Friday, November 30, 2007

Dear Abbyblog,

I have a 9 1/2 year old son. Increasingly he is given to hair-trigger eruptions of anger and invective. He seems to feel slighted by the whole world and is moody.

Could this be the start of adolescence? Isn't 9 1/2 too young?

Any insight you could offer would be most appreciated.

--Anxious in Ann Arbor


Monday, November 26, 2007

Belated Blogiversary to Me

All month I was thinking the 30th was my blogiversary, but no. I peeked back at my November 2004 posts today and see that the 30th was (not surprisingly!) my LAST post of that month. The first, which I'd have seen if I'd bothered to scroll down a few months ago, was November 10.

So let me reflect for just a minute on what this blog has been for the past 3 years and 16 days.

I started this blog because I was a relatively new doula, fresh from my eigth doula birth. I had lots of birthly things in my head and no regular forum for venting them. I wanted to talk about birth things with other like-minded folks.

Coincidentially (or cosmically), my seventh doula client had a blog. I became a reader and fan. I began toying with the idea of starting my own blog. doulicia was born. (Actually "doulicia" was born when other former clients dubbed me that.)

It has been what I hoped it would be. I have written about, explored, challenged my thoughts on birth and reproduction.

For the (few) long-time readers who came for the birth content and have endured the increasing level of knitting content, I apologize. But I also think that trend isn't going to go away soon. Above all, a blog is about personal expression, not obligation. If I had to write only about birth, I'd stop doing it. I like it that I can write about both.

Plenty of other bloggers have written -- and far more eloquently than I could do -- about the changing relationship of an author to her blog (most recently January One). I won't repeat their sentiments. I'll only say that I plan to keep writing, I don't know what directions I'll head in, and I hope a few of you stick around for the ride.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Little Projects and Leftovers

Here are 3 quick projects I've been working on lately.

First, a korknisse. There will be more. I started a mate to this when another project got in the way. I'll be back to these because this one was so much fun.


Next, a fun little hat I made with some Briar Rose Fibers' Sonoma that I've had for over a year. Isn't it pretty?


And a gratuitious top view to show the richness of this perfect fall colorway. The pattern as such is just my own fiddling.

BRFHat top

Finally, some mittens I've decided to call "Leftovers." This is because they were knit from yarn left from other projects and because they have all the lackluster of yesterday's feast. My spouse kicked off his Thanksgiving vacation by losing his only pair of gloves. With a cold snap forecast and shopping off our radar for a few days, he lamented the cold hands he'd have until next week.

I surprised him (and myself) by whipping up some mittens -- my first ever. They took less than 48 hours to make. The first mitten is horrible. I made the thumb both too long (or too high?) in the gusset and too short in overall length. It's not so much a thumb casing as a backpack. Then I knit the finger length too short. My sweet spouse kindly said, "well the hand has a natural curvature." It sure does when it's curled into a too small mitt.

The second one (which I've placed on top for aesthetic reasons) went much better. I found out several places where I'd misread the pattern the first time and I trusted the pattern (Ann Budd's from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, a great investment) and my measurements more...both to positive effect.

leftover mittens

I've put the details about needles and yarn on ravelry (I'm "doulicia" there, too).

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007


For the support. Things are better this week.

  • The friend does not have breast cancer.
  • Our son has mellowed for a few days.
  • My blood test (for bruising -- I didn't even write about that I was so freaked out) came back fine. Well, not fine, but also not life threatening. At worse I have a mildly slow clotting reaction. More tests, but none that have me nauseated with worry).

My friend's marriage is still in a bad place; I still haven't heard from my client; there's no change with the sibling-in-law's father; and nothing can bring back our first son. But I feel I have much to be thankful for headig into tomorrow's holiday.

This includes a great time knitting with some friends last night, a cup of tea shared with T$ yesterday, the antibiotics that are evacuating strep from my younger son's system and plans for a meal tomorrow with just my spouse and two kids.

I hope to post some knitting F.O. and do some birthy writing as well.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007



Oh, right. I knit. Thankfully.

