22 February 2011

nine months? so soon?

On Sunday, we went to Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham with some friends to catch a few rays.

Stella is a bundle of joy.

She gives great hugs and has a good sense of humor.

I like to have my picture made with unusual signs. Why is "Faktri" spelled thusly? And why is the "K" large and red? Downtown Birmingham is replete with such oddities.

07 February 2011

mid-winter hello

Somehow it turned into February. And my girl is eight months old!

I thought I'd post a few pics of her, and of some things I've been working on lately.

We catch a few warm days in winter, so I like to sit in the yard and disrobe the baby when the weather cooperates. I promise I keep her dressed in warm clothes when I need to. I wanted to take a photo that showed off her new pink knitted pants--wonderpants! I had a little difficulty with the pattern but I figured out how to get around it and I'll be making another pair for my godson who will arrive in May. I may choose a more masculine color.

I've been knitting like crazy since I got pregnant with Stella about a year and a half ago, but lately I've caught the crochet bug too.

Margaret Oomen, of the blog Resurrection Fern, released a pattern through the purl bee of how to create these lovely stones. I need to track down some more smooth stones because this pattern is like potato chips. Once you pop, you can't stop.

10 October 2010

...we could have a wee wee...

please enjoy the mandolin player.

03 October 2010

Breastfeeding: challenging and worth it

I'm with Mighty Marce on the no-guilt approach to motherhood and breastfeeding.

01 October 2010

my beautiful babe and her sweater vest

Autumn is in the air. That means it's time for a wee sweater vest.

30 September 2010


I got a 28 pound box from Brown Sheep today. There aren't many material possessions that make me happier than yarn. I look at this monster pile and see all the knitted balls, elephants, barnyard animals, doll hair, and slippers that this beautiful stuff will become.

22 July 2010

Works in Progress

1. Stella's scrapbook. I am in love love love with Amy Butler's scrapbook papers. The scrapbook itself is from We R Linen. It's a beautiful notebook covered in classy orange linen, but what a weird name--We R Linen. Kind of like Krispy Kreme and Klassy Kuts. I guess I am a nut for correct spelling (and doughnuts from Krispy Kreme when the Hot Now light is on).

2. My first Waldorf doll. It has been sitting in its current unfinished state since March. Waiting for Judy to come and help me finish it. In the meantime, I have experimented with dyeing knit fabric with tea to achieve a skin-like color, and have begun a couple of other dolls so I could practice getting their heads just-so since that is the first (and possibly most complicated) step of making these very involved limbed dolls. Waldorf doll-making is what my 7/8th grade class will work on this year.
What fun to see the doll's body come to life! Doll making was never something I predicted I would get into, but especially now that I have a little girl, I want her to have mostly handmade toys--and Mama-made toys are the best.

3. Again with the school projects...these are a prototype for the slippers my 5/6th grade class will knit. This is a new challenge for me--teaching a class of about ten 10-year-olds how to knit socks on double pointed needles. O my goodness.

4. On the left you see Stella's journal. I bought it years ago at one of my favorite Boulder stores, Two Hands Paperie. It was made by Fat Cactus Studios and it is so amazing and lovely that I could never decide what to use it for. I began writing in it when I was pregnant, I plan to write her birth story in it, with pictures, and I plan to write in it covertly on occasion and gift it to her one day when she is older and the time seems right.
On the right you see my favorite thing I have ever knit. It's the Milo vest, knit up in Noro Taiyo yarn. It's so lovely and it should fit her this fall.

5. These are the birth announcements/thank you cards I made. Again, the Amy Butler scrapbook paper. I like the way they turned out.

20 July 2010

On Handwork: Renate Hiller

This video made me excited about the school year starting:

I'd like to attend Handwork Teacher Training at the Fiber Craft Studio in a couple of years, once Stella is a little older. What fun it would be to deepen my craft!

28 June 2010

On Music, and an ode to the baby carrier

One indispensable baby item is the sling.

I have a Sleepy Wrap, which is virtually the same as a Moby Wrap. They are both five miles of fabric that you origami around yourself. I love the Sleepy Wrap for its comfort, but it is too hot to use in an Alabama summer because there are essentially three layers of thick jersey fabric that cover the babe. I am looking forward to using it this fall and winter when it's cool out, and Stella will be heavier so I will be happier because the weight is dispersed over both shoulders.

