What’s in a name? A helluva lot of negotiation!

It took DH and me a rather long time to settle on a name we both liked. Much discussion and negotiation was called for, as we were pretty much on opposite ends of the naming spectrum, DH leaning towards turn of the century English names (very Downton Abbey) while my tastes run a little more exotic. I loved the name Ziva, but once Blueberry was born, my forerunner names just didn’t seem to suit her. David’s choices didn’t suit either (he really really liked Caroline, but I just couldn’t imagine my daughter as a Caroline). So we spent a few intense days trying to agree a name. Funnily enough, we both spent 5 minutes really liking Dakota (which is totally out to left field in DH’s choices), but ultimately opted against it, as I’m not a fan of naming a kid after actors and the English meaning of the native word is weird (it’s a plural).  Mireille and Avenie were favourites but apparently Mireille is a bit of a grandma name in France (our friend R said that whenever he introduced his friend Mireille, people always asked her what did she do to upset her parents at her birth for them to give her that name), and we couldn’t agree how to pronounce Avenie.

Well, we finally settled on a name, but wanted to test it for a week before making it official, just in case we changed our minds. Test period is up, so let me introduce you to our daughter Amandine Isobelle Cotton-Yu.  Amandine is pronounced long a as in ahhh, mun, long e as in deen, with the accent on the deen.

The past week and a half out of the hospital has been a blur – my parents left on Wednesday and DH and I have been learning the rhythms of our new household and working out how to manage our appointments with Amandine.  The first one was yesterday when I had to go back to the hospital to get my c-section bandage taken off.  DH stayed at home with the wee ones.   I was amazed that 1) there were no stitches at all (I still don’t know if they dissolved or I never had any to begin with – I certainly didn’t see any when I was discharged from the hospital) and 2) the scar is really faint already.

Amandine has been an angel – she sleeps solidly after a feed, and doesn’t fuss much – which does make it alot easier for us to run errands.  The pups love her – well, Meimei loves her and always comes to say hello and give her a little sniff and a kiss when I’m feeding Amandine, while Deuce just tries to squoosh up next to Amandine whenever he can.

We take Amandine out most days, for a walk down to Cyberport (where I get a bubble tea). Next Monday we’ll probably head into town as DH has to do a medical for insurance and we need to pick up a baby gate and some bottles for Amandine so DH can feed her too.

I was really sad to see my folks go – my mom was a huge help during my last uncomfortable weeks pregnant and once Amandine was born, and of course, they were great company.  It feels quite empty in the flat without them, and I know Meimei is also missing my mom as she’s a little quieter than normal (she’s currently lounging on the sofa next to DH).  DH though has the next week off which will be great as I was really dreading having to work out how to manage Amandine’s schedule, myself, and the two pups on my own.  Before my folks left we all went for a heavenly brunch  at the Verandah in Repulse Bay – I had lots of runny cheese and foie gras. Yumm! Amandine did what she does best at the moment – she slept the whole time in the corner (her car seat folds down flat so she can sleep). Good girl knew to let her mama pig out undisturbed!




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……

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.


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.


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!

2 days to go…

Turns out DH isn’t back til Tuesday 😦 For the Blueberry Watch, still no Blueberry so that’s good news, though she is more and more insistent in her movements so I think she’s getting ready to greet the big ol’ world.

Nothing much to report – working on the Knit Love Club stuff, getting the KLC yearbook ready for print, indulging in a little retail therapy. I ordered a pair of cashmere skeins from Ravenwood in the US, and some goats milk soap (in the hope they will be nice to my complaining skin). Got them the other day, and the cashmere is absolutely gorgeous. I’m not sure what to make with them – a scarf, a shawl…400 metres of fingering weight…will have to consider carefully.

Also got a lovely surprise in the post from my friend M – the cutest I love London tin which was a perfect little tonic for homesickness! A cute little toy for the Blueberry, and lots of Green & Black’s chocolate. YUM!

I’m getting a little fed up with being preggers – the itching is making me crazy and not being able to really sleep well sucks. I spend a fair amount of time in the bathtub – seems to be the only place that soothes the itching. Things have been relatively quiet, though my mom treated me to a pregnancy massage the other day which was really quite lovely. They had a special pregnancy pillow with holes for your boobs and belly. It was surprisingly comfortable. Given my internal furnace, I found it so hot that I one point I had to prop myself up and lean over to get some air. My therapist looked positively alarmed but I assured her I was just trying to cool down. I’d definitely go back for more… but will ask for the room to be cooler and no heated eye pillow!

