Nursing break

July 31, 2008 § 4 Comments

I’m not quite capable of weaning bilingual baby forever- not now. I feel like she’s still so young and still in much need of this part of our relationship. Before landing in the hospital we had two days of a nursing break which I instigated. It was really hard to try to take a break a couple of months ago when I was also having some discomfort so I didn’t. I’d postpone nursing at bedtime. I’d distract. I’d tickle. I’d do anything. Anything but say No.

After our hospital stay, it felt right to nurse her again and I did. Now, a couple of days later, I need the break again. She’s taking to bilingual papi’s night time routine pretty well so we’re going for it. Although this switch has been recommended to me ever since I got pregnant, it didn’t feel right and I wasn’t about to do it just because others said I should. We’ve found something that’s working for us and still may change paths as my pregnancy comes to an end but this is what it is for now.

Although I call this a nursing break, bilingual baby still nurses. I really should call it a bedtime nursing break, cos that’s what it really looks like. I still nurse her down for a nap, which usually doesn’t take that long and I’ll nurse her if she asks during the day, which doesn’t happen often. And I will often nurse her in the middle of the night… so, where’s the break, you ask? It’s in there. Somewhere. πŸ˜‰

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Regaining my strength

July 29, 2008 § 4 Comments

One of the many hazards of losing so much fluid and minerals from my body is that now I need to do some quick replenishing. Since returning from the hospital, I’ve been a bit tired. No doubt it’s from being pregnant but also it’s because I need to replenish my iron. My midwife did a blood test to check up on my iron and she said that while I’m still okay to have a homebirth (there are requirements, ya know) that I’d probably have more energy if I raised my iron levels a bit.

For that, I’ve started taking Floradix (this stuff ain’t cheap) and pumping every meal with foods rich in iron. For instance, yesterday I ate my usual kale omelet (cooked in a cast iron skillet, of course) and ate an orange directly after- which helps with iron absorption. Then, for lunch, I had lentils with kale and eggplant and whole grain rice… followed by an orange. For dinner, I ate a nice big salad with nuts.The trick with the Floradix is that you’re supposed to take your dosage before eating and since I didn’t get it until early evening I only took one dose right before dinner.

Today, I feel like I already have more energy. It’s amazing how iron works through the body so quickly.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you all about my nursing break and my (non) plans for after the baby is born.

A bunch of firsts

July 28, 2008 § 2 Comments

This weekend marked a bunch of firsts for myself and my family. First off, I got some nasty stomach bug and at around 3am Saturday morning started to show signs of it. The doctors that cared for me just called it the generic “viral gastroenteritis“.Β In other words, they have no idea of how I got this virus or what exactly caused it. They kept drawing blood to do more labs which is no fun for someone with my elusive veins- let along my elusive dehydrated veins. I don’t know if any of you have ever landed in the ER or been admitted to the hospital for rehydration, but if you have you’ll have a frame of reference for what I’m going to say. In the ER, I got 2 liters of fluids and 1 liter of sugar water. After that, I was still dehydrated. So, they kept pumping my body with fluids but I was still dehydrated. I think, in total, I received about 5 liters of fluids before we started having more serious talks.

I ended up staying at the hospital overnight. Another first. I’ve never been sick enough to land in a hospital overnight. This will take remembering when asked those formal questions: Have you ever been admitted to the hospital? Now, I’ll have to say, Yes. Before, I could reply, No, to all those routine health questions. Now, it’ll be different. I’ve been hospitalized. A first. So, the doctors decided to admit me for further care because I was still so dehydrated. All along, they were checking the baby and baby 2.0 was fine, other than being dehydrated and reacting to what my body was going through.

Through all of this, my midwife stayed with me. She was there all day long. She was the first I called when I couldn’t stop… um, emptying my stomach, and she came over to check on me. She recommended we go to the ER to get fluids and such and came to the hospital to check in with us. She was on-call for me all day. As soon as she’d start to leave, I’d call again to see what she thought of what the doctors had told me, and she’d pivot back to help. I have to say it was really reassuring to have her around. She didn’t butt in, but she’d wait until the med staff were gone to give me advice. She wanted me/us to make the requests. And really she wasn’t telling me what to do. I had my doubts about things and she’d advise me saying, “this is a very good thing” (in the case of being watched overnight) or, “you can refuse this, although I’m not telling you that you should or shouldn’t”. It was really empowering. I did feel bullyied by these two young residents (I won’t go into how rude they were just because I’m not giving them or the experience more energy) and it was great to stand up for myself knowing that I was within reason, medically. It was really interesting seeing the kind of treatment I got from the medical staff. While appropriate, it was still detached. I’m sure they have their reasons. It was such a stark contrast to my midwife who would hug me and kiss my forehead and hold my hand while talking to me. I doubt the hospitals lawyers would ever allow for that! πŸ™‚ Our midwife left the hospital between 10 and 11 pm, knowing I was getting better. She told us to call her during the night if we needed anything and to let her know what was happening.

