Sunday’s Sanctuary 

We had a productive day. It seems rare these days to have a day with just the family. As much as I would have loved to take the kids to the zoo, we started with church and then I decided to run errands. My husband stayed behind with the boys and did what he does best…organize.

I returned home from two hours of “me time,” stuffing my feelings with retail therapy at Target. This is a trip that would take my husband one hour with travel time (we live 15 minutes away), but took me two hours because I would do things like stand in the cup aisle for 20 minutes staring at canteens for my son. It’s incredible how hard it is to make a decision, anything would be better than the chewed up things he has now. The foremost thought running through my head being: Lordy, why does there have to be so much plastic? I stand there, shuffling back and forth. I can’t stop thinking about the oceans.

Q wanted to play outside, because as he has matter of factly informed us he “belongs outside.”

With little say in the matter, I sat out there in the sun crocheting for a neighborhood yarn bomb project. There was peace there for a bit. Even while the kid started making high pitched noises at the birds, telling them to go away or they would be put in time out.

Here’s a snapshot of that moment:


The yarn is nothing too fancy, just some acrylic I picked up at a local charity thriftstore specifically for this project.

This was my sanctuary Sunday, where listening to the play sounds of my little boy and crocheting a dime’s worth of yarn in the sun was a moment to be cherished.

There is shelter here.

Many Moons

Hello Friends, it’s been a while. Like, 2014 a while. My last blog post was about parenting, mommyhood if you will. So I’ll let you put two + two together.

What have I been up to? Aside from working, raising Q who is now a delightful and very three year old, I started a yarn booth that went a little something like this:

img_2014
Grassroots Yarn booth first location.

Then this:

Second location

And then:


Why so quick?

Lots of reasons, but mainly because of this:

Meet Finis!

Who has time to run and promote a yarn booth when they are a working mom of two boys?

Reflecting back, I needed to try. I felt something missing in my working life and I needed something that I love and that I could be creative with to overcome that hump. It filled that void. I’m still thinking of what to do next that doesn’t mean putting my house on the line, but in the meantime, I’m looking at online sales both in terms of supplies and handmade things. I also have a friend who spins and loves yarn, so we are conspiring together, too.

I’m back to knitting and started to teach myself crochet. There was a year or more that I didn’t have the time or drive to pick up my needles, but now it’s how I cope.

I’ll be refreshing my blog, I’m taking a Lenten fast from the book of faces, so I have to put all these words bumping around my head somewhere. But for now I wanted to check in, say “howdy” and let you know I’m here.

 

Hankerin' to knit a hanky
Hankerin’ to knit a hanky

By the way, I’m writing this post from an app as I do the parenting thing, so if anything looks amiss, ignore it till I can edit from a real computer that doesn’t jump around every time I hit the screen to try to move the cursor.

Cheers!

Gnome Hats and Knitting Bags

I started blogging after discovering my love of knitting and reading some fabulously entertaining knitting blogs. This was supposed to be a focus on knitting and my life’s journey, however,  I’ve had more life and a little less knitting. It’s pretty tough juggling a baby with yarn and needles. I did mange to knit my first dishcloth out of cotton though. I had to do something while on maternity leave to meet my fix. It was fun and simple, but I still managed to make mistakes. Small wonder when I have this scenario:

Multitasking with Baby, Cat, and Knitting.
Baby. Cat. Knitting. Multitasking at its finest.

I realize that I didn’t get around to my review of the knitting bags I purchased from Slipped Stitch Studios. Before I begin, a few disclaimers: I have never written a review. My experience does not mean others will have the same. I have not been requested by Slipped Stitch Studios to write this review and so I am not receiving any free gifts. Here we go.

Squeee! Doctor Who toile knitting bags from Slipped Stitch Studios.
Squeee! Doctor Who toile knitting bags from Slipped Stitch Studios.

Okay, so I probably went a little overboard with my purchase, but they have been useful to hold all the projects I haven’t finished. I bought them for that purpose after all. My husband was tired of all the bags lying around that held my yarn and knitting supplies, so it just made sense to buy more. A lady can never have too many bags.

This was from the Doctor Who Bag of the Month Club I purchased last year. It came with the following items:

I also purchased:

These fantastic bags and notions were covered in this fabulous Doctor Who toile fabric:

Doctor Who Toile. Dalecks, and Weeping Angels, and Tardis...Oh My!
Doctor Who Toile. Tardis, Dalecks, and Weeping Angels…Oh My!

 

The travel scissors include a handy attachment with a Dalek and the phrase, “Extermi-Knit”. Get it? Extermi-knit? For the non-Whovies out there here is an explanation.

I haven’t used knitting bags before, but I can say after using my grocery bags and totes, and after searching thrift stores for knitting baskets and finding nothing–I LOVE these bags. I’m over Gallifrey and back for these bags.

Doctor Who was the main selling point for me and the classic toile design cinched it. It turns out that Slipped Stitch Studios uses fabric for all kinds of themes from The Walking Dead to Harry Potter and if media culture isn’t your bag, pun intended, they also have cute designs for lovers of cats, skulls, dogs, even matryoshka dolls. You have to follow these wonderful ladies though, the special bag of the month is usually limited, so you gotta act fast.

The quality is incredible. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but I did think I was going to receive canvas bags. Imagine my surprise and delight that what came in the mail was a soft cotton material, well stitched, with pockets galore. Even the sock bag has pockets for all your needles, scissors, and notions. The space available was just enough, too. If it gives you any idea, I used the sock bag to carry a ball of yarn, my double-pointed needles, other notions, and it doubled as my purse with my iPhone and small folded wallet. These babies are right up there with a Mary Poppins bag, but without the teacups, those come separate. I also discovered this handy little snap inside the bag that allows you to string your yarn through and use the bag as a yarn holder, yippee!!

For those who like their paper patterns, the miWallet and miMagnets are a good alternative to folding pieces of paper and using post-it notes. It helped to keep my paper patterns organized. There’s even a small zipper to hold more supplies.

The miMagnets are ribbon with magnets attached and they come in 3 different sizes which allows you to work with most book sizes. These can be used with a variety of books and she even provides a QR code to scan for a how-to video. How considerate!