Yesterday we were drawn out to the big lawn between all the apartment buildings by drummers – they had a pair of lions for an acrobatic lion dance, and a big ol’ dragon to welcome the year of the dragon.

I took a couple videos of the dances – pretty impressive acrobatics for the lions!

The whole city is decorated for the New Year. The IFC mall had set up a pagoda disply.

Orange bushes are everywhere – they are supposed to bring luck.

This is in front of our apartment block.

These funky little plant things bring fertility and closeness of family (they are called “five generations living together”)

We also took the monkeys to the park on Saturday, where we met with Meimei’s brethren.  This chap is named Tarquin, another Lamma Island retriever (my name for Meimei’s breed) – he is 28 kilos!  You can see how big he is compared to Deuce.

He seemded to quite like Meimei, though you can see here Meimei is none to pleased with the attention.

Tarquin is a gentle soul, and has a gorgeous coat and bushy tail. Meimei is definitely getting glossier and growing a thicker coat. I hope her tail gets nice and bushy like Tarquin’s.  Really gorgeous dog.

Meimei did manage to make some friends she didn’t run from – Spicy the pug and Daisy the Shih-Tzu. I think because they were a little more sedate it was easier for her to get comfortable with them.

At home the two monkeys now have their new favourite places. For Meimei, it’s the corner of the sofa where she spends her nights.  She is always super pleased with herself when she clambers up there.

Deuce on the other hand has taken to sleeping in Meimei’s bed – all cozied up inside like a little hobbit.  So funny.

Lastly – a little video for Meimei’s peanut gallery: a little video I took the other morning of Meimei and Deuce relaxed and playing.

2 down 5 to go

My mom arrived on Monday night, and we’ve been hanging out over the Chinese New Year holiday. She’s been cooking and I’ve been keeping my legs crossed. So far so good – 5 days to go till hubby comes home. Hong Kong has been chilly – about 10 degrees out. Thankfully I’ve figured out how to turn the heaters on (well, the ac units that also act as heaters) so the flat is warm. I broke out my shearling coat today as I needed it! I really didn’t expect it to feel so chilly.

The furballs are continuing to make me laugh – Meimei is now taller and longer than Deuce, though she still acts the baby. Her favourite thing now is to bite Deuce’s knees (hind legs) to ‘entice’ him to play with her. She can now clamber onto the sofa, but is still a little too scared to jump off so she tends to stay up there then bark and whine when she wants down!

Blueberry seems to be enjoying her last weeks in the womb – and spends most of her time stretching it seems and squishing my internal organs. It feels very … odd. And uncomfortable when she does it. I seem to have 9th month insomnia – though am tired when I go to bed I lay awake. My friend B used to say I was borderline narcoleptic when it came time to sleep at night since I almost never have any problem drifting off to sleep… well, no longer. I can feel the hamsters in my head spinning in their wheels, hyperactive but somehow totally directionless. Plus am quite itchy still so between that, the hamsters, and the inevitable hourly visits to the loo, sleep is something that evades me til the wee hours. I guess it’s practice for the coming months!

Happy Hound

Meimei is coming along in leaps and bounds. She finally went onto the balcony and no longer seems frightened of it.

She’s sort of getting the hang of doing her ‘business’ outside – and she seems to really enjoy her walks now. I took her out yesterday and I didn’t have to carry her at all – she walked past the gates and guards and was okay with it all whereas just a week ago she was so frightened by them she kept trying to back away.

Today we went to the local park again – doesn’t she look happy as a clam?

Tomorrow we’ve got a trainer coming to visit to help us with a few niggling things we’d like to sort out with Deuce (being all territorial and aggressive when he’s on the lead), and Meimei (like her penchant for nibbling on toes!).

And just a random discovery at our local supermarket – I was looking for chrysathemum tea, and came across these two boxes of Mariages Freres – a high end tea not normally seen in a supermarket, and which I hadn’t seen at our local before. I guess it’s worth always checking things out – you never know what you’ll find from week to week!