So, back to the firsts. Bilingual papi and I spent the night at the hospital together. Me in a labor and delivery bed and he in a cot with one bar intersecting his chest and another his legs. Not the getaway we’d ever hoped for. This was our first night away from our toddler. Not his, but ours, together. It was forced and I was too tired and weak to worry.

Bilingual baby had her first slumber party. She spent the night with our friends (who we are endebted to for life) who live up the street. They have two kids of their own and they quickly took the bear in. (At this point in my retelling of this story, I am overcome with gratitude and think I’ll postpone this part until I can recount it without falling apart. In the hospital, I rested on how lucky we are to have the friends we have with the hearts they have. To say we are blessed falls short.) Needless to say, bilingual baby was fine. She missed us but that is to be expected. She knew that something was off and went with the flow (as much as she could).

At about 3am, I was starting to feel better. My fever was going down and my blood pressure was returning to normal. I was strapped onto the fetal heart monitor which recorded a much calmer baby. They did reassure me that no harm had come to the baby. Since it was in my stomach, the virus didn’t pass into the baby’s home. Amazing how the body works. I did get antibiotics so my midwife has me on 3 capsules twice a day of probiotics for the next 3 months, instead of my preventative 2 caps a day. I have no dietary restrictions and no bed rest. In other words, I just need to take ‘er easy.

I learned a lot while being in the hospital. For one, unless medically necessary, I would never want to birth there! It’s definitely not for me. The level of care was great but, again, the bedside manners were not as great as you can get with a midwife. (By the way, the residents I didn’t care for were both women.) I was listened to but not heard. Any of the medical staff that would come in would immediately look at the monitors and the sheets of paper being fed out of them. Only then would I get a glazed look in my direction as they asked me how I was. The nurse that took care of me, Cheyenne, was great, and the doctor, Dr. Ira Berstein, though we only saw him for a little bit, was a human being.

That’s all for now. I still have some things to share. Like how bilingual baby responded to our return home and our efforts to return to “normal”. For now, I need to take my probiotics, drink a lot of water and relax.

Recon Mei Tai- updated 11/19/08

July 20, 2008 § 3 Comments

mtside

mtback

This is my first entry into baby carrier making. I just got it into my head that I wanted to make a carrier. The only problem was that I didn’t know what kind to try to make. When that happens, I usually don’t want to buy new fabric and I usually just want to start the project NOW. So, I looked around at what I already had and found a pair of maternity overalls that I bought at a thrift store when I was pregnant with bilingual baby. I measured the leg to see if I’d have enough fabric for the top shoulder straps. I didn’t. But then I figured, why not use the overalls from top to bottom. (I wish I had a picture of this.) So, I cut off the buckles and voila, I had enough fabric. We’re talking about the length of the pant, the body and the shoulder straps of the overalls.

Then came deciding what to use for the body of the Mei Tai. I tried to use the front because it had a pocket and I thought it would be so clever to use. But, it wasn’t wide enough, so I ended up cutting down the middle of the back (at the widest point- you know what I mean) and stitching the original “sides” together. I cut a rounded top, cut the second piece of fabric so the Mei Tai would be reversible and set to work on sewing the ties.

The ties took the longest. From what I’ve read, they just take a long time. But, I was also dealing with a lot of jean material (the seams in particular) and actually broke my first needle while sewing! Isn’t that a rite of passage or something?

Once everything was cut and prepped, all I had to do was set up where I wanted the straps to go and stitch around the body of the carrier. I’m smelling tutorial! For now, though, I think I’m going to make another Mei Tai before I start posting tutorials on it. This weekend there was a massive (yes, I just used the word massive) yard sale in town and even though I didn’t get a chance to browse during the big sale I did walk through after it was all over and picked up a couple of pants, jeans and a table cloth. I think the table cloth will do very well as a Mei Tai! The next step is to decide if I want to line it with another fabric from the stash.

