Thursday, October 18, 2007

7 months

Selena is now 7 months old and the last month has been filled with trying new foods and trying to crawl. It is very hard for her and she gets quite frustrated, but she is getting the hang of it and I am sure any day now she will be cruising all over.

Her other great adventure is eating real food. Of course, like anything else, there are lots of "philosophies" on how to feed your baby. The traditional American way is to start with rice cereal and progress through the various jars of baby food. At first I thought I would make my own baby food, pureeing it in a blender. I checked out some books at the library on how to make baby food and how to freeze and store it. I even bought a food mill to chop up stuff on the go.

However my mom said that I didn't need baby food and I should just give her anything that you can smash with a fork and she'd be fine. Then some ladies on Babycenter said you didn't even need to cut up the food into small pieces you could just give them a big chunk and see what they did with it. So I've done a little bit of everything. I started with the purees for about 3 weeks and then I started giving her small bites, but she had a hard time grabbing them, so I gave her a few whole pieces of food, like broccoli, a banana, and an apple. She like the first two, but the apple was frustrating for her. Now her pinchy pinchers are working better so she can handle the small bites again. So I've pretty much given up on the purees and just try to make sure that we eat something she can have too.
She enjoys it, and will object when I don't give her the same thing we are having. It is amazing how she'll put the food in her mouth and "chew" it with her gums and swallow it. Sometimes she will stuff A LOT of food in her mouth and I get worried she'll choke. She may gag a little, but she ends up handling it by swallowing or spitting it back out. It is very impressive, well at least to me it is. :)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Selena's Half Birthday

Selena is 6 months old now and it is amazing how fast the past 6 months have gone. My little tiny helpless baby is gone and we have a bigger, baby who can do lots of things like scoot and roll around, remain sitting if we put her there, remain standing for a little bit if we put her there. She has started eating solid foods and can use the spoon herself. She has gone on a growth spurt the last couple of months and actually increased in the both the height and weight percentiles.

Floyd has gone back to school and I officially quit my job, however I am working part time from home for an unknown interim. I have joined some mom's groups to keep us busy, since Selena loves to go out and meet people, and tends to dislike staying at home. Whenever we go out she smiles at everyone and they comment on what a happy a baby she is, however when we get home she seems very unsatisfied and is constantly whining. Part of the problem is that she is teething. It is also good for me to get out of the house and make some new friends.

I am looking forward to the holidays. I think it will be a lot of fun dressing her up for Halloween, getting together with family for Thanksgiving, and all the Christmas festivities.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Using Cloth Diapers Really Isn't Hard

Ok so I've been cloth diapering Selena for five months so I feel like I have enough experience to share, and show that it really isn't inconvenient.

First of all I'd like to explain two common misconceptions related to cloth diapering now:

You don't have to pin - Now you can buy fancy diapers that have velcro or snaps and go on just like disposables, or if you want to go the route of diapers and covers you can use a neat invention called a snappi that allows you to fasten the diaper without pins.

You don't have to store dirty ones in a bucket of water - You can throw the dirty diaper, without any solids (so runny poop is fine) into a garbage pail lined with a waterproof bag and when ready to wash, throw the whole bag and diapers into your washing machine and dryer.

Click here for more myths about cloth diapering

Now for the my top reasons to cloth diaper:

1. They are so incredibly cute: I like changing diapers because I can put on a new cute cover or pocket diaper. I love sewing the diapers, and I love shopping for diapers. It really is fun. Here is a collection of cute diaper baby bums from the babycenter diapering your baby message board. The ladies at on this board know everything about cloth diapering so if you have any questions you can go there.

2. You can save a lot of money: Cloth can cost a bit up front but it is well worth it in the long run. However if you do become addicted to buying diapers then you could end up spending more then you meant to, but still overall you will spend less. If you plan on having more than one kid you can reuse them, and they have a fairly high resale value ( so you can get some of your investment back.

3. It is safer for your baby. Our babies are bombarded with chemicals all the time so I try to limit it as much as possible.

4. It is better for the environment: I really don't believe claims to the contrary because they just don't make sense.

Click here for more reasons to cloth diaper.

Why cloth diapers are more convenient than disposables:

1. If you have a big enough "stash" you won't run out and you never have to make emergency trips to the store

2. While your baby isn't immune from diaper rash, most babies have less instance of diaper rash because cloth diapers breathe more, tend to be changed more often and less allergic reaction. So if you cloth diaper you won't have to fight diaper rashes as often (hopefully ever).

3. When you visit people you don't have to impose your dirty diapers on their garbage cans.

4. Lots of people have less case of "diaper blowouts" or leaks. Cloth diapers tend to have more coverage and thus can contain better. I have never had a poopy diaper blowout using cloth, but have had quite a few with disposables.

5. Lots of people also report that potty training occurs earlier since the child can feel when they are wet.

6. Disposables stink! You definitely notice a difference if you normally use cloth and then put a disposable on your baby. You are constantly thinking they are poopy even when they aren't.

