Saturday, August 29, 2009

It's Fuzzy, Not Scratchy

Anna outgrew her white sweater this summer. I thought about running out and buying her a replacement since a white sweater can be a versatile item for a little girl. But then I remembered--Hey! I knit! Perhaps I could make her a white sweater.

So I did.

For those of you who are interested, I used good old Cascade 220. In white. It's a nice shade of white. It's a soft white, neither too harsh nor too yellow.

I used the Kid's Lace Cardigan pattern by Veronik Avery. It was very simple, especially since I'd made an Elizabeth Zimmermann Percentage Sweater once before. It's the same principle. The trickiest part involved the raglan decreases in the lace panels. I just winged it. There may be more polished ways to accomplish it, but I think it turned out fine.

I bought the glass buttons on Etsy from All Bohemian Glass. This is special because Anna's Grams's family came from Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). They were big with the glass cutting, if I remember correctly.

Anyway, Anna has declared the new sweater acceptable. I hope I can get her to wear it. She has a tendency to be a little flippant about the handknits. It's payback for all the homemade clothing my mom made me that I didn't care two straws about as a child. I deserve it. There's likely a proverb in the Bible about 'Do unto your mother and your daughter will do unto you."

In any case, I'll win this one. She who sets the thermostat sets the dress code.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Big Picture Birthday

It wasn't the beginning we were hoping for, but it was a better beginning than we had expected. Six and a half weeks prior to his birth, I walked into the hospital with a ruptured membrane, gushing fluid and certain that this pregnancy was over. Obviously, I was wrong. We hung in there and at 29 weeks, 6 days Henry was born. He weighed 3 lbs 9 oz, which is rather big for one born so early.

He cried a bit at first, but it quickly became clear that his breathing was labored. He spent the first few days on the CPAP machine, then many days after on a cannula for breathing assistance. It was days after his birth before I was able to see his face.

I spent most of my time at the hospital in the early days. I watched him receive fluids through an IV because he wasn't ready to receive his nourishment through his stomach. He had IVs in his arm, then in his head. It was a big day when the IVs came out and he got his gavage tube. He was ready to start on what milk I could pump and supplemental formula.

I pumped every two hours during the day and many times at night because, let's face it, even a double-electric hospital-grade breast pump is not as efficient as a baby. I was never able to pump enough to meet the demand of a growing preemie. I still get a nervous twitch whenever I see a breast pump. At home I was either pumping, washing pump parts, or transporting dozens of containers of expressed milk to the hospital in my little cooler.

I went to the hospital as often as I could. I had to divide my time between the children I had been apart from for so long while on bedrest, and the baby I had to leave in the NICU. I would bring Thomas and Anna to the hospital with me, leaving them in the Sibling Care play area while I went up to spend time with Henry.

Experience is a hard teacher, but my time in the NICU with Thomas made this so much easier. I understood better what to expect, which questions to ask, and how to work with the process. I had great nurses who were supportive and encouraging. They had a lot of respect for me as a NICU vet and their confidence buoyed me up.

But then, suddenly, Henry came home. That week we had been expecting that he might come home on Sunday, maybe Saturday. Friday I dropped Thomas and Anna off at the Sibling Play Area and I walked up to the NICU. As I walked into the room, Henry's nurse asked excitedly, "How'd you like to bring Henry home today?"

Incredible. Really? He's ready? I was stunned that they would think that he was ready--that I was ready--to come home. It was a homecoming for me as much as him.

The process took hours, but he was finally discharged. He was home.

And now he's a year old. Technically. We'll celebrate now, of course, but I think that another party in November might be appropriate. Ten weeks makes a big difference in the first year and I think I'd like to mark both milestones. I'd like to celebrate the day he was born, but there is a part of me that would like to celebrate the point when he will have grown into an actual One Year Old.

All things considered, I'd just like to celebrate this little boy and his great big smile.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Utterly Mobile

No longer content so sit and play, someone has ventured forth into new territory.

Henry is crawling. Not fast, and still often backwards, but now in a New! Forward! Direction!

This is very exciting.

What a sweet, innocent face.

It should be noted, however, that only a few brief minutes after this picture was taken and uploaded here, this sweet little baby got into my cookbooks and ate stale, dirty Cheerios. And so it begins.

I'm loving this.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Edge of the Wilderness

We are back.

We went on vacation last week with my parents. They rent two little lake cabins every year so that we can all spend a week having a real vacation. I don't know how restful it is for my parents, but it gives the kids a lot of excitement and Peter and I get a chance to actually rest as Grandma and Grandpa cook and keep the kids busy.

The resort is in the middle of nowhere. It's along the edge of the Chippewa National Forest, 40 minutes away from Grand Rapids, Home of Judy Garland. We ran out of diapers towards the end of our vacation. We drove 10 miles to pay $14 for a package of Luvs. As I was checking out, the woman remarked that this was the last pack of diapers on the shelf in a size 4. I told her that she had a remarkable memory. She said that, no, she had been watching the supply of diapers and was waiting for the last package to sell before she ordered more. I wondered what would happen if you lived in the area wanted to buy diapers when she was waiting for a shipment. You'd have to drive miles to find any. Of course, so few people live in the area that I imagine there wasn't too much chance of anyone rushing in with a desperate need for diapers. But still. If Target were to run out of Luvs, well, I could buy the Target brand diapers, Pampers, Huggies (two different kinds), and that crunchy brand they're carrying now. And, failing that, I could buy diapers at one of the two grocery stores. It's almost a shame I use cloth diapers.

It was a five hour drive to the cabins and it put us in the middle of the quietest bit of forest that you can imagine. The Northwoods are dense and dark, filled with birch trees and pine and we spent the week enjoying the quiet. In the Twin Cities, we have airplanes flying overhead all the time. At our house, you can hear the blaring horn of passing trains half a mile away and the highway provides a steady stream of white noise. In the woods, all you can hear is the forest and the lake. I never heard an airplane all week. And at night I would look up and see the stars. In the country one can see the stars most people have forgotten even exist. I would look into the sky and be amazed that these bright points of light had been there all along. Even on the clearest, coldest day of the year, these are never seen in the city. And you forget. It made me wonder what else is out there, obscured by the business of everyday life. And I wonder how one goes about finding it.

Whatever else there is and however one finds it, it almost certainly has to be easier than finding diapers in the middle of the wilderness.