Saturday, November 3, 2018

James's Birth Story

James is already four months oldI thought I should write his birth story before I forget all of the details. 

Around 37-38 weeks I had a bit of false labor, I had mild contractions for 3 or 4 days. I kept thinking they would ramp up and they never did, it was super annoying and made me anxious. Once they stopped my uterus was actually sore, it felt like I had done an intense ab work out, my whole pregnancy had been so easy till that weekend of false labor. I was done! I just wanted to meet my little (or not so little) boy.  

I tried to stay busy, I went to lots of MOMS Club activities. RJ and I took Rosalie and Heather to their first movie at the theater, we saw Incredibles 2, they had so much fun! I tried to finish up the housework, and get laundry, and shopping done. Heather came down with a cold of some sort just a few days before my due date, she had a fever for a few days so I took her to the pediatrician to make sure it wasn’t anything serious. They did a strep test because they had had a few local cases, luckily it was negative. Heather seemed to be getting better and that was a bit of a relief.  

My due date was Saturday, June 30th. Earlier that week I saw my Midwife, I had her check me and strip my membranes. My cervix was still very high and not very dilated. On Wednesday the 27th I started having more contractions that felt similar to the false labor I had a few weeks before. I decided to go to bed and try to sleep through them.  

Around 3 am I could not sleep through my contractions anymore, I snuck downstairs and did my best to not wake up RJ. I wanted to make sure he got a good amount of sleep, I knew I could handle early labor on my own and if I did need him, he was a few steps away.

I bounced on my birth ball for a while, while watching some TV. The contractions were getting worse and worse. They were very sharp. I don’t remember my contractions with Rosalie or Heather being quite so intense, but neither of them was as big as James.  

I started to lose my nerve a little bit, I didn’t feel great and was spending a lot of time in the bathroom. I was pretty sure James was OP/sunny side up. I put on a lot of weight this pregnancy and just didn’t feel like my best self so I wasn’t feeling as confident as I did with Heather’s labor and delivery. I knew I could do it, I was just feeling anxious.  

Around 6:30-7am I texted my friend Jocelyn who was going to watch the girls and told her to come over because it was time. I went upstairs, and sat next to RJ on the bed, and said, “Are you ready to have a baby?” He quickly said, yes and jumped out of bed. 

RJ seemed a little surprised that I had waited so long to wake him up. By the time I woke him, I had stopped timing contractions, I also couldn’t really hold a conversation through them anymore. I knew James was coming, but I knew RJ would be able to be an even better daddy doula if he was well rested, so I only woke him when I needed his help.   

I called my midwife and told her I was in labor, she told me she would be at the birth center around 8:30 am. RJ and I finished packing our hospital bag and started getting ready to go, Rosalie and Heather woke up and seemed a little confused that every few minutes mommy was leaning against the wall and breathing deeply.  

Jocelyn showed up pretty quickly, which was good because right after she got to ouhouse, I started to feel pressure, and almost felt the need to push. I told RJ we needed to leave NOW. He can read me very well and knew I was serious.  

Right before we got in the car, I called my midwife again and told her we were on our way. I hate to ride in the car during labor! Contractions in general hurt like hell, and not being able to move and find a comfy spot makes everything much more intense. Luckily, we made good time and I wasn’t in the car very long.  

When we got there, I went to the bathroom, then took my pants, underwear, and shirt off. My midwife asked if I wanted her to check me, I said yes, she told me that I was 9cms, I was very excited/relieved to know I was that far along.  

We had lots of help in the room, there were 3 midwives, 4 nurses, and 1 nursing student who I was happy to have there. Students have to learn somehow and I am not shy. I’m glad I didn’t hire a doula, we had more than enough help and everyone was absolutely amazing.  

We got settled and I started to really feel the need to push, we tried multiple positions till I ultimately felt comfortable on my side, with one leg up on a peanut ball supported with lots of pillows. This is where things get a tiny bit foggy.  

When I am in labor, I zone out during the end when contractions are more intense. I labored on my side for quite a while, the nurses kept telling me how amazing I was and how easy I made it look. I was feeling pretty good and a bit more confident now that we were at the birth center, and I knew I didn’t have much longer to go.  