I am quite pleased with my purchase, my only regret is that I didn’t wait to buy my bags piecemeal. They have come out with some really cool bags since then.

They have held a few projects since my purchase. One of the most recent is the Scrappy Gnome Hat I started for Quinn. I intended to use my rather large yarn stash, since this was intended for stash busting, but the mouse who took up residence in my stash caused me to make other plans, and a great deal of heartache. There was mouse poop everywhere, and I tried to wash it out of the yarn, but then I thought about all the potential diseases like, hantavirus, bubonic plague, and lots of other scaries. With an infant in the house, I decided it was best to trash the stash. I had such plans for that yarn. Now I know that plastic bins are my friend.

So the Scrappy Gnome Hat is the first hat I have knitted. It was so easy and forgiving of mistakes. This was also the first i-cord I ever knitted. I also managed to make a mistake with that one, but it’s all good. Here is a picture of the kid in his hat. Fair warning: you could potentially die from all this cuteness.

Our little gnome.
Our little gnome.

 

Here we are, laughing at his gnomy adorableness. His expression suggests he sees the humor, but not that much.

 

Now I’m working on one for his father. I see a Christmas card in the making.

Feeling the Feels

I’m in a postpartum body riding the proverbial emotional roller coaster. I have hormones dancing around that I never experienced, creating emotions on a level never felt before. I realized upon returning from the hospital that I am in new territory when I felt a multitude of emotions…all…at…the…same…time. I never realized until I sent myself to therapy 10 years ago that having multiple emotions was even a possibility. Honestly, I had no idea what I was feeling back then, except sadness and a lot of yuck. In those days, if someone asked me what I was feeling I couldn’t do anything except blink at them, fumble for an answer, and inevitably give them a dishonest answer. In reality I was miserable, depressed, and full of anxiety. I was a hot mess.  Now I have tools in my toolbox that can help me navigate life. Lately they have been scattered and hard to find in the dark, when the nighttime delirium takes hold. I don’t do it perfectly, but I do it with as much grace as I can muster. I make mistakes, I fall back on old patterns and habits, but I catch myself and try it all over again. It’s a good thing I’m prepared for this.

I’m navigating new territory. I have a son and it’s astonishing how much I have fallen in love with him. He cracked open my heart and let in all the light of this world…and all its vulnerabilities. I don’t think I’ll ever recover from the multitude of emotions that I feel after bringing him into this world and witnessing his life, in fact, I hope I never will. His life, and my experience as his mother, is too profound, too sacred and holy to just chalk it up to mere experience. This is Life. It’s beautiful. It’s messy, and I’m not just talking about the spit up that flows down my chest after nursing Quinn.

As I adjust to motherhood with the late night feedings, the diaper changes with the pee and the poo, the crying, the coos, the laundry, the smiles, his bright eyes, and the new schedule,  I am also adjusting to new emotions. As I experience these hormones I am feeling BIG feels. I feel pressure to do it “right” because I don’t want to mess up my kid, I feel joy and delight, I feel sadness that over 2 months have passed and how such a short amount of time has quickly gone by, I feel frustration when I have to do laundry (i.e. cloth diapers) and Quinn needs me (i.e. is crying) because though he needs fresh nappies, his care is most important. I have to set my face and keep it together for this little guy who is also feeling the feels. We are both on a learning curve here. The difference is that I have been in Life longer than Quinn and, with Calvin’s help, we have to educate him on Life and all its curve balls.

I’ve already learned a lot on our brief journey, mostly that babies are in two words…very frustrated. For instance, Quinn fights his sleep and it’s painful to watch knowing that if he just gave in to the drowsiness he would become comfortable. All we can do is find what will soothe him whether it is swaying, singing and humming–his favorite songs are You Are My Sunshine and Greensleeves–changing his diaper, gently bopping him up and down…you get the picture. When those things don’t work, I try to take the cue that maybe he just needs to cry. Being a parent takes huge amounts of empathy for these little people in tiny bodies who have such BIG feelings. When I remember that I don’t like it when people try to keep me from feeling, because they are uncomfortable with my emotions, I pause and just hold on to Quinn. I tell him I know it’s hard and frustrating. I ask him what can I do and just love him through his anger, frustration, and sadness. It’s heartbreaking. There are times I feel like I’m not doing enough for him, that I’m doing it wrong, and if I could just find that magic combination of comfort, all will be okay.

But I realize that Quinn is already teaching me that if I remember to do the same self soothing, I will be able to teach him by example. It is very important he learn coping skills, you see, Quinn has a double whammy of alcoholism and addiction that runs on both sides of his family and it runs deep. One of the most important tools we can give him is that of being able to identify and cope with his feelings in a healthy manner.

One night he was fighting his sleep and managed to calm down. As we were looking into each others eyes a Peter Gabriel song started to play, The Book of Love. Though this song is about the love of a couple, I heard it through the eyes of my little boy and I cried over its tenderness and simplicity. This is all Quinn wants now, to be loved, to be read to, to have me sing to him, to have this moment. In exchange, he is my gift of a love so immense my body can hardly contain it. Through him I see so much beauty in the world. And it’s terrifying, it’s just so…BIG.

We went to church for the second time this week. He started fighting his sleep and wanted to nurse. I self-consciously stepped out to take care of him. I sat in a chair in the hallway and nursed. Since this is my first time nursing in public, I felt out-of-place and had all these questions running through my head. The monologue went something like this:

I shouldn’t be here, I need to be in a room, I vaguely remember a nursery, or was it a nursing room? I’m all confused. Quinn calmed down, so I straightened myself up and he got fussy again. His little head tilted back, his eyes red and slightly closed. I shuffle, I hum, I walk around, he calms down, he sleeps, he wakes back up again, he cries, I step outside, and we do some more of the same. I start to sing to him, “it’s okay, it’s alright, just fall to sleep, I’ve got you tight.” He eventually does fall to sleep as I’m slowly walking the parking lot. While I’m doing this I start thinking crazy thoughts:  I feel so alone, I don’t belong here, maybe we should just go, I need to get Calvin, but how do I get him with a crying Quinn in my arms, maybe I shouldn’t come back, it’s too soon, he’s too little, wait…what are you thinking? What other place is more perfect to nurse than in a church?! What more perfect place for a baby?! I know the people of this church. They are happy to have us here, to welcome little Quinn, they prayed for us, brought us food, and communion, they love us…I eventually beat back the demons that created the insecurity and self-doubt.

