Sometimes nothing beats a nice hot shower

I am so touched by all the comments, emails, FB posts, and tweets from everyone welcoming little Blueberry into the world.  So many people have said they teared up, and many have been just as anxious as my mom awaiting her arrival!  We got a beautiful bouquet from family friends here in Hong Kong which arrived as Blueberry was making her debut, and today a lovely bouquet from DH’s work was delivered (that’s the Jockey Club racecourse in the background).

My mom and dad have been ferrying stuff back and forth between the flat and the hospital, including this gem from my cousin J.  I so could have used it last night but now am prepared! Yay!

Mom has been taking Meimei and Deuce on their three times daily visit to the park – where Meimei has been growing in confidence day by day. She will actually go up to a new dog and greet him, though she still runs away once she’s done this, she’ll come back after a bit.  It’s really nice to hear. Apparently she has taken to herding Deuce as well since Deuce tends to hang back alot – she will run back to him and bark at him as if to say ‘hurry up’ then they’ll both run back to my mom.  So sweet!  I feel so relieved and pleased that Deuce has a friend in Meimei and that they are little compadres.

They have pretty tight security here – I mentioned before the matching wrist bands, but baby and mom also have matching security tags – mine is on my wrist and Blueberry has a matching but smaller version around her ankle.

If she is taken off the 28th floor the security tags will sound the alarm, and I presume the same would happen if I were to leave the 28th floor.  Good to know as I had been thinking about heading out to pick up some lunch or just got for a wander.  That would be rather embarrassing if I strolled out of the hospital and had to be hauled back by security!

I found out today I’ll be discharged on Wednesday and that I won’t have any stitches anymore then. Whether that means they are taken out or that they are in the process of dissolving, I don’t know.  I kind of prefer not to know as it means I can pretend it away (you probably gathered hospitally needly scalpelly things aren’t my forte).

Staying at the hospital has been really relaxing (after the drama/trauma of delivery) – my mom and dad taking the burden of literally everything else, and leaving me and DH to get used to having the wee one and learning her rhythms and preferences.  DH has been staying here with me on the sofa bed in the room, which has meant some quality time together bonding as a family.

He’s reading to her in the photo above – from Max Hasting’s “Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord”.  You can see it has put her right to sleep. Haha.

The pediatrician is pleased with her progress – apparently she hasn’t lost any of her birth weight which is usually what happens when babies are born. She’s stayed the same. All her blood tests are good, she’s had her vaccinations and whatever other testing there is to be done.  Her pediatrician comes every day to check her, which is awesome since I’m completely clueless and they are just getting on with it and have a file with all her records.  My OBY has been in to check on me too and it seems I’m doing fine too. I was up and about on Sunday after having the IV and catheter taken out. I really hated the IV.  I went off the major painkillers (the 12 hour ones) last night since I didn’t feel I needed them anymore, and now on ones I can take four times a day – but today have only had 3 doses. The discomfort is bearable – and is just that, mostly discomfort.

Today my mom and I compared notes on c-sections – she had me by c-section too, and I have to say her story is one of the main reasons I had been so freaked about having one.  She had a horrible experience, under general anesthetic with mean nurses.  She was in and out of consciousness for 3 days, and kept panicking because every time she asked to see me, she’d pass out. She’d wake up again having not seen me and started to think there was something wrong with her baby.  She was amazed I could get up and walk around the day after – it took her a week just to get on her feet again.  What a difference advances in medicine can make.  And the nurses here are super sweet – maybe a little too kid glove – they won’t let me change Blueberry’s diaper – even if I say ‘oh I’ll do it’ they say yes, then they’ll insist on carrying her to the change table and then proceed to change the diaper themselves! If I walk out my room to the nursery room, much to my bemusement they insist on ‘assisting’ me in walking the three steps from my door to the nursery door hovering around me just in case I slip and fall.