The body of the Mei Tai, where bilingual baby’s sitting, is very wide, which I. Grace, at Mango Baby, sells a traditional Chinese Mei Tai, and says that the wide body is one of the traditional elements. I figure the wide body allows for a small baby to be snuggled inside the carrier without extra tying required and can hold an older child, with longer legs, while maintaining a comfortable sitting area.

Regarding the Mei Tai custom, Grace also says:

“Traditionally, the mei tai is given by the maternal grandmother to her daughter when she is expecting. Embroidered with many symbols of luck, long life, and prosperity and happiness, baby carriers are specially made to celebrate each new child.”

Jan Andrea’s website has a great page on DIY baby carriers, which is where I went when searching for directions on how to make my Mei Tai. She also has directions on how to make a Podeagi (a Korean carrier)… maybe after the table cloth Mei Tai.

Here are a couple pics of the Mei Tai flat on the floor- both sides.

mtside 2

mtside 1

UPDATE: Now that I look at the first Mei Tai I made compared to others I’ve made since, I caution you to make sure that you position your shoulder straps where the side of the body meets the rounded top. The pictures above show clearly that I sewed mine to the side of the body instead. Now I can see why my daughter didn’t feel as close to my back as she does in other mei tai’s.

Email me if you need help or visit Thebabywearer.com in the diy forum.

Fitted diaper tutorial (using a prefold)

July 14, 2008 § 39 Comments

It’s another tutorial, folks. Thanks for hanging in there. Especially those of you that don’t have an interest in these things. I’ll get back to roaming around my brain… when it’s back from holiday.

Today, I’m going to show you how to make a fitted diaper. I went to Joann’s and picked up some cute fabric (see my flickr if you want to see folded up fabric, hehe) and let it sit on the floor of my (ahem) sewing room (aka, computer room, cd room, and other room; soon to be known as pool hall and viewing lounge) for about a week. Before starting a new diaper, I went back to one of the diapers I hadn’t finished and tried to work on it. For some reason, I couldn’t get the elastic on right. I kept sewing a zigzag along the elastic while stretching it out and it just wasn’t doing the trick. Finally, I decided to just use a straight stitch while stretching out the elastic and that seemed to work better. I tried to keep the stitch on top of the seam stitch because I figured the elastic would fold in half and I’d want it to be in line with the seam.

That worked, but then I couldn’t get the casing to work. The casing is just a stitch sewn on the outside of the diaper for a cleaner look. I particularly like this look but made the decision to leave out the casing because it was giving me so much grief (in trying to get it right, I had to rip the seams out several times). So, I’m learning a lot about this process. Plus, the diaper needs a cover so it won’t really matter in the end.

What I wanted to mention was what prompted me to go back to this “trouble diaper”. It was a comment I received from bilingual papi. I was telling him that I was having a hard time finishing this one diaper and he suggested that perhaps I was done with sewing diapers and it was time to move onto another project. That, my friends, was what got me back into sewing diapers. Just the thought that I wouldn’t sew another diaper made me want to sew more. So, thanks. Ok. On to the tutorial.

How to sew a fitted diaper with a prefold as the soaker

What do I need:

Matching (or not) thread

A strong sewing needle to get you through the prefold- I used a 14

Sewing machine (no Serger needed)

flannel cotton fabric

outer fabric of choice (your choice)

elastic (3/8th or 1/4 inch)

1 prefold (flat) infant size diaper

and the regular sewing items and tools (you may want to have a marking pen, but you can also use a pencil or regular pen)

Begin ! (Instructions will precede the accompanying photo)

1. Trace your favorite diaper (mine is now a composite) onto one layer of fabric, adding your desired seam allowance- I added 3/8ths of an inch. As you can see in the photo below, I traced it on the fold so that both sides will be the same. Then, I trace copies (also on the fold) of the other fabric I need. In total, you want 4 layers; 2 of the flannel and 2 of the print. However, you can also just do 1 flannel and 2 print since you’re adding in an entire prefold.