I realized while I was out there that this is another example of how my life has changed. I felt a loss since I couldn’t hear Pastor Amy’s sermon, but then I realized that just being there was enough. We are on holy ground, we are in a place where the messy is welcome and understood. Quinn and I made it in time for communion and his blessing. I see now that God was there with us, helping us through our feels. To reflect the words I sing to my son, God tells us, “It’s okay, it’s alright, release it to me, I’ve got you tight.”

We have some difficult days, but under it all it’s still beautiful and wonderful. Just remember to find the joy in the mess. It’s there.

Quinn’s Birth Story: “Officer, my wife is in labor”

We have a baby! A beautiful, funny, adorable, smart, 6 week old baby boy. I can still hardly believe it. For those who know me or who have read my blog this has been quite a journey as I wrote in an update regarding the experiences I had in my high risk pregnancy. Quinn’s due date was December 20th and at 25 weeks I was put on bed rest. Our goal was to make it, at least, to December 5th and we made it to the 4th at 37 weeks and 5 days. Not bad considering the odds.

Before I get into the details of Quinn’s birth, I need to provide a back story. I had many concerns going into labor. After I wrote my last entry I developed hypertension. My blood pressure was consistently high, especially when I would get up and move around. Of course, their concern was preeclampsia. Of all the concerns we had this one scared me the most, well, not as much as when I thought I was going to lose Quinn. I feared having a stroke and being unable to care for Quinn, thereby adding one more responsibility to Calvin’s already heavy load. I feared needing a c-section in order to save my life and that of our baby. I feared not having the stamina to make it through the labor as I had been on my back for 3 months and just walking through the hospital to get to the doctor’s office winded me and left my legs feeling like they could give away at any moment. Given this and the cervical issues and umbilical cord functioning properly, we had a lot on our minds. Imagine what it would be like to have this running through your head when you had nothing to do but lay down and ponder the what ifs. Fortunately I had work, insane amounts of TV, knitting, hanging out with the fuzzies, and just chilling with my baby boy. I could not have done this without the support of family, friends, and the prayers of my church. I must have been on 3 different prayer lists–St. John’s Lutheran, my Aunt Dottie-Dot’s prayer group, and my grandmother in-law’s church prayer group. This left me humbled by the care and concern of so many people who didn’t know me. Specifically a woman at my church who crocheted a prayer shawl.

The Prayer Shawl
The Prayer Shawl

This shawl, given as a gift at a church baby shower, was my greatest source of comfort through this experience. I kept it with me at all times and it is still with me now. I look at it and immediately feel comforted by its presence. The prayers that went into its creation were intended for my pregnancy and for Quinn’s safe arrival. I saw this as  a conduit for all the prayers and well wishes of our concerned friends and family. When I felt fear, I pulled this over my belly and prayed for protection and peace. I am ever grateful to the woman who so thoughtfully and lovingly created this for us, not even really knowing who I am–we’ve met once and only saw each other in passing. Today it hangs above my head, draped over the bed post, ever-present, ever providing the feeling of safety and peace as we navigate through the joy, uncertainty, and anxiety of caring for a newborn as first time parents. As I look at it, I am reminded that all will be okay.

I mentioned in my earlier post that we took a Bradley Method birth class taught by my best friend, Gracie. In this class we learned about the stages of childbirth, how to write a birth plan, relaxation methods, exercises (which I couldn’t practice), and what to look for in terms of unnecessary procedures. I walked away feeling better informed and equipped for Quinn’s birth. This class was also the only time, aside from my doctors visits, that I was out of the house. We were fortunate to attend this class with 5 absolutely hilarious couples. I am grateful for the opportunity I had with them on our journey.

Despite all of this education, as with most knowledge, it’s in the practice that makes a difference. Fortunately, given the experience with my pregnancy, I didn’t expect that the labor would go exactly as the birth class taught me. Good thing too.

Calvin and I don’t lead a boring life. Or perhaps I should say, life with Calvin is never boring. When we found out that I was pregnant, Calvin decided it was time to start restoring our 1920 Queen Anne cottage. Basically, he started nesting. We thought that if we started early that we would be done in time before the baby arrived. Remember the statement in my earlier post–We had a plan. Yeah, we laugh now.

It all began when he started picking at a piece of our wall that was chipped. We always thought that the walls were plaster painted in an effort to cover cracks. For some reason whoever painted the walls thought it would be a great idea to give them a popcorn texture. It was awful. It had to go. It was this one little chip that Calvin started picking, like a scab, that started it all. We discovered salvageable plaster walls under 4 layers of wall paper. Then Calvin ditched the wallpaper removal in favor of tearing out the drop ceiling.

Calvin removing the ceiling
Calvin removing the ceiling.

That’s when we hired our contractor to finish the walls and install a new ceiling. We refinanced the house to complete the kitchen and bathroom renovation and had hardwood floors installed. In case you were wondering, I was on bed rest at the time of the floor installation. This is when I practiced my meditation and relaxation–I can’t believe I could actually fall asleep to the sound of compressors and nail guns while I listened to my relaxation app and the Reiki channel on Pandora. I was able to keep calm at a time of great disturbance. These are tools I used during labor.

I give you this back story because that’s why I was in a hotel room on December 4th when I went into labor. We had no plumbing during the bathroom renovation and that just wont do, especially when there is a pregnant lady in the house.

I woke up around 5:00am feeling a slight cramp, but it didn’t last long and I went back to sleep. Calvin had to get up early that day to get to work and I mentioned it to him. He went on about his day. The cramps continued at 7:30 and what was just a slight feeling started to develop a pattern. I walked around, drank some water, and took a shower just to see if they would pass. They didn’t and before I called Calvin to tell him to drop his day, I called our doula, Marva, just to see if there was something to this. The contractions were coming at about 7 minutes apart and lasted about 2 minutes. I told her that I would give her a call when I needed her, thinking that we had time. She told me to go ahead and call Calvin.

