Baby Otto was born at home in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, in a flawless (and very intense) two hour labor, followed by a rainbow at dawn. Check out his birth story on BabyZone.com!
 
 
PictureKaspar performs a finger-puppet show for Baby O.
So, yes, I'm still pregnant. (And still not officially 'due' for another week. Tick-tock, tick-tock.) And I don't have any idea when the new little will arrive. I've been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a couple of months; they've been far more noticeable and intense than any I experienced in my first pregnancy. My midwives say that's normal the second time around. I asked, once, how I'll know when I'm actually in labor, since this baby's been so low from the get-go -- lots of pelvic pressure going on here -- and since I'm already having contractions, sometimes in pretty regular patterns. The answer? "It'll be different. You'll know." 

Well, two days ago, I felt different. As in, noticeably more uncomfortable throughout the day. Nauseated, even. That night, I had a contraction so strong it woke me from a deep sleep. It really hurt. I actually felt like the bed was shaking, and reached over to feel whether Aaron was breathing strangely or something, only to realize he was lying perfectly still. The bed wasn't shaking -- I was. I breathed deeply for the minute or two the contraction went on (it felt longer), asking myself if I felt pain in my back, as I haven't with the Braxton Hicks but expect to during labor. I couldn't really tell, but this thing, in a word... hurt. 

I got up, wandered around, somewhat panicked (thinking, We haven't had our home visit yet! We're not set up. The cleaners aren't coming until next Thursday. Where the hell is my phone? I'm in the middle of a piece of writing. Is this happening? I haven't gotten a breast pump yet, or ten spare towels, or extra-thick maxi pads... and so on). I eventually found my phone, and called my midwife. She was in New York, where she'd flown to deliver her best friend's baby before flying back to deliver mine. (I have another amazing midwife here on backup, too, so our bases are covered.) I asked if I woke her, and she said she was actually at her friend's birth as we spoke. When I described what I'd felt (specifically, "It hurt like a motherf*cker"), she told me it could very well be the start of labor, but maybe not. The best thing to do would be to go back to sleep; if the contractions woke me again, and became regular, I should call her. 

I went back to bed and lay there, clinging to Aaron. He asked if I was okay, and I told him about the contraction. "I'm scared," I said. 

He answered, "You've done this before."

"I don't think we're ready."

"We're ready... Do you think it's happening now?"

"I don't know. Brielle said to go back to sleep." 

"Okay." (Snore.)

I lay awake for a while, my mind racing, trying to breathe slowly and calm down, prepare for the next contraction, which never came. Instead, baby kicked around in my belly and I eventually fell asleep. 

I'm surprised by my response to that contraction. I've been feeling totally ready for labor, and actually looking forward to it, even to the pain. But it was the pain that panicked me. Being awaked was probably a part of that -- I was just sort of disoriented -- but I think that contraction was a bit of a wake-up call in more ways than one, a reminder that labor pain is... seriously intense. Having had a chance to process that brief encounter with real pain, however, the kind of pain that's all-absorptive while it's happening, that shakes a room, I now really DO feel ready. I'm grateful for that little warm-up. I know I'm going to experience pain, and likely fear. But I'm not going to run away from either experience. (Because of the type of blood thinner injections I'm on, too, I don't even have the option of an epidural, even if I were to freak out and think I needed one.) Instead, I'm going to walk into this. That, after all, will be the only way through. 

As far as feeling different goes, my midwife texted me yesterday to check in. She said to call her any time if I get spooked, but the go-to game-time rule remains regularity, with intensity. I said again that I wonder if I'll second-guess it, when labor's real, because of these warm-ups, because things feel different already. She texted back, "You'll know."