7. You don't have to worry about them getting wet. When you use a disposable diaper and it gets wet, a gooey gel covers your poor baby. If your little one is wearing cloth it is perfectly okay for them to get in a pool, or run through the sprinkler. Cloth diapers work great as swim diapers.

So if I managed to convince you try cloth diapering:

Here is a great link for the different kinds of diapers systems and their pros and cons

But if you don't like to research and don't want to think about it this is what I think provides the best combined value and convenience:

This will cost you about $300 and you can cloth diaper full time. You will probably need to wash every other day or every two days. The covers can be reused until they get soiled(which happens quite a bit with a newborn) or stinky. If you are starting with a newborn you will need to buy bigger prefolds and covers at around 4-6 months and if you have a large baby you might need to buy more covers again when they are a toddler. Since I suggest one size pocket diapers they should last you till potty training. But of course sometimes you enjoy it so much that you want to try all the different options, or just want to buy new cute diapers because they are cute.

If you want to try a bunch of different diapers without being out much money. Jillian's Drawers has a program where you can try different cloth diapers for $10 and return whatever you don't like and pay and keep what you do.

To wash your diapers:

Put all dirty diapers, covers and wipes in a garbage can lined with a washable pail liner. Every other day dump all the diapers and covers, plus the pail liner (turn the pail liner inside out so you don't have to touch the dirty diapers) into the wash. Set your washing machine for a cold pre-rinse, hot wash, and post rinse. Use half the amount of detergent you usually use. Then stick them in the dryer. Then I take them out of the dryer and stick them all into the pail liner (so I don't need a basket) bring them upstairs and quickly sort them into baskets (I have a wipe basket, diaper basket, cover basket and pocket basket). It only takes a couple of minutes to sort them.

I do have to admit that the hardest part is finding a wash routine that works. Because the diapers are so absorbant some detergents build up on the diapers causing them to not smell pleasant. Sometimes if your water isn't the right hardness it can cause problems. I have a front loader, so regular detergent didn't seem to get them really clean, so I ended up buying Allens Naturally biodegradable detergent and I combine that with a dollop of Simple Green multi purpose cleaner and now I don't have any problems. I have to admit it took me a few weeks to figure this out and I was getting frustrated, but with a little perseverence and experimentation I no longer have a problem. If you do have problems there is a lot of information online to help you resolve it.


See it really is easy. Washing them doesn't take up much time. Cloth diapering really takes just a little bit more organization then anything else and it really can be fun. It might sound crazy, but if there is a way to make changing diapers fun shouldn't you try it?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

All in one day

So today was a busy day for Selena. She stood up, supporting herself on the couch all by herself. I find it incredible how she can become so advanced all of a sudden. First it was smiling, one day she didn't smile much then the next she smiled all the time. Then it was grabbing things. She wouldn't be able to hold things very well and then one day she could grab anything she wanted. Now its rolling over. She has been able to roll over for a while but she didn't really use the skill that much. However today she was rolling and scooting every which way. It is so incredible that just a few months ago she couldn't do anything for herself except eat.

Here is a link to a video of her standing up. I didn't want to post it because it makes me look like a bad mother because I let her fall, but Floyd thinks its hilarious. Luckily Selena is a really tough baby and topples, clipping her fingers with nail clippers, or the dog bumping her a bit doesn't faze her at all. She does really well with her shots too.

It is also really cute to note that she now notices Dyna and likes to pet her. Dyna returns the favor by licking her all over. Dyna was very concerned when she did topple over and jumped up to make sure she was all right and then looked at me as if to say, "Why did you let her do that?" Later Dyna was trying to get Selena to throw the ball for her by placing it in her bouncy seat.

Oh and talk about advanced she can also golf!

Friday, June 29, 2007

I love being a mom

Gosh it has been a while, but with a new baby, work, and a diaper sewing and babycenter addiction I haven't had the energy to post.

Selena is almost 4 months old now. She is getting more social and playful. She can roll over (tummy to back), grab toys, and put her binky back in her mouth if it is kind of close. She still loves her swing and that is her favorite place to nap. She sleeps like a baby... Sometimes well, sometimes not. I read a bunch of baby sleep books and then got annoyed and decided I wasn't going to stress about it because when she sleeps well she sleeps well, and when she doesn't it's usually because its a growth spurt, she's hot, or she's gassy, or some other mysterious thing that might bother babies (like maybe a full moon).

I switched to working part time, because working full time and trying to take care of her at the same time was way too stressful. Working part time seems to be a great balance. I have been getting a lot done at work, and when I come home I can enjoy taking care of her without worrying too much about work. Floyd is home for the summer and just had his first week of being in charge. She loves her daddy and is always smiling at him, and laughing at him. She seems to think it is hilarious when he takes a bad beat playing poker, or maybe she is just trying to make him feel better. I am a little scared about finding day care for her in the fall, and letting someone else take care of my most precious baby, but it will only be for 4 hours and I'm sure it will all work out fine.

