Monday, January 18, 2010

Felix is here - The birth story

At 4.30 am on the 17th of October, a Saturday, I was woken by what I was pretty sure was a proper contraction. None of this Braxton Hicks stuff, a proper contraction. The night before I had been experiencing some regular but mild pain about every half an hour but at about 11.30 pm it had stopped so I went to bed. But this was different, this was a real contraction, I was sure.

So I got up out of bed by myself and went downstairs to the computer to see if anyone was online that I could tell! I was excited as well as completely out of my brain scared. It was happening! I timed the contractions at about 10 minutes apart for about an hour. At this point I thought that I had better go and tell Chi Wai. We chatted for a while about what we should do. We decided to monitor the contractions for a while longer but get ready to go to the hospital just in case. I had a shower and got dressed and then when and woke mum to give her the news. By this time it was about 6.30 am and the contractions were coming about every seven minutes. The midwife had said to come to the hospital when I was having two contractions in the space of ten minutes, but still it seemed so early, when everyone had told me that I was likely to be in for a long labour. So we decided again to wait a while longer, have breakfast and keep monitoring the contractions.

The contractions kept coming during breakfast and at about 8.30 am we decided that we should make our way to the hospital. Just as we were about the walk out the door I realised that I had not had a contraction for a while. So we sat down and waited and the contraction didn't come. Humph! I decided to go back to bed and get some sleep while I still could.

I managed to sleep until about 11.30am despite the contractions coming at about 15 mins apart. We had some lunch, mum and I did some knitting and also some more napping. At about 6pm the contractions were coming between 15 and 10 minutes apart. We didn't really know what to do so we decided to have dinner and then head to the hospital, just to find out how far along I was. Brian our house mate cooked a bbq and I left the room every time a contraction hit so as not to spoil every one else's dinner. Aren't I considerate!

After dinner we headed to the hospital. We arrived there at about 8.30 pm and I was examined (ouch!) my a midwife who said I was only 3cm dilated. She said I would be a long while yet and suggested that we go home but we had to see a doctor first. We waited an hour to see the doctor, only to be told that I should be admitted to the ward. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing the midwife convinced the doctor that it would be okay for me to go home, so we went home.

Soon after arriving home the contractions really intensified. I was in an excruciating amount of pain. I had a shower which helped a bit. Once out of the shower I managed to get underwear on and nothing else and I was doing some very glamorous writhing and moaning on the bed. Chi Wai and mum had a discussion while I moaned, about needing to get me to the hospital NOW, so they managed to get me dressed and into the car.

When we arrived at the hospital (about 11 pm) I was poured into a wheelchair and delivered (pardon the pun) directly to the labour ward. Chi Wai and mum trotted behind with worried expressions. As soon as I was helped onto the bed in the labour ward I told the midwife that I wanted an epidural. I also have a memory of saying "This is ridiculous, whose idea was this?" The midwife proceeded to tell me how well I was doing and what a great job I had done of coping on my own at home. She said that if I did not have an epidural the baby would be born very quickly and that she thought I could hack it basically. While I was considering this she hooked me up to the gas and air and I sucked that stuff down like there was no tomorrow. I somewhat reluctantly agreed to go without the epidural, but happily accepted a shot of pethidine. It was about this time that I started to feel the urge to push. Now that has got to be the weirdest feeling in the world. Kind of like a dry retch but at the other end of your body. Yeuch!

After the gas and the pethidine, things get a bit blurry. I know there was pushing and lots of encouragement. I was still in a huge amount of pain, but it was what I was there for, so somehow it was different. The midwife positioned me on my side to push with one leg up in the air. It was very lady like indeed. Between each contraction and push she told me to put my leg back down, and I remember being worried that I was going to squash the baby's head! Just one of the funny things that went through my head.

At 2.30 am, Sunday the 18th of October, our baby boy was born weighing 3.69kg. We named him Felix, Gar Ming, Alfred Choy. Our little gorgeous Felix had arrived. As he lay on the bed, my mum said over and over again "Oh Charmaine, he's so beautiful, he's so beautiful!" and he is.

Here's Chi Wai having the first cuddle. I love this photo, he looks so proud and happy.

Here's me feeling pretty happy with myself on the second day.

All that happened three months ago now. The time has passed in a blur of breast feeding, nappy changes and absolute happiness. There is so much more to tell, but that will have to come later.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blanket Love!