I was desperate to take a shower today, so my c-section bandage got covered in a waterproof band-aid (aka plaster) like thing and I was able to shower to my heart’s content.  It was bliss I tell you, sheer bliss, being under the hot water and being able to wash my hair! Man I felt nasty.  I washed it twice, and was going to go for a third time but thought I better not waste all my shampoo on one shower.  LOL.  Thanks J – it was heaven in a bottle. 😀

DH asked me how I felt now, with baby out, compared to having baby in and being itchy and cranky all the time.  I really did not enjoy being pregnant, and hated the itching. Really hated it – it was like torture; relentless, frustrating, never ending… and labour was awful until I had the epidural then it was an afternoon of watching Bones and sleeping.  After the first debilitating contractions which had me literally begging to not have to have a baby, and then whimpering for the hard drugs, my contractions weren’t regular enough so they had to dose me up with pitocin.  The c-section in retrospect was a very quick, efficient and undramatic affair. 10 minutes for baby to come out, then maybe another 20 minutes for stitches and a little time for recovery and back to my room awake and relatively perky.

I don’t mind the waking every few hours – since I’d been waking every hour in the last month or so due to itching and sitting up for 15 minutes at a time nearly in tears at a loss of what to do for comfort, being able to sleep in stretches of 3-4 hours is a treat.  And while I’m a terrible patient and no good at going with the flow when it comes to forced changes to my body, I find that I really enjoy being a mom. It feels intuitive. It helps though that she seems to be a very calm baby.

And I love the cuddles. Totally heart melting.

Now if DH and I could just settle on a name……

Inc1

At 4pm I still hadn’t dilated enough – only 2-3 cm. Same at 430, then 5. My OBY came back around 530 to poke Blueberry’s head up, since she hadn’t engaged either, hoping she would settle in a better position. Because she wasn’t super happy (a little meconium came out with the waters) my OBY said if she hadn’t settled in a better position by 6 we would do a c-section. So at 6pm after determining Blueberry was in no better position, and I hadn’t dilated past 3cm, it was off to the operating theatre for me.

Of course, having planned on a natural delivery this was somewhat of a bummer. At the same time, the idea of being cut open scared the crap out of me. As I was being prepped and wheeled into the operating theatre, I was trying very hard to keep it together, but when they put me on the operating table, and then started to incline me downwards I admit I freaked a little. I got pumped up with epidural stuff, then couldn’t hear very well (everything got muffled), couldn’t really breath upside down, and I panicked. Thankfully that is when DH came in and I grabbed his hand like a lifeline. As they did their thing on the other side of the curtain, DH held my hand. I asked him to tell me a story – he looked a little like a deer caught in the headlights. But he rallied, and started to tell me about Aragon – a vanished kingdom which used to be somewhere in Spain. I can’t really remember much of the story, except that Aragon is the reason they speak Catalan in Sardinia. Anyways, Aragon kept me level and calmed me right down.

In 10 minutes, little Blueberry was out and being cleaned up. I’m not so sure she was so happy to be evicted from her comfy little nest.

She was brought over for DH to hold and we got some lovely photos of the two of them with me looking like a toad (that’s what happens when one is almost upside down!).  I cut me out of the photo (but you can see my hair on the bottom right of the photo above).

My parents have been total stars. Mom cooked and cleaned for us (and I’m sure it’s her cooking that contributed to Blueberry being a whopping 8lbs 12oz!), and has also taken over the dog walking duties.  Good thing she loves dogs cause Deuce & Meimei are just in love with her.

And here’s me with my little one.  Isn’t she sweet? Welcome home Blueberry, welcome home.

The Big Day… so far….

Here I am, sitting up in one of those adjustable hospital beds, waiting on Blueberry. Well, waiting on my cervix really to dilate already. I’ve got an IV in my left arm, an epidural catheter in my back, a blood pressure thingie on my right arm and my laptop in front of me.

The day has been interesting. Checked into hospital last night after a lovely sushi dinner. Had a run in with a Nurse Ratchet type. Having been told to go register early so I would get a private room, I duly showed up on the 27th floor labour ward reception to fill in all the paperwork (of which there was a crap ton!)

Only to be told by Nurse Ratchet that she couldn’t guarantee anything while the nice nurse told me they had my room already reserved. NR was just being a PITA. Anyways, I show up again pre dinner with my luggage, the room was ready, but Nurse Ratchet refused to let us store the stuff in the room, saying she would be breaking hospital policy and that no one could check-in before 8pm. News to me! Finally after dinner we got there at 8pm, with a whole boat load of people checking in (clearing the 8pm rule was one she made up) but the nice nurse found someone to take us to 2805, my room on the 28th floor by the nursery.

