a new blood test that could check for chromosomal abnormalities with 99 percent accuracy (Panorama), which was certainly preferable to the CVS we had done last time-- no miscarriage risk and none of the discomfort of having a needle stuck into the womb. The local hospital lab hadn't heard of the test and was uncooperative, so I ended up traveling to another hospital 40 minutes away. By the time we had the lab order the kit, had the testing done, then waited nearly 2 weeks for the results, I was almost 16 weeks, so I was very, very thankful when it all came back totally normal.

We did was a variation on gestational diabetes screening-- instead of drinking the evil syrupy chemical filled soft drink, I ate a balanced, carb-counted breakfast at home and had my glucose tested an hour later. It came back completely normal.

We also did the 20 week ultrasound, and it was beautiful to see our little baby on the screen. We also had a big surprise-- he was clearly a boy, whereas we had thought the Panorama test had concluded that there were two X chromosomes. That turned out just to be a mistake in reading the test, when we went back and looked the Panorama had also concluded we were having a boy. I was thrilled, and also terrified... what did I know about raising a boy? I suppose that is a silly question, since all boys are born from the bodies of women, but strange to me all the same.

I turned down GBS testing after reading extensively on the subject. While a baby getting GBS is scary, my research led me to conclude that hospital practices were contributing to the transmission to babies (constant internal exams, internal monitoring, etc) and the risk of a baby contracting GBS at a home birth where interventions are limited is very, very small. I agreed to take probiotics prophylactically to improve the chances of a beneficial vaginal bioflora. If I ended up transferring to a hospital, I probably would have to consent to all sorts of things such that being given antibiotics for an unknown GBS status would be the least of my worries.

The pregnancy overall went beautifully. Every test came back completely clear. In so many ways, it was an easier pregnancy than my first. With little Bug, I was swollen from the second trimester on, and it only got worse, progressing into carpal tunnel in the third trimester, such that it was hard to do simple tasks with my hands-- I couldn't open bottles and I dropped things all the time since my fingers were numb. My feet were so swollen that the only shoes I could wear were a pair of big, slipper-like UGGs that were a size too large. I also had terrible hip pain starting at the end of the second trimester, and general joint pain, almost like I had arthritis.

This pregnancy I had almost no swelling-- I wore my wedding ring on its proper finger right through labor. I had mild, persistent nauseau for the first trimester, which I took as a good sign that my body was making lots of pregnancy hormones, and I did have some hip pain in the last few weeks. The biggest discomfort was indigestion and acid reflux, which was so bad for me that I wouldn't eat anything after 6pm other than yogurt or fruit. This was really hard when I was commuting since it meant I basically had to consume all of my calories on the road or in my office, but once my maternity leave started, I would just make myself a big, nutritious lunch.

I was, however, HUGE. I got huge really fast-- I started "showing" almost as soon as I got a positive pregnancy test, and I'm sure my attempts to hide and deny pregnancy until we were past miscarriage risk were laughable. People were constantly asking if I was having twins (which is really, really annoying!). In second trimester, people would ask when I was due and show disbelief and pity when I stated my due date.

I had strong Braxton Hicks contractions all through my third trimester. Sometimes my uterus would be hard and contracted for hours at a time when I was active... such as shopping, or cleaning. As my dates came closer, I had cramping and also stronger, sharper BH contractions, but nothing that was regular or timeable.

I was so sure that for a second pregnancy, I would come on or before my due date. But my due date came and went. As I went into that overdue waiting period, I felt massive, was never comfortable, and felt the veiled pressure of the dangers of allowing a pregnancy to go too long. I actually got no pressure from my midwife, who was content to wait until 42 weeks and perhaps longer... but just felt it from family and friends. With induction being so prevalent, it seems like so few women go very far past their due dates. It is almost like a cultural taboo in the US.

I was due on March 10th, a Tuesday. We had every birth supply on hand that I could think of, and a lasagne in the freezer. A week later, we were still waiting. I finished the second baby sweater, and made a hat to match. With every one of my strong BH contractions, I was looking for a pattern and frustrated at not finding it.