 
 
Baby O turned full-term yesterday, which means this rocket could launch just about any time! (But probably not for a couple more weeks.)
And, while I'm behind on posting, I am T-minus two hours away from finishing up my summer work and waddling (did you notice in the above photo that I can barely stand up? Thank god for vintage Ford pickups to lean on! I'm lucky in that I have only gained about 11 pounds -- I rocked the basketball-baby carry when pregnant with Kaspar, too -- but I'm pretty sure the center-of-gravity situation has reached a point of impossibility...)  right into maternity leave. I.e. kiddie pool + coconut water mocktails + do-not-disturb sign around my neck. I am such a happy lady! And I'll get right on the posting thing. Have a wonderful weekend! xo Taylor Alt-Mama
 
 
We're in the middle of Kaspar's two-week summer break right now. (His Montessori school has a summer camp through most of the season.) I was hoping to be finished with all of my work at this point (sooooo ready, omg), and while I've stopped massaging -- it just became impossible to go on, physically speaking -- I still have some work for my university job that I need to wrap up. I don't want to be doing it; I've worked a TON this summer and I want to call it good, but I'm staying focused and keeping my eye on the prize. It's a pretty sweet prize, too: I'm going to take six months to stay home with baby boy numero dos. SIX MONTHS. I got a new professional blogging gig (to be announced SOON) that I'll be rocking three times a week beginning in September, so I'll be doing that during my baby leave, but otherwise I have lots of flexibility around massage, and my UT job will basically be in its slow season until February, when things pick up again. While this summer has been hot, and in many ways -- honestly -- kind of hard, the timing of new baby's arrival couldn't be better. Assuming he arrives on schedule, that is. Anything could happen. My belly is HUGE. And I'm having lots of contractions, which had me panicked at first, but my midwife says this is normal for second pregnancies. I suspect the little beansprout might show up sooner than we all think. Of course there's really no telling about that, and I'll be actually done with my work in a couple of weeks, so whatever happens will be just fine. Do your thing, little one; we're ready when you are. (Almost.)

