Friday, December 27, 2013

Polo to Cardigan Upcycle

    I need a hobby!  Brian agrees.  Lately, he's been begging me to find something constructive and fun to do.  When I asked why he was so insistent on me finding a hobby he mockingly muttered something about being bored and begging for a poodle, but I'm sure it was nonsense so I ignored it.  

  I already have a sewing machine and basic sewing skills, so I've decided to put them to good use.  If I'm going to spend the money that a hobby requires, then I at least want to get some use out of it.  This week I've put my sewing skills to the test and I've surprised myself with how decent I am.    Besides the purse I've made and the sweater I've re-done, I want to share my "Polo to Cardigan Upcycle" that I experimented with.  I confiscated one of Brian's old polo shirts that he never wears anymore and I transformed it into a cardigan style shirt for myself.  I like layers!  I didn't take any pictures during the process because honestly I thought it would fail miserably.  Imagine my surprise when it worked!  

So here's the sad little polo before.....

And here's my new cardigan After!

    So basically I cut the body of the shirt down to fit me using a cardigan that I already have as a guide.  Then I cut off the collar including where it buttons and cut a straight line down the front of the shirt.  Where I had cut out the collar I had to create a curved line that blended into the straight line down the front.  I lucked out and was able to use the brown fabric from the collar as the facing for the new split down the front.  I sewed the sleeves to fit my arms and then attached them to the new body.  I added a loop for the button because it was just a little too tight across my bust if I had created a button hole, instead.  I then decided it was a little to loose around the waist, so I added some elastic to gather the back a bit and make a nicer fit.
    I'm so excited that this actually worked.  If I find that I really like it then I'm probably going to hit up a local thrift store to find other polo's to reconfigure.  It's a lot cheaper than buying fabric!  And knowing that I got a new piece for my wardrobe while spending next to nothing makes me extra giddy.  You know......cause I'm thrifty.
Thanks for looking!