The cloth diapers are working great. At first I was getting a little frustrated because I didn't have a good washing routine that works. But I finally found the perfect potion of laundry detergent to make them coming out smelling great, so I am once again as excited about them as I was before she was born. So I am going to make a post very soon trying to convince all future and current parents how great they are.

I know I've sworn off sewing my own if the next one I made wasn't good, but then I did make two great looking ones, but then they weren't so great because they leak/wick. But the more I make the more I learn so I keep thinking, "Next time it will be perfect," and I do enjoy sewing so I guess I'll keep at it. But now that she is getting bigger I feel like I can buy the really fancy ones because she can wear a size medium and those will fit her for a long period of time. So I now I just have to restrain myself and not go crazy buying diapers because it really can be a bad addiction.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Update on Selena

Selena is 7 weeks old today and she is getting much bigger. She enjoys eating, sitting in her swing, getting her diaper changed, taking a bath, and being carried in a sling. She does not like riding in a car without someone in the back seat, lying on her back in her crib or bassinet for more than a few minutes (but on the bathroom floor while mom is taking a shower is ok), or being held while you are sitting down. The fact that she does not like riding in the car is very hard for me and I am trying everything I can to not have a screaming baby during car rides. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.

She sleeps fairly well at night, usually giving me about 4-5 hours of sleep, wakes up and eats, and then sleeps another 2-3. Some nights she probably doesn't even bother Floyd.

She doesn't do many tricks yet. She can scoot/wiggle 180 degrees when she is on the floor on her belly. She almost rolled over once but then got frustrated and started crying.

I've had a lot of fun making baby carriers - slings, pouches and wraps. I've also made some more pretty fancy diapers, but I'm not very good at it and mine tend to leak. Oops. I'm going to give it one or two more trys and if I can't figure it out I'm going to quit!

That is about it. I start going back to work next week so hopefully Selena will enjoy helping me write software.

Go here to see pictures of our beautiful girl.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Living With a Newborn

I've been getting lots of email from people asking how everyone is doing, but haven't had much time to answer everyone. But we are all doing well. Selena is two and a half weeks old, and she sleeps well most nights, there have been a some nights that she has been upset, but they are fewer than the ones where she doesn't fuss much. She sleeps in the play pen next to our bed, but sometimes I do fall asleep with her in our bed.

Breastfeeding is hard work, but we are getting better at it. We got her weighed yesterday and she was exactly at her birth weight (babies lose some weight initially and then gain it back) so the doctor was concerned because ideally she should be a little more by now. Except she is goes through a ton of diapers, and she doesn't look like a dehydrated baby so she wasn't too worried. So I had an appointment with the lactation nurse today, and she said I was doing everything right and that Selena looked great and she is sure that her weight gain will pick up.

We are using cloth diapers and so far it seems to be going well and isn't a whole lot of trouble. I just throw them in the wash for a few hours and then take them out and bring them back up stairs. It just takes a few minutes to sort them into the appropriate baskets. Some of the cute diapers I made her are already getting on the smallish side. :( And Floyd has done a good job changing her dirty diapers. She always seems to dirty one when she is in his lap.

She is absolutely adorable and I just love to stare at her. From the moment she was born she made squeaky noises. So we call her Squeaker. Dyna is getting used to her and has been fairly good. She likes sniffing her and giving her kisses.

I've had a lot of wonderful help. My mom, dad, sister and brother all have stayed a night or more to help out by making cooking and cleaning. My mother-in-law brought some food for us, and this week Breea is in town and has been great with cooking, cleaning and assembling baby paraphernalia.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Natural Birth Story Using Hypnosis

Selena’s Birth Story

During my pregnancy I really enjoyed reading birth stories online. Reading other people’s birth stories helped me know what to expect and helped me make decisions on how I wanted my baby’s birth to happen. This story is targeted towards a couple of different audiences including my family and friends, the Hypnobabies and Babycenter online message boards/groups I visit, as well as any other person who, like me, scours the internet for birth stories. So I am going to offer a little background before I get to the actual story.

I am 25 years old and have been married to my husband Floyd for a little over 5 years. Selena is our first child. My pregnancy went fairly well. I am a small person 5’1” and 102 lbs pre-pregnancy so was constantly hearing comments about how it might be hard for me to give birth. I gained 30lbs during my pregnancy. I ran about 15-20 miles a week until I was 6 months pregnant. After 6 months running became very tiring and it seemed to make the baby sink really low which was highly uncomfortable.

I started the pregnancy visiting a family practice doctor and planned on delivering at Good Samaritan hospital in Puyallup. A few months into my pregnancy I decided that I wanted to do a natural, drug-free delivery and thought that the Birthing Inn in Tacoma looked like a really neat place to do that, but since I had already had a relationship with my doctor, I liked her, and she was supportive of my birth choices I figured I would stick with her. A couple months later I learned that my insurance didn’t cover 100% of the hospital visit, and I would save a significant amount of money if I switched to the Birthing Inn, so I did. Switching providers when I was 6 months pregnant was a little stressful, but because visits are more frequent at the end I was able to see all four midwives in the practice before I delivered.

