Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shoot me if I ever do this

I mean it.

I clicked on the blog of a certain Australian yarn dyer to see if there was any more information about when her next batch of yarn would be available for sale. The last time I visted her blog (in December) she had photos of the most delectable rainbow yarns that she had done for a wholesale order.

This time, however, I was confronted with a huge picture of a poo. Yes, her darling daughter had finally learnt to use the toilet. And not only did she choose to tell us (which I could have coped with) but she provided photographic proof.

I totally understand that parents are very proud of their children and that mothers who combine child rearing with a part-time business they run out of home often have business/family boundary issues. I don't mind seeing photos of their fully clothed kids and can skim over posts detailing their loved one's first day at school.

However a photo of a giant poo falls into the category of WAY TOO MUCH information. Especially when it is on a blog that is linked to a business website.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Personal thoughts; no knitting content

With the impending birth of my first child, it's probably not surprising that I've been thinking a lot about my mother who passed away six years ago. I know how much she would enjoy experiencing her first grandchild and feel sad that she missed out on the experience. But at the same time I feel like I have an essential part of her inside me which has been awakened and means she is experiencing all this through her. (I know this is probably just some physiological/psychological trick of my brain to cope with all the emotions, but it doesn't really matter because I know she would be very happy knowing I was so content and happy and looking forward to my child).

After my mum's death someone said to me that I would miss her the most during the happy times and I think I finally get what they meant. The level of excitement and joy I know she would be experiencing contrasts all too painfully with what can only be described as a lack of interest demonstrated by some people I really thought would care a little more. But at the same time I have to admit I've been quite overwhelmed by the support and even excitement of other people - particularly my friends and my friends' mothers (my aunt has been fantastically supportive and interested but she does, after all, share half my mum's genes). My conception of family has changed so much since my mum died; she really was the glue that held us all together. We are all living our own lives going in different directions. I don't think any of us have changed as such; it's more a case that different aspects of our personalities have come out more strongly since she passed away. My mum had this incredible capacity to bring out the best in people; she gave all of us unconditional love - even if she didn't always understand what we were doing and why. Unfortunately for a variety of reasons none of us left behind seem to have the required levels of both strength and lack of self-absorption to continue her legacy.

J is incredibly excited as we count down to "b-day". I don't know if he'll cope if the baby goes over the due date. The doctors have changed their tune from 4-5 months ago when they were warning me of possibly having to deliver early by c-section (the expected diabetes and hypertension never materialised); at the moment - although one is never taken off the high risk list once put there - it looks like they'll let me go up to 10 days over before inducing if both the baby and I stay healthy. J keeps on asking me if I've hit the point where I just want the baby out. "Not yet, I know it needs to cook a bit longer," I tell him serenely as he paces around the house reminding me to check my blood pressure and count the number of kicks, etc. I'm tired and often uncomfortable but quite content to rest and nap and have J wait on me hand and foot. And he has been very good about that I have to say. For both of us our greatest fear is that having got so far something will go wrong at the last minute. By the time the baby comes out, it will have been four years in the making.

I feel like I have to write down this stuff before the baby comes out, the pregnancy happy hormones vanish and J & I are juggling the biggest and most important challenge of our lives while almost certainly suffering sleep deprivation. It will be a huge test of our relationship but dare I say we've survived worse before. I don't know if it is just the pregnancy hormones (I have never felt this 'right' about something in my life) but I have huge confidence in our ability to not only survive but thrive in being parents. J has a very caring, empathetic, loyal and responsible side to his personality which is recognised by kids and animals (I suspect I fit into the latter category) - he resembles the malamute dog in personality (both good and bad). While I have the "inner-Gitl", part of my mum, inside me that just seems to instinctively know how to provide unconditional love and acceptance, and has this serene confidence that all will be right in the end. Undoubtedly we'll make our share of mistakes but our child will be loved and cared for by conscientious parents, and brought up with a love of animals, books and learning. We're not perfect but neither of us can think of a better start to a child's life.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

ONLY carpel tunnel syndrome???

At my 36-week doctor's appointment, I mentioned that my left hand was going numb and tingly. Although my blood pressure was still well within the normal range, I was terrified that this could be a sign of an impending stroke or another serious health problem.

"Oh don't worry about that," said the doctor. "It's only carpel tunnel syndrome."