I went for acupuncture on Friday, which I find to be a strange experience-- this time I found myself in a dream-like state, with visions of the baby and my body as a vessel, and was surprised when I left and realized that 1.5 hours had passed-- I thought it had been perhaps 20 minutes. I was also very energetic, and went for a walk afterward and stopped at the store on the way home for a few more labor food items. I got home and was in the bedroom with my husband and Bug, getting up off the floor after kneeling down to help Bug with something, and I fainted. I didn't fall far, but had a good bruise on my shoulder and head.

I started a pair of baby booties to match the sweater, and was dreading Monday, where I would probably start consenting to things, in the order of least invasive, but all stressful in their own ways. Probably an ultrasound, which would have us traveling 40 minutes away to visit a technician that our midwife would find appropriately experienced, and maybe my first ever visit to a chiropractor. More acupuncture, certainly.

I went online seeking comfort. So few women go over their dates in the US, but in the UK where there is nationally supported home birth program, I found a message board devoted to stories of women who were over their due dates and had successful home births. I found it comforting that very few of them had huge babies (one of the cited risks) and most of them had short or at least reasonable length labors (a concern of mine after the marathon labor I had for little Bug). I also found an article that suggested that women are often very consistent in their gestation times. So since Bug was 12 days overdue, maybe my body would go into labor in a similar time frame.

Twelve days over my date was Saturday. David dreamed that I said I would have the baby on Sunday. A friend also texted on Saturday to say she had a dream that I had a healthy baby. I finished the baby booties, then stayed up too late posting them. I went to bed, and got two hours sleep before Bug woke up with an earache or a bad itch. I spent two hours comforting her before I finally resorted to baby Advil, and then got another 2 hours of sleep before she was up and dragging me out of bed.

Sunday morning, and still not in labor. I wasn't too unhappy about that, since I was exhausted from the sleepless night. In the afternoon, I took Lilly to bed for her nap, hoping to get in a nap myself, and had a contraction lying down. I started the timer, and tried to go to sleep. Twenty minutes later I had another. I snoozed, then was woken up 16 minutes later. Then 18. At this point I was so excited that it was pretty hard to sleep, so I got up.

The contractions started coming 6 minutes apart. I started vigorously cleaning the house while timing them. They weren't so strong, but I would stop when I had one to sway and concentrate on the feeling of opening up. My husband was on the phone with his sister, and I showed him the contraction timer. He got off the phone and started cleaning and preparing things- plastic on the bed, towels under the pool, etc. We called the midwife, who was on a home visit halfway between her home and mine, and she said she would come my way to finish some errands and call me afterwards. She told me to try to rest, which just made me laugh... there was no way I could go back to sleep now, despite the restless night before and not very restful nap. By the time she called back, I was moaning through the contractions, although they were still no closer-- 6 minutes apart, 1 minute long. She said she would be there soon.

Before my previous birth, I had spent a lot of time trying to practice techniques from Hypnobirthing and reading Ina Gaskins book. It seemed to me that a lot of the point of all of this was trying to convince yourself that you were not in pain, which just didn't work very well for me. I envy those women who seem to have "easy" labors, who can self-hypnotize their pain away and breath their babies out without pushing, but I think this just isn't how my body and mind works.

This time, I had prepared by reading hundreds and hundreds of birth stories from various online sites, and watching a few on youtube. I pulled from the experiences of other women to try to find something that would work for me. I decided to concentrate on getting "into" the pain instead of trying to will it away. During Bug's labor, I kept moving around, looking for positions that would help progress my labor and make my contractions more bearable, but this time I didn't try to make myself more comfortable. Instead, I tried to welcome the pain and feel it as my body working towards a goal. It worked much better for me. Contractions where I fought the pain or tried to get away from it were more difficult to manage. When I was able to concentrate on feeling how the contraction was opening and preparing my body the pain felt more manageable. I doubt everyone feels labor pain in the same way, but in both of my labors I had contractions that were concentrated in the lower front of my belly, sort of in line with where my cervix was, so it made sense to see the pain as the act of my cervix opening. Fortunately I had almost no back pain to distract me. Maybe the advantage of being so massive in pregnancy is that I carry so far forward that the baby doesn't press against my back. He was also in a good position, with his spine against the front of my belly. 

I did use some general techniques from Hypnobirthing... I used a version of relaxation breathing and visualized my cervix as a flower opening. To strengthen my visualization, I had watched and re-watched time-lapse images of lotus flowers opening, and this helped me hold the image more strongly in my mind during labor.