In the meantime, I've been relegating all work stuff to nap times during Kaspar's break; it may be hotter than hell outside and I may be enormously pregnant, but I've approached this short spurt of 24/7 parenting as our little 'last hurrah'. As in, it's kind of our last unstructured time for just the two of us. Of course, I'll make alone time with Kaspar a regular priority when babyman arrives, but there's no question it'll be harder to come by, and our daily routine is about to change. Significantly. Forever. So we've been kickin' it "Mama-Kaspar Camp" style and soaking in the summer fun, sans baby brother just yet. 
So what does Mama-Kaspar Camp entail? I had to go to campus to get some stuff updated on my laptop early in the week. I brought Kaspar along, and after the boring computer part, we met up with Aaron -- who's settling into his new job there (I am so proud of him!) -- and fed berries and bananas to turtles in the turtle pond. It was sweet to the max. It also took up most of a morning and yielded a nice long nap later on... after we swung by a baby/maternity consignment shop on the way home and picked up a co-sleeper, too. (Kaspar's still at that age where he actually enjoys running errands.) It's the kind that goes right in bed with us, mostly to prevent us from rolling over on the baby... Rather than to prevent the baby from going anywhere. (I know the knowledgeable people say that animals -- including humans -- have been sleeping with their babies forever, and that instinct prevents a parent from rolling over on a newborn, but I don't totally trust myself under the influence of sleep deprivation.) We also have one of these, for naps, backup night options, or whatever. Kas has been sleeping in the 'big bed' with us a lot lately, so we had a little conversation during our drive about, well, some of the upcoming changes. Namely, there's going to be a baby in the bed, and Kas may want to graduate back to his own bed in the name of actually sleeping. He's slept in his own bed for months at a time in the recent past; I'm not sure how we fell out of that habit, and I may kick myself for my lenience right now, but I'm frankly loving co-sleeping with him again, too. (See above re: last hurrah.) So whatever. We know (well) from experience that family sleep configurations with babies and small kids require some flexibility and often present unexpected challenges -- and unexpected solutions. I'm not stressing it. We'll figure it out. 
Day Two: Kaspar and I joined forces with some good friends, a mom and daughter duo, and got our art appreciation on at the Blanton Museum. My New York museum snobbery didn't stand a chance in that place; the collection was super impressive, and it was a pretty kid-friendly place, as these things go. (We were only reprimanded twice, for touching sculptures and running through the galleries. What can you do.) It was the kids' first art museum experience -- Kaspar's been to the Museum of Natural History in NYC, which was all about the dinosaurs -- and they soaked it in. I want to go back so I can linger in a few places we, well, didn't linger in, but the quick trip worked well for the kiddos this time around. 
Kaspar had a fever on Wednesday. Bummer dudes. He'd been quite congested for about a week, and suffered a few bloody noses; I'd suspected he was developing a sinus infection. I broke out the saline nasal spray and the Nose Frieda, but I was too late on that train. His fever went up to 102.5 and stayed there longer than I liked. I took him to the pediatrician and he was given antibiotics. They helped almost immediately. I've been giving him tons of probiotics, too, and so far his eczema hasn't flared. It always, always has in the past when we've had to turn to antibiotics, so I'm pretty encouraged that I got on that train in the nick of time. I have a friend who's quite skilled with essential oils, and -- next month (waiting on a paycheck) -- I plan to purchase a diffuser and some oils for Kaspar's room. The fall is always a bad season for him, allergy wise, which is especially unfortunate because the weather is finally hospitable to sustained outdoor play, beginning in about mid-September. Kaspar has asthma attacks, though, a few times a week during the autumn months -- then none throughout the rest of the year. I've got an arsenal of homeopathic allergy remedies at the ready, and am hoping that between those, and the essential oils, we can combat the onslaught of ragweed (etc.) that knocks most of Austin on its ass each Autumn. I'll let you know how it goes. For now, though, my boy is feeling much better, and we were back in business by Thursday morning, bright and early. Thank you, modern Western medicine. Yes, I did just say that. There's a time and a place for everything, y'all.
Did I mention how HOT it is outside right now? It's actually too hot to be outside for any semi-serious length of time. It makes me nervous about the future of our species on this planet, cuz, guess what: the earth is heating up, and this is gonna be more and more normal in more places than just Texas. In any case, I try to put that out of my mind (since denial seems to be working so well for most of us on this subject) and come up with ways to cope with cabin fever instead. We did have to cope a bit this week, to be sure. But we coped well! We played a lot of Candyland, colored, read books, built things with Legos, and, when we couldn't take being indoors anymore, filled up the kiddie pool and got naked. Both of us. Ahhhhh! Splashing around naked in a plastic pool with his mom is definitely one of those things Kaspar will no longer be into when he gets just a bit older than he is now; I feel this poignant sense of time's passage with this pregnancy, I guess, because I found this activity extra sweet this year. As soon as Kaspar got into the water he was ecstatically happy, and he burst into hysterical laughter when I splashed him (and when he splashed me). There is so much joy in simple things, and that is, in itself, a reason for daily celebration. 
On Friday, we hit up the library, and, once home again, painted our nails. (Kaspar's sporting a charming sky blue hue, above.) I don't get to do that very often these days, since I usually cut my nails daily to keep them short enough for massaging. And I definitely don't get to paint my nails unless Kaspar gets his painted, too, which is why it's a group activity. But this mama's on baby-leave, y'all, and I'm fine with sharing the fun, so my nails are now glossy and coral-colored (as is one of Kaspar's Thomas toys, which happened to get painted, too...), and I've been admiring them, well, plenty. 

Next week is Mama-Kaspar Camp week two. Which means I'd better get on my game and find some fun outings and activities happening here in town, and also brainstorm some new indoor-play ideas so we can finish this thing strong! Any suggestions? What are you and your kids up to this summer? What kind of fun activities do you do to make the most of your time together?
 
 
PictureWhey, awaiting pickling projects.
Ever since successfully pulling off fridge pickles, I've been meaning to step it up a notch and make some real, lacto-fermented pickled foods. The healthy micro-organisms these foods introduce into the digestive system bestow numerous benefits, and Americans don't consume nearly enough (if any, for most of us) of them. We're seriously missing out; pickled ginger carrots, pickled radishes, and legit pickled cukes make for mouth-watering condiments that do a gut -- and thus a body -- good. As it happens, cultivating and maintaining a healthy, well-balanced flora party in my gut (and, um, other places) is a big priority for me during this pregnancy, as doing so has been shown to reduce the development of allergenic tendencies like food allergies, eczema and asthma in babies. 

I also, as you know, just like to eat pickles.

