Sunday 25 May 2014

Mama Made #1

 During the caught moments between Addison feeding and settling, when she finally gets to sleep, I try to keep myself sane by doing some quick crafts for my baby girl. It doesn't happen often, I am more inclined to have a nap or bake some tasty treats for midnight (and other night hour) snacks.

I made the bird onesie a while back when I was pregnant. Sadly it is already getting too small for her!

The pink tights were a quick job, I inherited some pink stretch knit fabric and traced around the pattern of some tights I already had. A couple of seams and hems later and some elastic threaded through and I had some teeny tiny tights! I see many more in the future, I just have to find some awesome stretch fabric.

 This headband, which featured in Addy's one month photoshoot, is a 3 coloured crochet flower with a button stitched in the middle. I made the pattern up myself which is always a bit of fun.

There are three things in Addy's bassinet that are Mama made:

The purple chevron fitted sheet is a piece of flannelette that I sewed elastic around to fit the mattress.

The pink and grey ripple blanket was my crochet project while I was pregnant. I used some scrap yarn and hoped it would be enough to make a decent sized blanket. I ended up having to buy a nearly-matching grey ball to finish off the border.

When we bought the bassinet we loved the turned rails around the sides but once we brought Addison home we realised that those rails were traps just the right size for baby arms. Even though we now swaddle her, I decided that I could whip up some sort of bumper to keep her arms in.

 I found the awesome fox fabric at Lincraft and lined it with some black cotton fabric. I attached some velcro straps along the top and sides to strap it to the bassinet. Now instead of counting sheep, she can count foxes!

I am looking forward to finding more projects to make for Addison over the next wee while!

Sunday 18 May 2014

Dear Addison - 1 Month

Precious Addison, how has a month gone by already? You are growing right before our eyes and becoming more and more interested in what is going on in your tiny little world.

We are still trying to figure out your personality, you are pretty chilled out but when you want something, boy do you let us know.

Sleep is a work in progress. You were born with your body clock around the opposite way, sleeping longest and best during the day and waking every 2 hours during the night. Now you are more alert during the day we are beginning to get 3 hour stretches during the night which is nice. You even went 4.5 hours last night but I woke up when you stirred after 3 hours but you put yourself back to sleep and I waited up thinking it would be any second you would be desperate for food. All that precious sleep I could have had!

I am coping ok with the whole sleep deprivation thing. It seems like if we have a bad night then the day is a lot better and I can nap through it. There have been a couple of nights when things just got too much and you wouldn't settle and there were tears. Your Dad is amazing though and always has a big hug for me and is able to give you big cuddles and will stay with you until you go to sleep.

You are growing really well, at your 3 week weigh-in you had just cracked 8lbs which is nearly a whole kg more than when you were born! We can see you getting more meat on your bones, your thighs, cheeks and chin showing it the most. Your tummy is also getting bigger and sometimes it seems like a bottomless pit!

You are now fitting your newborn clothes a lot better and I'm sure it wont be long until you grow out of them. I love how small you are at the moment, so easy to hold with one arm. A lot of people say that you look like a little doll, especially when you are asleep in your carseat.

Your favourite way to be held is up over our shoulders. It puts you to sleep pretty quickly, which doesn't help when you need to be in your bassinet but I absolutely love the snuggles I get with you when you are like that. I don't want to put you down!

We have no official smiles yet but I don't think they are far away. You have been focusing on our faces more and are trying to copy our expressions. You seem to like bath time and having no clothes on lying in a sunbeam on the floor.

Addison, you are a joy to have around. You keep us on our toes and are constantly reminding us that we don't have all the answers. We love being your parents.

xx Mum and Dad

Sunday 11 May 2014

Mothers Day - 22 Days In

I have now been a Mother for 22 days, although it's debatable if you count those pregnant days when you grow so attached to the unknown little dot in utero.

I now get to join the countless others who call themselves Mothers, as well as appreciate my own Mother a whole bunch more.

Here are a few things I have learnt about being a Mother so far:

  • There is a switch. It is hardwired to turn on at some point and it will probably never turn off. The Motherhood switch controls your instincts - always subconsciously aware of where your child is, always ready to react if any sort of danger threatens. Always alert to any noise or cry and always having a hug at the ready.

  • There is no better feeling of accomplishment like FINALLY getting your child to sleep after what seems like endless hours of fussing and crying.

  • There is no limit to the amount of time you can spend staring at your child. 

