Friday, March 14, 2014

Tutorial: Customize your Ergo Baby Carrier

I've been wanting to pimp my ergobaby carrier for a while now, black is fine but I like to have fun!  I just bought a beautiful wrap to make into a ring sling and size 3 wrap.

The wrap came in a bag made out of the same material and I knew it was perfect for pumping up the volume on my carrier.  Also, this is another cell phone camera tutorial since I was squeezing this in between tandem nursing sessions.

I ripped it apart first,

Then I got out my plain back ergo and undid the hood webbing through the buckles on top of the pocket.  I  want to add that when you are customizing your carriers, it is important not to cut or alter major components of your carrier, I did not rip out any seams in this customization and stitched through all the layers of the carrier.  Function should not be affected by the additions you make whatsoever.

The fabric was the perfect width when I lined it up over the top of the carrier.

I started at the bottom seam just above the waistband.  I folded the fabric in at least 1/4" and pinned it down.  Then I cut out the pocket section. I made sure to cut it 1/4"in so that I could fold it down around the edge of the pocket.

Pin the fabric on the sides under and finish cutting the pocket. The top of the pocket was a little tricky, it is really tapered in so I cut in towards the taper for the inside, and then cut over to the edge of the pocket on the top so it just hugged around that seam.

The next step was to trim off the top and strap sections,

and then pin the fabric under.

Lastly I pinned the fabric under around the pocket area.

All ready to sew!  Sew around the edges of the outside of the carrier and around the pocket.

Looking good!  But that pocket....

The small pocket for the hood is sewn over the zipper pocket.  Which means that it can't be sewn on the machine without ripping up the zippered pocket.

I pinned the fabric over the pocket and then stitched it on by hand using a backstitch.

It took a while and was kind of a pain because you are sewing from inside the zippered pocket; however it really does complete the look of the carrier.

I am so so happy with how this turned out!  I am really looking forward to matchy tandem babywearing with the twins!

Friday, February 21, 2014

That is That: A birth story of twins

If you have been keeping up, I was very nervous about the possibility of giving birth to my twins via cesarean section.  I first wrote about it here, when I discussed all my fears of having another surgery, and then revisited here, when I had resolved to let go of the fears and need to control the outcome.  I had a c-section and that is that.  It is all in the past and there is nothing to change it now.  I wanted share how everything turned out with the birth of my twins and my feelings about having a c-section.

It was 9:00 at night, I had just sat down 20 minutes earlier after putting Natalie and Nathan to bed,  I'd had a busy day with running the daycare all day, heading to the hospital for a non stress test, coming home and hosting a sewing night, and seeing my hubby off to work for the ice/snow storm expected that night.  So I was finally sitting down, and felt what I thought was more Braxton Hicks contractions when my water broke.  I kind of freaked out to be honest. Firstly because I was only 35 weeks and 4 days along, secondly because at the non stress test earlier that day the nurse had confirmed that Brandon was still breech and still presenting first, so when my water broke it all sank in and I knew I would be having a c-section.  I called my hubby to come home and then started rushing around trying to pack a bag and arrange child care for Natalie and Nathan.  Somehow it all got done, and the contractions got really intense, really fast.

By the time we made it to the hospital, I was already 5 cm dilated so they rushed to get a team together to get me into an operating room.  Out of the entire experience, this is the part I am angry about.  There were at least 8 people running in and out of the room trying to get everything ready. Doctors shoving papers into face trying to get me to sign off on a surgery that was terrifying me, nurses botching my IV, an anesthesiologist explaining that I would be getting a spinal and if it didn't work for some reason that I would be put under general anesthesia, in which case my hubby would not be able to come into the operating room during the "procedure".  It felt so cold, sterile, distant, and foreign.  It did not feel like I was about to welcome two new little lives into the world.  I was very upset, in tears and was trying to calm down talking to the hubby during a short lull when we were actually alone in the room.  At that point a nurse walked in to check our vitals and saw that I was upset, while taking my blood pressure she told me that if I couldn't get myself together that they would put me under general anesthesia.  I was not hyperventilating or uncontrollably upset, I was crying and trying to calm myself.  Threats to put me under and make me miss the birth of my children completely because I was crying and scared was completely uncalled for and I felt bullied and threatened.