As a knitter, not to mention someone whose livelihood depends on being able to use a computer keyboard for 5+ hours day, every day, the words "only" and "carpel tunnel syndrome" do not belong in the same sentence. It is the most dreaded condition that a modern-day office worker (and knitter) can get as it is debilitating, difficult and sometimes impossible to treat, and virtually invisible to the naked eye leading to many people questioning the veracity of such a claim.

Fortunately J is the king of internet research and once we got home he managed in a short period of time to access several legitimate sites that explained that not only was carpel tunnel a common condition in pregnant women (estimates range from 20 to 60 per cent of all pregnant women), in the overwhelming majority of cases it was a temporary condition which disappeared after delivery. I started putting out questions to other mothers found that this did seem to be the case. Even if they hadn't experienced it themselves they knew other women who had and yes, except for one case where there were other underlying medical issues, it did disappear shortly after giving birth.


I'm determined to compile a list of 'secret pregnant women's business' as even for someone who reads all the books, there are many surprises en route and something that is commonplace to doctors and midwives can be both disconcerting and terrifying for a first-time pregnant woman. And as it is something that most of us only go through a handful of times, it's hard to know what is 'normal' and what isn't, and when one needs to push for additional medical testing or not.

For instance we are all told that fatigue is a normal part of pregnancy. Especially if you are older or overweight. But how much fatigue is normal?

I now know from bitter experience that being terrified to drive because you are worried about falling asleep at the wheel in the middle of the day is not normal. In my and another woman's case it was a sign of iron deficiency which wasn't picked up early enough. After I found out about the iron deficiency I let all my fellow pregnant friends know. One woman who had identical symptoms to me but was much earlier into her pregnancy, asked her obstetrician at the 20-week appointment for a blood test. He refused, saying it was done at 28 weeks. She persisted and talked her GP into ordering the test. Sure enough, she already had a serious iron deficiency which would have got worse - and impeded on her health and well-being for an additional 2 months - if she hadn't been confident enough to advocate on her own behalf.

I have since found out that around half of all pregnant women experience an iron deficiency, generally because their body has to produce an additional 10% of red blood cells for the baby and placenta, and because many pregnant women find it impossible to eat even their usual portions of red meat during the first trimester due to morning sickness. And about 20 per cent of women already have an iron deficiency before they even get pregnant! So why it is not automatically checked until the 28th week of pregnancy is beyond me.

Another friend's fatigue turned out to be linked to an undiagnosed brain tumour but fortunately this is a far less common condition.

Then there is learning what is considered 'normal' waiting times to see medical specialists during pregnancy. I've learnt that I may as well write off at least half a day when I go for a hospital appointment as I have never had to wait less than an hour to see a doctor, whatever the official appointment time may be (but if I don't turn up on time I lose my appointment!) And lest anyone reading this thinks that things are better in the private system, well in Australia they aren't. The only thing about the private system is that you get to see the same doctor each time but if you go into labour at an inconvenient time - say on on a weekend or public holiday, for example - there is a good chance that another doctor will be delivering your baby in the end anyway.

I had one appointment with a private doctor and quickly decided that if I was going to have to wait for hours and be treated like a number I may as well not pay through the nose for the privileged. Public or private, most obstetricians have trouble keeping their scheduled appointments because their other patients keep on going into labour and they must attend them. It's the nature of their work. We understand this. But at least in the public system I have never suffered the ignominy of having my appointment interrupted so the doctor can take a phone call regarding a payment on his American Express credit card (I have no problems with appointments being interrupted so the doctor can discuss treatment options for a patient who has turned up in emergency with a dangerously high blood pressure level or who has to run off to attend a birth). And the parking fees at my top-rated suburban-based public hospital are less per day than the fees charged each hour in East Melbourne.

Actually the more I think about it, the more I wonder why anyone would pay for the privileged of giving birth in a small private hospital where if anything goes wrong they or the baby will end up being rushed to one of the big public hospitals that have all the facilities on tap for emergency care. I like the fact that if anything goes wrong, I'll be less than a minute from some of the best neonatal beds and emergency facilities in the country; at the end of the day this is far more important to me than swish decor. But maybe it's just me.

First the good news

Blocking the shawl was not as painful as I feared and has made a huge difference - it grew from 49 inches in width to 60 inches in width. Yes, I'm using imperial measurements as my blocking kit came from the US which has yet to embrace the metric system. For those of us living in the 21st century, it grew from 122cm to 150cm. The spaces opened up nicely too. I'm really looking forward to wearing it although I don't know where.