I also very deliberately used vocalization, intoning a low ah.... or oh..... during contractions. I had read of women using a mantra of oooo.....pen and I started doing this also when the contractions became more intense. It gave me something else to do and concentrate on. I'm sure it was funny to the people listening, but I didn't care. Later in labor, I started adding a vibration to the toning, like vibrato... I don't know why, it just felt good, and somehow made me feel more like I was in control.

I labored mostly in the bedroom, with the lights dimmed, standing and leaning against the wardrobe or on the birth ball. I had gotten in the birth pool really early last time which my midwife did not discourage, but after reading so many birth stories, I decided that it would be best to wait until labor was well along-- 5 cms at least. I asked for a check when I thought I might be there, and I was 4-5 so there was a sudden flurry of activity to fill the pool. My husband had been reluctant to start too early, but they quickly ran out of water from our over-taxed water heater and started boiling pots on the stove. As soon it was ready, and I jumped right in. I don't know if the water made the pain any less, but it was certainly a comfort that I welcomed. I also loved the mobility the pool gave me (it was a La Bassine birth pool which was nice and deep and roomy). I mostly hung out on my knees, leaning heavily on the padded edge of the pool. My husband sat on a stool and held my hands. After he had finished filling the pool, I pretty much wouldn't let him leave me! It was just a comfort to have him there.

Throughout it all, and especially right around 7cm, I kept declaring that I couldn't do it, that I didn't have the strength. Which is sort of out of character for me, since I usually have a lot of confidence in myself, and I know that despite what I was saying, I did have confidence in my ability to give birth. I think I was saying this because I was so fearful of a repeat of my first labor, where I was frustrated at the very slow progress, and I really was close to not having the strength or energy to continue. I also wanted the encouragement of the people around me, and it is a lame way of getting it, but it did make people say to me that I could do it, and that is what I wanted to hear.

After awhile I was getting really tired, and tired of waiting, and I asked to be checked. I got out of the pool and my midwife said I was 7-8, which everyone said was good but I had been hoping to be even further. So I stood and labored for awhile, hanging onto my husband, which made the contractions more intense and closer together. When I couldn't take it any more and needed a rest, I got back in the pool and contractions seemed to space out and give me a bit of a rest. I almost fell asleep between one set, and I heard my husband snoring.

My midwife suggested that I try to rest, but I just wanted to move forward. Then she suggested I eat something, so ate a spoonful of honey, which seemed to help pick things up. I thought I might be feeling a little bit pushy, so with my midwife's encouragement, I tried pushing, but it seemed like I could feel I was pushing against the pain at the front of my abdomen, so I thought that perhaps I wasn't all the way. I stood in the pool and labored that way for a few contractions, supported by my husband. I still wanted to push, and asked to be checked, so flipped onto my back in the pool and my midwife checked. No lip! She suggested I try pushing on my back in the pool with my legs held up to my chest on the next contraction and I tried, but it felt like I had no power in this position.

I went back to my favorite place on the edge of the pool, on my left knee and squatting with my right leg. There is no way I would ever have been able to hold this position on dry land! But in water it was possible, and I was even able to reach down with my right hand and feel the water bag. At the end of the next contraction, my body started pushing for me. I was surprised, since this hadn't happened during my first birth, but I had read about it happening for other women. It felt like my body was telling me how I needed to push. After that I started pushing on my own. At first I was making a lot of noise, and my midwife said it would be better to put the effort into the push rather than the noise. I started concentrating on the pushing, getting 3-4 pushes into each contraction. I kept my hand in my vagina, feeling my progress. The water bag move just a little bit, then slide back in between. I knew that this would happen, but it is so disheartening to when it does happen. I asked if it would help to have her break the bag, and she said that she could do that, but didn't think it was necessary. She thought it wasn't hindering my progress, and it would break on its own.

Sure enough, my water did break after a few pushes. I had my hand on it as I was pushing, and I felt it break and the fluid rushed past my fingers. It was sort of amazing. On the next push, I could feel his head making its slow progress down the canal. It was soft and squishy and hairy! A little further on his head started staying in place between contractions, and I made my husband feel it too.

