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June 2009

summer pattern sale!

new mei tai baby carrier pattern front

new reading pillow pattern front

What with the book writing, the baby having, and life in general, you're probably wondering what happened to my little sewing pattern business! I was wondering that myself, as I concentrated all of my creative efforts on the book. Well, we have managed to get a few things done this Spring - the Mei Tai Baby Carrier and Reading Pillow patterns have been revised and re-printed (and aren't the new models for the Mei Tai adorable? That's a little Finn hand there, just one week old.

So, to celebrate the re-printing and to help us make room in our basement for the Sew Liberated Autumn collection to be unveiled towards the end of summer, we're having a big sale! Buy one pattern, get one free through Wednesday, June 17th! Here's how it works - when you purchase one pattern, simply let me know what free pattern you would like underneath the item description in PayPal where it says in blue "Add special instructions to merchant."* Even the extra shipping cost for the free pattern is on us!

*Please note that the sale applies only to purchases made through and not purchases made through my etsy store front.

Happy sewing, y'all!

rock me mama

Patrick really appreciated your kind words about our birth story. I was very grateful for his willingness to write it out from his perspective, as his calm presence was my rock throughout our birthing time. For both of us, the experience was overwhelmingly positive - for my part, I literally felt no pain - just extreme pressure. I highly recommend a Hypnobabies course for anyone curious about positive birthing alternatives, whether you choose a home birth, a birthing center birth, or a hospital birth.  

rock me mama

So, we've had a week of flying solo with the babe. Here's where he has spent most of his time. In a week, I've learned to do things that I never thought I'd be capable of doing. For instance:

  • pick up nursing pads and burp cloths with my toes, both right and left foot.
  • write a blog post while swaying side-to-side (as I'm constantly doing, apparently)
  • thread a serger and sew a diaper while singing to and bouncing a baby
  • cook dinner in between a diaper change and breastfeeding
  • put aforementioned cute diaper on baby which he promptly peed right through, while maintaining my cool and sense of humor

I'm sure the coming days will bring out even more hidden skills. The big skill I'm waiting to cultivate? Leaving the house alone and taking the baby to, say, the grocery store. Wow. That seems like the craziest idea! How do you mamas do it? Meanwhile, I'm perfecting discreet breastfeeding with the above sling. Once I can do this with aplomb, I'm pretty sure I can tackle Whole Foods.

finnian's birth story, mother's day 2009

finn birth052

Written by Daddy

We used Hypnobabies birthing techniques during Finn's birth. For more information on classes, click here.

Friday, May 8, 2009


            Around 4 the morning on the due/guess date set for Finn’s arrival, Meg began to feel low-intensity contractions or “birthing waves” as we called them. She had some bloody show. I went back to sleep while Meg, largely out of excitement, stayed awake surfing Web sites about this stage of labor.

            At this point, we believed that Meg had started labor and were pleased to see how easily things were progressing. Although there was no objective reason to worry about going past the due date – especially considering that the typical first-born arrives a week and a day “late” – we had been feeling anxious about the medical pressure to induce labor that would begin a week or so after the due date. The arrival of these contractions thus lifted that burden of stress, replacing it with expectations of a joyful birth in the next day or two. Meg did a few self-hypnosis sessions in order to stay positive and to practice her relaxation tools. In part due to our inexperience and in part because we did not know how much hypnosis would ease the discomfort of birthing, we were a bit overly optimistic about how quickly we would get to meet Finnian.

            Meg’s parents arrived from their hotel that morning, and the four of us spent a pleasant day throughout all of which we timed Meg’s contractions, which hovered between 7 and 10 minutes apart, trending slowly closer together but not gaining much in intensity. We called the birthing center in the afternoon to confirm that we should wait until the contractions were coming 4 minutes apart or less for over an hour before heading in. Allison, one of the midwives, answered our questions and reassured us that we were doing the right things and ought to stay home. Throughout the day, Meg chatted happily with her parents and went for a couple of walks, often continuing to walk through each contraction. I spent most of the day preparing for the birth, baking healthy oatmeal cookies, cooking a lasagna as a post-birth meal, and assembling the birthing bag.

            Around 9 p.m., Meg’s parents left for their hotel room where they spent a sleepless night wondering whether Meg was going into more intense labor. Meg and I feel into a restless sleep, waking up periodically and timing contractions when their intensity woke Meg up. We also wondered if we would head into the birthing center that night.