Instead of taking local childbirth classes I purchased the Hypnobabies home study course online. The Hypnobabies course involves putting yourself in a positive mindset about birth and labor, and practicing deep relaxation techniques. The course came with a set of CD’s to listen to every day for a 5 week period. I purchased the course when I was 19 weeks pregnant and listened to it about 2-3 times a week for the rest of my pregnancy.

So on Friday March 9th (3 weeks and 1 day before my due date) I went to work as normal. I was having quite a bit of discharge that day and thought that it could be my mucus plug, but wasn’t sure. I felt really good that day and had quite a bit of energy. Which was kind of odd because usually by the end of the week I was exhausted. I attributed it to the fact that I took my dog for a walk the day before and had jogged a little bit and it felt pretty good.

At 4:30PM I got up to leave work and felt a small gush. I figured it was just a large amount of discharge. Then I took another step and felt another gush. So I grabbed my things and went downstairs to the bathroom. By the time I got there my jeans were all wet. I sat on the toilet and a lot of liquid was pouring out of me and I was pretty sure it wasn’t urine. So I figured it probably was my water. So I caught a little in some toilet paper and smelled it to make sure it wasn’t urine, and if it was my water, that it was clear. Well it definitely wasn’t urine and it was clear. I wasn’t sure if I should call Floyd to come pick me up or if I should just drive home. I hadn’t had any contractions so I figured I would drive myself home real quick, and if I did have contractions I could just pull over and call Floyd.

I drove home and had a two Braxton Hicks contractions but they weren’t any different than the contractions I had been having for previous two months, and I frequently got them at the end of the day when I was tired.

I got home and went straight to the bathroom and yelled for Floyd, telling him that I needed him. He was taking a nap so he was a little bit annoyed at being woken up. He asked me what I wanted and I told him just to come. He comes into the bathroom and I tell him that I think my water is leaking. He asks me what that means. I said that it means I will probably be going into labor soon. We kind of sit there for a second and wonder what to do. I ask him to bring me the piece of paper the midwife gave me at my appointment on Wednesday about when to call. The piece of paper said to call if your water breaks, immediately if you are Group B Strep positive. Well I had just taken the strep test on Wednesday and hadn’t got back the results. So I figured I should call and ask what the results were. The clinic was closed at this time, so I left a message and waited for the midwife to call me back.

Meanwhile Floyd is on the Internet trying to figure out exactly what is going on, while I’m still on the toilet. I’m still in a little bit of denial and figure it will be a while before contractions to start. I know that typically they start soon, but can take up to 24 hours and I figure I’ll be in the latter category. Floyd comes in and is in the same frame of mind as me and tells me it will probably be a while.

The midwife calls back and I tell her about my water breaking, she asks me to describe it, so I do. She figures that my water probably did break. She says that the results of my test aren’t back yet so they have to treat me like I’m positive and because I’m 6 ½ hours from being 37 weeks pregnant, I’m not considered full term, and that means I have to go to Saint Joseph’s hospital (not the Birthing Inn) to get antibiotics. I ask her if there is any way we can do the test again and get an immediate result so we know, or if there is any way we can hold off till midnight since I’m not having any contractions yet. The really ironic thing is that my due date could easily have been March 24th instead of March 31st but I had made a point at the beginning of my pregnancy to have my due date pushed back because my cycle is 5 weeks, not the 4 weeks they usually use to calculate the due date. I had really wanted the later date because I didn’t want to go past my due date and be pressured to get induced. So I asked if we could go back to the original due date. She said no, but that she would try to see if the hospital could do the test or if she could figure something out.

She called me back, by this time it was around 6. I had sent Floyd out to get pads so I could get off the toilet without fear of making a mess. She said that I could come to the Birthing Inn and she could give me some antibiotics to tide me over and then we could leave and come back after midnight when we were ready. We decided to meet her there at 7:30.

So I hung up the phone and told Floyd when he got back. Then I called my mother and told her what was going on. She didn’t quite believe me that my water broke. She said that she had thought her water broke with my sister, but it didn’t really. Everyone was kind of in denial, especially because I had been practicing being very patient and assuming that I was going to go past my due date, so the fact that this was happening 3 weeks early was very disconcerting.

So because it was 3 weeks early I hadn’t packed my bags yet. That was what I was going to do that weekend. So I tell Floyd that we need to pack up our stuff just in case we don’t make it back home. So while I’m telling him this I realize that I’m not feeling so great and I’m on my knees leaning over the couch. I try to get up and do some stuff, but it really isn’t that comfortable. So we head up stairs to pack our bags and I’m still feeling uncomfortable. I try to do some stuff but it really isn’t working. So once again I’m on my knees leaning against the bed. I tell Floyd that I think I’m having contractions and he’ll need to get the bags ready. So I tell him what to put in the bags and he goes and gets everything. Then he pulls out a pair of racing flats out of the closet and tells me how cool they are and how light they are and how I should feel how light they are. And I’m just thinking, “What does this have to do with anything?” But I feel his shoes and agree yes they are cool, and yes they are light. I guess he was a little overwhelmed by the whole situation and was trying to act like everything was normal.

