Tuesday, June 21, 2016

fiona's boho indian room

Welcome to my favorite room in the house!

Fiona's nursery is basically all of my favorite things in one room. India! Saris! Pillows! Wicker! Elephants! It's all about the textiles in here, and I love how lush it feels. The paint color is peach/salmon/pink - depending on the light - and is inspired by Hawa Mahal or the "Pink Palace" in Jaipur, western India. I visited Jaipur with my dad during my junior year of high school, and it was my favorite place in India.
Take a tour with me!

Jaina helped me color in these elephants before Fiona was born.

And she gladly donated her wooden animals for her baby sister's room.

Crocheted wall hanging and pom-pom garland by me. 
Photograph by my sister, Faith! Gorgeous, no?

Kind of obsessed with my new pom-pom maker.

I could make these things all day. They're a ton of fun. 
Possible future Etsy business. ;)

Fiona's first Christmas gift. Jaina also has a print by this artist.

The good old Rockasan got a new cover.

Both the lamp and the shade were from a local thrift store, though bought at different times. 
I added the pom-pom trim.

The sari over the crib is mine that I wore a few times. 
It's hung on three hanging plant hooks from Lowes. 
I sewed a few ties onto the fabric to secure it to the side of the crib. 
That way she can't pull it all in on herself.

I made the crib skirt from fabric that was on clearance at Joann's for around $2 a yard!

Stuffed elephant from Pier 1. Pillow and matching quilt brought back from India by Mom.

The mobile is from Thailand, brought back by Aunt Grace & Aunt Faith.

The curtains were from Pier 1 a long time ago. 
I've had them in this room since it was the guest room.

Cute little elephant hamper from good old Wehrly's Auction!

The fruit crates were my dad's. 
He used them to keep his records in while he was in college, and so did I. 
The painting is by my sister, Rebekah. 
The clothing pieces were either mine or the girls' from India, China, and Thailand.

I bought this clock at Wehrly's years ago. 
Beka stole it for a while, but I got it back and finally get to enjoy it. 
The Salwar is mine and is what I wore to see the Taj Mahal!

These pictures were taken over two months ago. Little Missy has grown up quite a bit since then!

Headband, bloomers, and stuffed elephant from Aunt Natalie brought back from Russia and Thailand.

"I don't do stuff on my head, Mom. You know this."

I've gotten to spend a looooot of time in this room, and I'm so glad I took the time to make it pretty. Sweety-Peety can't concentrate to eat unless she's in a darkened room, so a couple times a day I get to curl up and spend some quiet time in here.

Because we already had all of the furniture and most of the fabrics and pillows, I hardly bought anything for this room. I think the hamper, changing pad cover, and papasan cushion are about it. Someday we hope to move the girls into a room together, and I hope I can convince them to keep the boho-Indian theme cause it makes me very happy. ;)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

39 weeks in, 39 weeks out

Oh my darling Fiona Ruth. What an addition to the world you are. 38 weeks and 6 days ago you were born after I had been pregnant with you for 38 weeks and 6 days.

We named you Fiona* because to us it sounds strong, like a Celtic warrior, and you had overcome so much in the womb. Little did we know you would come out with a rebel yell and rail against all injustice - both real or perceived - for seven long months.

You have no trouble making yourself known, girl! For your first three months you were either asleep or spitting mad. For the few fleeting moments that you were both awake and happy we would call the rest of the family over to enjoy it before it passed.

But we got into a rhythm during those first months. You did most of your sleeping at night, which was great. I remember saying "You can get through anything if you have sleep!" a couple times. I suppose that was some sort of sick foreshadowing.

This might be my favorite picture now. Me lovingly swaddling you in the blanket I made just for you. Your cute little nose, and your swirl of hair. And there's the little scab on your head where the midwife tried to attach your monitor while you were being born. She had to try three times cause you kept spinning your head around. We should have known... 
Also, two minutes before this picture was taken you pooped in my hand. ;) Love youuuuuu.

When you were four months old you had a few bad nights while we were on a trip. I thought it was a growth spurt so I fed you, then fed you again, and again, and again,... and maybe again - you lose track after a while. I just wanted to get through the trip, so I met your demands as they came. Then you cried for eight hours during the drive back, and something inside of Mommy snapped.