After what felt like forever (but probably wasn't nearly as long as I thought), his head was right against my perineum, and I could feel the burn. I tried for a few contractions to push him out past the perineum, but wasn't feeling like I was getting anywhere, and my midwife came to help, trying to work him through. She had me push, even without a contraction, then had me pull my right leg up into a squat too (another thing I couldn't have done on dry land), and push some more. I pushed harder than I thought was possible, and could feel her encouraging him out.

Suddenly she was passing him up between my legs and telling me to reach out for him, and I was holding my slippery baby and pulling him out of the water. I flipped over hand held him on my chest, overtaken with amazement that this little tiny perfect person had just been inside of me. I very smartly declared, "it's a baby!" He was very calm, just looking at me. They were trying to suction and get him to cry to see him breathe more strongly, but also saying that he was just fine. He didn't seem very interested in feeding, so I just held him against my breast, resting, so glad that he was finally with us. I birthed the placenta in the pool, while it was still attached to him. We waited for it to stop pulsing, then my husband cut the cord. He took his shirt off and I passed the baby to him and was helped out of the pool.

He was born at 6:01 am. My husband took him to meet his big sister who was in the living room. My best friend (and Bug's favorite"aunt") had come to be with her. Little Bug (who is 3) slept through most of the labor, apparently waking up for a couple of hours and choosing to stay on the couch with her aunt, then going back to sleep though the loud stuff at the end. She woke up just in time to meet her new brother! "He came out of Mommy," she declared. We had watched several birth videos together, so she knew how it all happened.

I had a small tear on the inside of my labia that needed a few stitches and a tiny one on my perineum that could probably have healed without stitches. They said I hadn't lost a lot of blood and I didn't need a shot like last time, but I was still a bit lightheaded when I stood up, so I opted to stay horizontal for awhile. After I was cleaned up a little and propped up in bed, I nursed him for the first time. Then they weighed him-- 9lbs 10.5 oz, only .5 oz larger than his sister.

Overall, labor was about 10 hours. For me, it was the perfect labor and birth, just what I wanted for our son. After the midwives left and we were all cuddled in bed, I was just so magical to be there all together, just enjoying being with each other.

Born March 23rd
("Due" date March 10)

9lb 10.5 oz
22.5 in length
15.25 in head circumference
14.75 in chest
14 in abdomen

10 hour labor (by the midwife's count)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Introducing Little Lion

I feel so incredibly happy and thankful to have such a beautiful baby boy. After a long wait, he came into the world rather peacefully. He is just such a sweetheart, totally happy to cuddle up with his mommy, daddy, and big sister. We are content just admiring him!

Pictures of Little Lion on his first day of life.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Finished Cardigan Set for Baby

All ready for you baby! Just come!

Green Striped Baby Booties- Autumn Street's Baby Ugg Pattern

This baby is giving me too much time... I just finished a pair of booties to go with the cardigan and hat!

C'mon baby... just come, we want to meet you!

Anyhow, the booties are from a free pattern on Ravelry from Autumn Street called "Baby Uggs." I don't know about Uggs, but I thought they looked cute and like they had a chance of staying on baby's feet!

I used Cascade 220 Superwash Sport, which was leftover from the cardigan. It is machine washable merino wool (with some poly blended in). I used size 5 needles (circulars, just because that is what I had). There was no gauge on the pattern, but mine was 6.5/inch in stockingette and they came out a little small... 3 inches rather than 3.5 inches in the length of the sole. But they look like a good size for a newborn, and are very stretchy!

The pattern is knit flat, then seamed up the back. I thought it was very clever shaping, and rather well thought out. Here is a picture in progress.. you can see the striped cuff, which will be turned down so that the right side shows (the pattern take this into account) and the toe of the bootie is at the center top.

Here you can see it folded in half... almost looks like a bootie!

Cuff folded down...

Front view (I have it on 48 inch circulars, which are certainly overkill! The pattern suggests straight needles, but I don't have any of those!)

And here is the sole... it is knit flat, then you split it between two needles and seam it up the center with kitchener's stitch.

Finished booties!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Green Striped Hat- Purlbee Hats for Newborns

I looked everywhere for a pattern that would go well with my green BSJ cardigan, and would use the same sport weight yarn... and came up blank. I guess I sort of don't need a pattern, but I'm such a new knitter that I wanted some guidance!