We get the bags packed and head down stairs. Floyd has to take something outside and the door to the garage gets jammed so he has to spend 5 minutes trying to close it, while I’m inside trying to slow down the contractions. We finally get the dog in the house and the door closed and get in the car and head off. So now I have a dilemma. I have been practicing for months to get myself in the frame of mind to have a fast, easy, comfortable birthing, but right now I don’t want it to go fast because I need to wait till midnight. So I’m wondering if I should put in my “birthing day” CD’s or not. I decide to listen to pregnancy affirmations to get relaxed, but not the birthing day ones so I don’t go too fast. I had taken a couple “splits” on my contractions when we were packing, and now that I’m in the car I continue to take them. I’m having contractions about every 2-3 minutes 30-45 seconds long. This is kind of concerning. There wasn’t any period of time where they were far apart. I am not really using my off switch (the cue that relaxes you the most, where your muscles become immobile) because I’m timing my contractions. Instead I’m in “center” (the cue where you are relaxed but can move and talk) and keep repeating “peace” (the cue that allows you to relax no matter what state you are in) throughout the pressure waves.

We get to the Birthing Inn and I tell the midwife that I’m not sure if I’ll make it to midnight. She is surprised that the contractions are so close together but she says they aren’t that long and I’m walking around and coherent so she doesn’t seem too concerned. We go upstairs to get me checked out. This was the first and pretty much the only time I was checked for dilation. I was 2cm and 90% effaced which was a relief. She says its usually takes an hour per centimeter of dilation so I will most likely deliver after midnight and everything will be fine. She feels my belly and guesses that Selena will be about 6.5lbs. She then hooks me up to monitor my contractions for about 15 minutes. My contractions are right on top of each other. She says they won’t get any closer together, just stronger. Floyd does a great job, because any time she asks me a question during a contraction I totally ignore her and do my Hypnobabies thing. Floyd explains to her what I’m doing so that she understands what is going on.

She then asks me if we want to go home and come back, or what we want to do. She has had a long day and really doesn’t want to stay. But we live about 30-40 minutes away and since my contractions are already on top of each other I wasn’t sure how I would know when to come back, so I ask her if we can stay. She says yes, but that she’ll just pretend I’m not there, since I’m technically not supposed to be there. We go downstairs. She hooks up an IV and gives me the antibiotics. The pressure waves are still coming, but are definitely manageable with my center switch and peace cues. She takes my blood pressure and its pretty high 140 over something, but she says that’s normal for the first blood pressure, she figures it will be down again next time she checks it.

So we are in the really lovely birthing suite. Floyd puts the birthing day CD in the CD player and we listen to it out loud. After awhile I ask Floyd to prepare the bathtub and I get in and it feels great. He opens up the lavender scents but it is way too strong so I tell him to close it. Soon my parents arrive and my mom comes in and tries to talk to me while Floyd is out talking to my dad, and I pretty much ignore her. She asks me if she wants me to leave her alone and I say yes, so she leaves the room, but I didn’t mean that I wanted her to leave, just not talk to me. I get a little stressed out, but I call Floyd’s name and he comes back in and fixes the tub’s temperature for me and stays with me.

The midwife periodically comes in and checks the baby’s heartbeat. Selena’s heartbeat stayed between 140-150 throughout the entire thing. She is such a tough baby. It is really cool because the monitor she has can go under water. She takes my blood pressure and it is way down around 110 over something. Around 10:30 the pressure waves are getting stronger. I really have problems being in “off” because when a wave comes I don’t like my butt on the bottom of the tub, so I kind of arch my back, but that makes me a little tense. At this point I’m kind of whimpering during each one. I found it easier to visualize myself relaxing from an external point of view than an internal one, where the internal viewpoint is the way I practiced. Floyd was really good and used the “relax” cues and that helped tremendously. Around 11:30 I tell Floyd to get the midwife.

She comes in and asks me if I’ve been in the tub the whole time and suggests that I get out and go to the bathroom. So I get out and get on the toilet. I don’t have to go, but I start feeling pushy and I start groaning. I get off the toilet and get on my hands and knees. Everyone suggests I move to the bed, but I’m not sure I can. Meanwhile, Floyd decided to call his dad back and is talking on the phone. I tell him to get off and help me. I’m in transition and am getting kind of snappy. I move to the bed and she checks me and says I think she says that I’m not quite all the way dilated but the baby is ready to come.