  • The same goes for cuddling.
I have learnt in my short time as a Mum, that there is nothing more scary, more daunting, nothing that makes you feel more out of control or out of your depth than having children.
But more importantly, there is nothing more amazing, more inspirational, nothing more worth your time than pouring everything you have (literally if you are breastfeeding!) into raising your child and watching them thrive on your love.

I have a lot to learn, but the learning will never stop.

Happy Mothers Day to all those who call themselves Mothers!

This is apparently is a trend called Baby Mugging - click on the link to check it out!

Monday 5 May 2014

Addison's Birth Story

I thought I would write this down, before I forget the details and it becomes a haze in my mind. I tried to keep it relatively PG and also give a bit of background leading up to the birth. 

Addison's first photo

I have high blood pressure. I think it is hereditory since doctors can’t find anything else wrong with me. It’s high, but not quite high enough to medicate long term. But since it is high, it is called ‘hypertension’ and as soon as I found out I was pregnant I was classed as High Risk and referred to specialists at Christchurch Womens Hospital for regular appointments alongside my usual midwife care.

My pregnancy was pretty textbook, and my blood pressure remained stable. Extra scans showed that Addison was growing well, smack bang on the median line for growth. However, when I got to the 36 week mark I had a big dizzy spell and was admitted to the hospital after a blood pressure check from the midwife revealed my blood pressure was reading pretty high.

I was sent to the assessment room in the birthing suite and hooked up to the CTG monitor to make sure Addison was doing ok. All was good there. I also had a million blood pressure checks which left me with pinch marks all over my arms. The consensus overnight was that I had no other symptoms of pre-eclampsia so I was put on some blood pressure medication and sent home.

Proud Mummy, Addison around 3 hours old

At the routine specialist appointment the next week, there was a big jump in the level of protein in my urine, another symptom of pre-eclampsia. I was sent for another scan and more CTG monitoring. The specialists decided that because I was presenting with more than one symptom of pre-eclampsia, and I was past the 37 week mark, that they would induce me on Friday, 2 days after that appointment. It made me bang on 38 weeks which I was happy with. I know induction isn’t the preferred way to go but I have been aware that this was probably going to be the outcome from early on so I was mentally prepared for this fact.

On Friday we turned up at the hospital armed with a tonne of stuff to keep us occupied, as well as things we would need since I wouldn’t be leaving the hospital until I had a baby. The first step in my induction process was the insertion of a thing called a pessary which is a strip that contains a slow-release hormone called prostaglandin which helps the cervix soften and start to dilate. It gets inserted and left there for 24 hours and if nothing happens then they insert a new one until things start moving. We were prepared for the long haul of waiting even though waiting two or more days seemed so difficult.

The day was spent with me resting and Dave and I watching a lot of DVDs inbetween regular blood pressure checks and CTG monitoring. Around 7pm that night I began having some little niggles that felt like someone pressing down next to my hip bones and pulling in tightly then letting go. These happened about 3 times per half hour. I mentioned it to the on duty midwife and she told me to wait until they were less than 5 minutes apart and I couldn’t talk between them.

While I was getting those niggles and during one of my CTG monitoring times, they noticed that Addison’s heart rate had dropped significantly. This got them on high alert and I was put on the monitor full time. It consists of two elastic straps that go around your tummy and they hold in place two large round disks. One goes down low so it can pick up baby’s heart rate and the other goes at the top of your uterus to measure contractions. It also picks up baby movements as well. It prints all the information out on a graph as time goes by to give a picture of what is happening in my tummy.

Squishy Addison less than 12 hours old
During this process I was moved from the assessment room to a birthing suite. They also stuck an IV line in my hand – which was almost more painful than labour! I didn’t have anything put in it but it was just to get me ready in case things ramped up. I had to have another internal examination to see if the hormone was working and far out it was painful! I freaked out the midwives and doctor because I was screaming so loud and had to try some gas to get through it. It didn’t work for me though but we got through it in the end. The result? No change to my cervix. No dilation at all. My theory about the pain is that it was caused by the hormone and did something to my bits to make them extra sensitive. The positive from that examination is that the doctor must have pushed the hormone strip back into its proper place because after that my contractions got stronger.

After a couple of hours I was able to be taken off the monitor and I hung out in the lazyboy to try and get some sleep through the contractions. Yeah right. Dave was in a chair next to me and he drifted off and managed to sleep for an hour or so while I squeezed his hand through the contractions. They were relatively painful and strong enough for me to need to concentrate to get through them but still not strong enough to be classed as established labour.