Despite the added stress and fears I made it into the operating room, and the spinal worked.   The room was so cold and so full.  Two OB's, two teams of nurses and pediatricians for the babies, the nurses and anesthesiologist assisting the OB's, quite overwhelming.  Eventually they let the hubby come in, and the anesthesiologist was great in talking to me and letting me know what was going on.  The hubby watched the babies being delivered, and left me to watch them as they were cleaned up and assessed.  I heard them both crying, they sounded strong.  I couldn't see them though, I had to wait for almost 10 minutes before they finally brought them over for me to see them.  That was the most painful part of the whole birth process, not being able to see or hold them when they were born.  Natalie and Nathan were put right onto my chest after their birth and assessed while I was holding them.  It felt so wrong and so painful not to be holding my babies when they were born, and I'm not sure that pain will ever really fade away.  I was very glad to finally see them but there was no skin to skin in the OR because it was too cold and I couldn't hold them properly on the operating table anyways.  

I was glad to finally get to the recovery area.  Then I was able to hold the babies and start nursing them.  I am very glad that they didn't have to leave my side, and that the surgery didn't impact our nursing relationship at all.  The recovery was quite different from my other deliveries, with a very extended hospital stay.  Ugh, I could not wait to be discharged, the longest. 3 days. ever. With my others I was out 24 hours after baby was born, I cannot sleep in hospitals.  The hubby had to help a lot when we got home with up and down with the babies and taking care of the other kids.  He is kind of allergic to being domestic, so the last two weeks have been pretty fun :)

All in all, this was not the birth experience that I wanted, nor was it an experience that I enjoyed.  It makes me so very sad that I cannot say that I enjoyed the birth of my twins.  I am thrilled and blessed that they are healthy and there have not been any complications.  At the same time I need to mourn the loss of the birth experience I could have had and wanted so desperately.  I am not sure that it is possible to truly heal emotionally from that loss.  For the last two weeks I have simply been trying  not to think about it very much because I don't want to wallow, but there has to be a point where I face it and try to accept it.  Which seems impossible at this moment in time.

And then there were FOUR!

I have FOUR children, two of which are brand new!
Brandon Heath

and Alice Grey

  The twins were born about 2 weeks ago, and we have been adjusting to being a family of six.  I've been lucky enough to have my husband home and helping with Natalie and Nathan and making sure that we are eating real food and aren't buried under a mountain of dirty laundry.  The babies were born about 4 weeks early, but are absolutely perfect despite their early arrival.

(Brandon above, Alice below)

No time in the NICU, breathing well on their own from minute 1, nice healthy 6 lb birth weights, and nursing champs from the get go.  Of course, there is a healthy amount of twin baby problems, like one of them trying to eat the other basically all the time.

There are also lots of peaceful tandem milk comas...

and plenty of baby snuggle time where I simply stare at their beautiful faces.

They like to sleep at night, but they like to be held while they sleep at night.  Which means the amount of sleep that I am getting is pretty minimal to be honest.  They will sleep on their own in the crib during daylight hours, but once the sun goes down all bets are off and into the arms they must go.

There they are at 2 weeks old, I think the identical poses are pretty great.  I actually find them in similar positions in the crib quite often.

All in all, we are pretty happy and enjoying the changes to our new, big family.  We love it when things are nice and peaceful....

Even though it doesn't last very long with two newborns in the house.  We love the crazy, chaotic times too :)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Quiet Book for the BOY!

I made my boy a quiet book for his second birthday, and I was so excited to finally be able to dig into "boy" pages since Nate is into trucks, tractors, trains, cars, and monsters.  I don't even want to count how many things with wheels entered our home between Christmas presents and his birthday presents....