This is postpartum. Real enough for ya?

We both spiraled. Your unrest and misery feeding off my anger and exhaustion and my doubts and insecurities as a mom feeding off your unpleasantness and contrariness. I studied you like a book, trying to get to know you. But I didn't have a clue who you were anymore. When I would lay you down, I didn't know if you would sleep for two hours or two minutes. What would get you to sleep one night wouldn't work the next. Daddy and I were constantly conferencing on what worked to get you back to sleep. 
   "Did you give her the elephant?"
   "No, I just laid my hand on her chest"
   "Did she take her pacifier?"
   "Yeah, but then she pulled it out. That was the last one. They're all behind the crib now."


At this point you were five months old and sometimes waking up 10-12 times a night. Six at least. And through the day you would get SO MAD after only an hour and a half that you were taking 4-5 mini naps every day. And I never knew if any of those would work.

From October to February I never slept for longer than two hours.

I was too exhausted to make good decisions. I completely lost any intuition I might have had as a mom. I wasn't coping, and I absolutely should have gone to the doctor. But when you're in it you just keep thinking tomorrow will be better.

I would hold you at night and just cry all over you. Daddy would pray for us, cause I just couldn't. I was too angry. Not at you, just that this was my life. That I couldn't hack it when other moms could. That I didn't have the help I thought I deserved. That God didn't seem to be listening to me. And that no matter what I did, it was never enough for you. Lies, most of it.

After several months of this we made some major changes with your sleep. I put you on a rigid eating and napping schedule (gasp!), we took away your pacifier cold turkey (yikes!), and we started Ferber-style sleep training (horrors!). And, oh honey, you were a new woman. Yeah, it was a tough transition for a few days, but you're so much happier and just a delight to be around. You end each feeding by smiling not screaming and arching your back. You smile at everyone and have the best laugh. You wake up happy and well rested, and so does Mommy! We're down to one or two quick feedings at night, and, girl, I can do one or two!

You feel things so deeply, little one, and that's a good thing! Live life the whole way! We also named you Ruth after one of my favorite Bible ladies. She was loyal, kind, tenacious, hard working, selfless, brave, and faithful, and we pray that for you too, dear.

"The dark times" are already fading from my memory, and as one of my favorite internet mamas, Bunmi Laditan, says about the dark times, "I won't say they make me stronger, but they do make me softer and maybe that's even better." I'm excited to move on with you, Bugga-Boo. I just wanted you to know why there are empty pages in your baby book and not as many pictures of you. For every minute I didn't spend recording your first months I was holding you and comforting you. We were attached to each other almost constantly. I sang Adele's Make You Feel My Love (which is really by Bob Dylan) to you many nights through tears. It's my love song to you, Baby.

The beautiful newborn photos are by Jess Harbold. Thanks, friend!

*Fiona basically just means "white girl", but nearly all the Celtic girls' names do, so what are you gonna do... I've known I wanted to name you Ruth from the beginning, though, and that carries more than enough meaning for me. 


Sunday, November 1, 2015

halloween '15

I loooooove dressing up. And dressing up my kiddos is one of my favorite "selfish perks" of having children (along with baby showers and knowing you can always leave uncomfortable social gatherings "because of the kids" - I mean, just kidding...).

And even though I couldn't get out the sewing machine to whip up anything fancy this year (Fiona's Pack 'n Play is taking up residence where my sewing table used to be) we dove into dress up season hard. The first was for a little photo shoot for my sister's birthday.

 Little Harry!

 Little Hermione!

James and Lily Potter in the Mirror of Erised!

This was super fun and took me just a few minutes to pull together. The only thing I made was the Gryffindor tie for Hermione that I also draped over Fiona's neck to be Harry's scarf. The robe for both Harry and Hermione is just my black turtleneck draped over their shoulders, but it looks pretty good! Happy Birthday, Aunt Beka!

Next was Hanover's official trick-or-treat night which is almost always way before Halloween. We were a Lumberjack and his woodland creatures. ;)

I made crochet fox and bear hats for Jaina and Fiona (the pattern is no longer available online). And I made fox and raccoon tails for Jaina and me. Did you know you can make these realistic tails with just regular yarn and a wire pet brush? Pretty nifty. I have nasty scars down my arm from the brush slipping out of my hands and scratching me, though.