I don’t exactly remember when I started pushing, but during one contraction I could no longer breath through the pressure and started working with it. My midwife checked me and told me James was well on his way and she had a hard time not breaking my water, I told her it was ok to break it. My water has never broken on its own and I remember the relief of pressure that happened when my midwife broke my water when I was in labor with Heather. My midwife broke my water and things started progressing quicker.  

I started pushing harder. I don’t remember feeling Rosalie or Heather move down with every push, but with James, I could really feel the progress I was making and it was very motivating. I moved onto my hands and knees and tried pushing there for one or two contractions but I was not as productive there. I rolled over onto my back where my pushes were much more productive.  

Things got intense very quickly, I reached down and felt his head as soon as he was down far enough. I also asked for a mirror. I am a very visual person and seeing my progress helps so much. I don’t know exactly how long I pushed, but the ring of fire with James felt like an eternity with his big head. The pain almost made me feel more alert. I remember crowning and the pain being excruciating, trying to breathe through it was tough but I was doing it. My midwife told me I could do tiny pulse like pushes and I did and his head came out! I did one last big push and caught him myself and brought him up to my chest. 

James Robert Ayres was born June 28th, 2018 at 10:45 am. He was 9lbs 14oz, and 21 inches long.  

He was adorable and everything I imagined he would be.  

I got to hold him on my chest for over an hour. He was so alert and latched perfectly the first time he tried.  
James was perfect and while we bonded my midwife left to see how another patient was doing at the main hospital. When she got back the nurse had just weighed him. When my midwife was told he was a whopping 9lbs 14oz she was shocked, most women with babies so large have longer, more difficult labors.
Before the placenta was delivered, my midwife checked me for tearing and thought she saw a minor tear but it was difficult to tell with all the normal swelling and blood around my perineum. A day or two later things felt like they were healing very well so I had RJ take a good look down there. He decided I did not tear, and maybe just had a small graze. When I saw my midwife for my 6-week checkup she told me everything looked amazing and it did not look like I had just given birth to a 10lb baby!  

The only issue I have had since James’s birth is my tailbone. Since he was sunny side up, he did a number on it, and 4 months later it still hurts occasionally. My midwife said I could have sprained it or even fractured it, but there is really nothing that can be done for an injured tailbone.  

It sounds crazy but I love giving birth. If I wasn’t squeamish around blood other than my own I would love to become a doula or even a midwife. This labor and delivery was rough though. For a while, I thought I wanted six kids, but now I only want one more. Four is a good number. But after giving birth to James naturally and surviving I can do ANYTHING.  

I am glad I am able to share my birth stories. I recently discovered after reading Rosalie and Heather’s birth storiesa friend of mine decided she wanted a natural birth! She had an amazingly supportive birth team and had her own baby boy naturally around the same time I had James! I am glad sharing my experiences have done something. I didn’t know if they would do anything at all when I first started sharing them, so I am really glad that they have helped people!  

Hopefully, I can find time to blog a bit more often! I love sharing my experiences and opinions.  

Thanks for reading!  

Monday, September 17, 2018

Keenz Liner Tutorial

A couple of months ago we purchased a Keenz Stroller Wagon for our trip to Disney World. It’s a certified stroller that has many wagon like features. It makes a perfect stroller/child/child crap carrying device, I love it.  

There are quite a few Facebook groups where we all worship the Keenz. One of the bigger topics of conversation is handmade liners. When I bought our stroller I tried to find a good detailed tutorial but there aren’t any out there. I am relatively proficient at sewing so I thought I would make my own pattern/tutorial and share it. As much as I would love to do something like this and sell it on Etsy to bring in some extra spending cash, I just simply don’t have the time to start a business.  

Here is my completed liner.  

I chose to do a full bucket liner, with snaps to secure it. There is one thin layer of batting. I also used the buttonhole feature on my sewing machine to make holes for the harnesses and the strap to close the Keenz at the bottom. It has a couple of pockets on the inside for the kids. Two for water bottles or sippy cups, and 3 for books, toys, snacks etc. It is reversible with grey minky on the other side. I think the minky will be better for the cooler months since minky is so warm and cozy. There are NOT pockets on the minky side. I also did a reversible canopy cover with some extra fabric I had. It was super simple and I LOVE how it looks.  