Who would have thought that a baby blanket could bring a room full of grown women to tears!

Well this blanket did, twice!

But this blanket has a story behind it and the story is what is stirring up all the emotion. This blanket was specially knitted for my baby by my knitting friends back in Australia. Each of these friends (Zena, Ailsa, Donna, Kerry, Rae, Annie, Kate, Shirley, Becky and Sharon) knitted one or more of the squares and then Zena, my best friend, assembled them all together to make this absolutely stunning baby blanket. The yarn is Heirloom Bliss, a gorgeous soft merino which is machine washable for practicality and yet feels soooo luxurious. As Zena said on Ravelry, it will be a wonderful hug from all the girls when the baby arrives. I just don't know how to thank you all enough, it truly is so beautiful and so special.

Each of the squares is different and was identified with a small white tag as to it's creator. Here are shots of a few faves.

So what's all this talk of crying. Well, when Zena found out that my mum was coming over before the birth of the baby she sent the blanket to her rather than posting it directly to me. The post here in Abu Dhabi can be a little unpredictable and my guess is that she didn't want to risk something so precious to the possible perils of the UAE postal system. When mum saw it she couldn't help taking it to work with her to show her colleagues. Just a bit of background there, mum is a high school teacher, teaching Home Ec/Textiles and Design and most of her immediate colleagues are female. There has been much talk about the arrival of mum's first grandchild in the past few months. When mum produced the blanket at a special afternoon tea that they were throwing for her, the day before she was flying here, it was tears all 'round from the "Home Ec Aunties". They could really feel the sentiment behind the blanket.

The next round of crying came last Friday at our monthly Amiras meet up (our Abu Dhabi based knitting group). I proudly brought the blanket along to show to the girls and again the tears were flowing! Here's a shot of Sydney, myself and Rama, admiring the blanket at our usual haunt. Note the not very effective hiding of the bump!

I of course cried too when I first opened the blanket. Seeing all those little while tags with the names on them. Knowing that the girls were sending their love in this special way, really made me quite emotional. It might sound kind of corny to some, but this blanket really is going to be so special to me and my baby.

Thank you so much girls! Big hugs and kisses coming your way!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Baby Shower Bliss!

I am so late in posting about this but even though it was two weeks ago I couldn't not post! So here goes.

Two weeks ago it was our monthly scheduled meet-up of the U-knitted Amiras, our Abu Dhabi based knitting group. Because it fell in the middle of Ramadan, our usual hang out location was closed so Kundi very kindly offered to have us all over to her place, and because of the new locale it had been decided that we would have ourselves a little yarn dyeing shin-dig. Well, that's what I thought was the plan anyway.

When I arrived (half an hour late due to a brownie cooking emergency!) I was greeted with "Surprise!" and cameras flashing. The girls in secret had planned a huge Baby Shower, just for little old me! I had absolutely no idea and was completely stunned, although not lost for words of course!

In true American Baby Shower style there were fabulous themed decorations and party favours for everyone!

And once I had arrived, everyone was allowed to eat! Yay!

Such a yummy spread the girls had put together. And then, it was time for presents!

Just look at all those gorgeous colourful gifts. I was completely overwhelmed!

I have to make a special mention of the hand knitted and crocheted gifts, because of course that is was we are all about.

First of all there are the adorable crocheted booties and cap from Eva. I can't wait to try these on our little guy when he arrives.

Next we have the adorable knits of Miss Lindsay! One of the very clever Danger Craft Monsters and a gorgeous cotton blanket designed especially for cuddling up baby in when he gets out of the bath. (Ravelry project links here and here).

The monsters are just great and I can see them being a real favourite with bubba when he arrives. The big one is quite large, perfect for toddler baby bear hugs!

When Debbie (Rav link) decides to make baby gifts, well she just really goes to town! Check out this hoard of goodies from her!

There is an adorable little vest in purple Alpaca, the cutey cute Felix cardigan and an absolutely stunning crocheted blanket in lovely spongy merino that will be used for years to come.

And lastly, also from Debbie, presenting the Romper Stomper!

The romper is a vintage pattern from a South African knitting magazine (Debbie is from SA) and it has been knitted in a gorgeous soft and very UAE friendly bamboo yarn. I think it is just fabulous! Can't you just imagine fat pudgey baby legs coming out of this with white socks?