Just these few pieces were totally doable - even with a colicky baby and a precocious 3-year-old underfoot. The nice thing about crochet is that if the conditions are just right you can actually work on it with a baby sleeping on you.

Look at that cute little bear cub. Last minute I realized I needed mittens for her, so I stuffed her little fists into socks. Her hat fit really well, Daddy just didn't have it pushed down all the way. ;)

Lastly, we did a daytime trick-or-treat at a local shopping center. Just for fun, I dug out last year's Red Riding Hood and wolf costumes and made Fiona the little old granny. Too cute!

I have my hair up, hence the cone head.

Jaina is having the time of her life organizing and rearranging all of her candy. Not even eating it, just putting it in piles, telling me how many of each kind she has, and explaining which 10 are her "favorite". She really doesn't grasp the concept of favorite meaning one right now, and it weirdly (and irrationally) drives me crazy. ;) So all hope of "sharing" some of her candy after she goes to bed or throwing out the really yucky stuff has gone out the window since she's taken a very careful inventory. She's one smart cookie.

If you want to see our other family costumes you can check out The Flintstones and the original Red Riding Hood crew.


Friday, August 14, 2015

fiona's birth and the bed-in

Introducing, my daughter, Fiona Ruth; born at 3:14am, July 29th.

 She was 7lb. 4oz., 19 in. with lots of fight in her!

Birth Timeline:

July 13th - Cervical cerclage removed at 36.5 weeks. Go out to Buffalo Wild Wings after. Leave the restaurant, and realize baby has DROPPED. Looks like that little stitch did it's job!
July 17th - Doctor declares me 3cm dilated, 80% effaced, with baby's head engaged! We expect to go to the hospital any minute.
July 18-27th - Nooooothiiiiiiing haaaappeeeeens.
July 28th 7:30am-1:00pm - What a nice chill day. Maybe I'll shave my legs and blow-dry my hair for the fun of it. Heck, let's paint our nails. Huh, I'm having more Braxton-Hicks than usual.
2:00-3:00pm - Yeaaaah, I should start writing these down. And maybe clean the kitchen.
3:00 - Call Zach on his way home from work to say I hope he wrapped everything up cause they might tell me at my doctor's appointment today that this is it. Contractions are 10 minutes apart but completely painless. Just a tightening and release. Jaina and I speed-clean the living room.
4:00 - Put bags in car on the way to doctor's appointment just in case.
4:20 - Doctor doesn't think I'm in real labor yet, but, hmmm, blood pressure is elevated... we're gonna send you to the hospital anyway.
6:00 - Meet Dad at York Hospital, say goodbye to Jaina, head upstairs. Contractions are 6 minutes apart and utterly painless.

6:30 - My good friend, Meredith, is my nurse. Yay! Labs for possible preeclampsia all come back negative, as expected, but they decide to have me check in anyway. Contractions are 4 minutes apart, moderate intensity, but still just feel like a blood pressure cuff tightening. What the what?
8:30 - We get set up in our own room. I find out that because of my prior c-section I'll need to be hooked up to a monitor constantly to record Baby's heartbeat. That's kind of a bummer cause it means I'll have to stay within steps of the bed rather than shower or walk around which I had been planning on to manage pain. I bounce on the birth ball for a while while Meredith holds my monitor in place since Little Lady was being stubborn and making it difficult for us to hear her heart.
9:45 - Midwife comes in and breaks my water. Woosh! Here we go.
10:00 - Um, yeah, this isn't comfortable.
10:05-11:45 - I AM EARTH MAMA, HEAR ME ROAR!!!! Do. not. touch me.
11:45 - Still only 4.5cm dilated. Epidural requested.
12:15 - Anesthesiologist arrives
12:45 - Aaaaaaaaaahhhhh..... Dim the lights. Zach falls asleep immediately. I close my eyes and settle in for the night.
1:15 - Nurse switches me to my other side and has me put on oxygen to help Baby's heart rate stay where it should be. I sleep between each contraction, but they're getting uncomfortable.
2:00 - Why does my butt hurt?
2:15 - I think I'm supposed to call if my butt hurts. If it still hurts at 2:30 I'm calling. ZZZzzz...
2:30 - Heyo! Baby's very ready to come out. Wake up Zach. He basically has a heart attack.
2:40 - My bed magically transforms into a piece of gym equipment, and they watch while I do a practice push. Midwife and nurse immediately gown up. For some reason I become very concerned about Zach and keep asking if he's okay.