Finally I settled on trying to adapt the Purlbee Hats for Newborns pattern (free on their website, or on Ravelry). I love the look of all of these the hats... simple, classic, not fussy.... but I thought the stripes would be especially nice with the yarn I had. But they use a very thin line weight. Since I was using a DK/sport weight yarn, I cast on 84 stitches. I calculated that a gauge of about 6.2 stitches per inch would make the 13.5 inch circumference called for by the pattern. When I came to the decreases, I skipped ahead a few rows until the numbers matched 84.

I used magic loop technique with Takumi interchangeable needles.

Unstretched and unblocked, it came out at about a 12 inch circumference. It is very stretchy, and looks about the right size for a baby. We’ll see!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring Green Baby Surprise Jacket (take 2, 3-6 month sized this time I hope!)

So this is take two on the Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket. (Take one is blogged here). My copy of the pattern is from her book Knitting Workshop. This time I made sure I was getting the gauge-- 6 stiches/inch. I used a slightly lighter yarn, Cascade 220 Superwash Sport in 3 colors... moss green, "banana cream" (just as an accent color) and a "greens multi." It is considerably smaller... I forgot to take a picture of the two jackets next to each other, but 1 stitch per inch difference made a huge difference in the size... this one is at least 1.5-2 inches smaller in circumference. It looks much more in the range of what a 3-6 month old baby would wear, which was what I was going for. 

I did an icord bindoff this time in the Banana Cream. I used the same wooden buttons... I'm sort of obsessed with these. 

Very happy with it... can't believe I got it done before the baby came. Now please, please come baby, mommy is rather tired of being pregnant and wants to meet you!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Pregnant Mommy and Little Bug Pictures

A post of pictures of Little Bug and a very pregnant Mom. Just because they are so cute, and capture a sweet time that will soon be past!

Newborn Hat

Okay baby, anytime you want to come I'm ready!

Until that time I'm just going to keep making things. Here is a little baby hat, made with a free pattern from Janet Russell on Ravelry.

This is my second ever knitting project! I made it with Cascade Superwash 220 Merino, so it can be machine washed. I mostly followed the pattern, but made it shorter with the hopes that I won't have to fold up the brim, and added an "icord" to finish the top. 

The knitting isn't totally consistent... not sure why. Actually I sort of like the "rustic" look, but I might not like it on other projects. It might have happened since this was my first attempt at "magic loop" technique, which is sort of weird to do. Maybe I'll get better at it... or maybe I'll eventually learn to use double pointed needles. 

It was a quick knit, once I got started (it took me awhile to figure out how to join the round and get going with the magic loop thing). 

Pajamas Part 2: Bamboo Knit Nursing PJs

While I'm on my PJ kick, I just had to make some new nursing PJs for Mom. Once again, I haven't made any in years! But I'm still wearing and loving the 4 pairs I made before little Bug was born. 

The pattern is totally self drafted. It was one of the first patterns I ever made, so it is sort of a mess of a pattern, but it does the trick. It is modeled after nursing PJs by Japanese Weekend which I have never seen in person, but looked like a good design, and the sizing was traced off of other tops I own that fit well.

I'm not sure what the real JW PJs are like, but mine are fantastic, even if I do say so myself! They are great for nursing, day and night. The cross front provides enough support for light wear around the house without a bra, at least for me. The front panel is a double layer, so it absorbs any light leakage, and I can slip a pad between the layers if the leakage is heavier. The bamboo knit (from Natures Fabrics) is super soft and doesn't pill at all, even with less than gentle care (machine wash normal, hot dry). The knit is super stretchy and I make the length extra-long so it covers my belly even when I'm gigantic (like now, 40+ weeks pregnant!).

I'm also loving the colors this time around. The teal is fantastic, and I wasn't so excited about the gray but adding the striped trim (which is a scrap of rayon/lycra from another project) was totally inspired. 

Economically I definitely feel a bit smug, since the JW PJs cost $70 each, and I have a feeling mine are better anyway-- bamboo, more generous length top, double layer front...! 