The Nourishing Traditions cookbook boasts lots of easy-to-follow recipes for lacto-fermented foods; most of these recipes require the use of whey in the fermentation process. I decided to make some whey while I worked this morning; I used raw milk yogurt to do so. (Like yogurt, making whey really doesn't require much active involvement once the process has begun.) I simply placed two layers of cheesecloth in a metal strainer over a large ceramic bowl, and spooned a generous amount (maybe three or four cups) of yogurt onto the cloth. I covered this with a plate and left the whole thing alone for about five hours. The whey dripped through the cloth into the bowl. It'll keep for months in the fridge. (Only a few tablespoons at a time are required for pickling recipes.) Meanwhile, the cream cheese that was left in the cloth -- whey making's by-product -- completely stole the show. 

I will never buy store-bought cream cheese, which is highly processed and doesn't offer up any healthy belly-boosting bacteria, again, because it also pales in comparison to the fresh stuff in terms of taste and texture. I can't quite describe the awesome that is homemade cream cheese; you should definitely make some and discover the difference for yourself, though. Then mix in:

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used basil and parsley)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste


And you have yourself a delicious (and ridiculously easy) vegetable dip, sandwich spread, or snack. (Kaspar ate it straight, by the spoonful.)

I'll make some pickled ginger carrots and post about those, too, but for now I'm just so sold on the cream cheese that I felt I should share the magic with you. 

Have you made cream cheese, whey, or lacto-fermented foods of any kind? Tips and tricks? Other tasty flavor combinations? Let me know in the comments below!

 
 
 
 
In other baby news... Guess who's gonna have a home birth? This girl! More on that shortly!
 
 
Picture
One of my besties, who gave birth to her second baby eight weeks ago (at home! You're amazing, Erin!), showed up at my place with baby girl -- and smoothies -- in hand last week, as well as a huge bag o' new baby goods... Because she is somehow rocking the mom-of-two scene enough to get in the car and go places. With altruistic carry-on's. Round of applause very much in order. (I get no such applause as I hadn't even yet made it over to her place to visit her and meet said new baby, which is why she took the bull by the horns and came to me...) Anyway, it was a treat and a half to meet her sweet daughter, finally, outside the womb, and to sit and hang out for several hours, sipping on the smoothies and catching up after a very busy and semi-chaotic couple of months in both of our lives. (Both of our little boys were at school.) As for the baby, she breastfed pretty much the entire time, taking little naps here and there for a few minutes in between chow sessions. I asked Erin if that's how they usually roll, and she said it is; some people schedule set feedings with their infants, but she and her baby have gotten into a nice, all-day grazing rhythm, and it works for them. 

It was good for me to witness, as exclusively breastfeeding Baby O is a huge priority for me; given Kaspar's allergy situation, and what we all went through when he was a baby, I want to have full control over Baby O's diet, via my own; as I add foods into the mix, gradually, I'll be able to keep an eye on him for symptoms like eczema, and take note as I go. I'm hoping he's allergy free, of course -- it's as likely that he will be as he won't, so I'm making the proactively positive assumption that he will not be food-allergic -- but I feel so much more prepared this time around in the event that we do encounter any tell-tale signs. We won't be thrown into a tailspin again, following bad advice and worsening the problem, for months before we begin making it better, anyway. And exclusively breastfeeding will play a major role in helping me to keep everything in check. (Cybele Pascal, author of The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook, reversed both of her sons' severe food allergy symptoms while nursing them by adjusting her own diet accordingly.) Even without allergies to contend with, however, I just want, and plan, to breastfeed Baby O. It's cheaper, super convenient, and good for moms and babies -- and society at large -- alike. Although I breastfed Kaspar for a while, it didn't work out quite as I'd thought it would; there were a lot of factors involved in that, but as I read more about what makes for breastfeeding success (I'm reading Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding and Making More Milk), I've realized how many misconceptions I had, and how much misinformation I was given, the first time around, right from the beginning. For example, a nurse in the hospital where Kaspar was born told me he shouldn't still be hungry soon after nursing for forty minutes. What I should have been told was to keep my baby with me and just nurse like crazy, for, well, a good six weeks to get my supply -- and our own natural feeding rhythms --  strongly established, just like Erin and her baby are doing now. I'm planning on it for round two. Here are some additional steps I'm taking in support of that plan:
  • I've got two rock-star doulas on my birth team, both with breastfeeding expertise, and I'm planning on a natural, drug-free birth.
  • We're going to wait for the cord to stop pulsing before cutting it.
  • Baby O will be placed on me, skin-to-skin, immediately. He will not be given a bath. (He can be wiped down, but the smell of what's on him will actually stimulate his nursing instinct, and the arrival of my milk.) 
  • I'm going to request that Baby O is not taken to the hospital nursery at all, and instead that everything that would otherwise happen there happens in my room, with me.
  • Hep B vaccination? Not happening.
  • I'm renting a hospital-grade breast pump to take home with me. I really didn't love pumping the first time around -- does anyone? -- but that sucker's gonna get some serious use. (Another good friend has gifted me her hands-free pumping bra! It may not be sexy but it is going to make my life more awesome.)
  • I'm preparing a freezer full of GAPS (minus eggs and nuts) friendly food to keep myself well-fed. Some of it will come to the hospital with me, too. That'll just make things easier.
  • I'm going to consume my own placenta, in capsule form, courtesy of one of my doulas.
  • I'm going to let the baby nurse as much as he wants to. For as long as he wants to. Forty minutes is fine with me.
  • Baby O will not be circumcised.
  • I'm going to actually rest (and nurse a lot) during my maternity leave, rather than launching a new career or plotting to relocate half-way across the country. 