After presents there was cake!

This meet-up just happened to coincide with the 1st anniversary of our first ever Amiras meet-up, when we sat in the empty mall because it was Ramadan then too. When I got home from the baby shower is was feeling quite emotional about it all (baby hormones so they tell me) and thinking about how much has changed in one year. A year ago I had been living here for over a year but had still made very few friends. Now a year later I have this beautiful group of friends, all passionate about our craft and so thoughtful to have gone to so much trouble for me. I was really so touched. Big hugs and kisses to you all, thank you so much!

An extra special thanks goes to Lindsay who did the majority of the shower organising, to Louise for the gorgeous decorations, to Rama for the great part favours, to Kundi for having us all at her place and to all the girls from Dubai who made the trip specially. What a fabulous day it was!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What a difference a day (or two) makes!

On Monday I was having a really bad day. Nothing serious, I just felt really tired, I was having to walk around in the heat at work and I just felt awful. Seriously, the heat in the factory is another thing all together, it actually feels like my skin is getting burned.

Flip forward to today and I am feeling soooo good! It's my 35th birthday today and normally that would only make things worse. I have a bad relationship with birthdays normally, but not today. Today I feel happy, thankful and overall good about life. You've gotta be happy with that!

I seem to be really bad at this blogging gig at the moment. I start writing posts and then re-read them, think they are boring and give them the sack. Let's see if this one gets out today.

One of the issues is that I don't have any knitting to talk about. There has of course been plenty of knitting, but I have been knitting presents and so I can't talk about them yet. Knitting is always easy to talk about.

And so I have to talk about something else. Here goes.

A few biggish things have been going on lately. Firstly we have hired a nanny/maid. She has started working with us now so that I can get to know her before the baby arrives. I'll refer to her as G. She's working full time for us already and living in our house (in the "maids quarters") and also cooking most of our meals. I have to say, it has been a very strange experience to let someone into you home and start looking after these things. I am by no means a clean freak (far, far from it) so having her doing the cleaning has been amazing, but when it comes to the cooking, I am struggling with the loss of control. Don't get me wrong, I love coming home to dinner on the table, but the idea that I don't know exactly what is going into each meal is difficult to get over. Back on the cleaning side, it is also very strange to have someone tidy up after you every day. Reading a magazine at breakfast in the morning at the dining table? Well it won't be there when you come back in the afternoon, and my make-up brush roll which has always laid open on the bathroom counter gets neatly rolled up and put on the shelf every day. Truly a strange experience. The other part is, I'm a working class girl, and having a maid (let alone a full time, live-in maid), makes me feel completely indulgent. I'm sure that I will get over that eventually!

The other big thing that has happened in my life (being pregnant aside) in the last few months is a little hard to talk about, but here goes. Without delving too much into my family history, I have two half-sisters which I have up until now never known. A few months back my brother Marc and I finally got up the courage to make contact with them. We've been talking on email since then, trying to make up for lost time, and I am so glad that I finally took the step to get in touch. It's been amazing to see all of the things that we have in common with each other, especially considering the age gap. My sisters are Caitlin, 19 and Jaime, 17 and they seem like really great girls.

The big discovery with the Caitlin, is that she is also a knitter! How amazing is that! I'm not sure that she is quite as obsessed as me, but I plan to work on that. When she found out that I am also a knitter and that I am pregnant, she got to work straight away. Last week, this is what arrived in the mail.

Isn't he adorable! He has proper working joints in his arms legs and neck, and such neat stitches. I'm still trying to come up with a name for him. Current suggestions range from something in Chinese to something that is derived from the word sister to signify his auspicious origins. Maybe I should find out (Chi Wai?) what the Chinese word for sister is! I was really touched to recieve this and I know he's going to be very special to our baby. Thank you Caitlin.

Last but not least, something else very special arrived in the mail last weekend. This!

It's always so exciting when friends start to do clever things. knitabulous, one of my knitting friends from Wollongong has started dyeing and selling her own yarn. This is her fabulous colourway "Count Sockular"! I love it! Knitabulous is doing some amazing things with colour, mostly with semi-solids which I always find more versatile. You can check out her Etsy store here.

Okay, I'm going to hit the "Publish Post" button NOW before I over think things!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mother Knows Vest!

My facination with the baby vest continues with these two projects.