Meanwhile I’m having really overwhelming pushing urges, but don’t quite know what to do. I ask if it is supposed to feel like I need to poop and she says yes. So I start pushing, but I’m not very effective at it. Sometime during this time, the birth assistant arrives and my mother-in-law. Floyd starts asking his mom questions about her drive up, but I yell at them to be quiet. After a while the midwife and birth assistant start giving me some more direction, reminding me to put my chin down, and to make low sounds instead of just yelling. What finally works is to hold my breath while I push and then breathe really hard while I catch my breath enough to do it again. I usually would get about 3 good pushes in for each contraction. The Hypnobabies birthing CD is in the background and she is telling me to “breathe the baby down ”, “just let the baby slide right out” and I think that it suggests doing this between contractions. What she is saying is totally not what I’m going through. The pushing urges are so overwhelming and tiring that I need the breaks to rest. I do think her voice is soothing though, and helps me rest and relax during the breaks, but I’m not about to push during these breaks. I think the CD annoyed everyone else in the room because it was so opposite of what was happening, but I think it helped me a little. If I had listened to the CD before I went into labor it might have helped more, but I was going to wait till I was 38 weeks before listening to it and since she came early I never go the chance.

The midwife asks me if I want to try pushing in the tub, but this was something we were going to ask about when we made our birth plan at my next appointment in a week, so I hadn’t really thought about it yet, and didn’t know how it would work and where I would get any leverage so I said no. So then she suggests I try lying on my side with my leg in the air. I don’t really like this position and apparently I wasn’t bringing my knee to my chest in the right angle and she keeps telling me to move my leg one way, but I keep doing it wrong. Eventually I start to do it right, and start to get the hang of it. At one point the midwife stretches my perineum and that really didn’t feel good. During this whole time I was really hot and gulping water down. Floyd was fanning me and at one point said his arm was getting tired. The midwife teases him and says that compared to what I was doing he had no right to say he was tired.

After trying this for a while they give me a rope to pull on while I push. This really seems to help and gives me leverage. I keep asking if I’m even doing anything. Everyone keeps encouraging me and telling me I am. They say that they can see her hair. I am still doubting that all this work I am doing is actually accomplishing anything. Most of the birth stories I read, said that pushing was a relief from the dilation stage, and only lasts around 30 min and I’m pretty sure I’ve been pushing longer than that. This is way more intense than anything I went through before transition.

After pulling on the rope they move me to a birth stool, and I try that. The stool really helps. Floyd sits behind me while I’m pushing. Finally her head starts to come out. I keep asking if I’m even doing anything, they put my hand down there so I can feel her head, and I realize that yes, she is coming. I remember thinking that this is the last mile, and then I get kind of depressed because I tend to slow down the last mile. (Yes, I am weird) My mom switches with Floyd so that he can watch her come out. Her head moves down and I feel the ring of fire, I think I even comment on it. Her head is halfway out for about 3 or 4 contractions and all that time I experience the ring of fire. Then her head comes out, and my mom said that the midwife had to move the umbilical cord to the correct side. The next contraction comes and I push really hard, say “ouch” really loud, and she slides right out and is born at 1:02AM. It was such a relief and felt so good for her to be out. I look down but I don’t have my glasses on so I can’t really see anything. Someone gets my glasses and Selena is down on the ground amidst a pool of blood, but she is relatively clean. Her head is very cone shaped and she is very alert and looking around wondering what the heck is going on. After a few seconds she lets out a little wail. I think the midwife brings something over to help her breathe, then they place her in my arms and I hold her. I am so exhausted. After a few minutes Floyd cuts the cord and they take her from me and give her to Floyd. I get off the birth stool and lay on the bed to deal with the after birth stuff.

It was a little while before the placenta came out. I really didn’t want to have to do anything because I was so tired, but I did have to give a couple pushes. Apparently I tore badly, almost all the way to the rectum but fortunately it went off to the side. I didn’t know I tore until the midwife told me. I don’t think I tore, or at least not that bad, until her shoulders came out because her shoulders were bigger than her head, and her head came out pretty slowly. The midwife said she could sew it up, but she didn’t have a lot of drugs, and she would rather me transfer to the hospital to get it done. She said she sewed someone up a few weeks before and felt really bad because it was so awful and uncomfortable for the woman. Unfortunately going to the hospital involved taking an ambulance ride. I was so tired, and was done, so I said going to the hospital was fine. I did make a comment about how expensive the ambulance would be though. Typical me.

I think she needed to get me patched up enough to transfer, so she started doing stuff. She gave me some drugs through my IV, but my mom said it didn’t work and the bag never emptied. She also gave me some local anesthetic. I think I used my hypnosis, but I’m not sure, it might have just been that I was really tired and relaxed anyways, but whatever she was doing didn’t bother me at all, so she ended up sewing me up there, and I didn’t have to go to the hospital. My mom got to play nurse and hand her the tools and hold the light for her. I think she thought that was kind of fun.

After about an hour, hour and a half, I was finally all stitched up and given ice and ready to take care of Selena again. It was kind of a bummer because I missed out on what was going on because of the post birth stuff, and the fact that I was so tired. The birth assistant came and gave me a nipple shield and told me that because Selena came early she might have a weak suck, and because I have inverted nipples it will be hard for her to latch on and I should use the shield. From what I read the experts really hate the nipple shields and said avoid them at all costs, but other people really love them. But I just did what I was told and Selena latched on and sucked. I am still using the nipple shield to nurse and am torn between trying to wean her from it or just keep using it forever.