Looking back, although the food allergy stuff came out of nowhere and definitely affected my milk supply (major stress plus no sleep is no mas for booby milk), I realize that many of the things I thought were abnormal last time simply weren't. (Did you know it's normal for one breast to make more milk than the other? Or that pumping only a few ounces per sitting is par for the course, at first?) But because of what that nurse said, followed by some choice, discouraging words from the hospital pediatrician upon my discharge, I bought formula during Kaspar's first ride home, and supplemented from the start. That probably wasn't necessary. And it definitely didn't help. I'm a huge advocate of supplementation when it's needed -- breastfeeding isn't always successful as a standalone, and moms should definitely use whatever helpful means they can find to both feed their babies enough and to get as much mama milk as possible into that mix -- but I feel ready, this round, to give my boobs a fair shake before calling in backup. 

Anyway, here's to Erin and her sweet baby for bringing the reality of breastfeeding a newborn home -- literally -- for me. 

Now let's talk baby clothes, shall we? I was also reminded, by the bag of newborn-sized goods Erin generously brought with her, of how incredibly small new babies are, and of how fast they grow. I've long since passed along Kaspar's baby clothes, and definitely didn't have a stash of newborn onesies, socks, and little kimono-style snap-T's (gotta watch for that healing umbilical cord) anywhere in my home, or even on my mind. Now I have a super-cute stash! Erin included lots of plain white basics in her hand-me-down package, too; I knew as soon as I saw them that I'd be busting out the dye tub soon enough. And I did, a few days later. 

I left some of the white items alone, but dyed four onesies, four snap-T's, and a few cotton diapers, just for fun. Unlike my previous adventures in hand-dyeing baby goods, I didn't use the high-quality dyes; I just bought some Tie Dye powder -- it was at least non-toxic -- at Hobby Lobby and had at it, tying up a few of the items before dyeing, and dunking the others in unscrambled. The results are more neon than bold, but I like them! I then used a fabric marker to add some pro-booby flair to two of the onesies: the international breastfeeding symbol on one, and a "Boob Me" message on the other. (Get it? Like 'beer me'? But BOOB me? Yeah, you get it.) I wasn't at all sure how that'd turn out -- I didn't want it to appear as if I'd just scribbled on the respective items, all amateur-hour style -- so I printed both the symbol and the words from my computer, put the printed images into the onesies (i.e. between the front and back pieces of fabric), and then held the onesies up against sunlit windows to trace the designs before filling them in. This gave me cleaner outlines, and I actually love the sketchy, organic effect of the marker in the solid fill spaces. For all of the serious breastfeeding prep I'm reading and thinking about, these provided a fun little project for me to pour my positive intentions and expectations into. They're cheerful and cute and, I hope, will get the good booby-milk juju going when Baby O is born.