We settled in, they gave me a wrist band (the last time i had a hospital wrist band was when i was born), and showed me two other identical ones that are to go on the baby’s wrist and ankle. The room is sort of a hotel room with a hospital bed. Huge TV, a dvd, a recliner chair, a great view of the Jockey Club racecourse and Hong Kong skyscrapers. Sadly no bathtub. They gave me a tablet to soften my cervix around 11ish, and I slept on and off as the attending nurse popped in every couple hours to check the baby’s heart. Just before 5 am I started to walk around, and the contractions started in earnest just before 6.

Never having had contractions before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect them to be so bloody painful! Wow. They ended up coming thick and fast (2 min apart for 40 seconds at at time at one point). Um, they hurt. Like hell. And all I kept thinking was… crap. This is just the start?? OMG what the hell is proper labour going to be like??

You know how I was all freaked about the epidural – ultimately all about fear of needles – well by 9 am I was like GIVE ME DRUGS!!! (a decision helped by a very comforting message from Jodi a sock club member and an anaesthetist to boot) Poor DH had to deal with tears and hysteria. LOL. They arranged for me to head back down to the labour ward in a wheel chair – even that was an unpleasant journey. Got to my delivery room, and while I was squirming and shrieking they gave me some gas which was pretty cool. Made me feel light headed and drunk and took the edge off. Finally the anaesthetist arrived, got me prepped and shot me full of drugs. I shook uncontrollably for 10 minutes, shrieked some more (along the lines of ‘why isn’t it working yet???’) then finally finally the pain subsided. I also got very very sleepy which was awesome. Slept most of the morning away.

Mom and dad arrived around 9 – having held the fort at home for us. Poor Deuce was distraught last night when he couldn’t find us, and my mom ended up having to let him sleep cuddled up next to her to comfort him. They waited around, went for lunch with DH, and waited some more.

My OBY (and my dad’s doppelganger) arrived around 2pm to check me – cervix is still pretty long and baby still pretty high. Waters were broken (interesting. wet. and gross.) The next check is at 4pm. If I’m dilated to 3-4cm then my OBY thinks Blueberry will be delivered around dinner time. I certainly hope so!

In the meanwhile, I’ve got Bones Season 1 keeping me entertained as well as lots of supportive missives on FB too (thanks everyone!!). DH is sitting in the lazyboy armchair by the bed reading Vanished Kingdoms. Almost like being on holiday…. well for him at any rate.

Still Waiting….

Well, the cheerleading squad has assembled, both my mom and dad are now in attendance, and every day I wake up to “is she here yet” “are you still pregnant” and from my mom – “have you had any contractions?”.

Still nada, niente, nothing. I’ve had some twinges on and off, I had a single contraction yesterday morning, and nothing at all since then. Little Miss Blueberry is certainly taking her sweet time! Must admit I’m quite fed up with the pregnancy – especially the itching. It’s like Chinese water torture. A little bit at a time, but completely unrelenting. I just want to be able to be still, lie or sit down and not have my skin hurt! Cranky, moi?

I did get some goodies in the post to brighten my day – my Cookie A sock club parcel, with a glorious red yarn. A big yarn order from Woolen Rabbit for a jumper for me (same yarn as hubby’s Christmas jumper except in a happy red orange colour), my amazon book order and a lovely little jumper knit by my friend Marja. Now for the stork to bring me another little parcel….

I’d been waiting on tenterhooks for The Principles of Knitting, an updated edition of a reference book that has nearly legendary status. It’s a huge tome, and does have quite alot of information in it… having said that, I have to admit I am a little ‘meh’ about it – compared to my Montse Stanley book, I’m not at all convinced TPOK is all that. There were only a few techniques in there that I hadn’t come across (like doing a double stranded tubular cast-on to get a 2×2 rib cast-on, a different approach to the one in the Montse Stanley book), although it was a plus to have a plethora of techniques in one tome. I also like the use of the sewn bind off (EZ’s sewn bind off, called the half-hitch cast-off in the book) to finish a buttonhole using waste yarn (like an afterthought heel).

I’ll spend more time working through the techniques, so hopefully I will find some more nuggets of inspiration in there. There are chapters on garment sizing, schematics, and calculations for pattern design which I’m looking forward to getting stuck into. I like the info about cleaning and ‘dressing’ which is washing and blocking in modern parlance. Useful reference.