When they went to weigh Selena, Floyd, of course, starts taking bets on what her weight is. I guessed 6lbs 6oz. Floyd was the closest at 7lbs. She was 7lbs 6oz and 18 ½ inches long. I couldn’t believe it. How could a baby that big fit inside me? The midwife and birth assistant were really confused because she really didn’t show any signs of being pre-term. They ask me if I was sure about my due date, and I assured them I was. We used an ovulation test so I’m 99% sure the due date was correct.

Eventually all of our family left. The midwife and birth assistant came to check on us a few times, they left at 6am and said we were free to stay as long as we wanted, but to know that a pregnancy class would be out in the seating area at 9am. I slept some, but mostly I just stared at my beautiful daughter. My throat was sore from all the yelling I did and I was so exhausted that it was really hard to get out of bed and go to the bathroom, which I had to do frequently. But by the morning I felt okay and we left the birth center at around 9 o’clock. Because she was born at the birth center we had to get her to see a doctor within 48 hours, and because she was born on Saturday at 1am that was kind of a pain because the doctor’s office wasn’t open. We took her to the same-day clinic on Saturday afternoon and it was funny because all the receptionists were asking me, “What are you doing here?” And, “she wasn’t really born today was she?” Unfortunately the doctor who was qualified to see her, got called out to deliver a baby so we had to come back on Sunday. After she saw her, she too said Selena looked great, and asked if my due date was correct.

Overall the experience was really great. The Hypnobabies slogan is an easy, fast, comfortable birthing and mine wasn’t easy or comfortable, but it wasn’t really until the pushing stage where it became really hard. I think the hardest part was not knowing how long it was going to last. I remember after the pressure waves got really strong, thinking that I can do this for another hour or so, but what if it is another 6 hours. But the entire thing was only 8.5 hours from when my water broke till she was born, and the first hour and a half I didn’t have any contractions. The last hour and a half of pushing was definitely the hardest.

I think the fact that I had the midnight “deadline” somewhat hindered the process and made it a little harder to relax. I think it might have gone even faster had I not had it hanging over my head. I don’t really understand how hypnosis is supposed to work during the pushing stage. It is such an intense, overwhelming urge that takes so much energy I’m not sure how, especially as a first time mom, not knowing what to expect, you could be able to mentally anesthetize your midsection, but it did help me relax between contractions.

I really am glad I did transfer to the birth center. I couldn’t handle any conversations going on around me and I’m sure at a hospital I wouldn’t have had any control over that. Overall I was very satisfied with Hypnobabies, the Birthing Inn, and Floyd was awesome as my birth partner. It’s funny because I do think the whole ordeal becomes sort of diminished from your memory, because I remember thinking immediately after that I’m never going to do that again, but two weeks later I know I will.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Do it yourself serger repair - How to adjust serger timing

So I recently did something awful to my serger and the needle broke, the upper and bottom loopers were loose, wiggled, and were not in the right positions. Since I bought the machine used, I didn't want to pay $100-$150 to repair it. Since if I ended up paying that much money for the machine, I probably should have just bought a new one in the first place.

So I went on the internet and searched and searched for information on how to repair and set the timing on a serger. I did get some help from the nice people in the alt.sewing google group but basically there is no information on the web on how to repair a serger. There also seems to be a lack of books, or even classes on sewing machine/serger repair. I don't really know how a person becomes a sewing machine technician. I assume they must learn the ropes through some sort of apprenticeship. I did get a "Generic Serger Manual Service and Repair" for x-mas but it is basically a photo copy of some info from the 80's and is missing some relevant pages. Plus it isn't really generic, it is basically some notes for some various older Singer sergers. However it did give me some good hints that let me figure out how to set the timing.

So I think there is some kind of conspiracy going on. Considering that the local repair shops charge $100, it becomes very pricy to get your machine(s) serviced every year as recommended. Especially if you have machines that only cost around $100-$200. Maybe the sewing machine manufacturers are trying to keep the relevant information secret so you feel compelled to buy a new machine when yours breaks. I don't know.
I am warning you that I am not an expert, this is my first time ever trying to fix a serger, and I had very little information to go off of. Fiddling around with things on your own could make things worse so that if you do bring the machine in to get repaired it could cost more. But in my case I figured it was worth it to see if I could get it working. So I am going to explain what I did so there is at least something on the internet for people to look at, but I wasn't even completely successful. After I fixed my machine I completed one project and it seemed to work fine, but the next day my needle broke again, so it still needs a little fine tuning.

I have a Kenmore 385.1664190 serger. You can get schematic pictures of all the interior parts, and order any possible part by going to the sears parts website and searching for your model of sewing machine or serger. However they do not offer a repair manual or tell you the specific placement of the loopers for timing. But the schematics helped me figure out what screws might be loose.

In my case both my upper and lower loopers were loose. So the upper looper (top red arrow) was wiggling forward and backward. And the lower looper (lower red arrow) was wiggling left and right. To tighten the upper looper I needed to stick an Allen wrench (the green thing) in the hole shown. If the lower looper is loose on the shaft you can use the screw that the blue arrow is pointing to, and I assume you can also use this screw for fine adjustments. But in my case it was the whole shaft that was loose (not the looper), so this screw didn't help me plus it was really hard to get to.