Do you like the onesies? Did you breastfeed? Did any of you have more success breastfeeding second babies after learning the ropes with your first? What do you think of my game plan? (Pretty thorough, right?) Anything else I should add? Leave a comment below!

 
 
Picture
The bossman, kickin' back on summer break.
Kaspar's had a week off from school, so I've taken a mostly-break (save for nap time bare-minimum inbox/paperwork maintenance) from all things work related and kicked back with him. Which has actually kept us pretty busy. My college bestie Chelsea arrived in town on Tuesday fresh outta San Fran; I hadn't seen her since she was in my wedding almost four (woah) years ago. We all had fam-style fun by day: riding the Zilker Zephyr, going to story time at the library, hitting the playground, and so forth, and then, when evening arrived, went out for local eats and some low-key just-girls touristing. 

It was fun to see Austin through a visitor's eyes. It reminded me that we live in an accessible, fun, laid back and in many ways even pretty little city. It has its downsides -- totally insufficient public transportation, year-round seasonal allergies, serious summer heat, Texan politics -- but they're not deal-breakers. Its sights, smells, tastes and sounds all add up to a local flavor that's complex enough to hold your interest without being overwhelming. Chelsea felt very welcome, and I felt right at home. Which, three years in (and in a non-permanently committal kind of way), feels just about right. 
Picture
Downtown ATX at dusk, from the South side of the river.
Meanwhile, I have about three and a half months of pregnancy left to go. Things have been running really smoothly around our place; it feels like the experimental phase of family life is over and and the hard part's officially behind us. We're looking forward to welcoming babyman, even if a lot has to happen before then and some life-things remain in the air. Outside of this week 'off,' I'm kind of taking the summer a day at a time; I have a lot of work ahead of me before September hits and my belly's pretty serious; I'd love to just sit in the kiddie pool with some coconut water for the remaining months before then, but that's just not in the cards. A day at a time, however, makes the reality much more doable. Aaron's been in a hardcore job search for over two months, and it's yielded several good bites but nothing solid as of yet. He's been doing some landscaping to tide the time over, but it's getting hot (HOT) already and that's brutal work... even if it is with a cool organic, local business. That said, and being careful not to jinx it, he's over halfway through a four-stage qualification/interview process that would open a new and promising door for him -- and thus us -- if it works out. We both want it badly for a million reasons, but it's in no way guaranteed, and right now we're just waiting to find out if he's moved on to the final round. I'm proud of him, regardless, for exploring new territory. 

I've kind of let go of worrying about how everything should all come together (and mostly worrying that it won't) into a place of trusting that it will... and not worrying. Instead of selfishly wishing for one thing or another, I'm thus able to appreciate what my partner's going through -- as well as what he does around here, which includes maintaining a pretty even-keeled positive attitude and fathering like a pro -- and I wish his well-deserved victories upon him for the sake of his own happiness, in and of itself. My own shift in perspective has contributed to us functioning more collaboratively and generously toward each other in general; my experience has not been lost in the mix without my focusing on it all the time, and in fact Aaron's own decisions seem to account for it more consciously without my constantly pushing my own agenda. Our work/life balance, as a couple, has long been a (really our only) source of some tension, and, oddly enough, it feels like this recent situation has brought us closer and resolved some of that. I look forward to reporting on some concrete resolution in his work arrangements soon, but for now am content with this moment of growth. Perhaps that's been the whole point of this thing showing up now, before baby makes four... I read somewhere that with new babies often come unforeseen opportunities and shifts, internal and external. This was certainly true for us back when Kaspar arrived, and I feel things moving in those mysterious ways once again. 

June 15, UPDATE: Aaron got the job! HOORAY! Life continues to be cray cray this summer, but it's a serious load off knowing we can now not only afford my maternity leave, but that I can take it at whatever pace suits baby et moi, and that Aaron has new, exciting horizons ahead of him. Meanwhile, I'm amazed at the incredible love and support of our community of friends and fam, and at the synchronicity of our universe. It all comes together just perfectly sometimes. (Even if the good stuff occasionally keeps you waiting for longer than you'd prefer.)
Picture
Last time I saw Chelsea, Kaspar was rounding the first trimester bend in my belly... Now these two are totally buds.
 