*Is it just me, or do I have freakishly pointy elbows?*

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Kyle's Story

   On the morning of September 9th, I crawled out of bed around 6:30 a.m., exhausted and uncomfortable.  I had been awake most of the night.  Beginning at 1:00 that morning I was awake and crying with horrible neck pain.  After 20 minutes of crying in the bathroom I woke Brian up to help me find some relief.  He massaged my neck and then aided me in finding a comfortable position in the recliner.  I was surrounded by pillows supporting my neck because holding my head up on my own was excruciating.  It was then that I glanced at the clock.  2:15.  I realized that in the commotion I had not felt Kyle moving.  I asked God to give me a little kick to know he was okay.  I thought I felt one, but just to be sure I asked God for one more.  I was sure this time.  My little baby gave me a big kick.  Satisfied, I dozed off.
    Around 4:00 I woke up again.  My neck wasn't really bothering me anymore but I was extremely uncomfortable sitting in that chair.  I re-positioned myself a bit and switched from side to side.  Still uncomfortable.  I decided to go to my bed at 4:30.  From there I tossed and turned.  I dozed on and off.  Finally realizing at 6:30 there was no point and I should just get up.
    Immediately upon rising I felt pain.  A dull ache spread through my entire midsection.  I hobbled to the couch in the living room where Brian and my mother were already up and drinking coffee.  I laid quietly on the couch.  Kyle was not moving.  I prayed for him to wiggle.  Nothing.  I tried not to panic.  I decided to give him 30 minutes to do something before I would worry myself.  Ouch!  Another cramp.  Then another.  Contractions?  Impossible.  I'm only 28 weeks along.  I stared at the clock.  I asked my mom to bring me a pencil and paper.  I was astounded when I saw a pattern.  Three minutes apart.....
   There was no way this could be happening!  Our family was leaving for our big move back to Colorado in less than 24 hours.  I could not be going into labor!  But that wasn't even my biggest worry.  This labor was different.  The cramps were intense, but even between contractions I was still hurting.  The pain would not ease up, and it was steadily getting worse.
    Brian and I decided that maybe a hot shower would help me feel better.  I was in total denial.  I thought I could stop what was happening.  The shower was not helping.  Before I knew it I was on my hands and knees in the shower yelling for Brian.  I told him I was so sorry but I was in labor  and something was wrong and we needed to get to the hospital immediately.  I think that was the point where he realized this was really happening.  I dressed as quickly as I could and he helped me get into the car.  I remember saying bye to the kids.  I was trying to put on a brave face but I was not fooling Ian.  Wesley smiled and waved bye, but Ian was obviously worried.
    The drive to the hospital felt like forever.  I was in so much pain.  I cried the whole way there.  Brian told me he'd called my doctor's office and they said to come in to the office.  I asked why they didn't send me to labor and delivery if my contractions were three minutes apart.  It turns out Brian had misunderstood and thought they were 30 minutes apart.  He'd called his mother to inform her we were on the way to the hospital.  She met us at the entrance with a wheelchair because Brian had told her I could barely walk.  I slowly climbed out of Brian's car into the chair.  Every movement was agonizing.  Upon entering the office my doctor brought me straight to an exam room.  I was definitely in labor as he could feel the baby pushing down.  He pulled out the device used to listen to your baby's heartbeat.  Silence.  For what seemed like 10 minutes......silence.  Finally we heard a faint heartbeat.  Brian and I burst into tears.  I was sent immediately to labor and delivery.
    By now the pain was almost unbearable.  When I was pregnant with Ian I had been induced and spent several hours in labor.  Then, I had held out as long as I could in hopes to have a natural delivery without the aid of pain medicine, but the pain became so intolerable that I gladly accepted an epidural.  The pain I was feeling now had already exceeded that.  The nurses were trying to hook me up to a monitor so they could watch Kyle's vital signs.  However, they were never able to find his heartbeat.  A technician was called in to perform an ultrasound.  They asked me to lay my legs flat on the table so they could glide the equipment across the bottom of my stomach.  I couldn't do it.  The pain...  She began to glide the probe across every part of my stomach.  I was trying not to scream.  Sometimes I could hold it in.  Sometimes I couldn't.  The slight, gentle touch of the instrument on my stomach was excruciatingly painful.  Something was horribly wrong!  The technician never said a word.  She took the pictures she needed and quietly left the room.
    Brian and his mother tried to comfort me and help me handle the pain.  I was crying out that I couldn't do this much longer.  They were crying with me.  Not long after that my doctor entered the room:
                           "Brian and Rachel, I am so sorry, we lost the baby."
    No!  I felt the air being sucked from my lungs.  For a few moments the physical pain was completely overshadowed by the emotional pain that now tore through my entire body.  Brian and I grabbed for one another and held each other tightly as we sobbed.  I wailed for the life of my baby boy.  The sounds that were coming from me were something I could not replicate if I tried.  How could this be happening?  Why was this happening?  I was begging God for answers.  I couldn't believe it.  But I couldn't change it either.  My baby boy was gone.
    I don't know how long we held each other and cried.  My doctor apologized and said the heartbeat he'd found earlier in his office must have been mine.  I'm not sure when he left the room.  For all I cared, Brian and I could have been completely alone.  I didn't want to hear anything from anyone else at that point.  I just wanted my best friend, the father of this child, the only other person who could even begin to understand the heartbreak I was feeling.  Slowly the labor pains were coming back to my consciousness.  I began to beg them to give me something for the pain.  Brian was begging them to give me something for the pain.  A nurse was trying to insert an IV.  I felt a sudden gush.  It was as if my water had broke, but it wasn't amniotic fluid.  It was blood.
    I don't remember much after that.  I'm not sure if it was the drugs that caused me to forget or if I passed out from the pain.  It could have been either.  The few things I do remember are seeing a former high school classmate, who is a nurse, leaning over me and talking to me.  I don't know what she said.  I remember for a moment seeing two of my cousins and then my mother and sister standing against the wall with sorrowful looks on their faces.  I remember my uncle whispering to me that they had called their priest to have him pray for us, and I remember his whiskers scratching my cheek as he tried to comfort me.
    I was awakened by Brian and the nurses to begin prepping me for my c-section.  At some point my family informed me that a photographer was coming to take pictures if I wanted.  Thank God!  Years before I had read the story of another mother who'd lost her baby and couldn't remember what he looked like because the drugs from her c-section caused her to have a foggy recollection of the time she did get to spend with him.  If that was going to happen to me then I knew I needed pictures of my sweet baby boy.
   The c-section was awkwardly silent.  Understandably the staff in the OR was fairly quiet.  Only speaking when it was necessary.  I refused any extra pain medicine.  I wanted to be as alert and awake as possible when I got to hold Kyle afterwards.  I laid on the table praying.  I was asking God to please let the doctors be wrong.  Please let my baby be alive.  I was begging Him for a miracle.  I learned later the nurses were on stand by with all of the necessary equipment just in case.  Then Kyle was born.  Born still.  My baby was most certainly in heaven.  Like any other baby they cleaned him up and wrapped him in a hospital blanket before bringing him over for Brian and me to see.  I didn't know what to expect when they showed him to us.  Even though I would occasionally look at "your baby this week" articles online, I wasn't sure what a baby was supposed to look like at 28 weeks.  What I saw was a beautiful little newborn.  His sweet little face looked like he was sleeping.  His skin was perfectly pink.  I looked away.  That moment hurt more than anything.  He was perfect!  Why could he not be here?  Brian and I quietly cried together while my surgery was completed.
    Holding your baby in your arms for the first time should not be coupled with the feelings of knowing you're holding your baby in your arms for the last time.  It's sickening!  That's what I was feeling while I spent time with my lifeless child.  Sick.  A fresh wave of grief flooded over us when we held our baby boy.  I did try and cherish the moment, though.  We counted his fingers and toes.  I brushed his wavy red hair with my fingers.  He looked just like his big brother Wesley.  He was two pounds and ten ounces of perfect baby boy.  We smiled at how beautiful he was.  Then we cried.  Back and forth we went.  Our families came in to see their grandson, their great grandson, and their nephew.  I momentarily forgot my own heartache each time one of our family members would see him for the first time.  It was their first and last, as well.  We prayed together.  I sang a song for Kyle that I've sang over and over for my boys.  I had looked forward to singing to him since I'd found out he was growing inside of me.  I simply couldn't let him go until I had done so.  After about an hour and a half, we said goodbye to our baby boy and let my cousin, who was a nurse there, take him away.  I wish now I had held him longer.  But could I have ever held him long enough?  Probably not.
    The doctor informed us later that I had had a placental abruption.  The placenta had torn away from my uterus.  He said most likely by the time I realized anything was wrong it was already too late to save Kyle.  That information was probably meant to help me more than it did.  Immediately after my c-section I was given two units of blood because I had lost so much during the labor and delivery.  The following day I was sent to ICU because my doctor was afraid I was developing DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation).  Now my life was in danger!  Brian was a mess.  As if losing his unborn child wasn't enough, now he was facing the possibility of losing his wife and the mother of his children. I have never seen him so distraught.  In ICU I was given four more units of blood.  In 24 hours my blood counts were back where they needed to be and I was able to go back to a regular room.  From there things began to look up.
      The following days were some of the best and worst of my life.  Brian and I have never been closer than we were in the days and weeks following Kyle's death.  There were some beautiful moments during that time.  We managed to find joy in our sorrow.  We couldn't help but praise God for the blessings we began to see around us.  Circumstances that had us boggled and questioning God before were now coming into light.  We could see pieces of a master plan coming together.  We were in awe!  Events that had previously taken place in our lives that had prepared us for coping with the loss of our baby boy......  The people God had placed in our lives to help us get through this....  We were not alone!  God had never abandoned us.  He had prepared us and was now carrying us through the most difficult time we had ever faced.
    Though hope was abundant, there was also unimaginable grief.  Pain that can only be known by someone who's experienced the stillbirth of a child.  I've had moments where I've let guilt for responsibility of his death creep in.  But in those dark moments I'm always reminded that God doesn't do accidents.  He doesn't make mistakes.  He didn't forget to make me realize something was wrong in time to save Kyle.  Saving Kyle was not in His plan.  And though the hurt is sometimes unbearable, I fully trust God's plan for my life.  No matter the confusion, the uncertainty, the unfairness, the pain, the tragedy....  God is always good.  He has a purpose through Kyle's life and his death.  I pray for patience as the plan and purpose unfold, but even if I never see the results, I know that God has meaning in this.
    After losing Kyle, someone who'd had a similar experience shared this with me.  "Just remember the valley is cloudy and rainy, but God is with you, and when He places you back on the mountaintop you will see the beauty and growth in your valley."  I look forward to the day He brings us to the mountaintop, but I have a feeling this valley is going to hold us for a while.  You can't go over a valley.  You really can't go under one, either.  Going through it is the only way to get to the other side.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
-Psalm 23:4 NIV