I called Calvin around 10:00am and told him that he should drop his day, I’m in labor. So, Calvin’s next task wasn’t to rush over by my side, he had to pack our bags. Yes, that’s right folks, we were unprepared. Aside from a few supplies, our bags were not packed and in the car despite the risk of preterm labor. Marva found this hilarious. In our defense, I’m laid up for 3 months and Calvin works 2 jobs, go figure. I had planned to pack the weekend that I was off bed rest, but Quinn had different plans.

As I’m moaning and breathing, waiting for Calvin to arrive, I hear the cleaning crew in the hallway slowly making their rounds. I wondered if they could hear me and suddenly felt like I was in a movie, but this was my reality…I am in labor in a Best Western hotel.

Calvin arrives and he’s calm, which is exactly what I needed. Before he arrived I texted Marva that I needed her. The contractions were getting intense and closer together. She was going to be at the hotel in an hour. By the time Calvin arrived my contractions were about 30 seconds and about 1-2 minutes apart. They were also nothing like what was described to me in class, with a slow build up, peak, and then descent. It was straight to the peak and coming on strong. He called Marva and we all decided it was time to get to the hospital. We packed up our stuff and headed out the door. Calvin made his mark, literally an X, on the check out sheet as I head outside to the car. Farewell Best Western, you will always be remembered.

Calvin calls Dr. Brabson’s office as we drive out to the interstate and they called the hospital to let them know we were on the way. I’m having contractions all the way down the interstate and it was just as I was coming down the peak of one that Calvin says, “we’re getting pulled over.” Just to let you know, he was only going 75 and if you live in Knoxville you know that is slow compared to the people who make their commute at 80+mph. He pulls over and rolls down the window, sticks his head out and says, “Officer, my wife is in labor.” I’ve just completed a contraction and my hand is to my head. I hear a pause, look to the side and see a burly officer with a gray mustache slowly lean over to look in the car to see if there is any truth to this statement. What he saw must have been convincing because he asked Calvin where we were heading. I thought, how nice, he’s probably going to escort us. Calvin told him Tennova, which was at the next exit and the motorcycle cop told him to get out of here. No escort. Bummer, that would have added a little more excitement to the story.

We arrived at the hospital around 11:30 . Calvin parks right in front of the doors and brings me up to triage. He had to leave to register with the hospital, for the second time, and move the car. I was alone. It was the most alone I had ever felt during this experience, except for the 2 couples that were in there with me. Their presence made me aware that I am still in reality. I kept my eyes closed and kept breathing my slow breaths, but what got me through it were the moans. Ladies, if you are ever in labor keep them low, deep, and strong. That’s the way to do it. If you scream like a banshee, it makes it worse for you and more painful. Keep it primal.

Marva showed up and I was so happy. She got right to work providing her peace and comfort. She showed up just in time because while I’m in triage I’m getting asked all kinds of questions. Something I’m not interested in doing while I’m trying to concentrate and keep relaxed while my muscles are doing things they have never done before. It was while I was in triage that I started saying Hail Mary’s, calling on my Catholic roots to get me through a mother’s pain. This prayer has always been my go to for comfort.

They checked my cervix, of all the things that I could experience in this labor, that was probably the most painful. I didn’t want to do it again. I was measured at 4cm and 80% effaced. Time to get into a room. I thought I was going to be given a wheel chair, but they made me walk. The contractions were coming on quick. Just as I was coming off a contraction a nurse said we could go when I was done. I had one right after to which she said we would have to move quick. So, here I am trying to walk, breathe, and relax as I’m being lead through hallways to get to our room. I had a contraction as I was walking and I didn’t lean up against a wall, I just kept walking, determined to get into the room and bring our son into the world.

We got to the room around 12:15. If you haven’t noticed, this is a fast labor and I’m being checked in during the majority of it with questions that I probably answered 3 times by 3 different nurses. It’s while this is going on and the labor and deliver nurse assigned to us can’t stop talking…loudly, that I realize they need our birth plan. One of the items I request is that I labor in a peaceful environment with little discussion. I’m breathing out in a loud voice while I have the chance, “Please, be quiet!” I had my voice and I was determined to have the birth experience I wanted. Calvin had to leave me to get the birth plan. I could focus now on what needed to be done.

This was a true test of being able to handle a situation with grace and adjust my expectations to fit the changes that inevitably occur. I wanted to labor in water. This is a natural pain reliever as the buoyancy releases pressure and provides warmth for the muscles and body. It never happened. The labor was progressing too quickly. It worked out okay because it turned out my best friend through the labor was a yoga ball the hospital provided. That is where I spent the remainder of 1st stage labor and where I experienced transition. Marva and Calvin both took turns, one in front of me as I draped my arms around them, and one behind me as they massaged my back. Marva spent a great deal of time kneeling in front of me. I hugged her neck, breathed and moaned through the contractions. There was a time that I felt such love for her and wanted to tell her but, I did not. It is the one thing that I regret, not expressing that love for her as she assisted me through my labor, bearing my weight and reminding me to be in a calm place of cool waters.

As I was laboring on the ball, my water broke and the nurse said they needed to check my cervix again, I said no. She told me that they had to know when to get the doctor in to deliver the baby. It wasn’t long that the midwife, Blair, showed up. I was so happy to see her. She stayed with me through my labor, monitoring my blood pressure, and Quinn, all while offering gentle support and encouragement. Blair checked my cervix, I didn’t feel anything, and she gave the go ahead to start pushing.

We moved to the bed, and I labored and pushed on my hands and knees, actually, I hugged the yoga ball while holding Calvin and Marva’s hands. They were my lifeline through this. Calvin was my strength, ever present, stroking my back, offering words of encouragement. Silently with me, protecting us. I remember being so hot and a fan was brought in to keep me cool. Marva put a cool cloth on my head. I gripped their hands and they did not complain. With every contraction Marva whispered words of encouragement, reminding me of the themes that I experienced during my pregnancy that helped me through a difficult time: thankfulness and gratitude. With every contraction she would say, “thankful” to which I would repeat, “thankful.” It was during the most intense contractions when she would say, “grateful” to which I would roar, “graaaatfuuullll!” She knew just what to say, she was so intuitive to me and my experience. When I was pushing, my body in control and I was just following, she would remind me of our son, “Quinn” she would whisper, to which I would repeat, “Quinn.”