 
I've been so focused, these past several months, on getting through the daily grind that I haven't been feeling particularly creative. It's happened before -- there are certain rhythms to these things, and sometimes life itself just demands a lot of immediate attention -- so I wasn't worried about it; I knew I'd hit an inspired spell (slash hormonal surge?) sooner or later. I always have a running list of projects I plan to tackle, and Operation New Baby is a fun one: I'm coming up on my third trimester now, too, so nesting to the tune of setting up the baby's space -- hanging his hammock, framing wall art and perhaps even purchasing some kind of rocking chair -- will not be entirely pre-emptive. In fact, setting up shop in this way will be helpful and necessary, and now, at five and a half (thereabouts) months pregnant, I've finally, as of sometime last week, felt newly energized to do so. Or at least to begin... If not with something necessary, exactly, then with something really personal and fun: A blanket for Baby O! (Yep, we've chosen a name, and will tell you the rest of its letters when little man arrives.) 
I've made a bunch of baby quilts over the past year. I still don't really know how to do much with my sewing machine beyond sewing forwards and backwards, though. Quilts are actually doable within these limited parameters, so I think they're kind of my baby gift 'thing,' even if I swear future renditions off whenever I finish my latest one. (I'm not a patient person, so sewing is a weird hobby to have picked up.) But I'm always drawn back to the fun of fabric-pairing and the satisfaction of seeing a little quilt through to its final, finished stage, not to mention gifting it upon a little person who'll surely keep it for longer than, say, a wipe-warmer. 

It was fun to embark on this quilt knowing I'd be gifting it to my own little bundle, who's been kicking up a storm on the daily, thereby making his presence very much known indeed. (Omigosh, I can't wait to meet him.) I had some shiny-ish gingham fabric left over from my last project, and went rifling through the free-box outside of Austin's hippest fabric store/sewing school, Stitch Lab, in search of other great finds to include in my creation, earlier this week. The box can be a goldmine, but is ultimately hit or miss, and I didn't see anything that spoke to me, so I wandered inside... something I usually refrain from doing, knowing I'll likely spend a small fortune before leaving. As it happened, the store currently has upwards of ten bins filled with (generously sized and neatly cut) Quilt Con leftovers up for grabs, on the cheap-cheap, and I went a little hog wild... without breaking the bank. It was meant to be. 
I love the fabrics I walked out with. I chose the contrasting patters shown above on the left for the back of the quilt, which I sewed into two large panels. The mod guitar print, and green and blue stripes, compliment the gingham for the main front section, with a fun gray/white/red wavy number as a border on opposite ends. (I'd have rocked the border all around, but my quilt was looking more rectangular at that stage than I liked, so I squared it off instead.) I chose the layout as a change of pace from patchwork -- all of my previous quilts have been of the latter variety -- and this ended up working in my innately-impatient favor; sewing together larger rectangles, rather than countless, smaller squares, was WAY faster when it came to assembly, my least favorite part. (Not only because actually sewing is time consuming, but also because so many things can go wrong... it's more stressful than playing with color.) And I don't think the finished product smacks of slackerdom, either. I'm really happy with the results. 
Everything came together without a hitch in the sewing process, too; I didn't have to undo any work, and I didn't sew anything face down or anything like that. My bobbin did run out of thread near the end, at which point I called my friend Jenn -- who'd sold me the machine when she upgraded -- and she walked we through the re-load over the phone. (She's awesome like that.) Then she came over with her two littles later in the day, to hang out and play; I busted out my masterpiece and her new baby, Big T, modeled it for me, as per the above pic. He approves.
Picture
Kaspar and Lil' J make Big T smile. Cute explosion.
So I'm back in the groove, ready to start making our place really truly baby-ready. (Jenn and I even set up a new bouncer I've kept in its box since purchasing, for Big T to break in. Now there's a bouncer in our living room and Baby O's impending arrival is feeling very real.) I should probably get some work done in the remainder of this week -- cuz, yeah, I pretty much spent an entire workday creating this quilt -- but my list is calling to me, and I have big plans in store. Stay tuned!

How do you like Baby O's blanket? What are some fun projects you did/are doing while in nesting mode? Was five months a magically re-energized point in pregnancy for any of you, too? What are your favorite things to make for new babies?