Tuesday, June 30, 2015

We have settled in nicely at the new house.  I've been busy making curtains which is a job I usually despise but now I am enjoying it.  Like really enjoying it.  Go figure!  I can't find the pictures right now-- they must be still on Brent's phone.  But I have the family room, Archie's room and Margot's room done.  I reused curtains for the playroom and my bedroom so they just needed hemmed.  And I am working on my sewing room curtains that used to hang in the dining room.  I am lining them since my sewing room does not have heat or air conditioning!

The school year is over and looking back it's been quite a year.  We welcomed Archie into our family and he has been such an enormous blessing and joy.  But I also struggled with terrible anxiety and insomnia two symptoms so common in Post Partum Depression.  Which by the way, I think is a horrible name for the condition.  Most women I know who have suffered PPD do not experience classic depression symptoms so it's very confusing.  The vast majority of women experienced it just like I did.  Overwhelming anxiety and insomnia.  Not fun!  But I am currently weaning off my medicine and I am excited to be off of it completely and put this all behind me.  Nobody likes taking medicine but I recognize I needed it then but now I feel so much better.  Unfortunately coming off anti depressants is an annoying process in itself one which you must wean yourself from the medicine slowly.  It takes patience but it is so important to do it right.  So far so good.  I don't have a time frame when I want to be completely off of it. I am just really trusting I will know when to dose down again.

Here are some pictures from the past couple of months.

Moving day!  Look at Margot's face!  It took two trucks and all day for the movers to move us.  We had wonderful movers.  Other highlights of the day:  We almost caught a pizza box on fire on moving day but the movers are the one prevented a full on fire.  Yikes!   It also ended up raining complete with thunder and lighting.  They had to bring the piano around the house which means down a wet, muddy, grassy hill into the basement that way.   And I was so thankful we payed people to move us this time!  Too old for that!

Archie enjoying a bath in the kitchen sink.  

The kids waiting for the bus at the top of our driveway.

Moving so far from the city means we need another car. So after closing on the house on Friday, on Monday we bought a minivan!  Haha something I thought we'd never do!

My beautiful kitchen.  I can look out in the trees and watch the birds.  This is one of my new favorite activities.  I feed the birds like they are my babies. 

Sweet boy finally has his own room.  

We are slowly decorating the house and making it our own.  We got some new furniture!

Enjoying the deck- playing and eating outside

It's so gorgeous here. 

Brent's had a bit of adjustment with a much longer commute.  By car now, not by bike!

I am spending so much of my time gardening.  I think in this picture I had just finished working in the yard.  With nearly an acre, I have a lot of work.  But it's work that I LOVE.  I always wanted to live on a farm... 
I love being outside and working hard.  I am expanding garden beds, removing shrubs, pruning bushes, planting flowers and dreaming of watching these gardens grow.  We have begun to clean out the woods behind the house.  That is going to be a huge job but one that I am excited about.  I am so drawn to the woods.  It's so beautiful and peaceful there.  But right now it's a mess.  The previous owner dumped his wood working scraps back there.  There are some dead trees and some rather large dead limbs on other trees.  And some brush growing.  I'd like to just clear it out a bit.  Make a path and line it with some of the gorgeous stone that is here that I keep finding as I did. I'd like to encourage some ferns to grow in the woods too.  I love ferns so much.   

Archer loves it here too.  He loves to be outside.  He is my boy!

Shadow loves it here.  She gets so much exercise!  I want another dog.  Don't tell Brent!

Monday, March 30, 2015


In a little more than a week we will be moving from our beloved home.  We lived here for 14 years. It was our first home.  But it was much more than that.  This house was nearly condemned when we bought it.  We were young and stupid and had no idea what we were getting into.  Pretty much everyone in my family helped "fix up" this house one time or another.  My brother and my father the most.  But also my sisters.  Helping me paint or make curtains or giving me decorating advice.  So many memories.  A couple of years ago we tried to sell this house but we just couldn't do it.  So many memories. So much love and work into this home.