2. Prepare the prefold by cutting the edges off. I cut 1/2 inch off each side so that it would fit better in the diaper.

3. Fold the prefold in thirds.

4. Flip the tri-folded diaper and place on top of one of your layers of fabric. Pin and sew down (all the way around) with a zigzag stitch. Try to get the zigzag on the prefold without stitching over it and onto the fabric. What I found was that keeping the zigzag on the prefold kept the fabric from pulling in on the sides. The picture shows the pulled version. It still works, but I’m starting to prefer it the other way.

5. Layering the fabric: I put the second layer of my cute print facing up on top of the layer with the prefold sewn onto it. Then I put the two flannel layers, facing down, on top of the prints. Basically, you want to remember that you’ll be turning the whole diaper right side out, so you want the two layers that’ll show to be facing each other and surrounded by the fabric that won’t show. (The second photo just shows the two flannel layers facing down.)

6. Pin and sew the layers together, leaving the narrower end open (seen at the bottom of the photo below). This open end is the end that goes in front, when on the baby. I like at 3/8ths seam allowance for some reason.

7. Trim around the diaper (just enough so you don’t have extra bulk), leaving the open end untrimmed. You’ll want the extra fabric for when you sew it together.

8. Fold the diaper in half lengthwise and mark where the elastic will go. The only thing that matters is that the marks be equidistant so that the elastic is even. If you look carefully, you’ll see the lines I’ve drawn to mark where the elastic should go from and to (the purple lines near the corners of the photo).

9. Sewing on the elastic:

Place the elastic just before your first line and, with a straight stitch, backstitch the elastic in place. Now, stretch the elastic (but not completely stretched) and hold it together with the fabric. Keep the elastic stretched out and sew a line through the middle of the elastic. This stitch should be on top of the stitch you sewed when sewing the layers of fabric together. Do the same for the back and the leg openings.

Note: I’ve had problems with elastic and although it’s a pain, I’d recommend you take out the elastic if, after you’re done stitching it to the diaper, it doesn’t stretch. What you can also do is tack down at both ends and then create the leg casing.

UPDATE (April 26, 2011): Here is another tutorial I whipped up with more detailed photos of how to attach the elastic. Hope it’s helpful.

10. Turn your diaper right side out.

11. Take some time to admire your work so far. You’re almost done. The photo below shows the flannel (inner) side. *Notice the opening (at the bottom of the diaper) that you’ll be closing next.

12. Take the open part of the diaper and tuck in about 3/8th of an inch toward the inside of the diaper. (You’ll tuck the print toward the flannel and the flannel toward the print.) Pin it together as you go. Sew together pretty close to the edge. If you sew it further from the edge you run the risk of missing some fabric (which has happened to me) and it takes more time to fix. So, go for about 1/8th of an inch from the edge.

*Decision point: You can, at this point, sew the leg and back casing onto the diaper. One of the three diapers I made out of this combination of fabrics doesn’t have the leg or back casings while the other two do. Below is a picture of the leg casing being sewn. Make sure you pull the diaper (and elastic) fully to sew the casing. I don’t recommend pulling the fabric with just one hand (as seen in this photo). I did this so I could photograph it while it was a little stretched to make a point.

Here’s a photo of how it looks after sewing the leg casing:

13. Measure out how much velcro (the soft side, aka the loop), pin it to the front (the side you just sewed closed) and, using a zigzag stitch at about 1-1/2 width, sew it down. You may have to help the needle get through the thickness of the prefold so be ready to help the wheel turn.

14. Flip your diaper over, measure the amount of velcro (the scratchy side, aka the hook) you want for the tabs, pin them down and, using the same zigzag stitch, sew the velcro in place.

15. Congratulation! You just finished your diaper!

If you have any questions, please let me know. I’m trying to make it really doable to make a diaper at home and want to make these directions as clear as possible. If it works for you, let me know, too.

While typing this tutorial up, I wanted to test it a couple of times so I made a couple more diapers to check to see if the directions made any sense. I hope they do. Here’s a photo of the triplets. The top two have leg and back casings and no velcro. The bottom one has velcro and no leg or back casings:

You’re also getting a preview of the next diaper stash to be sewn up. I’m currently trying to figure out how many diapers I can get out of a yard of fabric. That is, a yard of the print that goes on the outside and a yard of the flannel I sew on the inside.

UPDATE: I added another tutorial in 2011 on how I attach the elastic. You can see it here.