Pajamas Part 1: Bamboo Flannel PJ Pants, His and Her

Still waiting for baby... so I'm moving down my list to luxury items for Mom and Dad-- new PJ/lounge pants!

It's been awhile since I've made pajamas... the last time I was so inclined was before little Bug was born, and I'm still wearing those. I made one with a bamboo flannel that I just LOVE... even after 3 years of nearly daily wear, it is still super soft. I made a couple other pairs with cotton flannel from Joanne's that I figured with soften with time, but actually they've gotten a bit rough in texture, almost pilling on the surface. Not ideal at all! 

Therefore, when I was fabric shopping for flannel for PJs, it was bamboo flannel all the way. Unfortunately the selection of prints in bamboo flannel seems to be really limited... someone please let me know if you have a source I haven't found yet! Natures Fabrics only has a very kiddie looking pink cupcakes print, and The Bamboo Fabric Store has a turquoise and brown scroll work print. The scrollwork was the clear winner. 

I've never ordered from the Bamboo Fabric Store, but they were fantastic. They shipped super fast, and when I somehow ended up with natural instead of the print (which was probably my error when I ordered), they refunded the mistake and sent off a replacement order super fast. 

When I was lamenting my ordering mistake to my husband, he expressed his desire to also have some bamboo flannel PJs. I wouldn't have chosen this print for him, but he said it was fine, and preferred it to plain white which was the only other choice. So I ended up ordering 5 yards!

For my PJs, I traced a favorite pair of my old PJs The waistband is folded over and a channel is sewn for 1/4 inch elastic, which creates a frilly top edge and a weak elastic band around the waist, which is how I like it... totally unrestrictive.

His were slightly more complex. I traced a favorite pair of his PJs, which had a clear front and back (much higher rise in the back. He also requested pockets... funny, I have NEVER made side seam pockets before since as a woman, I don't really feel I need any extra padding in that area! But they were super easy to sew, I think I will have to start adding them to things I make (such as toddler clothes... toddlers can never have enough pockets!). 

I've always sort of cringed at the economy of making PJ pants. But I just looked up prices for bamboo flannel PJs online, and at $70 a set, my $50 of fabric for two custom made PJ bottoms doesn't sound like such a bad deal!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Handmade Baby Boy Layette

Here is my collection for the new baby boy! Can't believe I got through my list before he was born...

Two pairs of Big Butt Baby Pants (Made by Rae Pattern). This was the only pattern I ended up buying, just because it is so cute! I made it in Bear Hike Flannel by Birch Organics in Shroom and Little Lambs Flannel by Michael Miller's, from Fabric Worm.

The back panel is plain gray flannel from my stash.

Two zip baby sleepers (blogged here). The pattern is traced from a sleeper I was given, and the fabrics are from Fabric Worm: Blue School and Bugs by Birch Organics. 

Bamboo Fleece Sleeper (blogged here).

First outfit for a newborn! The top knot hat was made from the free pattern on Make it Love it, out of bamboo interlock from Natures Fabrics. The shoes are made from my favorite bamboo fleece and the free pattern at make-your-own-baby stuff. The top is from a pattern I made for my daughter when she was a newborn, also made from bamboo interlock.

Four pants from Made By Rae's free baby pants pattern. The print fabrics are organic cotton from Nature's Fabrics and the solids are cotton knits from Etsy.

Four envelope neck Ts from the free pattern at Smalldreamfactory.

Bamboo Fleece baby blanket edged with merino wool (blogged here).

Baby Surprise Jacket in knit Alpaca wool (blogged here).

Besides the handmade items, there are the few hand-me-downs from my daughter that aren't too girlie, a few irresistable used items from the great second-hand childrens stores we have in town, and 2 packs of carters onesies, one in newborn and one in 0-3 months.

I'm officially ready! His due date is 2 days away. He can come anytime he wants!

Friday, March 6, 2015

What to wear when you are VERY pregnant...

What does one wear when they are MASSIVELY pregnant? Because I get huge when I am pregnant, there is just no hiding it. Until my maternity leave started recently, I've also needed to look somewhat professional for work. I haven't bought a single item of "maternity" wear-- the readily available styles turn me off and I can't see spending all that money on something I'll wear for a couple months.  