3:14am - Roughly 10 contractions later I manhandled this baby out of me. Seriously never been prouder of any accomplishment. She was born face up (!!!!), and presented forehead first which is supposed to be quite a bit harder to push out. She also had her cord over her shoulder and across her body - Miss America sash style.

I had the most amazing epidural. I couldn't feel any pain, but I felt all the pressure and knew right where she was. That helped so much. Also the handles. Once they brought the handles up on the bed I rocked it.

She was so healthy and ALIVE when she came out, and it was pretty amazing to have her right up on my chest immediately. There were lots of perks with Jaina's planned c-section, but man, nothing beats that immediate contact with your kid.

3:30 - The midwife calls an OB in to do my repair stitches, and - yay! - it's my favorite doctor at the practice. So I got to see her while she fixed me up.

4:00-5:30 - After they finished with me and got Fiona all weighed and cleaned up she came back to me and nursed like a champ. Baby instinct is pretty incredible.

6:00am - We got to our room over in maternity and realize a new day just started. Only we didn't get to sleep the night before... It's gonna be a long day.

It took me quite a while to get over pulling that all-nighter. The highlight of that day was watching Jaina meet her baby sister. She was so sweet and basically clobbered her with kisses.

I didn't get to sleep much that night either. It felt like people were coming in my room all night long. And never while we had Fiona up to feed her. Grr.

My fancy homemade hospital gown. ;)

Then the next night Little Miss wanted to eat literally every hour. Friday morning I finally had a nap for an hour and a half. That was my longest stretch since Monday night. Yuuuuuuck. 

 Her profile is already so different since her face has come un-smushed.
That's what coming out forehead-first will do to ya.

I saw a mom online compare that first post-partum week to John and Yoko's bed-in. I totally agree, except with a lot more bodily fluids. ;p I was only steps away from a bed or couch for over a week. You're in a whole different dimension. It's uncomfortably intimate, tender, and intense. You can be deliriously happy one second and in the very depths of despair the next.

We've been this new family for over two weeks now, and I just feel like I'm crawling out of the postpartum bed-in cave. I finally returned all the texts I received. I'm beginning to be interested in what's going on in the outside world.

I don't know if other women experience this, but I feel like my mind was operating on over-drive the week after Fiona's birth, but I had no strength or will to express all the thoughts I was having. What this results in is whole essays written in my head while I sat nursing Fiona all night and day but then not being able to get any of those words down even if I got to a notebook or computer moments later. You'll just have to trust me when I say I had so many glorious thoughts on motherhood, birth, mortality, and pain. I think I mentally solved a few women's rights issues too. Too bad the world will never know... ;)

 Dressed and ready to go home!

Here's one snippet of something I was trying to work out:

People often look on postpartum women as angels. These serene madonnas holding court from their hospital beds. But what if we changed our perception of new mothers from angels to warriors? Wounded warriors who've just fought the biggest battle of their lives. Madonnas are silent, stoic; a sweet facade against which a precious baby sits. 

Warriors have a story worth hearing. People ask a warrior about the wounds received in battle! A madonna sits there LITERALLY BLEEDING, in a haze of hormones and maybe narcotics, muscles aching, body alternating between sweating and shivering, and sweetly answers questions about her baby - glossing over any of the unpleasant details of her birth.

Not sure where that was headed, but that's just a glimpse of what a brain high on adrenaline and every other hormone sounds like. There should be a nursing app that also has a voice recorder to capture all of the musings women have while they feed their children. ;)

So that's Fiona Ruth's birth story! I was soooo happy with how it went. She's doing so well. Jaina's doing great. Zach and I are getting there. ;) I'm trying not to be impatient waiting for our routine to fall in place. We'll get there.

More about Fiona's name to come. It took me two weeks to write this, so don't hold your breath. ;)