Sadly I needed to have another internal examination because of the way I was progressing and I was dreading it. I sucked on the gas to no avail and screamed the place down again. The result this time? 2cm dilated! I had mixed feelings, all that effort for 2 lousy cm but also stoked that things were progressing and my body was beginning to do its own thing. At this point the doctor recommended that I have an epidural because they would need to examine me at least a couple more times and the contractions were getting a lot stronger and there was a chance the labour could go on for another 12+ hours. I didn’t think I could handle things going at this pace for too much longer so I agreed to the epidural.

There was another lady in labour that was on the verge of needing to be rushed into theatre so I was put second in line because mine wasn’t urgent. By this stage my contractions were getting intense. I was doing pretty well and able to control my breathing through them but I was starting to make a decent amount of noise though them. I was then told that the staff were about to change shifts and I would have to wait another 45min or so until the new anaesthesiologist arrived and got ready for me. They had also called my midwife at this point and she arrived and started getting Dave organised with cold flannels for my head and other bits and pieces.

I was half sitting and half lying on the end of the hospital bed when I felt some pressure that reminded me of the baby kicking. I felt a small pop and then I felt like I had wet myself and realised it was my waters breaking. I told my midwife and she was surprised but glad because it meant my body was progressing by itself.

Not too long after that I was sitting on the edge of the bed leaning on Dave and yelling through each contraction. I was able to start off breathing through but then I lost control and felt like I needed to push. I yelled that fact to the midwife and her and Dave were trying to get me to fight the urge and breathe. Because there was no way I was fully dilated at that point right? I tried a bunch of different positions but none would help me fight the urge to push so I ended up on my back on the hospital bed but sitting up a bit. I was yelling for the anaesthesiologist and my midwife decided to do a quick internal check to make sure I wasn’t dilated so we knew where we stood. I wasn’t bothered about this one because my contractions were pretty painful by then. It turns out I didn’t have to worry because my midwife had a super surprised expression on her face and said that she could feel the baby’s head pretty far down the birth canal and I could go ahead and push because I was about to have a baby!

So all thought of epidurals went out the window and I got to fully focus on pushing. I went for the gas but my midwife told me to stop using it so I could fully focus. The pushing part of labour I wouldn’t really describe as painful. It was a lot of effort but I could feel that my body was achieving something and the contractions helped everything along. I’m not sure how many contractions it took from that point to have Addison crowning but it was only a few. Dave was able to watch her come out and was absolutely overwhelmed. I was too focussed on pushing but I remember the look of amazement on his face and the excitement and encouragement in his voice as I pushed her head out.

Slowly opening her eyes
The coolest part was being in two phases of mind. One was so focussed on pushing and doing what my body wanted but there was another part that could hear the support from the people in the room and the instructions they were giving me. I was told to pant and push gently and also to hold the head in between contractions rather than let her go back. I found this surprisingly easy and it was no time until her head was out. The worst of the pain was when her face came out. There are some pointy bits there like her nose!

The next push was to get the rest of her body out and I was told to give a huge push and then it was the weirdest feeling ever. She came out along with a tonne of fluid and my tummy felt empty. I couldn’t feel much of anything happening down there so I just relaxed and breathed while they did whatever they needed to do. The cord was around her neck and they needed to cut it pretty quick so that happened and then Addison was put on my chest. I was in a bit of shock and stoked that I had a baby but it felt so surreal. Everything was a bit of a blur. I was told to do a couple more pushes to deliver the placenta and that was another weird feeling, but all went well there too. Addison was ready to feed and she latched on like a pro. Then I needed to be stitched up because I had a second degree tear so Dave got to have some skin to skin with Addison while I sucked on the gas. Luckily they give you a local anaesthetic while they stitch you so it isn’t as bad as it seems. It took a while though but I was just a bit zoned out and watching Dave and Addy have cuddles.

Because Addison came out so fast (9 minutes total of pushing) she retained a lot of fluid and mucous in her lungs. After her first feed she started to turn blue because she was choking on the fluid and my midwife had to take her and help her to clear some of the fluid. This same thing happened another two times over her first 24 hours of life. The worst time was when we were in the maternity ward and I noticed her starting to turn blue. I grabbed the nurse bell and pressed it a good few times and about 5 midwives rushed into the room and ended up taking her to the resuscitation room and suctioned out the fluid. Dave was with me for that episode and he went and watched the drama happen while I stayed behind in my bed, mostly because I was too sore to move that quickly, and also because it would have been too traumatic to see.