Saturday, May 9, 2009


          At about 3 a.m., shortly after we went back to sleep for the third or fourth time, through our open bedroom windows we thought we heard a firefight on the street side of our house. It sounded like a shotgun at one end of the street – BOOM! – followed by three shots from a smaller weapon at the other end – Crack! Crack! Crack! The pattern repeated a few times. Though we are not inclined to fear crime, the proximity of the gunfire really frightened us. I reached for my phone on my nightstand and called 911, going under the covers to mask the light of the phone’s LED from anyone outside. An automated message asked me to wait and in that moment, we heard the shots again, but this time we also heard the tell-tale fizzle that meant we were hearing fireworks rather than gunshots. Annoyed rather than bemused, we still managed to recall that random fireworks had gone off on the Notre Dame campus during our first kiss and to appreciate this fitting marker for the birth of our first child.

            After this startling episode, Meg began to wake up with each contraction, which were now substantially more intense than the night before. She had been having a little bloody show continuously since Friday morning, but the contractions were still spaced apart about 7 minutes.

            Saturday was similar to Friday with increased intensity through each contraction. By now, timing the contractions was a familiar ritual that involved her mom, her dad and me. I would record the contractions while her mom would note what time they began and her dad would measure the duration. This helped us pass the time and stay involved more than it was necessary for the birthing process itself. For her part, Meg stayed upbeat and chatty between contractions. We went for another walk, though this time Meg leaned on me through each contraction and we began to use the hypnotic relaxation tools more frequently, particularly the “Peace” cue.

            By Saturday afternoon, impatience was getting the better of all of us. We were feeling happy that Meg was doing so well but frustrated that her labor did not seem to be progressing in the way that we expected. Around 2 in the afternoon, we called the birthing center and spoke to

Cher, the midwife on-call for the weekend. After we explained that Meg had been having continuous contractions for almost 36 hours, she agreed that it was appropriate for us to go in to have Meg’s cervix checked. We left Meg’s parents at home and went in.

            When we arrived at the center, Cher immediately declared that Meg looked too good to be in labor. She must be in “false labor,” a term that we chafed against. By this time, Meg’s contractions felt quite real to her, and it was clear that her body was doing important and difficult work, even if it had not yet starting dilating her cervix or pushing the baby out. If I am being honest, I have to admit that descriptions of hypnotic births I had read and heard had prepared me to believe that Meg’s birth might appear less intense to the midwives because Meg was prepared to accept the intensity with greater calm. I thought Cher just might not recognize that we were different. In retrospect, though her delivery of the news might have lacked tact, Cher was absolutely correct that the intensity would grow enormously during active labor. At this point, Meg’s cervix was 2 centimeters dilated and 90 percent effaced.

            Concerned that Meg would wear herself out during this “false” labor, Cher advised us to try to calm her uterus with a warm bath, a small glass of wine and some Tylenol PM and to get some rest. We now think that this was a mistake. We should have trusted that Meg’s body knew what it was doing and not fallen for the idea of “false labor.” It was going slow, not badly. Instead, we followed this advice that evening, after another wonderful dinner prepared by Meg’s mom.

            In the early evening, just after her parents left, Meg took a warm bath. During the bath, the intensity of the contractions increased and for the first time, I sensed that Meg might be feeling out of control and perhaps even scared. For at least 15 minutes while she lay in the water moaning, I struggled to make the hypnosis tools relevant. Soon, I realized that I was saying too much. There were certain hypnotic cues that I could use to instantly relax Meg. I used them over and over during her birthing waves without feeling that they really worked. Then I realized that it was more important for Meg to use the tools herself and to feel that she was in control of this process. Once I began simply to reassure her that she knew how to deal with this intensity, she quickly seized on the idea and used the tools herself. She also discovered that vocalizing helped her deal with each birthing wave. She began to vocalize the word “peace” as well as an “uh” sound.

            Meg happily drank the glass of wine. It was the first glass she had had since we started trying to get pregnant. We debated the benefits of the Tylenol PM, but in the end Meg decided to take the pills since she felt she needed the rest. She swallowed the pills around 10 p.m. and we laid down in bed. Within 30 minutes, Meg’s contractions increased in frequency and she threw up several times over the side of the bed. We were not sure whether the Tylenol had been expelled, but its effects soon became apparent. Meg went into a period in which she was extremely drowsy and fell asleep between waves. While her waves had been coming about 3 minutes apart, they slowed to every 6 minutes – like clockwork. The problem was that, due to the medication, she woke up frightened with every contraction, not knowing where she was. For a surreal 2 to 3 hours, I sat by her bed, waiting for the next contraction, signaled when Meg opened her eyes in alarm and disorientation. She once asked me, “Is this real?” I would reassure her that everything was okay and remind her to use her hypnotic tools in order to feel the contraction as tightening and pressure rather than as pain. She caught on each time. The hypnotic training was beginning to pay off in a big way.