Quinn…

I pushed for 1 hour and Quinn was born at 2:59pm.

Quinn!
Quinn!

He weighed 6.14 lbs. and was 21 inches in length. Healthy. Beautiful.

This was the most amazing, loving, beautiful experience I have ever had in my life. It was also fun. I know it must seem strange that labor could be fun, but it was something in the depth of my experience, that as I passed through the Veil I thought, “this is fun.” I was trusting my body, and following it through the most natural thing anyone could ever do, give birth to the life of a child. I can say that I did get the birth that I wanted and despite the labor walk and talking nurse, my experience and care at the hospital was wonderful. It was more than I ever hoped for. I firmly believe that our success was possible by the education through our birth class, the right care provider, our doula, and my supportive husband. I hope that more women get to have that kind of experience.

Now our days are spent bonding with our little boy. Part of the daily discussion includes poopie diapers, rejoicing when we capture boogies, and watching in awe as we see all the developmental changes that Quinn is sharing with us. I spend my maternity leave wearing muslin swaddles as scarfs, wearing our little one, nursing, napping, and just enjoying our time together. Our new normal, though anxious and stressful at times, has been amazing and so beautiful. I continue to remind myself, when things are overwhelming, to continue to carry through with grace and be thankful and grateful for this moment and the moments to come.

To end, here a few photos of our precious little boy, but first, here is a photo of me with my team. The two people who helped me make it happen: Calvin and Marva.

Me, Marva, Quinn, and Calvin. My team.
Me, Marva, Quinn, and Calvin. My team.

Thank you for helping me bring Quinn into this world. I love you both, so much.

Feets!

Baby Wearing Daddy
I Adore Mommy
Booties I Knit for Quinn. Have to add in something about Knitting.

With our OB, Dr. Brabson.

Family

Oh, and the renovation is almost complete.

The Pregnant Whovie

In mid-April my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child due December 20th. Finally, something that I had longed for was a reality! I thought for sure that it we would be one of the many people who struggle with fertility. At the age of 37 I’m what is considered pregnant at a mature age and by that alone “high risk”. I thought that it would take us months to get pregnant and behold my joy at finding out that it wasn’t that difficult.

My pregnancy has been wonderful, I was extremely tired at the beginning, had little queasiness, but other than that, no problems. I have taken to it very well. I can even see why women, such as my mother, want to have lots and lots of babies. It really is an incredible experience. I’ve heard people say that ad infinitum, not fully understanding what they mean. I am amazed at what my body can do and what it is made to do. That it just knows to create these chemicals and bring together cells that create this little person that responds to stimuli, kicks, turns, and hiccups. I don’t feel like I have an alien residing within, I feel like I have a baby within that I am creating.

In my excitement I started knitting a baby blanket right off. I didn’t know at the time if we were going to have a boy or a girl, so I went to our local yarn shop and purchased Cascade’s 60 Quick Baby Blankets and Cascade 220 superwash yarn. I unintentionally deviated from the pattern as there was a problem with the book. I even tracked down the designer, who was not given proper credit for her work, to ask for guidance. Ravelry is a wonderful resource.  I also chose colors that could be gender neutral. The name of the pattern is Pumpkin Patch by Lisa Hoffman. Here’s a pic (for the trained and untrained eye you will see a mistake that I just had to let go of):

My deviated baby blanket.
My deviated baby blanket.

It would seem I chose my colors wisely. My intuition was screaming that we were going to have a little boy. Mama’s intuition was right and he certainly wasn’t bashful in announcing the news to his parents. Whoa, BOY!

This is when we have the experience of couples needing to compromise. Calvin is the 4th in his line and he always said he wanted to name his son, should we have one, Lewis Calvin Chappelle V. I’m not a fan of Lewis. It’s a fine, noble name, but just not my favorite and calling him Calvin would be a little confusing with two in the household. We researched what families do in these situations and found a site that gave us options. We found a name that we knew fit our baby boy, Quinn. Aside from the Latin for five, this is also an Irish name and means “intelligence”, “wisdom”, “counsel”, and our reason for choosing, “estate of the fifth son”. Perfect.

With Quinn’s name in place we forged forward into the realm of pregnancy. We were smooth sailing, then the whole “high risk” thing started entering the equation.

Before I get into that I want to tell you about my philosophy going into my pregnancy. I always knew that I wanted to do this naturally. No drugs and all that. I knew I was going to take a Bradley Method birth class with my husband and get informed about my rights as a patient. Part of what started this was knowing enough about myself that if I were to get an epidural and not feel the lower half of my body, we would have a mama in the full throes of an all out panic attack. Not a pretty picture and certainly not a healthy experience for mama and baby. That is what made my mind up for me. I also knew that the choice I made was in the best interest of our baby. I knew that I wanted with my whole being to have the experience of an un-medicated labor and delivery. I wanted to be part of the process of pain, of working to bring a child into this world, and of pushing him out, making me part of such a primal dance that has been taking place with women for thousands of years. I wanted this for me, my husband, and for our baby. Not because I thought I’d get any gold medals or that it would make me better than other mama’s. I want it because of the precious gift of having him placed on my chest, feeling that chemical mix of hormones coursing through my body, and smelling his little head after working for him, for his life.

I knew with regard to my doctors visits that I wanted limited ultrasounds. I am not the person who needs to see my child in 3D. I like surprises. I had no intention of having the first or second trimester screenings. I did not get pregnant to have an abortion, so what if we found out we were having a baby with downs syndrome? We would still love him.

I had a plan…yeah, I know. It’s okay to laugh.

When I was presented with my first trimester screen, I declined. When I was surprised that I had a second trimester screen, I just went with it despite my hesitancy. A few weeks later I received a call from the doctor’s office. They found that with my age that I had a 1 in 103 chance of having a baby with downs syndrome. It was recommended that I take a Non Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT) which analyzes cell-free fetal DNA circulating in maternal blood. It has an over 99% accuracy rate. The best part is the non invasive aspect which means no amniocentesis. I wouldn’t have that procedure anyway due to risk of miscarriage.