Firstly we have what I like to call "How now green owl!"

Pattern: Owl Baby Vest by Jodi Haraldson
Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy Sport in Honey Dew
Needles: 3.25mm
Modifications: A few, see below

This pattern only comes in one size, 9-12 months, and recommends a DK weight yarn. I wanted a smaller vest so went with a sport weight yarn and hoped for the best with the size. It has turned out really small, minute in fact, a true new born size, so it will probably fit our little guy for all of about five minutes after he pops out! It's so adorable though, being so small. I think I might use this as part of his coming home outfit so he at least gets one wear out of it.

I basically ignored the pattern after the cable and did my own thing for the armholes and v-neck placing. I did not like that the v-neck did not line up with the middle of the centre owl on the original pattern so I rectified this. I also added the shoulder opening as well. Leaning from the "Little Boy Blue" vest experience, this time I made the button holes between the ribbing band and the shoulder strap so that the button holes are a little further apart and I am much happier with the result this time.

Next up is "Mother Knows Vest!"

Pattern: Improvised
Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy Sport in Cashew and Honey Dew, Knit Picks Shine Sport in Willow.
Needles: 3.00mm
Size: 3-6 months

This one is knitted flat to avoid the stripe jog. Yes, I know that there is a way to avoid the jog in the round but I was too lazy to investigate it and I have no issue with a little bit of mattress stitch. The yarns were carried up the side between each colour change. Same deal as above on the shoulder opening. These cotton yarns from Knit Picks really are perfect for baby knitting. So soft and so cheap! Yay!

So why all the vests? Well for one thing, its about all that my baby brain can handle at the moment. The other factor is that I think as far as knitted baby garments go living in Abu Dhabi, a little cotton vest is going to be the most versatile and get the most wear. If we do get some cool weather in December/January (it does happen!) I can put some long sleeves underneath and short sleeves for when it is warmer. See how I spend too much time thinking about these things!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hey baby!

Yes I know it's been a while but I'm here now!

I'm now 23 weeks pregnant, more than half way, so I thought I would share some of my thoughts on this whole pregnancy gig.

Firstly, here is a picture of me showing off my bump!

This photo was taken about four weeks so things have grown quite considerable since then.

I would have to say that I am having what would be considered a good pregnancy. I suffered some mild morning sickness in the first trimester but was still capable of travelling to Australia, then London and Paris within the first 13 weeks of my pregnancy so really I shouldn't complain. So far there have been no real complications apart from being a bit anaemic. I've been sleeping fairly well, no need to get up and pee in the middle of the night, although I am starting to get a bit uncomfortable at the moment. I'm not suffering from any water retention (yet!) which is surprising given how hot it is here now and I seem to have been able to escape many other common pregnancy ailments. My only real complaints would be tiredness and some mild back pain.

Still I wouldn't describe myself as one of those people who loves being pregnant. I'm definitely in this game for the end result. I'm not a process knitter after all! To all the ladies out there who have had difficult pregnancies and then have gone on to do it all again, I salute you!

Apart from the physical side of things, the main thing that I have noticed is how much this has changed my life already. Already my brain is completely occupied with baby stuff! Which pram to buy, thoughts about cleaning out all the cupboards to make room for the baby's stuff, doctors and hospital appointments. I love to read and I am a member of a book club, but I have been having trouble reading anything that isn't related to being pregnant or parenting. Lastly, all of my knitting lately has been baby related. I have been trying really hard not to be one of those people that can only talk about baby stuff, it's always been a thing that has bugged me in the past, but I've got to tell you it is really hard, and I fear that despite my effort I am failing miserably! Big apologies to all of you that have had to put up with me going on, and on, and on.......

Speaking of going on and on, at this point I feel like I'm ready for it all to be finished and the baby to be here. He's kicking me everyday now and both Chi Wai and I are anxious to meet our little guy. Still, I have four months to go and really we do need some more time to get ready. There are still so many things to buy! It's a great marketing racket I assure you, but we have been sucked in like all the rest. At this stage we have bought a pram which we managed to get at nearly 50% off which was a bonus, and some baby clothes. I have been trying to be restrained with the baby clothes because everyone keeps telling me how quickly they grow out of things. There are so many cute things though!

Next time: Baby related knitting! See what I mean, I really can't talk about anything else at the moment!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Is your cat plotting to kill you?

Oh Phonky! How could you?