Among the things on my mental plate today:

  • a friend who goes to the doctor this weekend to learn if she has breast cancer (I learned this today).
  • another friend whose marriage is in a sad and shakey place (learned this Monday).
  • a sibling-in-law's parent who had a brain aneurism rupture 2 weeks ago and is in need of care at a facility during his recovery (and who, coincidentally, lives in Ann Arbor, so we have been enlisted in the facility search).
  • our older son's continuing "reactivity" to any sort of limits on his behavior, including a full-scale blowup last night that left 3 of us in or near tears. I am beginning to consider enlisting professional help and/or medication.
  • not hearing from a doula client who ended up scheduled for surgical delivery this week because of persistant breech. Is she just too busy to communicate with me or have I let her down in some way?
  • 11 years ago today I had the ultrasound that revealed our first son's developmental problems. The Thursday before Thanksgiving always has this sad association for me.
I'm also not particularly motivated at work. I don't know if this is SAD starting, or is related to all the above crap. Blech. No wonder my fingers are itchy for yarn...

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Black Apple Scarf

Even the simplest piece of knitting can have a story, right?

I'd love to say I whipped up this little scarf, but the truth is that I struggled mightily with it. Once I settled on a stitch pattern and dimensions it went very quickly. The settling, however, was another story.

Our friend who goes back long enough to have been the best man in our wedding and, before that, my spouse's tight pal through college, recently moved to New York. I wanted to give him a scarf as a moving present and he gave me the following scarf requirements:

-dark (black or brown) yarn
-air-tight knit
-four feet long

I was mulling it over when Little Knits had a half-off sale on Debbie Bliss Pure Cashmere. I did some on-line research for amounts and settled on 4 skeins (at $11/skein sale price).

I took these 4 skeins with me to Paris, planning to make the scarf en route. In fact I didn't even open my knitting bag until I'd been in France for 3 days (I was too busy doing this:
Sacre Cour Tarts
Melting Cheese Moulin Rouge).

Then I started swatching. My sister could not believe how many times I'd knit 3 inches worth of a pattern, decide I didn't like it, and rip all the way back. I ripped on the Metro, in cafes, in our room. I finally settled on the tried-and-true double moss stitch.

Then the question was how to maximize my yarn. I was knitting on size 5 needles to make a tight fabric. I started with 28 stitches cast on and knitted about 4 inches before realizing I'd used up half the skein already. So I ripped back and tried 24 stitches. This looked good for width and was using less yarn per row. I had a pattern and a width.

It was with this swatch I boarded the return flight. I knit my first ball of yarn and measured: 9 inches. I couldn't give this man a 3 foot scarf. Rip, rip, rip and rewind the ball. At least I was watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for distraction.

I cast on for the last time somewhere over the Canadian Maritimes. It's 20 stitches wide (about 4 inches) and 44 inches long. Not quite 4 feet, but better than 3. I'm hoping that the Cashmere and pretty stitch will compensate for the length.

Pattern: Double moss stitch over 20 stitches.

Yarn: 5 skeins Debbie Bliss Pure Cashmere in black.

Needles: Clover bamboo circulars, size 5.

Notes/Thoughts: This was my first experience with cashmere. It didn't do much for me. It was soft, yes, but it still irritated my neck a little bit. It also wasn't great for stitch definition, which I probably couldn't learned in advance with some better on-line research. Still, I'm pleased with the result and hope it will be a warm hug to our friend in the Big Apple.

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Friday, November 09, 2007


Ooooooh, I have me a yarn-buying itch somethin' bad.

It helps not one whit that a little insidious postcard arrived a few days ago from Chris at Briar Rose advertising her trunk show tomorrow. I just can't go or I'll exceed my stash limit (i.e. my closet, which is already packed to the gills).

For those of you in Ann Arbor with a similar yarn itch (or those who've not yet found the beauty that is Briar Rose Fibers), go to the open house:

Saturday, November 10
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
218 Pine Ridge St.
Ann Arbor

You will not be disappointed. This is a semi-annual show for women entrepreneurs in a variety of fields and products including truffles (to die for), jewelry, aprons, stuffed animals, and pastries. It's just a blast.

If you can't make it tomorrow, there'll be a repeat (same time and place) on December 15.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Birth Messages, Part II

Several of your comments on my last post raised a great point: there are GOOD birth stories out there. Thanks to those of you who shared yours.

Two of my own three birth stories are good ones.

Many of my clients have great birth stories.

I HATE it when people rush to tell pregnant women their birth horror-stories. So why so much negativity here?