But having Archie and postpartum depression/anxiety and insomnia changed everything.  First most obviously, we had another baby.   All of a sudden in a big way this house didn't work anymore.  With my kids being so spaced apart getting them outside to play was hard.  Margot comes home from school and wants to play outside but we have to pick Grace up from Drama in 30 minutes.  There is no time to go to the park.  And our yard is a muddy mess right now.  Archie is so bored and going outside to swing would be the best thing for him but there is no place to hang a baby swing.  Grace wants to practice volleyball or do cartwheels and there is just not enough room.  Besides that nothing is on the same floor in my house.  First floor has the kitchen and living room but no bathroom.  Second floor has the playroom and family room but is far from the kitchen.  And of course bedrooms are on the third floor. I find myself doing the stairs ALL DAY LONG.  While that's great exercise it's really inconvenient and annoying.

So we knew it was time to sell. Plus in a couple of years Grace will be in highshcool and there are just no good options for highschool here in the city.  SO all of sudden selling this house was no longer hard or scary in the way that it was. Do you want to know why?  Because I know what scary really is.   Scary is not being able to sleep despite being exhausted caring for a newborn and having only slept a couple of broken hours the day before.  Scary is fighting horrific nonspecific anxiety.   Scary is dreading your newborn waking up from a nap because you know you have to nurse him and that has been a giant struggle.

Having my first c/section was a traumatic experience for me both physically and emotionally.  It took me a long time to fully process that.  But in the end I have taken so much strength and power from that experience.  It's why I started to run.  It was the inspiration for my two Rachel Carson hikes.  So I am still processing the PPD.  But I hope to draw a lot of strength from this experience.   I belong to an online support group for PPD and that has been so enormously helpful.  Now I am there for the Moms just beginning their treatment.  It's nice to give back in that way.  While I don't feel 100% recovered.  I am still on meds after all.  I feel pretty damn close.

After starting the meds and getting to my theraputic dose I was so grateful to feel like myself again.  I felt grateful and happy for a long time.  But within the past month I have been feeling angry that I had this experience.  Brent and I wanted Archie for A LONG time.  And I had a lovely pregnancy despite several scares.  The girls were SO excited I was pregnant.  I was working part time.  And I had a lot of time to rest and prepare for his birth.  Sewing and knitting.  A baby was never so wanted or loved before.  He finally came.  And there was anxiety during his birth when he breathed in some amniotic fluid.  He needed to be worked on for about 30 minutes before I could see him.  That caused me a lot of anxiety.  But I finally held him and I cried tears of joy.  When the girls met him for the first time again I cried tears of joy.

The hospital stay was not as restful as I would have liked.  But the day I went home from the hospital was lovely warm sunny day. As I walked out of the hospital with my new baby I laughed out loud at going home with my new baby.  I was no longer pregnant.  I was so so happy to be going home.  Sleeping in my bed the first night was heavenly.  My hospital bed was so uncomfortable.

Things were going well.  He was a gentle nurser.  Fussier at night.  Didn't want to co sleep.  But I was managing.  Until he went to his one appointment and he had only gained one ounce in 5 or 6 days.  I think he was 11 days old.  That's when it all started.  The anxiety, the worry.  The sleeplessness.  In one way I can see how anxiety was a pattern in my life.  But in another way this anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks.

So I was pissed off that this happened to me.  That we struggled so intensely. But with that anger also came acceptance. They say healing from PPD is similar to going through the stages of grief.  PPD happened.  It sucked.  But I got through.  Bringing  a baby into the world is not always easy or magical.  I was blessed with a healthy baby and family that loves one another.

There is this element of PTSD to PPD.  You think it's going to come back.  I felt like I had a black cloud BEHIND me.  And I was fearful it would catch up to me.  But going through this anger/acceptance stage has helped me no longer feel that PTSD.  I feel defiant towards the PPD.  I don't know how else to explain it.  But I know it's a positive thing.  Recovering from PPD/A and insomnia is unwieldy.  You don't just take some anti depressants or anti anxiety meds and carry on your merry way.  It's this process of ups and downs which is probably the most frustrating aspect of it all.  It's not just climbing up a hill.  It's really a lot like the Rachel Carson hike.  Up and down lots of hills for many miles.  It's learning new coping skills.  It's developing confidence again.  It's trusting yourself that you will be well again.

PPD has taught me a lot.  I am not sure though the suffering was worth the lessons I learned.  But life doesn't work like that. You don't get to pick.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Life is Crazy

Just when I thought things were going to finally settle down and I could even get some sewing done, Brent and I decided it was time to put our house on the market.  I've written a lot about our house in the past.  We have a love/hate relationship with it.  With the addition of Archer, we knew it was time to move.  Somehow one little baby made us realize this house no longer worked for our family anymore.  Although it is certainly big enough, it just doesn't work.  Everything is on a different floor and I find myself doing the steps dozens of times a day.  That's really been great for my legs, they look great.  But it's super inconvenient and tiring.   We have no yard.  With three kids so spaced out, the kids are getting outside less and less.  It's just so much harder to take them out to the park for example Archie still naps two and three times a day.  And probably most importantly, we need good public schools close by.  Grace will be in high school in a couple of years and we just can't afford private school tuition for all three kids.