I will say that the needle size chart at the back caused me to suck my breath in horror. They are listed in metric, US and British sizes (which really should be ‘old’ British sizes as they are all metric now!) Why am I horrified? Well, first off, I have never seen needles in the old British sizes… despite having lived in England for over 12 years, except at the Victoria & Albert museum. I have also never seen metric knitting needles in 2.3mm, 2.8mm, 3.125mm, 3.3mm, or 3.8mm sizes. For what should be an updated and revised edition of this book, this information is woefully outdated. And what shocks me even more is that 2.5mm and US1.5 needles are not even listed! This is supposed to be a comprehensive, updated reference guide… maybe as a sock knitter I am biased, but given the popularity of sock knitting, and the widespread use of 2.5mm/US1.5 needles I find it a pretty glaring oversight. So … initial thoughts? Huge tome. Lots of info. The directions are rather wordy and unless you’re very good at visualising text based instructions, you may have difficulty with figuring out how to work the technique in question. The use of totally different names to common names for techniques without any reference at all to other ways of referring to those techniques is weird and kind of obnoxious. Like me suddenly deciding to call short rows something different like ‘syncopated knitting’ and not mentioning at all that some people call them short rows.

My take is that if you’re a curious adventurous knitter… it is likely that much of the information regarding techniques will be something you’ve already come across – or knit already (especially Knit Love Club members!), and that much information you’ll already know, especially if you have a decent library including Clara Parke’s books, Anna Zilboorg’s Magnificent Mittens or Nancy Bush’s Folk Knitting in Estonia, and Elizabeth Zimmerman’s books. It is nice having all the info in one place, but it takes away the enjoyment of spending time with other authors… who are rather more engaging to read. I’ll withhold comment on the Pattern Design section until I’ve had some time to work through it and see if that itself is worth the price of admission….

Party’s ready to start – so where’s the party girl?

Feb 8, Blueberry’s official due date, has now come and gone (okay, maybe not quite gone in some timezones…).

I figured I ought to pack my hospital stuff, so I did… and now they sit there in the bedroom looking all ready to party but with nowhere to go!

I’m not sure if I’m having the beginnings of contractions – sort of very mild cramping that happens every hour or so… nothing that I can’t talk through or ignore. Will keep an eye out and see. Could just be braxton-hicks contractions (fakey ones).

Meimei & Deuce’s walker is coming today so that when the time comes, we have a dog sitter that the furry monkeys will be familiar with to make sure they’re being cared for while we’re all headless chickens running amok towards and at the hospital.

We found out something interesting about Meimei via Tarquin‘s owner. He’s done some research and is pretty sure that the dogs christened ‘black fluffies’ by HKDR, and Lamma Island Retrievers by me, are actually Belgian Groenendael Sheepdogs. It’s pretty amazing – the character traits are pretty spot on. From Wikipedia:

“Belgian Shepherd Dogs are described as highly intelligent, alert, sensitive to everything going on around them and form very strong relationship bonds. They are said to be loyal, intelligent, fun, highly trainable and well suited to family life. They should receive plenty of socializing as puppies and will benefit from regular activity and close interaction with people throughout their lifespan. Their herding heritage gives them a comparatively high energy level, and mental as well as physical exercise is necessary to keep a Belgian happy and healthy.

Belgian Shepherds do well in sports such as obedience training and dog agility. They are used as assistance and search and rescue dogs, as well as police, military and narcotics dogs.”

Well she certainly is quite clever and needs alot of mental stimulation to keep her from using her brains for mischief (like figuring out how to get the lid off the rubbish can). She also likes to herd us when we walk with her – she always waits for the last straggler of the group and makes sure we are all together.  It’s a bit sad too- knowing that someone must have abandoned at least one Belgian Sheepdog on Lamma Island for there to have been so many stray litters. Must find Meimei some kind of agility course for her to train on.

Meanwhile some Socktopus Sokkusu news – we have a limited edition colourway for Valentine’s 2012 – “My Funny Valentine”. It’s a heartfelt deep rich red with veins of purple.

There are still some skeins left, perfect for a shawl or pair of socks for a loved one or dear friend!  You can find it in the Socktopus Shop here.