My friend Mel visited on Friday with two of her eight kids (this is not a typo...) - while part of me is passing out that someone barely a year older than me has eight kids and 2 grand-kids, she is a constant reminder that there are some amazing parents out there who bring up the loveliest, nicest, most caring children in the world. I've already warned her that I'll be on the phone once J & my bub pops out. Mel also gave me this gorgeous SILK cardigan she made for the baby. I am both honoured (and scared) that she trusts me to take care of such an item. It feels so gorgeous and soft but I suspect it will only be worn for photo opportunities and the bub will quickly be put into machine-washable cottons for meal times.

And this morning my friend Sonya from work visited along with this HUGE box of clothes that her four-month old had already grown out of. It's official - we DO NOT need any more size 0000 or size 000 clothes (we also got a heap from our friends Phill & Jess, and Sam and Dean). Some of Sonya's clothes had come originally from another mum at our work, and with 3 more women expecting bubs within about 3 months of my bub, I suspect they'll be doing a few more rounds yet.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Finished projects

The great thing about the lull between finishing off work and a new baby arriving (I'll be 36 weeks on Tuesday - eek!) PLUS having my fatigue correctly diagnosed and treated as an iron deficiency is that I now have the time and energy to do a little knitting.

By the colours in the baby clothes one might make the prediction we are expecting a girl. All I will tell you is that I have four friends expecting babies within the next four months, as well as myself, and 2 of them have told me they are expecting a girl while one is expecting a boy and the fourth isn't saying. As I'm not saying. Let's just put it this way - our bub is showing remarkable dexterity in hiding at least part of the vital area during each scan, leading the operator to say "I think you are having a ** but we can't be sure as we can't see everything".

First up is a Baby Layette knitted out of a delectable cotton/bamboo blend, hand dyed by Wooltopia. Unlike the mass-produced bamboo/cotton yarns sold at Lincraft and Spotlight, this yarn is an absolute joy to knit and not splitty AT ALL. It is silk soft without being too slippery. I think it is a perfect yarn for baby clothes. The pattern is a modified version of the Pure and Sweet Layette published in Itty-Bitty Nursery. (Rav link) I'm not so thrilled with the pattern - IMHO there are far better patterns available free on line. I've already bought some more Wooltopia cotton/bamboo blend yarn and will be making a baby kimono out of it (plus probably matching hat, booties, etc).

Next is a Forest Canopy Shawl (Rav link), knitted in a Danish yarn, Kauni Wool 8/2 Effektgarn (a fingering/4ply weight yarn), in its most famous EQ rainbow colourway. It's my third attempt to make this shawl and the only one I've been happy with. I used 4mm needles and did 18 repeats of the main pattern (finishing with 323 stitches on the needle) - the original pattern calls for DK yarn, 5.5mm needles and finishing with just 195 stitches.

I used about 160g of Kauni yarn - if you only have one, 150g ball, finish at 17 repeats of the pattern.

I still need to block the shawl but even in its unblocked state it looks very, very impressive.

I was also super-impressed with the Kauni yarn. It is a little rough but certainly no rougher than Noro Kureyon sock - and the consistency and quality was far better than Noro-sock. There was not a single knot in my 150g ball. It is also the only yarn with long colour repeats to rival Noro - given a choice I'd definitely select Kauni over Noro in the fingering-weight.

Finally bellow are some bibs and bloomers made by the very talented Lis at Don't Tell Mamma. They are hand-sewn, made out of gorgeous 100% cotton fabric that can be thrown in the washing machine and the bibs are fully-revisable. Lis sent them to me as part of a swap for some of my excess yarn stash. I think they'd make an ideal practical and unique gift for any new parent.

Bib fronts and bloomers

With the reverse side of the bibs showing

Having spent a lot of time in both speciality baby stores and the baby section of retail stores such as Target, I have discovered that it is often no more expensive to buy quality hand-made items than the mass-produced versions if you know where to look. I also have to sing the praises of enjoyfully! who sells hand-sewn baby bedding on eBay - The Peter Rabbit cot and bassinet sets we bought from her were actually less expensive and infinitely better quality than many of the mass-produced sets we saw in the mainstream stores.