I went to the High Risk office and took the test. My results were not able to be processed. Something might have been wrong with the tube. I went in again and had the same results. I didn’t have enough fetal DNA in my blood stream. Evidently this happens in 1% of tests. My husband and I decided to give up. Baby had a scan, his body was fine and the measurements were consistent with the weight and size of a baby at 17 weeks gestation. While the shenanigans with my blood work are taking place we are dealing with more troubling news.

Here’s the part where we get really intimate with my cervix. If you don’t want to know, stop reading here.

It’s amazing how you can not give a thought to certain parts of your anatomy and why they exist. I never really thought about the function of a cervix except that I had to get it checked out once a year to be sure there wasn’t any funny business going on that could lead to cancer. Who knew it’s what protects our son from the outside world and from blessing us with his presence too soon.

During the visit where my blood was drawn for the NIPT test they measured my cervical length at 3.7cm. That is very normal. When I went into my next appointment 2 weeks later my cervical length had dropped to 2.6cm. They told me they wanted to see me every 2 weeks for monitoring. We were handling this fine. I would just tell myself that we need more information. Keep calm.

I went in 2 weeks later and it measured at 2.25. I was put on progesterone treatments. There is debate on whether this is useful, but it wouldn’t hurt, so we went with that plan. They started taking a swab for a Ffn test (Fetal Fibronectin http://m.ffntest.com/index.html). This gives us a 2 week window to tell us if we will go into preterm labor. The cervix, when preparing for labor, will release chemicals that can be detected in this test. It has a 95% accuracy, that means there is a 5% chance that I could go into labor. Those are pretty good odds. The test has been negative so far at 31 weeks. I took this every 2 weeks and it’s what I held on through out this experience. It is the test gets me through the evenings when my mind starts to wander into the “what if” zone.

Two weeks later on August 27, I was at 2.1cm, but the Ffn still came back negative. Two weeks later on September 10 my cervical length dropped to .5cm. I was officially scared, but the Ffn was still negative. I was put on indefinite bed rest at 25 weeks. I had to come in the next day, a Tuesday, and the length had increased to .99cm. We were excited to see the improvement. I went back in on a Friday and it had shortened to .3cm. I was officially terrified. This was the first time I cried in the office. The midwife I met with was so kind, reassuring, and gentle. They sent me over to the women’s pavilion where I was to begin steroid shots. His lungs were at that point developed, but if born prematurely he would have difficultly breathing. The steroids help them develop faster. They also put me on nifedipine, a blood pressure medicine that is shown to stop contractions that could be contributing to the shortening. I still felt hope, though difficult at times. We knew that if he were born at this point, that his chance of surviving was very high and that he would have to stay in the NICU.

We did have some fun in this. Quinn decided at 26 weeks that he wanted to get a different view of his world and turned breech. Normally, I would not be very concerned about this since under “normal” circumstances he would have time to turn. We didn’t have that luxury. For one week it was my mission to spin a baby. I had a handy wedge pillow that I inverted myself on and played Mozart on my pelvis in the hopes he would turn back head down. It worked! To this day he is still head down and we hope he stays there.

Here I am at 31.5 weeks and he is still with me. Every day I am pregnant is a victory. It has been a roller coaster, especially for my husband. He’s concerned about us and he is someone who likes to be helpful, to fix things, but he can’t fix this. He has been an incredible support and despite his busy work load, has been there with us step by step. When he is scared, I comfort him; when I get scared, he comforts me.

Just as we were getting used to this schedule and seeing a pattern, the pregnancy gods decided to throw something else in this experience to make it a little more interesting. My doppler readings were high. This means that the umbilical cord blood flow was high, which means that the cord was working hard to get nutrients and blood to Quinn. Thankfully, his brain doppler was normal. The doctor decided not to focus so much on my wayward cervix since it has stabilized, and instead focus on this turn of events. I have been going to the office twice a week for ultrasounds to test the cord blood flow. We had the great news that we were back in the normal range as of the 21st of October, but these things can change. We are holding to the hope that we have stabilized in both areas.  What’s more, the doctor said that if we make it to 36 weeks we can discuss removing medications and restrictions so that I don’t go over term. The reality of how close this is sent excitement through us and joy at what we have accomplished. We’re in the home stretch!

Through this we had such an incredible support group with family, friends, neighbors, and our church. I am one of the fortunate women who works for a supportive association that has allowed me to continue working from home. Not many women have that and I am very thankful for them and my staff for being there to keep things running.

The sequel will discuss the emotional side of this experience and what I have learned. Having been in this frightening situation, it is my hope that someone in a similar situation might stumble upon this blog and realize there is hope and that it will be okay. The internet is a pretty scary place for people in our situation. It’s easy to become hysterical reading some of the forums. I don’t recommend it.

I have felt such incredible love and kindness. For a girl who has a life time struggle with not feeling important, the people in my life helped me feel like I do matter. Thank you.

On and Off Needles

It’s March in Tennessee, that time when the weather is schizophrenic, unable to discern if it wants to be winter or spring. The same can be said for my knitting. I’m completing winter wear and have transitional wear on my needles. It’s been a wonderful winter season of knitting and I’ve stepped into what I believe to be intermediate knitting. I only say that because of the never-ending cowl that involves an eyelet pattern. There is still so much to learn, but I have a feeling that with the art comes the fact that you never say, “there, I’ve completed knitting, there’s nothing else to learn and nothing new to enjoy.” That’s the beauty of it and I am thrilled at the prospect of improving my skill.