The third time it happened was when Dave was out getting lunch. I saw her turning blue again but this time the midwife was able to get her breathing properly just by turning her over and giving her a good rub down. That night she managed to cough up the rest of the fluid and we haven’t had any problems since. Now we are at home she has settled in and is still feeding well and gaining a decent amount of weight each week.

Overall I am really happy with how my birth went. I was aware from the start of my pregnancy that I would most likely be induced so I was able to prepare myself for that experience. I am really stoked that I was able to have a drug free labour and that I was able to breathe through the majority of the contractions. I am also glad that I was able to listen to my body and know when and how to push my baby out. It has been really neat to see how my body heals and produces milk and does all the crazy weird postpartum stuff. I am grateful to my midwife, the staff at Christchurch Women’s Hospital and mostly Dave for being such a wonderful supporter and being so cruisy and able to adapt with all the different drama that went on. Welcome to the world Addison! 

The Chiles family.

Sunday 4 May 2014

DIY Pallet Letterbox

Yep its that time again, I even wrote this one myself.

With all of the recent visitors and packages lately (for some crazy reason) we became aware that our letterbox lacked some sort of visual numerical system, that and it is butt ugly. I've had a couple of weeks off for the birth of our beautiful Addison, and not that staring at her could ever get old, but I just needed to fix, make or break something with my hands or I would go crazy.

Over the past year we have acquired a lot of wood from old packing crates and I have been dying to use it on some project, so here goes.

Chosen pallet lumber

Lumber ripped down to required sizes
I guessed that I should work to some sort of plan or whatever so I drew up a wee plan on one of the planks. I decided that it should be about yay high, by yay wide by about yay deep and also have a shelfy thing for the mail to sit on.

Later on I needed more wood, so this plank got the chop too, you may even see the markings still on the wood
Next step was to work on a frame to get the basic shape to which I would later attach the planks to. So after cutting them to size I glued and nailed the frame together, ensuring that everything was square and that the shelf would be in the correct place.

Framing cut to size

Frame glued and nailed up, coulda done it different but thought this looked way cooler
Next step was to add a few planks. Starting with the bottom, then the sides so that the front and back would butt join and cover them.
The bottom

The first side
After gluing and nailing these two on I clamped the frame and left the glue to set overnight before trimming the excess planks off on the table saw.
Before I put anymore sides on I decided to make and attach the top shelf.
Planks attached to two offcuts

Trimmed to size and cutouts made to fit around frame

Shelf glued and nailed in place
Both sides and front also attached at this stage, note the mail slot, this was just one plank high and I just used offcuts to make the sides of it.
Assembling the back would be important because I wanted to have a back door to fit in the gap.
I temporarily attached two planks vertically and butted the offcuts up to these so there would be a precise gap for the door.
Temporary planks attached and glue in a nice wavy pattern to maximize adhesion... yep

Used the offcuts from trimming the sides and front down

Had just enough useable sized pieces
The top of the letterbox would slope towards the back to discourage water getting into our precious mail.
After attaching all the panels I trimmed the angle using my trusty table saw.
Top trimmed and sanded a little to make it all flush like
Attached top panels
The top was centered width ways and placed so that there would be more overhang at the front.
The door was then measured up and assembled in much the same way at the shelf.

Attached old hinges and fashioned together a latch from old cupboard handles
I love collecting old junk and its so hard to throw stuff out that I may be able to use someday on a cool project so this was a perfect chance to use some of that.
I love the look of old aged and white washed wood so to simulate that I mixed some white primer with quite a bit of paint thinner, it gets a more washed out look rather than a painted look.
Using a crappy old brush to put on the finish cos I can
After the white wash finish
The finishing touch was to add the numbers. I busted out the cans of rattle (spraypaint in gangster talk) and cut out some stencils.
I wanted the whole letterbox to have a weathered look about it, so with spraying on the numbers I wanted a bit of bleed through and over spray, usually these are not great things but in this case the more the merrier.
A few practice sprays to get the general idea

The finished product, I also made a stencil of our initials
 Next step, take a hammer to the old box and attach the new, Amy even commented on the smile I had whilst smashing the old box.
Ew gross

Ahh much better

And they all lived happily ever after...

 The End