Kyle Steven Walker
Received into the arms of Jesus
September 9, 2013




Wednesday, December 11, 2013

For My Mother

    So yesterday I was on my hands and knees in the snow and ice cleaning up my neighbors turned over recycle bin. Everyone's recycle bin had turned over and blew trash everywhere at some point, but these neighbors were at work and I decided to pick it up for them rather than let their trash blow from here to kingdom come. While scooping up their paper and plastics I discovered a perfectly good Christmas coffee mug with the nativity scene on it. "Why on earth would someone throw out a perfectly good Christmas mug? And one with baby Jesus on it! I think I'll take it home and add it to my coffee mugs." So that is what I did. I set it to the side while I finished cleaning up the trash and then brought it home and put it in the dishwasher. It was at that moment that I realized what I'd done.
    While cleaning someone else's property I took a perfectly good object from the trash and brought it home. Did I need it? Of course not! But you can't let perfectly good things get thrown away in the trash! Especially when they have baby Jesus on them! (You'll be glad to know I left the three shot glasses in their trash heap.)
    In conclusion, there is no escaping it. I am you. I don't even try to be. It just happens. I realize it could be worse. I may have permed my hair in the past but at least I didn't brush through it to make it as big and round as possible. I do NOT wear pantyhose under my jeans, however. And if I ever do that without thinking then I'll know for certain that this transformation into my mother is totally out of my control. I hope you're happy.