            Finally, after 1 a.m., the medication began to wear off, but the contractions did not become more frequent. Meg laid on her side and went deeply into an active hypnosis during each contraction. I began to feel exhausted and anxious, calling the midwives periodically to see if we could come in. The midwives rightly advised us to wait at home. Toward 3 a.m., we hit on the idea of walking around the house. Almost immediately, her contractions began coming every 3 to 4 minutes. With calming music playing in the background, we walked a slow circle around the bed, out of the bedroom into the hall, into the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, and back into the bedroom. Meg leaned on me through each contraction. After an hour like this, I called the midwives at 4 a.m., ecstatic to be able to report that we had met the final test – contractions every 3 to 4 minutes for an hour. We got the go-ahead to come in.

            I had to leave Meg to go through several contractions alone with her recorded hypnosis scripts while I prepared the car, tired, determined and trying not to become frantic. We had about 4 bags, pillows, blankets, and food. I called her parents at the hotel, where they were sleeping soundly this second night, to let them know we were going in. My mother-in-law recalls that the last thing I said in my sleep-deprived state was, “I have the lasagna.”


Sunday, May 10, 2009

(Finn’s Birth Day)

     Arriving at the birth center, I felt as though I was safely docking a ship that I had not really been qualified to steer. I was no longer the only person responsible for helping Meg complete this awesome task. Meg was now also in the hands of Cher, the midwife, and Nicole, a kind and thoughtful nurse. The birthing center was an incredibly peaceful place to be, with a wonderful tub and battery-operated candles that gave the room a gentle glow. Meg’s cervix was now a stretchy 5 to 6 centimeters.

            Meg wanted to try laboring in the tub, so Nicole prepared it for her while Cher, who had just finished a difficult birth and had not slept all night, took a needed nap. Meg spent some time in the bath, but could not get comfortable, so she resumed laboring on the bed, rolling periodically from side to side with my and Nicole’s help. Nicole knew lots of great tricks that I had not thought of, including creating a warm compress with rice in a sock that was perhaps the most useful tool we had during the birth.

            By now, Meg had gone deeply into herself. I began to feel awe being in her presence – an awe that would grow and multiply from this point forward. She vocalized with each pressure wave. I drew on the HypnoBabies training to help her continue feeling in charge of Finn’s beautiful birth. Whenever I sensed fear in her vocalization, the Peace cue relaxed her within seconds. Early in the morning, Meg listened to the special childbirth script, but otherwise, she did not feel the need to listen to her Deepening CD, which could have renewed her hypnosis. Instead, she remained in a steady state of calmness and relaxation.

            We were frankly not sure whether we would feel comfortable having Meg’s parents in the room during the birth. We thought it might be too many people for her to concentrate on her hypnosis. As the morning progressed, we got a chance to talk about it. I was still feeling overwhelmed focusing on Meg during her frequent contractions and at the same time trying to locate the right supplies in our many bags, but more important, Meg felt that she wanted to share this wonderful experience with her parents. I called them at the hotel around 7 and asked them to come over, which they did.

            Around this time, Nicole left and a new and equally gracious nurse named Holly came on-duty. Both Nicole and Holly were visibly impressed with the control that Meg maintained throughout the increasingly intense contractions. We are extremely grateful to both of them for helping to make this birth an enjoyable process.

            Meg began to become more active during her contractions as sun began to pour into the room, and we developed a routine of putting our foreheads together during the contractions. I would remind and encourage Meg to use her hypnosis, improving the words based on how she seemed to be feeling and how she responded, and she would vocalize and focus. Her parents were an enormous help, both spiritually and physically, applying the hot compress to her back when she felt pressure there, placing cool washclothes on her forehead, massaging, and catching the occasional vomit. Later in the morning, Meg’s labor slowed down, as though she were preparing for the final stage. She even got a little sleep. Cher checked her and she was now at 8 centimeters, with her bag of waters still intact and Finn’s head a bit above her cervix, resting on the bag of waters.

            After noon, Meg woke up and her labor picked up considerably. In the morning, I had re-discovered the prepared HypnoBabies suggestions and scripts about which I had completely forgotten. They came in handy during Meg’s transition, when the intensity of her contractions peaked. I began to also think about the pushing stage, during which HypnoBabies instructors encourage mothers to “breathe the baby out” gently rather than engaging in the strong pushing behaviors taught to a couple generations now by Lamaze and other techniques. However, I did not find the time to talk about the pushing stage with Meg, something I would regret momentarily right after the birth.