One reason is the birth advocate in me can't let bad stories pass unnoticed. When women are being told their bodies can't labor, something is WRONG with our birth culture and with our attitude toward women generally.

Another reason is that I have self-imposed a ban on telling my client's birth stories here. The reason for that is long and painful. It is also one I have been wanting to tell when the time is right. I think it is right.

I will work on a post with that story. For now, know that I love happy birth stories. In fact, let me leave you with one:

A friend of my sister was expecting her first baby over the summer. At her baby shower she announced she was having a scheduled Cesarean section delivery. Then she pointed to my sister and said, "And don't you tell me what your sister would say. I don't care what's best for my baby or me. I am not going to feel that pain."

She didn't take childbirth classes. She planned her summer and her leave time around her surgery date.

Then her water broke 3 days before the surgery, she arrived at the hospital dilated to 5 centimeters, got an epidural, pushed out her 8 pound baby 3 hours later. The next morning she told my sister, "That wasn't bad at all. If I'd known that was all it would be, I wouldn't have been so scared and I'd never have scheduled surgery."

THAT is the message we need to share. This woman could be recovering from surgery now (or worse) just because she didn't know birth could be manageable!


Monday, November 05, 2007

Birth messages

Anyone who's given birth or worked with new mothers knows how open to suggestion we are at and around the time of delivery. Women who are told how strong they are, how well they are doing, that they CAN do this respond. And not only in labor. Birth satisfaction is positively linked with less postpartum depression, increased breastfeeding initiation and duration rates, and increased confidence about parenting abilities.

So why was a colleague of mine told after the Cesarean birth of her child, "You should never labor again. Your body is just not designed for it?"

The circumstances of the birth were that she had been leaking fluid for days but not having contractions. Her doctors brought her in to induce labor (she was maybe a few days overdue). Twice they tried cervadil, but the applicator wouldn't stay in place in the vagina.

Guesses anyone? What next? Yes, cytotec. Except, of course, as she described it, "then they tried this little pill." No explanation of what it was or what the risks might be.

Subsequently, she went from 2-10 centimeters in about an hour and a half, with them placing an epidural as she got the urge to push. Once the epidural was in place and she gave her first push, the baby's heart rate dropped to the 60s. I'm guessing this was a late decel because they took her immediately to the OR for her to try the next push. With this push, the heart rate fell again and did not recover, so they put the gas mask over her face and hurriedly cut the baby out.


I see lots of intervention -- merited or not, I cannot say. I see possible overreaction. I see a woman who, if anything, responded too well to induction.

Nothing in the story makes me think she couldn't or shouldn't try labor in the future. Except maybe that in their hurry to cut the baby out they compromised her uterus in some way that makes her at risk for VBAC?

It doesn't matter. She heard the message and considers herself defective now. She "can't" labor.

And apparently it doesn't matter that this is her second child and her first was born vaginally after a perfectly normal labor.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

doulicia's news from Paris

I did not expect an impulsive trip to Paris to have much birth content. I was wrong. Hype was building everywhere for the October 31 opening of a documentary, Le Premier Cri. I couldn't go through a Metro without seeing posters for the movie. And somewhere -- though I have no recollection of being anywhere there was a television -- I saw a trailer for it. Women around the world in the final days of pregnancy and then giving birth. I wish we'd been there one day longer and I could have seen it!

I will admit to being suspicious of the fact that it's a Disney release...

In catching up on news when I returned, I see that one study has confirmed what so many of us know: laboring in the hands and knees position is a good way to relieve back pain. Using the position late in pregnancy is not, apparently, influential in turning a posterior baby. The researchers did not reach any conclusions on the position's usefulness turning posterior babies in labor.

And in other news, amniotomy (or AROM or intentionally breaking a woman's water) was found NOT to be effective in reducing labor time. However,
[t]he report, published Oct. 17 in The Cochrane Reviews, did find that the procedure might be associated with an increase in Caesarean sections and a reduced risk of a lower reading on the Apgar scale, which rates the baby’s condition at birth. But neither finding was statistically significant. [emphasis added]

The C-section link is worth exploring more, don't we think? And regardless, spread this word from the study's lead investigator:

We advise women whose labors are progressing normally to request their waters be left intact. There is no evidence that leaving the waters intact causes any problems, and there is not sufficient evidence to suggest any benefit to either themselves or their baby.

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