Update: Having used the liner and our Keenz for the past few months we rarely use the pockets on the inside and I think if I were to make another liner I would not make pockets again. 

This tutorial is LONG. Please do not be intimidated. There are a lot of steps, but if you take it slowly it should be easy to follow. Sewing a full bucket liner is not a simple sewing project. It is pretty involved and I do not recommend it for people who are new to sewing.  

Supplies you will need: 

I purchased 4 yards of the light blue Mickey Minnie pattern fabric (I bought it online and ordered extra after I couldn’t find it at any local stores). I have about 1-1.5 yards leftover after the canopy cover. I also got 2 yards of the navy blue, 3 yards of the grey Minky 

If you are planning on doing one color for one side and one color for the other I think 2-3 yards of each fabric would be enough. 4-6 yards total. If you are doing the canopy cover add 2 yards, 1 for each side. If I make another liner I will pick a thicker more durable fabric. I LOVE the way the cotton turned out and it was very easy to work with, but it could use a little more structure and I think using a thicker slightly stiffer fabric might help.   

Make sure you buy 2 spools of thread. I only bought one and completely ran out by the end (the buttonholes used a lot of thread).   

Choose your batting, I bought something moderate. I thought about choosing something thicker but I didn’t want it to be too bulky when folding the Keenz. I also didn’t want it to be too hot.    
I only put batting on the bottom and the sides with the harnesses/straps. I don’t think the other sides of the Keenz need extra padding.  

I purchased metal snaps that I hammered into fabric strips to secure my liner. You could do ties, or buttons. The snaps were really easy to install. I love how easy they make the liner to secure and I don’t have to worry about them being easily undone by toddler fingers.  

I highly recommend buying a walking foot if you plan on using minky. Having sewn minky with and without a walking foot before, without is a HUGE pain and I would never sew minky without one again. Even with a walking foot you can get some slipping, so be careful.  

1. The first thing you want to do is measure and cut your fabric.  

I cut the fabric for one side all at once, sewed it, and compared it to my Keenz before cutting the other side to ensure my measurements and my seam allowances were accurate. To get a better idea, I cut the Mickey fabric, and navy blue fabric, sewed it, then cut my minky fabric.   

My measurements account for a ⅝ inch seam allowance which was one of the guides on my sewing machine and it fit the Keenz perfectly.  

You will need these pieces cut in both the fabric used for the front of your liner and the back. Make sure when you are cutting your fabric out the print is facing the direction you want. I specifically wanted Mickey and Minnie facing up right on the back/harness pieces so I had to make sure they were cut properly.  

  • I cut my bottom piece 31 inches by 18.5 inches. I cut this piece in blue Mickey and Minnie fabric, and one in grey minky.  

  • 2 sides where the harnesses go are 15.5 inches by 18.5 inches. These pieces were also Mickey and Minnie and a set in grey minky
  • 2 long sides were 31 inches by 15.5 inches. These pieces I cut in navy blue, and two in grey minky as well.   

  • I added pockets to one side of the inside for the kids. That piece of fabric was 6 inches by 45 inches. It was that large because it needs to accommodate for the gathered, elastic pockets for water bottles.  
2. Once you have all your fabric cut out, lay it out and make sure you have all your pieces.   

3. Grab a few scraps of fabric and make sure the tension on your sewing machine is correct before you start.  

4. Start by sewing one of the harness pieces (measuring 15.5 by 18.5 inches) to the bottom piece (measuring 31 inches by 18.5 inches). Pin it right sides together and sew away. Repeat on the other side.   

5. Take what you have sewn and compare it with your Keenz. If the seams don’t line up to the bottom adjust your seam allowances and continue.   