So we put our house on the market and it sold in one day!  We had two offers in one day. So crazy.  And the house we fell in love with before we even listed our house we still available and had dropped in price. We made an offer and got it!

Moving day is tentatively April 10th!  And I can't wait.  We are still working out some minor details with the home inspections and such but hopefully everything will continue to go as smoothly as it has so far.

We really like the couple buying this house and liking them has made this whole process easier.  They love the house and what we've done to it.  They love the neighborhood and had been searching for a house in this neighborhood for sometime.  It's the smallest neighborhood in the city so not a lot of houses go up for sale that often.  Anyhow they have lots of plans for this house and I am so excited for them.

The house we are in the process of buying is only 30 years old!  And modern in design.  But I love it.  I didn't think I would but I do.  The piece of land it sits on is gorgeous.  It has a deck, a hot tub and a two car garage .

So now I am dreaming of fabric for curtains and new furniture and making new memories at the new house.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sewing for Archer

I never sewed for a baby before.  When Grace and Margot were babies I sewed rarely.   I have been having fun sewing for Archie.  I generally like baby clothes you can buy at the stores so I only have been sewing the things that I can't buy at the stores for whatever reason.  Though this boy is growing so fast he is already in 12 month old clothing (he's only 5 1/2 months old) and in some stores 12 months is in the toddler section!!!  I am not ready for him to be in toddler clothes.  So grown up.  So I may have to sew him more of his clothes so he still looks like the baby he is.

Archer isn't used to always having his photo taken.  Often times he gets distressed when I pull out the camera.

This is Simplicity 2347

I made him a vest to wear to the Reindeer ball using the Oliver and S pattern.  But when I saw this pattern I knew I needed to make him another special outfit.  I was hoping to get this done by Christmas and I did.  So he wore this to Christmas Eve Mass.  I made him a matching hat that barely fit.  

Very hard to get a good picture of all three of them!

He looks tired here.  

Pants are Simplicity 2291

I liked these because they are footed pants.  The girls think they look like pajamas.  I like them because when it's cold out I can layer a pair of socks underneath.  And when I take him out of the house I don't have to worry about his pant leg riding up and exposing his bare skin.  It can get really cold here.  With windchills in the negatives so dressy warmly is important.

This photo cracks me up.  He loves tummy time. 

The jacket is from the Oliver and S Lullaby Layette pattern.  I made it with sweatshirt fleece and lined with knit.  I have another jacket planned already.  In flannel this time.  

He wore this with a red long sleeved shirt I bought.  Very warm outfit!

This is the second sleep sack I made.  The first one was sleeveless.  But now that we are in the coldest part of winter he needed one with sleeves.  The ones you buy at the store are one size fits all.  Well they don't fit him.  So this one is really big and cozy.  Again, made out of sweatshirt fleece.  I also made a hat to wear to bed on really cold nights.  

This is the vest.  It was a lot of fun to make.  I used baby cord.  Sorry for the poor photo.  It's from my phone.  

This outfit was made from a double micofleece.  The dark blue is the one side and the light blue is the other side.  I wore this on him to go for walks when it was chilly.  So this outfit went over his clothes.  This is Simplicity 1546
These are the pants to the Lullaby Layette pattern in 3-6 months.  A bit big here.  He was just little here.  
I made this before he was born.  The body suit to the Lullaby Layette pattern in the 0-3 size.  He was so tiny here.  But he grew so fast.  I think he was only able to wear this a couple of times before he grew out of it.  

And how could I forget the baptismal gown?  I will have to post that another day.  

I think I remembered everything.  Not pictured is another sleep sack (not that thrilling haha) and that hats I made him.  But I think that's everything else.  I have some more things lined up.  But first something new for me to wear.  I can't seem to lose the last 10 pounds.  It's frustrating.  So I am trying to accept my new body size/shape for now and make myself a few new things.  I spend most of my days in sweatshirts and yoga pants but occasionally I do like to dress up haha.  Caring for babies is so messy.  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Snowflake Dress

One of my most favorite things to sew are dresses especially dresses for special occasions.  It's best to have some sort of inspiration.  For this dress I knew I wanted to make a winter dress and I wanted to use the Hide and Seek pattern from Oliver and S.  Originally I wanted to use a velvet or wool as the main fabric.  But when I got to the fabric store I was not impressed with the selection of both. 