I have been using the Maya Wrap daily, and would be insane without it by now. It's a ring sling that goes over one shoulder and you put your little person in a little pouch. She feels secure, like she's back in the womb, and she feels my heart beat, and we feel each other breathe. What precious bonding! Bonus: her sweet little head is at just the right height for me to kiss. And the best part!! My midwife showed me how to loosen the ring and transfer the sleeping babe to her nappy place without waking her up.

Baby carriers are way more useful for newborns than strollers are, in my opinion.

When Miss Pearl gets fussy and tired, I sling her up and dance around my tiny kitchen to some of my favorite songs.

The other day we listened to the first few songs on Me Oh My, How the Time Does Fly, and she fell asleep in the sling. I got her down for a nap in her nursery and I was back in the kitchen washing dishes when "Gentle on My Mind" came on, and I stopped in my tracks. I thought, "I just can not wait for Stella to hear this song!"

How sweet, that we get to share our favorite things in life with our favorite people in life. At least until they are teenagers and decide that everything we do and say is uncool.

I am learning more and more about Waldorf educational philosophies, and the use of recorded music and other electronic media is discouraged for young children. I was told that recorded music stifles their creativity because when you listen to the same recording, your brain waves travel on the same neural pathways and deepen the same grooves, like well-loved vinyl records. Live music, on the other hand, is always different every time you hear it, even if it's the same song, sung the same way. There's new energy behind it, a different inflection in the voice, an improvisational quality that is fresh.

I cannot, nor would I like to, fathom my childhood without Hot Rize, Newgrass Revival or Tony Rice recordings, just as my whole framework for how I relate to music revolves around Ma and Pa playing acoustic string instruments and singing, and teaching us to play with them. In other words, at this point I welcome both live and recorded music for my child. It's about fostering a healthy balance in this, and I guess in every area that affects my child.

However, I am being more selective of what she hears. No more Missy Elliott or Notorious B.I.G....for now. We have listened to Dave Rawlings Machine, Donna the Buffalo, the Wood Bros., and a whole lot of Grateful Dead. These folks are all about life-affirming, joy-bringing, quality musicianship, from where I sit.

But I am keeping Stella away from the television. It's just too noisy, and I'm not ready for corporations to try to steal her soul or sell her the latest must-haves. (Teevee is a guilty pleasure of mine though...I must admit. There has been a marked decline in my watching habits in the past six weeks.)

I just slung Stella up, and we danced to "Gentle on My Mind." I like to think it mellowed her out for a while, and that one day she will hear that song and remember mama's love.

Here is a video of the man himself:

04 June 2010

the story of the babe

Here is the story of the birth of Stella Pearl.

{The photos are a bit grainy because we didn't use a flash...but I actually like them that way. I think they capture the romantic, hazy mood of the evening.}

{Also, I reference "the midwife" several times without giving her name. This is due to the stupid laws in my home state. Please see the Alabama Birth Coalition for more info.}

I started having mild contractions on Monday. I went about my daily business--going to eat bagels, sleeping, shopping for yarn. I woke up Thursday morning around 1:30am, moaning and thrashing my legs around a bit. I still didn't want to believe I was actually in labor, even though I was six days past the predicted due date. I guess I was a little naive, but I didn't want to let myself think I was in labor, and then be told that I was actually *not* in labor because then I would be in way over my head and not be able to handle the real situation.

Somehow I managed to get a little rest and then called the midwife around 8:30am. She said to call her back when my contractions were ten minutes apart and lasting for one minute. Well I hung up the phone and immediately things started to pick up. They were irregular, every four or eight minutes, until we called the midwife back around 11am and told her she better come along. She lives about two hours away so I'm glad we called her when we did!

Alan and I were hanging out on the porch swing when she arrived around 2:15pm to check me out. I asked her how far along I was and she said, "Are you ready?" I said, "What am I, about a half a centimeter?" She said, "No, you're fully effaced and nine centimeters open."

I said, "Holy shit. Fill up the birth pool."

So I ate a little bit and then got in the pool at the foot of my bed. I was still enjoying myself quite a bit at this point, laughing and having a good time in between contractions. I was so excited that we would soon be meeting our darlin' girl!

The midwife's assistant showed up, as did my old friend Heather. They seemed surprised to see that I was having such a good time!

Honey hung out with us for the first part of my labor. She is such a sweet dog--but she's not the baby anymore!

I labored for a while longer, then got to a point where it was a relief to start pushing a bit. And my mood turned more serious as the pain intensified.

I pushed and pushed, not really knowing what I was doing. They had me get out of the pool and push while sitting on the toilet for several contractions. It seemed nothing was progressing.