March also means the premier of Doctor Who. My husband and I are excitedly awaiting the madcap adventures of The Doctor. I’m experiencing what I can only assume is withdrawal, or maybe it’s my Lenten fast that’s creating the jitters. BBC America doesn’t show repeats On Demand at the moment and I need some Doctor Who in a big way. Regardless, I should get my chocolate chip cookies and Doctor Who simultaneously come Easter. What I don’t get in brain drool and high caloric intake, I do get in knitting projects. Here’s a count of my latest work:

I completed Calvin’s wool fingerless gloves:

Wool Fingerless Gloves
Wool Fingerless Gloves

My first pair of adult sized gloves went rather well, raw fingers aside. Calvin loves them too. When I finished he wore them while he watched T.V. and I would catch him out of the corner of my eye looking down and admiring them. Throughout the days he would remark on them, “my hands never felt so warm.” It’s a blessing that I’m with someone who appreciates what I do, I had far too many relationships where that wasn’t the case.

Another project I’m working on and one that has been my greatest challenge to date is the Canaletto Cowl. The first project I have ever knit for myself is taking an infinity to finish, pun intended.


I had to restart this project five times, actually I lost count, it could have been six or seven times that I had to rip it out. I was making all kinds of protesting noises and looked to the animals for guidance. Felicity was no help, she just squinted at me in typical feline derision and went back to sleep. Motherwell just looked confused and in an effort to help, waddled over, pawed at the yarn, and then flopped down to snuggle. Ada was the only one who seemed concerned as she stood there and whimpered.  I’ve kept plugging along though and it’s probably riddled with mistakes, but I’ll just take that as another lesson in letting go.

This free pattern is from the Tricksy Knitter, Megan Goodacre. She is awesome. I LOVE and adore her work. Here’s a link to the Canaletto Cowl

Another project that I fully addicted to is a pattern from Jane Austen Knits.  Miss Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs may just send me into blindness.

My first attempt at lacework.
My first attempt at lacework.

I’m making the cuffs for my sister. She’s the one who told me about the wonderful seasonal catalog that is produced by Interweave Knits

This pattern and the catalog are so Anna.

I’m also working on a yarn bomb installation for the ‘hood. We are part of a marathon route and I have a utility pole that needs dressing. I have rainbow-colored acrylic yarn that will be a perfect addition to the gorilla art that will decorate Parkridge. Since we are on a time crunch, I hit the jackpot at Nostalgia with a box of granny squares. It feels a little like cheating, but considering we have less than a month to get the installation knit and installed, I’ll just have to get over it. Anyway, I will have the time and plenty of inanimate objects to cover in the future.

I am anxiously awaiting my Doctor Who bags from Slipped Stitch Studios. I have so many projects on needles that I could really use their organizing skills. I’m so excited, they should arrive this month and I can’t wait to share them with you all.

Ashes

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and I received my ashes for the first time since I was a wee Catholic girl. Another milestone is that this is the first Ash Wednesday service that Calvin and I have attended–we’ve been together for five years.

My first application of ashes since I was a girl.
My first application of ashes since I was a girl.

This is a huge step for me. I realized this as I felt Pastor Steve apply the ashes to my forehead. There was a time when I wanted to remove myself from organized religion, especially Christianity. I wanted to run far, far away. I was born into a Catholic family and I’m a child of divorce. My father has some interesting ideas about faith and God. What I experienced was that if you pray enough God will give you what you want. Well, you’re already setting up yourself for disappointment there. Imagine my angst at not getting the kitchen play set for Christmas that I drooled over in the Penny’s catalog. That was not a good day.

In addition to receiving the message that if you are good enough you get enough, there was a lot of magical thinking, mystic messages, and guilt. My experience is that if you pray the rosary enough a broken family will be mended. The experience was difficult and confusing. I was extremely angry at God for a long time and turned my back on him. It was about the time that I decided to get back on track that I felt I had to figure this out and resolve my falling out with the almighty.

I was so angry with God that I wanted nothing to do with him and, for a time, turned my back on the social construct that I saw play out before me. I hated God for what my father and others used him for–a way to manipulate and not take responsibility for their lives. The turning point came when I was in the bathroom, because it was the only place I could go to duke it out with God. I very angrily and passionately expressed my feelings of rage for having an absent father who didn’t have a lot to give emotionally. Who would rather give money to the church in the belief that his wife and children would come back (because, you know, God can be bribed) and not give directly to the mother and children who needed money for food and clothing. With a few curse words, I clinched my hands, I pounded them on my legs, I raised my eyes to heaven, “I am so angry with you!”

And you know what? He could take it.

I left that little bathroom feeling a weight lifted off me and one more step to feeling forgiveness for God and my dad. I always hear about how God forgives, but you hardly hear about the other side of the equation–when a person makes amends with him.

The second moment for me came when I decided I was going to watch The Passion of the Christ. I was very resistant to watching this film. For many reasons, but especially the brutality. After the film I went back into the little bathroom where most of my spiritual transformations have taken place, and cried. I wept and spoke with God. I realized that what my father does with religion isn’t it. That’s not what God is about. I saw God that night as true love. That was the moment that I knew I would refer to God, who I don’t believe is gendered, as Father. He is my father, has always been there, and will always be there for me.

So, here I am after a long spiritual journey. I’m still in process and hope that I always will be. After the event, I went church hunting and started looking into the Episcopal church. Despite my displeasure with the Catholicism, I still have a love of the ritual and the liturgy. Then I met Calvin and he wanted to attend with me. We ended up leaving the church I was attending and found St. John’s Lutheran. The first service we attended was, appropriately, on Father’s day 2008. I cried throughout the sermon and for subsequent sermons after that. It was a healing experience for me and continues to be a place of growth and love. I adore our church–the pastors and the people are such wonderful gifts to our community.

It is time to close, but before I do I will end with Pastor Amy’s Ash Wednesday sermon.

These are questions from Frederick Buechner that she asked the congregation to reflect on for throughout these forty days of Lent. I give them to you here:

If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn’t, which side would get your money and why?

When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like, and what do you see that causes you the most difficulty?

If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be…in twenty five words or less?

Of all things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember?

Is there any person in the world, or any cause, that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?

If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?

On knitting, and what the heck is a Whovie?

As I mentioned in the previous post my intention for this blog is to have a creative outlet, share myself authentically and honestly, and inspire a few people who actually take the time to read my musings.