6. At this point I created the pockets. If you do not want to do the pockets go ahead and skip to the next step.  

  • I only had 1 inch wide elastic so I folded over about 1.5 inches and hemmed the piece of the of Mickey and Minnie fabric I had cut for the pockets (the piece that was 6 inches by 45 inches).                                                                                 
  • I measured around one of our kids Camelbak water bottles to determine how long to make the elastic. To make things easier I just stretched a piece of elastic around a bottle to see how long it would need to be and hold securely but not so tight toddlers couldn’t get it in and out.                                 
  • Here the elastic is stitched but the
    fabric is not scrunched yet.
    After you know how long you want your elastic, measure it, multiply it by 1.5 or 2. Measure that far in on your fabric and stitch the elastic into the hem of the pocket piece.  Scrunch up the excess fabric and stitch the end of the fabric to the end of the elastic to secure it.
  • Stitch your pocket piece one of the pieces measuring 31 by 15.5 (for me this was one of the navy blue pieces).                                                               

  • Start by stitching the far ends. Then decide how big you want your other pockets. Bunch your fabric accordingly. I was winging this part, so I am sorry if it is a little confusing.  

7. Once your pocket piece is completed, stitch it to the “bottom” piece of the liner make sure to pin them with the RIGHT sides together. If you didn’t make the pockets stitch the piece measuring 31 inches by 15.5 inches. To the “bottom” piece. 

8. Repeat step 7 and stitch the other piece measuring 31 by 15.5 inches to the “bottom” Piece to form a “t” shape. 

9. At this stage you need to have your wits about you so make sure to triple check, before you pin and sew. Start sewing the seams to form the bucket. Make sure you have a big flat space to work.  

Take your time. I was lucky enough not to have to get out my seam ripper. This is definitely where you would need it if you do not pay attention to what you are doing. Make sure none of the fabric is folded or bunched up under itself. 

After one or two seams I compared my liner to my Keenz to make sure my seams were matching up well. Adjust your seam allowances if you need to.   
It will start to look like this. 

10. Continue sewing all the sides to form a full bucket shape.  

11. Repeat steps 1-10 with the other fabric for the reverse side of your liner.   

12. Press all your seams. This step is not 100% necessary but it will definitely make things a bit easier (if you are using minky make sure your iron is not too hot or you will iron the little raised dots out of the fabric). 

13. Nest the two sides of your liner together right sides together. Make sure your seams line up (the bottom piece of the liner "bucket floor type area are the same size), if you need to make adjustments do them now. I had to make a couple adjustments to my minky side because even with a walking foot it slipped a tiny bit. Luckily I needed to take seams in lot let them out. (My daughter's play table made a perfect frame to hold my liner and start pinning.)

Put Minky on top right sides together.

14. Pause before sewing the two sides of your liner and make ties. I cut 4, 2 inch wide strips that were about 15 inches long. Depending on how you want to attach your liner to your Keenz you might want them longer. Since I wanted to use snaps I made them a little long knowing I could easily trim them. If you plan on attaching your liner to your Keenz by tying them with bows they will definitely need to be longer. 

Then fold your strips of fabric in half long ways, iron them so they are easier to sew.  Sew them with a small seam allowance. Leave one end open. 

Turn them right side out using a dowel, chopstick, or pencil, and iron them again (I didn’t finish off the end I left open until my liner was completed just in case I wanted to trim them). 

I added the snaps at a later time because I didn’t know exactly where I would need them to secure the liner well. 

15. Pin and sew one of the longer sides together.  
NOTE: Continually check and make sure your seams are lining up.  

16. Cut a piece of batting about 62 inches by 18 inches (I cut it a bit longer than necessary because I would rather trim than need to cut a new piece).   

Ties tucked into corners and pinned right were my hand is.
17. Pin your ties in to the 4 corners. Make sure to tuck them “inside” so when you turn the liner right side out they are where they should be. They need to be sandwiched between the two right sides of your fabric. I folded my 4 strips in half so when the liner is turned right side out, each tie was “halved” and you then had 2 ties sticking out of every corner. 

18. Pin the batting to your liner. Focus on the tops of harness pieces.  

19. Sew just the top of the batting to your liner on both sides. You will secure the other parts of the batting later on.

19. Sew the top of the other long side together leaving a gap so you can turn the liner right side out. The batting will only be loosely secured at this point. 