I decided to let the midwife break my water bag to move things along. That wasn't painful at all, just a new sensation for sure. I got back in the pool and things are kind of a blur...And that's about the time the lightning storm came. Heavy rain, thunder, lights flickering, Heather running around gathering up candles and flashlights. Fortunately our power never did go out, but it was wild! It was a mighty powerful storm, and I rode on that energy for a long while.

I hadn't eaten enough so I had a righteous case of heartburn. They fed me a couple spoonfuls of honey, and a couple sips of juice, but I was running on empty. Next time I'll actually know I'm in labor and I'll try and force more food down early on.

Finally due to some excellent coaching from the midwife, I figured out what exactly I was supposed to be doing, and the baby started to come down. She had me bringing my knees up, putting my chin to my chest, and bellowing like a she-devil. {If the neighbors heard me, then bless them for not calling the cops to investigate why there was livestock in my home.} Then she would have me get on my knees and let gravity help me out. Being on my knees was truly intense. I had to surrender and let the contractions do the work they were meant to do instead of resisting them.

I was on my knees, leaning over the side of the pool when my daughter was born at 8:48pm. It took just two or three contractions to push her out, I think. It was a completely insane feeling to push her out into the water. The midwives caught her and pulled her up, and she cried right away. Heather told me that my face lit up like I had just won the lottery when I heard her cry. And I certainly feel that way.

I had to turn over then, by bringing my leg up and over the umbilical cord. We all knew Stella was okay because she was pink and crying, but the cord was wrapped around her neck twice and over her shoulder and up under her legs. {The midwife said that was the most tangled and longest cord she had ever seen, and she has nine of her own kids, and has delivered at least 180 babies.} As the midwives untangled her, I was just in awe of her little squirmy body, trying to wrap my head around the fact that I had just become a mama. I cried a few little tears of joy and I fell instantly in love. They put her on my chest and wrapped her in a blanket as Alan and I savored our first moments together as a family.

Then Alan cut the cord and Stella and I were physically separated. I think our heart strings will forever be attached.

I will spare you the details of what came after, because honestly, I would prefer to forget about it myself...Let's just say that the placenta did not exit on its own accord, and there was pain, and there was blood.

Meanwhile, Alan and the ladies were cleaning up baby, who decided that she needed to poop at least four times. They did a newborn exam and weighed and measured her.

I showered and got in the bed, where I was to remain on bed-rest for the better part of a week to heal up the tear that happened when this 8 pound 2 ounce baby made her exit. They gave her back to me and we tried nursing for the first time. I think we were both so tired that we didn't get the hang of it right away, so she just nuzzled around getting to know me and I was completely in awe.

There was a big mess to clean up, and laundry to wash, and I was a spectator for all of that. For lack of a better option, we ordered Domino's since it was late and there's nothing really great to eat in our part of town.

After we got settled, Alan called the new grandparents to tell them of our little arrival. Then he told them we were at home... I chose not to tell our parents beforehand that we were having a home birth. It was a difficult decision because I wanted to share this part of my life with them fully, but didn't want them to worry--because then I would be worried and that wouldn't help me any. So they were surprised to say the least, but proud and excited too. Alan's folks hopped right in the car to drive up and meet her, and my parents came the next morning.

The midwives sat down with us and talked about postpartum care. We studied the placenta, which was larger than I ever imagined, and they packed it up and put it in the freezer, where it still sits in waiting. They said if I develop postpartum depression (which is rare in home birth moms), they will come back and dehydrate it so I can ingest it. I thought this meant I would eat it like beef jerky but they said they would do me a favor and put it in capsule form.

They told me I would have the best four-hour nap of my life, but even though I was exhausted I didn't sleep much that night because I couldn't stop staring at this perfect human being.

I am so very glad I chose to have a home birth. If we have another child (which at this point I hope we do), I absolutely plan to have the baby at home again. I felt completely safe under the care of my midwives the whole time.

The entire experience was radically empowering, and now I know I can do anything. I have so much respect for my body now, whereas before I got pregnant I had so little. My body can grow another body inside it, channel the energy of the goddess to birth another person, and then create a perfect pranic food to feed said person. Wow, I never knew I was magic until I became a mother.

She lies sleeping in my lap as I finish writing this. She becomes more beautiful to me each day, with her rock star hair and blue-gray eyes {I wonder if they'll change, and when?}, the way she crinkles up her forehead, her sweet little squeaks and croaks, her little smiles that make me wonder what she's dreaming of. Her little toes--goodness how I love her little toes!

She is already growing up so fast....

"We have a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth is painful. It's that women are strong." ~Laura Stavoe Harm