The other purpose of this blog is knitting. I’m still a novice, and I know that after 8 months of knitting (I started June 2012), I LOVE this art form. I’m one of those people who sees knitting and fiber arts as both craft and art. Knitting is incredibly relaxing for me. It is a confidence builder and it also teaches me how to let go of control and attachment. When you spend days, sometimes weeks, knitting something only to have to rip it out, you learn pretty quickly to let it be and start over. Acceptance doesn’t make it less frustrating, I started over 5 times with my recent project and now I’m at the point where I’m just going to live with the mistakes, and it’s riddled with them.

I have recently been asked to submit an article for an online magazine that features people who are beginning something, be it knitting, painting, ukulele…blogging. Stay tuned for that article. I will publish it here and it will give you more insights into my over the top love affair with yarn and needles.

I imagine when I first started this blog people wondered what is she talking about? What is a Whovie? I imagine you had visions of technicolor little folk with flowers sprouting out of their heads, little mouse like features and furry faces who hold hands and sing around Christmas trees, and eat roast beast. As much as I admire Dr. Seuss, I’m not referring to Whoville. I’m talking about Doctor Who:

The Doctors Wife: one of my favorite episodes.

This image is from the episode, The Doctors Wife. The TARDIS takes on humanoid form. This episode was written by one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman. What is a TARDIS you say? It stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space and it is Doctor Who’s time machine. It’s bigger on the inside, too.

Here is the 10th Doctor with his TARDIS:

I love this color of blue. I plan on knitting a scarf this color.

Doctor Who airs on BBC America and was originally on PBS when I was a kid. I used to watch it with my dad, which is one of the fondest memories I have of him. It is the longest running sci-fi show having aired in the 1950’s.

To put it plainly: Doctor Who is a Time Lord, a time traveler, from Gallifrey. He travels the universe, usually with a companion, saving worlds from certain destruction and he is saving his beloved Earth on a regular basis. Also, he is immortal, so to speak. He has different incarnations. We are now on our 11th Doctor.

Doctor Who fans are referred to as Whovies and my husband and I are HUGE Doctor Who fans. To put this into context, we dressed up for Halloween–I was the TARDIS and Calvin was The Doctor. And no, I didn’t wear a painted box as Calvin suggested, I bought a dress and I looked pretty darn cute.

Thanks to Tom Baker (the 4th Doctor) and his fabulous knit scarf:

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Doctor Who and knitting will often go hand in hand. There are so many references to the Time Lord and knitting: patterns, decorated store front windows at LYS’s (Local Yarn Shop’s), and yarn dyed TARDIS blue. This yarn is most certainly on my list of never ending knitting paraphernalia that I want to buy.

I am anticipating my knitting bags in March. They are toile fabric with images relating to the Doctor. They can’t get here fast enough. Here’s a sneak peek:

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I found this great blog called Knitting to Stay Sane. She cracks me up. I have posted a link below about her thoughts on being a beginner. I’ve already started practicing some of her suggested goals on how to move past being a novice. After reading this I see that perhaps I’ve begun to step into a intermediate beginner.

On not being a beginner anymore.

Starting Out

I’ve been looking over blogs recently and, because I have this practice lately where I try random new things to challenge myself, I decided to start a blog. I guess I just need one more creative outlet, a supplement to my knitting, so to speak.

I’ve noticed that some bloggers just write about themselves in the “about me” of the blog and leave out any true background information. The first post rarely has anything to do with where they come from, where they have been, or where they are now. Because part of the purpose for my starting this project involves “living life” as my tagline suggests, I feel I need to share a bit about myself. I’m stepping out into vulnerable territory here and sharing details publicly. I was taught growing up that you don’t air your dirty laundry and that is not what I intend to do here, but I have overcome a great deal in my life and I do believe that is worth celebrating.

I have thought long and hard how I want to share the uglies of my life. I don’t want to shame anyone, I don’t want to bore people with sniveling accounts of how bad I had it in my youth.

I don’t want a pity party.

I want to communicate with grace, forgiveness, and respect for those in my life; what I experienced, how it made me feel, and how I overcame great odds.

I figure the best way to protect the key players in my life (this includes family and peers) would be to not name names and create a list of words that encapsulate my life.

My Life’s Lexicon:

Birth, love, innocence, childhood self-expression, Play, neglect, emotional abuse, impatience, criticism, laughter, abandonment, psychosis, Catholicism, sisters, brothers, conflict, Grace, breaking dishes, anxiety, depression, sadness, friendship, inconsistency, fear, insecurity, acceptance, self-loathing, anger, mental illness, bullying, shame, courage, convenience, judgement, passivity, addiction, Faith, alcoholism, HOPE, passive aggressiveness, broken spirit, narcissism, humor, pressure, confusion, Beauty, nature, adventure, forgiveness, therapy, struggle, God, overcome, healing, empathy, confidence, patience, growth, love, Love, LOve, LOVe, LOVE.

I think you get the point.

I certainly don’t think I had it worse than everyone. I was actually quite privileged, but emotionally bankrupt. I had no clue who I was because I was too busy becoming for people who I thought they wanted me to be. Especially with boys.  I lived a life that resulted in my not having the skills necessary to live this thing called Life. My parents did not have the skills to give me and they did their best with what they had and with what they knew. Ultimately, when I became an adult, I realized that the only person who was going to live this life was me. I could no longer blame people for how I turned out, the torch was passed, and I had the responsibility to make this work.

I truly believe that if I had continued on the path I was on that I would not have a life lived.

I have worked very hard to improve myself, make wise decisions, think before I act, and stop being convenient for people who do not have my best interests at heart. The way I overcame a life of anxiety, depression and everything I listed in this blog (and more) was through therapy–lots and lots and lots of therapy. When I get to the point when I unequivocally do not care what people think, I will have reached a milestone. I’m almost there, I can feel it.

I will likely discuss the struggles I have experienced with the intention of being honest about who I am, but also because I know I’m not alone and I’ve the understanding that it helps to know that there are other people out there who have experienced a difficult life. It is my desire to inspire people with this blog if only through the message that it will be okay, there is life after…life. Just breathe deep and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Oh, and if all else fails ask for help.

Felicity, Ada, Calvin, and Motherwell
Felicity, Calvin, Motherwell, and Ada