How to make maternity pants

July 11, 2008 § 2 Comments

I’m not much into a “how-to” mode, otherwise I would have taken pictures of the pants I converted into maternity pants for my sister. It really was easier than I thought it would be. I even learned something: Be more confident than your skills and you will master a new skill. How about that for a new saying? Really, though, I think I was just nervous about making a mistake (that’s a big mistake in itself) and messing up my sister’s pants that I was sorta stuck and didn’t start the pants until I had the courage to do it. Luckily, I felt a tug to finish them quickly so that my sister could have them. Otherwise, they might have sat on the ironing board for. ever.

So, without the pictures to prove it or the inspiration to take pictures along the way, I will tell you how I made the pants and see if it’s helpful to anyone. Knowing now how easy they are to make, I really think I’m gonna cut up some of my pants and make them into comfy maternity pants so I can use them postpartum.

Okay, so remember that I didn’t have the intended wearer here with me to measure, so I got measurements from her over the phone. I asked for her to measure a pair of maternity pants she already had that she liked for (her measurements are in parenthesis for reference):

1. length of the crotch to the bottom of the panel (4-5 inches)

2. length of the crotch to the hem (inseam) (30.5 inches)

3. length of the panel (11-12 inches)

With that, I started cutting away at the pants. I measured 4-5 inches from the crotch and cut a notch. From the notch, I cut a curved line up to the right and up to the left (toward the original waist band and side seam)- like a smiley face. πŸ™‚ I then cut the rest of the original waist band off since I was going to add a full belly panel.

Then I took my stretchy fabric (I chose a cotton knit with a bit of stretch, for breathability) and measured my belly. I figured the stretchiness would be forgiving and cut a piece that went around me while I pulled the fabric a little. I figured I wanted it to be snug. Not too tight. Not too loose.

I stitched the two ends together to make a tube and then pinned the tube to the pants, right sides facing each other (so that the seam from the tube would be on the inside). When pinning I noticed that the stretchy fabric was smaller around than the pants, so I stretched it along the back (since you don’t need that much give back there anyway) and pinned the front while keeping the fabric relaxed.

At that point I realized I was done! You could add elastic to the top of the panel but the pants stay up just fine without it. Does that make sense?

How to make yogurt tutorial

July 10, 2008 § 11 Comments

Here’s my first tutorial. I hope it’s helpful and that it inspires you to try making your own yogurt. I’ve kept up making my own here at home and I can’t see myself going back to store bought.

You’ll need:

Milk (Go organic)

Earthen bowl (made of clay)

Yogurt Starter (already made yogurt, either by you or store bought)

2 Quart sauce pan (just make sure your milk will not overflow)

Small/Medium Blanket

Measuring cup (though after a while you’ll just know how much milk to pour)

Directions:

My suggestion would be to make the yogurt at night. For one, in summer, you’re more likely to switch on the AC than the stove. But also, the yogurt needs to set for 6-8 hours. I basically leave it overnight and don’t touch, look or even think about it (if I can) until morning. πŸ™‚

1. Follow the pictures above and have your supplies ready. The thing to know is that you want to have your starter (the already made yogurt that’s going to help grow the yogurt you’re making) at room temperature. So just pull it out when you start the process.

2. Then, measure out about 1,100 mL of milk. That gives me about a quart of yogurt.

3. Put the milk to boil but don’t actually let it boil all the way. Getting the milk too warm will funkify it and your yogurt won’t grow. The picture sorta illustrates that you’re letting little bubbles come up on the sides. At that point, turn off the heat.

4. Pour it out into an earthen bowl. Place the bowl onto an open blanket (you’ll wrap the bowl in this blanket later). This earthen bowl thing is key. This means a ceramic bowl. I pulled out a bowl I made in my high school ceramics class and finally put it regular rotation.

5. After about 5 minutes (the milk should be “touchable” but not “burnable”), mix in about 4 dollops of your pre made yogurt (the starter).

6. Gently stir.

7. Cover with a large plate.

8. Wrap blanket around bowl and plate.

9. After about 6-8 hours, unwrap the blanket, take off the plate and voila! You have made yogurt. Don’t worry about the little bit of water on the top- mine has it and it just gets mixed in. Now you can choose a container and put the yogurt in it and place it in the fridge.

It may also look runnier than store-bought yogurt but that’s because you haven’t added thickeners. In my opinion, home made yogurt (even though it’s plain) doesn’t taste as plain as the plain store-bought stuff.

Enjoy! And let me know if I can help.

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