I used my tutorial for a quiet book cover, covered with tractors and trucks, of course.

The first page is his name with snap on letters and a dump truck with button on wheels.  I used the dump truck template here.

The number page I did using train cars, inspired by this page.

I think the train cars turned out to be very cute.  I wanted to incorporate touchpoints from Touch Math in the same way that I did in my other quiet books. However, these numbers are smaller and the button touchpoints really distract from the numbers themselves.  I don't think I would do the buttons the same way again.  The train cars stick to the page using velcro.

I fell in love with these two pages from Imagine Our Life.  I HAD to make the forklift and the dump truck.

Her templates are so easy to use and they turn out so cute.

I mean, the forklift goes up and down.  Are you kidding me?

The dump truck dumps like a champ and has been Nate's favorite activity so far.

I liked the idea of adding a versatile pouch to a quiet book.  It can hold anything!  Busy bag games, puzzles, trains and tracks, etc....

Right now it is holding a popsicle stick building game from a busy bag we had.  The pouch has snaps attached so we can remove it from the book entirely if we feel like it.

The parking lot page is one of my favorite pages in the book and one of the only ones that is of my own inspiration and design.

The hot wheel size cars store in the zipper pocket and you drive them to their parking spots for a fun color matching activity just for boys like mine.

The last page is inspired by Nate's love for Monsters, Inc.  The closet door theme from the intro to the movie inspired me to create a fun door pocket, and inside the closet.....

MONSTERS!  Monster finger puppets to be exact.  I loved the monster templates that I found here, but they were a little large for finger puppets.

Easy solution!  I downloaded her pattern and opened it up in Adobe Reader then pushed print.  Once the print menu came up I went to the "Page Scaling" section and chose the option for multiple pages per sheet and chose 3 pages across by 3 pages down and printed.  When they printed out they were the perfect size for finger puppets :)

I think I am going to slow down on the quiet books now, perhaps until the twins are ready for them in a couple years ;)  Which could be slightly influenced by the fact that making this book sent me to an urgent care clinic to get stitches for the first time in my life....  Rotary cutters are deadly man!  The quiet book that literally cost me an arm, haha. Nate better treasure the blood, sweat, and stitches poured into this present!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Let it Go

Image via 

I posted my story about my emotional trauma from surgery and how it relates to my fears of a c-section with the twins a couple months ago.  Since then I've been trying, and struggling with, facing my fears about having a c-section.  I've done research, loads of research, on every facet of a c-section from preparation to recovery.  I've written a comprehensive birth plan for a family centered c-section that I've shared with my doctors.  I've read countless stories of twin births, both with vaginal and c-section deliveries.  I've spoken with other moms of multiples and moms who have had c-sections.  Yet I still felt fear, panic, and extreme anxiety at the thought of a c-section.  I was still reduced to tears at the thought of having another surgery.  My plan wasn't working, and I'm now 28 weeks into this pregnancy.  I didn't have very much time left to face these fears.

November was a tough month.  We were busy and sick and I just didn't have it in me to make the trip to our church with the two kids.  Our church is amazing and like family, but it is over an hour away from us and a trip to church is an entire day trip for us. I finally pulled everything together and made it last week, and it was exactly what I needed.  The talk was about control, which can be a touchy subject for type A personalities like me.  It was what I needed though, because there are some things that we can't control no matter how much preparation we do.  

My daughter is 4 years old and having the typical battles for control and independence.  She often wants things that she can't have, like making a snowman in August.  That simply isn't a choice.  The weather is not something that we can control.  We could make fake snow. We could build mini snowman slushies with crushed ice from the freezer. We can travel to Antarctica and build a snowman there.  We can try to make things bend to our will.  But we can't control the weather and make a snowman in our backyard in August. Controlling the birth experience of my twins isn't a choice.  I can't dictate the experience and how it should go.  But what then?  My type A personality needs a plan.  