So the winter dress became the Snowflake dress when I found the snowflake fabric in the quilting section of the store.  I matched it with a solid blue broadcloth.  I picked up some  of the tulle, the buttons and the trim.  Originally I was just going to use the tulle on the front of the dress like an apron but once I did that I realized I needed to do the entire dress.

I went back to the fabric store and they didn't have anymore left.  I barely had enough.  I sewed the two layers (broadcloth and tulle) together.  

I added the pom pom trim because it reminded me of snowballs and added about 20 snowflake buttons to the hem of the dress and the bodice.  

The dress was itchy so we put one of Margot's school blouses underneath it and I love the look.  It's cold here in Pennsylvania at Christmas so it gave Margot extra warmth.  She wore heavy white tights and a sliver bow in her hair.  The dots on the tulle are silver.  

Margot loved it and so do I! 

Grace's dress was bought from Aeropostale.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

So it's been awhile

I don't even know where to begin.  My last post, I announced Archie's birth.  I was so happy to finally meet this boy we waited so long for.  The day I came home I was so happy.  The hospital stay seemed long and not as restful and going home to my own bed felt amazing.  I was finally home with my new baby.  I felt great.  Physically, this was the best I felt after a c-section.  All seemed well.  Until Archie was 11 days old and we went to the doctor's where we learned he wasn't gaining weight fast enough.  I was shocked to say the least.  After breastfeeding the girls, for three years each, I was confident in my ability to nurse a baby.

But as it turned out I wasn't the problem.  For some reason Archie was not a good nurser.  And this, his not gaining weight and not nursing well, is what tipped me over the edge into postpartum depression.  My main symptoms were terrible anxiety, a sense of dread, and insomnia.  It was awful.  

Thankfully I got help pretty quickly. At 4 weeks postpartum I went on an anti depressant.  After a couple of weeks I was feeling a lot better.  And with the help of Trazodone I started sleeping better and better.  But August was a rough month and so was a lot of September.  Brent, my Mom, my Dad, and my sisters were hugely supportive.  Without their support and help I wouldn't have gotten better as quickly as I did.    

I am pleased to say I feel like myself again and all is well.  Thankfully.  I am one of the lucky ones.  Some women suffer terribly with PPD.  There is so much more I want to say on this entire topic.  But I think I need some more distance from it before I can write about it.  

One of my favorite quotes is from Albert Einstein:  "Out of clutter, find simplicity.  From discord, find harmony.  In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity."  

There is so much that I have learned from this experience.  

I learned how much I love Brent.  He was there for me totally and completely.  Our marriage vows were truly tested.  In sickness and health.  Mental illness is very scary.  But Brent never failed me.

I learned to ask for help.  I am an independent person who likes to do things herself.  But in this situation I needed a lot of help.  At one point all I could really manage to do was to feed Archie.  My parents came up several weeks to help me.

I learned that I am so much more than a pair of boobs to Archie.  Breastfeeding defined my parenting of a baby and toddler with the girls.  I nursed my babies for nutrition but also I nursed them to sleep.  I nursed them to comfort them and  to soothe them.  With Archie, after struggling to breastfeed for weeks, I finally decided to formula feed.  At the time, it broke my heart.  I had to learn how to parent a baby in a different way.  I couldn't just use my boobs to meet every need- to feed, comfort, soothe, and put to sleep.  I had to learn how to parent all over again and often time I felt like a first time Mom. In the end it all worked out well.  He is a happy healthy boy.  

Now, I am sewing again.  And knitting.  And working on needlepoint stocking for Archie.  Although it won't be done for Christmas but that is okay. 

I look forward to sharing some of the things I am working on now.  I can't wait to show you the outfit I am making Archie right now.  It's so cute!    

I'd also like to revisit some of these topics as well particularly PPD in regards to treatment of it.  I'd also like to write more about cultural belief that "breast is best" and how damaging that is for women who can't breastfeed.   

Thanks for reading.  I am glad to be back. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Archer William
July 28, 2014
9:08 am
8lbs, 14 oz
21 inches long