We’ll also have a special pop-up this Friday with some of our popular, but resting, pinks and reds including Pout, Strawberry & Pinkly.

Knit Nation Merchandise Clearance Sale

We’re also making room in our stock room for more yarn – and so we’re having a clearance sale on all our Knit Nation merchandise.  All the mugs and bags are now 50% off; mugs were £8 each and are now £4 each, and bingo bags are £3 down from £6. You can stock up here.

Knit Love Club 2011 Patterns

For those of you waiting on the release of last year’s Knit Love Club patterns, we’ll be releasing them individually as follows for £4.50 each:

1 March: Gnomely
1 May: Fiyero
1 July: Zories
1 September: Blueberry Jig
1 November: Vignoble & Methuselah
1 December: Breadcrumbs & Lussekatter

We are also offering a KLC 2011 Pattern Yearbook ebook. You’ll automatically receive each pattern on its release date via a Ravelry PDF download.  The KLC 2011 ebook is available for £27.  You can purchase the 2011 Pattern Yearbook using the link below:

And for the first 2012 Knit Love Club patterns, as the pattern pack has now been sent out, I thought I’d show you the first two patterns for the year.

[spoiler]

For the February Knit Love Club kit, I created a slipped stitch pattern called Fanque’s Circus , designed to show off highly variegated yarns, and used those for both patterns.   The club colourway is called Thunder & Blazes, which inspired the whole circus theme (Thunder & Blazes is the march that signals the entrance of the clowns).

The first of the two patterns for February is Fanque’s Circus Socks, a pretty sock with a picot cuff.

The second pattern is Fanque’s Circus Mittens – a pair of cozy mittens using the same stitch pattern. Here is Ling modelling her pair (photo also courtesty of Ling).

The following two photos are courtesy of Heli Rajavaara, and also show the mittens in a solid colour. I think they look quite pretty in solid too.

I’m really excited to see our club members’s WIPs and FOs for the yarn and Feb patterns.

[/spoiler]

Now to wait and see about Blueberry. She needs to get her dancing shoes on. The music’s on, the dance floor’s waiting….. the party is raring to go. Just waiting for the party girl now!

The Waiting Game

Hubby got home last night, with a suitcase full of goodies! Was so happy to see him. Haha and happy little Blueberry decided to stay in the oven for now and keep on cookin’ for a while. Though I have to say her movements are so insistent that watching my belly roil and move like I’ve got shifting teutonic plates in there is really freakish. I’ll have to get a video for posterity and to show Blueberry when she’s older. See, see what mama had to put up with my squirmy one?

Hubby brought home my long awaited Cookie A Sock Club final parcel from 2011 – Bugga! in a lovely mix of greens and pink, and my requested Cinnamon Rococo Chocolate bars. Well, one got scoffed immediately so now I have one left. Mmmm love Rococo!

And some silly things that pleased me to no end – our bright orange kitchen scissors. Our big red pepper mill. And my handknit socks! I couldn’t for the life of me remember where the heck all my handknit socks were, my cashmere anemois, some shawls I’d knit, nor the sock samples from the 2011 KLC sock club, so when hubby said he found them in our flat I was over the moon.

Thank you to everyone for your suggestions on itchy skin help! I really think it is getting better – last few nights I’ve been able to sleep through with only one bathroom trip. Woot! I do have a veritable pharmacy in my bathroom of lotions and potions – hubby also brought back some Mama Mio which I truly love. The Lush Dream Cream also helped stop the itching temporarily. I’m still itchy but it no longer makes me feel like i’m about to drop into the abyss of insanity.

Since I’ve been spending so much time at the dining table aka my work desk, my little furballs have taken to commandeering the next available lap – my mom’s. Whenever she’s on the sofa, the two monkeys cozy up to her. It’s quite cute and good practice for them when the Blueberry comes home.

Speaking of which, I thought I’d share a photo of Blueberry’s current abode. It’s pretty big, but I think very soon it’s going to be too cramped for her and she’ll need to upgrade to the big wide world! A week to her due date…. now it’s the waiting game. My mom is convinced I’ll go into labour sometime before the 15th of the Lunar Calendar (around the 6th of Feb) because it is the Lantern Festival and supposed to make childbirth go easier and faster. I certainly hope that is the case!