For pants, I have a stash of wide-legged yoga pants, mostly black-- all, unfortunately, the discontinued Still Pant by Lululemon. There has got to be something similar on the market these days... quite honestly I haven't looked. I did however buy some Lululemon fabric from Peak Fabrics, with the thought that I would make some of my own... but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I also wear leggings (also Lululemon, bought back before the translucent pants fiasco...). Of course, oddly enough, the ones I'm wearing in these photos are navy blue! Oh well. 

Generally, I prefer to wear super-stretchy knits, tunic length or even better, dresses that now serve as tunics. The stretch knits help to define shape, without looking so blatantly "maternity," and they grow with my endlessly growing belly! Thicker knits help smooth any bulges (stretchy pontes, double layered knits, or lined). Drape or cross necks are a plus since they also work really well for nursing later on... I hate baring my belly in public, and usually have a scarf or wrap around to use for coverage from above if I need it. 

The above dress is my favorite, favorite thing to wear this winter. It is a drape neck wool jersey sheath, lined with rayon knit lining. Self-drafted... just a simple tube. I actually cut this out a couple YEARS ago, and it was languishing in the bottom of my unfinished project bag because when I cut it, I had never lined anything and I was daunted by the process. When I found it again this fall, I sewed it up in a couple hours. With a sweater, it is super-cozy in the sub-freezing weather we have been having, and with the dress length (now tunic-length) I never have to worry about adequate coverage.

I also have several tops made with the same self-drafted drape neck pattern, just not quite this long. They are fantastic for both maternity and nursing, and so quick to cut and sew. For thinner knits, I do a double layer in the front for extra coverage.

This is an adaptation of the Megan Neilson maternity wrap pattern. I blogged the original here. While it looks super cute in the photos, I really don't wear the original because I can't deal with all that wrapping, and I can't stand always looking down all the time to see if I'm still properly wrapped! So in this version, I used the top of the pattern and just cut a rectangle (slightly flared to the hips) for the body of the top. At this point, I wish it were a couple inches longer... it just barely fits. It would also be better with a sash under the bust, or perhaps a bit of elastic there to help define the shape. The fabric is a stretchy rayon-lycra knit from Marcy Tilton (I think... might have been Emmaonesock).

This is a knit sheath dress, made in a very cool striped knit with a sewn texture. The pattern is New Look 6643... which I blogged in a very, very different style here (this was my maid of honor dress for my best friend's wedding!). Made up in a knit, it is a nice relaxed sheath dress, so versatile! The fabric is from Marcy Tilton. 

Another unblogged project, a tunic-top from a Vogue pattern. I made this in early fall, and it has served well as a maternity top, despite the fact that the fit is a bit loose. At this point though, I sort of wish it was a couple inches longer!

My First Knitting Project Ever: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket

This is my first ever completed knitting project!

I'm a good crocheter, but I seem to have inherited a block against knitting from my mom. My mom is a master crocheter-- she made the most amazing, complex crocheted blankets, we each had one on our beds when we were growing up, and she always makes a gorgeous crocheted baby blanket for her grandchildren and often the babies of our cousins. As a kid I started out with granny squares and later made fancy doilies for fun. 

My mom also taught me to knit when I was a teen. I never saw her knit anything, and I never finished my first project... a purple scarf. A totally endless project, made with local craft store acrylic yarn, that I've carried around with me for years. It is soooooo ugly!

Somehow when I was browsing for baby things, Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket jumped out at me as such a cute little sweater for a newborn. I walked into our local yarn shop and asked the owner if I was crazy to want to knit that as a first ever knitting project. To her credit, she said no, it was a fine project for a beginner! She had a copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman's book with the pattern in it, and set me up with bamboo circular needles and Berroco Alpaca yarn. She even encouraged me to try striping, which turned out to be not too difficult on this pattern.

I relied heavily on the help of Youtube videos to get my knitting skills up to date, and also to help me through the project. The series of videos by City Knitting on making the Baby Surprise Jacket were fantastic, I doubt I would have completed the project so well without their help!

The only small disappointment is that the sweater is actually sort of large for a newborn! It probably won't fit him until next fall. My gauge is sort of off-- it was about 5 stitches per inch, when it should have been 6.

Therefore... I've started another one, in a sport weight yarn with a smaller gauge. People did mention that this pattern was addictive!