Well the plan is to Let it Go.  It comes down to faith in the end.  I trust God and his plan for my life, I have seen so many things in my life work out somehow.  I don't question that I am in his hands.  So why didn't this occur to me sooner?  I have done my part  by doing everything I can do to prepare for this birth, but it still hasn't been enough to ease my fears. Once I let go of the control, I started to feel lighter. I couldn't do it all at once, over the course of the week I have been thinking and letting things go bit by bit and getting lighter and lighter.  I can finally see the big picture when I couldn't see it before.  I'm going to have two little miracles, one way or another.  Either way, it will be ok.  I'm not saying that I will have an easy time emotionally if this birth ends in a c-section, and I may feel some pain and grief about losing the birth that I wanted after their birth.  But the paralyzing fear is gone, and that is enough for me to get through it.

As I was falling asleep last night, I started to worry again and had to tell myself to Let it Go. Then I remembered the opening lines of Little Wonders by Rob Thomas-"Let it go, let it roll right off your shoulder. Don't you know, the hardest part is over. "  The rest of the song describes the big picture for me so well.  I can't wait to meet my little wonders.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tutorial: Quiet Book Cover

 Here it is at last!  Another camera phone tutorial, sadly. It seems that the only hours I have available for sewing and tutorial making occur between the hours of 6:00 PM - 7:00 AM, at which time the sun is down and my flash-less DSLR is pretty much useless.  At any rate, now you can make a cover for all your fabulous quiet book pages!

You will need to cut:
*Three 13" x 24" rectangles (inner and outer from quilting cotton and one from batting, warm and natural is my favorite! )
*One strip measuring 3" x 13"
*One strip measuring 2.5" x 3"
*Velcro- 1" strip of 1" wide velcro (hook side and loop side)

Fold the 2.5" strip in half, then pin and sew down the long side.  Turn tube right side out.  Pin down scant 1/4" hem on the long sides of the 3" x 13" strip and sew.
 Turn down the top edge of the small tube twice to conceal the raw edge and pin.

 Pin on hook side of velcro and sew around the edge of the velcro to secure it.  Voila, your velcro tab is complete.

Lay out the batting, then the inner side of the book cover on top.  Then find the center of the rectangle and place the 13" strip down the center.  On the right side, find the center and place the tab in the center velcro side down.  The raw edge of the tab should be placed on the raw edge of the cover.

Lay the outer fabric face down on the inner so the right sides of the fabric are together.

 Pin all the layers together around the edge of the fabric. Make sure to pin the center strip and velcro tab securely. Note the lower right section where I placed two vertical pins with about 4 inches in between.  You will not sew that part of the cover closed.  We leave it open so that we can turn the book cover right side out.

Sew around the edge of the cover, then even up your seam allowance and clip the corners.

Turn the cover right side out through the hole that we left open on the lower right edge.

Poke out the corners and straighten it up, you will have something that resembles a book cover!

Turn the edges of the hole inwards and pin closed.  Then topstitch around the edge of the entire book, which will close up that hole nicely.

The next step is to add the loop side of the velcro to the front of the cover.  Fold the book in half and use the velcro tab to mark where the placement should be, then pin and sew it down.

Now we will need to divide the center strip into sections.  We will use binder rings to hold the pages in the book, but each of the binder rings needs and individual casing in this strip.

First, use one of your book pages to mark out the placement for the binder rings.

You want the casings to be at least 1/2" wide.  Then you will need to sew lines where the pins are placed in order to create the casing.

I actually sew 4 boxes to secure the parts of the strip that do not need to be open to give the binding strip more reinforcement.

You're nearly there.  You will need 3 1.5" binder rings, or you could always slide ribbon or cording through the casing and page grommets as well.

Slide in your 1.5" binder rings.

And add your pages!!!  A beautiful cover ready to be abused by young children enjoying their new quiet book.  Sadie is going to LOVE her Christmas present!

And that's a wrap!