20. Turn your liner right side out. 

21. Sew up the hole you left open, and sew around the top of the entire liner for a more finished look.  
Liner right side out prepped to stitch
gap closed. 

22. Very carefully line up the seams down the sides of the bucket where the batting is and stitch along the seams. Take your time, pin lots. Continue till you have stitched along all the seams. 
This is what I am talking about in step
22. I stitched along the seams about 1/4
inch away from the seam to secure the
two sides together and secure the batting
better inside. 

23. Put your liner on your Kneez and get ready to do a million buttonholes.  

24. At this stage I added the snaps to my ties, so the liner would be attached the same way every time I made a hole. 

25. My sewing machine came with a buttonhole foot, and instructions on how to sew a buttonhole. I took a few scraps of fabric and made a few test buttonholes before trying one on my liner. The max buttonhole width my sewing machine is capable of, is JUST big enough to fit the harness straps. The buckles do not fit, but the other end where you attach the buckles to the Keenz frame fit. For me that worked. If you want the holes larger I will show you how to make them bigger in step 29. The big buckle at the bottom of the harness needed a larger button hole than all the others.  

26. Put your liner in your Keenz with the harnesses removed. Do your best to feel where the holes need to be and mark them with a fabric marker or pen of some sort.  
Pushing through the fabric to feel the holes for the
harness. then making with pen. 

27. Using your buttonhole foot, sew a buttonhole where you marked. Take your liner back to your Keenz and make sure was in the correct spot before using a sharp knife to carefully cut the fabric left between the stitches to create the hole. 

Note: After you have sewn the buttonhole(s) make sure you put your liner on your Keenz to make sure it’s in the correct spot before cutting the fabric to create the hole.  
Carefully cut the fabric to create the

28. Repeat steps 26 and 27 till you have made 6 holes for each harness side, and one for the center bottom closure pull. (13 total). I did not create holes for the highest harness holes. 

29. To make the wider buttonhole for the bottom buckle of the harnesses, I pretty much sewed two button holes back to back. I set the buttonhole length/width on my machine slightly less than the max, because the maxed doubled was too long. I stitched one hole, then reset the foot (my foot is spring loaded all I had to do was lift the foot it would spring to the start position, and sew a new hole right next to the first). 

Photo below is the wide button hole. you can see where the second button starts right by Mickey's shoe. This was before I cut the fabric

When you cut the fabric for the big buttonhole you do have to cut through the stitching in the middle where the two buttons meet. I did a few hand stitches to secure the loose threads from fraying. Bellow is a photo of the finished wide button hole with the bottom buckle of the harness through it. 

That’s it for the bucket liner! I am very proud of how it turned out! Feel free to comment with any questions!  

Here are some photos of our Keenz and liner in action at Disney world! 

Instructions for canopy cover 


About 2 yards of fabric. 1 yard of one print and 1 yard of another.  
Matching thread  

1. Cut a rectangle about 30 inches by 46 inches out of each print.   
2. Drape one rectangle over your Keenz. Make sure it is even all the way around. Also make sure the print is facing DOWN.  

3. Pin the corners relatively snuggly.  

4. Sew each corner where pinned. This is not very exact but I found it a quick easy way to do the cover.  
5. Turn the stitched cover right side out and put it on your Keenz. Check the corners, If you need to take them in a little bit adjust the seams as needed.  
I felt like this corner was a little too loose so I took it in a little. 

6. Repeat steps 2-5 with the other rectangle of fabric for the other side.  

7. Place both rectangles on the Keenz canopy and make sure the seams match up well.  

8. Trim the excess fabric in the corners, and press the seams.  

9. Pin the two sides of the canopy liner RIGHT sides together. Stitch along the edge, make sure to leave at least a 4 inch gap to turn the cover right side out.   
Both sides of canopy on canopy right sides together. I just made sure the edges lined up well before sewing. 
10. Turn the cover right side out. Check to see how fits on your Keenz if you need to make any adjustments turn it inside out again and fix it.  

11. Iron the seams, and do a final stitch around the edge to give it a finished look.  

That’s it! I really love how the canopy cover turned out. It was the easiest part of decorating my Keenz and it looks great.