            As she entered transition – or “transformation,” as we called it – the intensity picked up again, but hypnosis again allowed Meg to gain control quickly. Her water broke and the baby’s head dropped further down. I expected the pushing to begin imminently, as Meg was having strong pushing sensations. The energy in the room skyrocketed. But the midwife told us to wait. I avoided talking about pushing because I was focused on helping Meg resist the urge to push, in case her cervix was not completely dilated.

            The midwife soon arrived and we got Meg up onto the bed so she could be checked. There was just a lip of her cervix over Finn’s head, and the midwife offered to hold it back during the next contraction to see if Meg could push Finn past. She did just that, and from that point on, there was no stopping that baby! With the encouragement of the midwife, and despite my initial attempts to get through to Meg and ask her if she wanted a gentler pushing stage, Meg began to push Finn out incredibly fast. The midwife had us support her legs and lift up her head, putting her into a crunch. She had Meg hold her breath during the peak of each contraction, coming every one or two minutes, and push. I was not wholly comfortable with this, but the midwife had taken over and Meg was understandably ready to see her child. She wanted this, and she showed it.

            Within 12 minutes, to the astonished looks and cries of Cher and Holly, Finn was crowning. Meg was pushing him incredibly far with each contraction. The first part of him we saw was wet, purple and full of hair. I was told it was his head, but I was not yet sure I believed it. With each contraction, he came further out, and between contractions he moved back up the canal a little. Pushing is a lot like two steps forward, one step back, as the birth canal and head mold to each other. It was at this point that Meg truly became my hero. I had watched her go through almost 60 hours of contractions and knew how tired she was, but now she was pushing with all her energy, showing no fear and no pain at all. It was inspiring, and amidst all the adrenaline, I was moved to tears. It is a moment I know that I and her parents will never forget.

            As Finn’s head moved to a maximum crowning position, the midwife told Meg to stop pushing, but Meg was concentrating so hard that it was difficult to make her understand that the process needed to slow down. The midwife was using warm oil on Meg’s perineum. We were all yelling at her to stop and relax for about 20 seconds, but she just kept pushing. Eventually she stopped and Cher gently tugged on his head as the next contraction pushed Finn all the way out. All of him was purple and wet. To be honest, I could hardly believe that this was him, that this was our baby. The whole situation began to feel surreal, but quickly gained the substance of fact as Finn’s body pinked up and his cry began. He instantly was brought up to Meg’s chest, where she nuzzled him and soon began to sing a Julie Andrews song. Singing so soon after giving birth! Within a half-hour, Finn was nursing like he was born to do it and he has not stopped since.

            Meg had a considerable tear, although she seemed to feel no pain. I went through a whole range of emotions at that point, strongly colored by exhaustion and a cocktail of adrenaline and other hormones. I felt elated by the birth, but at the same time like I had failed to prevent the intense pushing that I blame for Meg’s tear. Meg, however, was nonplussed by the midwife’s nearly hour-long effort to stitch her up. She was snuggling with her baby boy, who was as cute as he could be. We’ve got the pictures to prove it. After a little more than an hour, I fell off a hormonal and emotional cliff and had to walk outside. I imagine many new fathers experience something like this, given the intensity of the experience. I used the time outside to call family members. The feeling wore off quickly and I returned to enjoy the time with my son.

            Meg’s parents soon left us alone to recuperate in the birthing center. We stayed until just after dark. During our time there a little girl named River was born in the room next-door. Nicole returned to work the night-shift and walked us through the basics of caring for a new-born and a new mother.

            We are incredibly thankful to the birthing center, to Cher, Holly and Nicole, and to Meg’s parents for this wonderful experience. Finn is now nearly one month old, and growing unbelievably quickly. Meg has healed wonderfully and is once again pushing my limits on high-powered walks. This has been an experience that I would recommend to everyone.

sponsor giveaway :: bird and little bird

Green fox

I'm so tickled to have Bird and Little Bird on board as a sponsor - Annie's handiwork is adorable and whimsical. Stop by her blog to say hello! Here's a bit about Annie and her little shop:

My name is Annie, obviously.  I'm an elementary teacher for kids with significant disabilities in the San Francisco area but we will be transporting ourselves to Burlington, Vermont in about a month since my husband is going to be attending medical school there.  I have a five year old daughter who is a force to be reckoned with and am kind of a huge science nerd.  I basically read only non-fiction books about animals.  And sewing books-  but I'm pretty much a self-taught crafter and certainly do things my own way.  If I had never stumbled on the alternate universe of craft blogs I might never have gotten really into sewing.  I started making my foxes (modeled after the title character in Roald Dahl's book Fantastic Mr. Fox) a little over a year ago and enjoyed the process enough that our house is now overrun with them- hence the shop!

bunny side view

fox four

Annie is offering one lucky person a free, custom fox or bunny - you choose your species and fabric! Leave a comment before Sunday, 8 p.m. EST to enter. In addition, enjoy a 10% discount at Bird and Little Bird now through Monday, June 8 by entering "SEWLIB" in the notes to seller. Your discount will be refunded through PayPal.

Good luck, and have a relaxing weekend!


UPDATE: Congratulations to Steph, comment number 186! Remember that Annie is offering 10% off all items in her store through Monday - she even has a sewing pattern for making your own bunny! Thanks again!

post baby curls

post baby curls

How bizarre. I look at myself in the mirror and I see a curlier head. Whatever hormonal shift this can be attributed to is a welcome shift, indeed. I've always had this blah-wavy mop, but ever since Finn's birth it's been just a bit more glam. I was not one of those lucky ladies whose hair became thick and lustrous during pregnancy. If anything, it looked more mousy brown and lifeless.

I wasn't expecting these baroque bangs, but hey, I'll take 'em.

Have a good weekend, and be sure to check back here tomorrow for a sponsor giveaway!

he already has a big head

Take off ...

tummy time 1

Reaching cruising altitude ...

tummy time 2

Bumpy landing ...

tummy time 3

Movement mat time has really become quite fun as of late. Finn has been tracking a little rattle from side to side, lifting his head, and doing a lot of smiling and (perhaps?) cooing. That is, until he decides that he's hungry. In which case he lets us know pretty efficiently (and loudly, I might add).

The other day Finn met his first friend, our neighbors' little boy who is seven months old. Can I just say that, within the span of a mere six months and one week, babies sure know how to pack on some head girth? I mean, really - heads are almost comically large by the time they reach five months. No wonder tummy time is so important. Babies need to have body builder necks in order to hold those things up and control them.

Fascinating, the growth and development of the human brain. I'm interested to know if anyone has read Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. Would you recommend it? I'm also considering checking out the DVD "Bringing Out The Brilliance in Your Infant" (although I can't stand the title - it evokes that weird over-emphasis on getting ahead academically, instead of the real goal of Montessori which is to help children grow into happy, well-adjusted adults). What's the word on the street? It seems like it might have some good ideas for activities to do at home with very young children. Since I'm not trained as a 0-3 Montessorian, I'm still trying to keep one step ahead of the game here regarding Finn. Until I happen upon the Rosetta Stone of baby development, I'll just keep on doing what my Montessori training did prepare me to do: observe quietly.


chocolate covered frozen bananas with cashews

Dearest Finny,

I'm all about being magnanimous to meet your needs. I'd give up anything for you if that's what your health and happiness require. Of course I'd do the typical mother thing and throw myself in front of a moving train to save you, yada yada - you know the spiel.

But there are some things I won't sacrifice. Well, one thing, to be precise.


Finny, I ate chocolate nearly every day I was pregnant with you. You like it. YOU LOVE IT. Just like your Mama. (I could care less if you grow up to be a star soccer player or a world class musician, as long as you like chocolate!)

Okay. Let's make a deal, seeing as how we seem to share the same lactose issues (although mine resolved themselves with a daily dose of goat milk kefir - I highly recommend that you try the stuff). I'll cut back on the ridiculous amount of dairy that I consume in favor of more baby-friendly protein chains, as long as you allow me to consume a bit of chocolate now and then.

new cookbook

Enter our new cookbook. Yowzers, it's nice. I've heard that their other cookbook, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World , is even better. (Perhaps that's because it contains only cupcake recipes, eschewing the collard greens options?) You will not be starved for flavor, little fella'.

Thank you, again, for being such an easy baby and sleeping through the night since we brought you home. I'm sorry about the milk-based smoothie. It's all almond/rice/soy milk from here on out.

And I'm sure your digestive issue wasn't caused by the chocolate. But just in case, I hear that you can buy vegan chocolate chips nowadays, anyway.

Love you, dear,


Welcome to our new sponsors, Little Pink House and Bird and Little Bird! Check out their adorable offerings when you get the chance.