So to tighten the lower looper I needed to open up the bottom of the serger. There were two screws on the bottom plate, plus 4 screws in each of the rubber legs. The picture below shows what the bottom of the serger looked like. Once again I needed an Allen wrench to tighten the two screws where the red arrows are.

So now you need to know how to position the loopers so they actually do something.

Upper Looper:

Basically when the needles are at their highest position, the upper looper should be underneath the needles if you are looking straight on, but slightly in front if you are looking from above. If you had a repair manual I think it would tell you exactly how far the point of the upper looper should be in comparison to the left needle, and it varies from machine to machine. My generic manual was missing this information for their sample (Singer) machines. It did say that on the sample machine the looper should be 1mm in front of the needles.

Lower Looper:

The lower looper seems to belong exactly horizontal.

When the needles are at the lowest point the lower looper is supposed to be a certain distance from the left needle, for the sample machines it was 7mm. I had to guess on my machine. The needles do pass between the little pinchers in front of the looper.

When you rotate the handwheel the lower looper and upper looper's will pass very close to each other, they almost seem to fit together like a puzzle. There is probably a specified distance for this as well. The picture below isn't that great. Just think puzzle pieces.

Finally it is important to remember that when you thread the machine the thread that goes through the lower looper lies on top of thread that goes through the upper looper. If you thread the machine and you can't get the lower looper thread above the upper looper thread then its not going to work. In my case it wasn't too hard to get the loopers timed because I knew that the upper looper only needed to be moved forward, or back (not left or right) and the lower looper only needed to be moved left and right (not forward or back) and when you ruled out all the positions in which they ran into stuff it only left a couple of options.
Sewing machine technicians have exact measurements for where the loopers are supposed to be positioned in relation to the needles and each other, but this doesn't seem to be freely available information. So if your timing hasn't been disrupted too much hopefully the above information will be helpful.

If this article helped you and you would like to offer monetary reciprocation I would gladly accept paypal donations, or gift certificates.  Even a dollar would be nice. ;) Thank you.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Start of 3rd Trimester

So I am officially in the 3rd trimester no matter which way you count. Apparently doctors don't always do it mathmatically and divide 40 by 3. But no matter which reference you consult 28 weeks is always considered 3rd trimester.

For the last month I have been trying to switch from my doctor to a midwife. I really like Dr. Knowles from Sound Family Medicine, but after reading a bunch of books and birth stories online a frequent theme was that hospital policies can be frustrating and many of the standard interventions correlate with the fact that 1 out of every 3 or 4 births in the U.S. ends in a ceasarian. In my case I was concerned with the fact that Good Sam doesn't let you eat, it is standard to hook you up to an IV even if you don't need it, and they do continuous electronic fetal monitoring. Some of these things are negotiable but I was a little bit worried about getting bullied. The alternative is to go to a birth center and have a midwife deliver the baby. But, since most of these things were negotiable, I really liked my doctor, and I had already gone to her a few times I figured everything was good.

But then about a month ago I came to the realization that my insurance only covers 80% and it is expensive to give birth in a hospital. The very minimum is $7500, but that only includes delivery, not the other long list of other things they charge you for. The lady at the hospital said to assume 10-15,000. I think my insurance has a $3000 cap, so that was probably what it was going to cost me. So then I investigated what the birthing center would cost and they told me my 20% would be around $184. So I figured if they would take me I should switch because I don't want to pay thousands of dollars to give birth at a place that I didn't really want to anyways.

Well it took about a month, due to the holidays and power outages, to get all my records faxed to the midwives and have them review them and say that yes I am a low risk patient and can go to The Birthing Inn. In the mean time I had gone to my regular doctor, just in case it didn't all work out, and did the 1 hour glucose screening test for gestational diabetes, and I failed. So I was really annoyed by this because I didn't see how I could have gestational diabetes and the 1 hour test has a really high (around 50%) false positve rate so I had to go through the hassle of taking the 3 hour test with the likelihood I would pass it. Also this put a hold on my plans for the birth center because if I did have GD then I wouldn't be low risk. So I did the 3 hour glucose test and it was really annoying because I had to fast and I didn't get done till 1pm so I was really hungry, plus it wasted my Sat, plus my blood doesn't come out easy so they had to poke me a total of 8 times and my arms were all sore. But I passed the test, and the nurse was really great and called me basically right when the doctor had received the results, so I didn't have to harass anyone to get the results. Yeah! So I have an appointment scheduled to see the midwife and we can go and take a tour of the birth center on Monday. A lady at work gave birth at the Birthing Inn and said it was wonderful and she said all the midwives were great.

I am really excited, and relieved that I will be able to give birth in a way that feels most comfortable to me and I won't have to worry about hospital staff getting impatient and threatening ceasarians or trying to give me drugs I don't want or having to deal with anything like that. It could be that if I did give birth at Good Sam it would have been great, but it still had me worried that it was a possibility.