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12 months old.

[Her 12 month post has been waiting ever so patiently.  Here are some photos taken of Dhara the first week of January.]  It’s been a year since she joined the Smith/Kurikeshu households, and a joyful year it’s been watching her grow into her personality and becoming a cherry little person.  She’s an affectionate little girl who loves giving kisses and hugs.  She says hello to everyone she sees, even if they don’t say hi back, but most do.  She’ll wave goodbye immediately followed by a dramatic flying kiss.  Oh, I love her.

My little girl definitely has a mullet.  You can’t tell from these photos, but it’s there. Trust me.  Zuma Aunty often asks her, “Baby, do you like your mullet?”  In which, Dhara nods her head, yes.  The mullet hasn’t gotten bad — at least not yet.  It still curls under her ear in a cute pixie way.  Like Tinkerbelle from Peter Pan.  I’m hoping I wont have to cut her hair, ever.  I just love it when little girls have long hair.  But we’ll see how the mullet fares in the coming months.

Dhara just loves books.  She’s always picking up books and asking to be read to, “book, book.”  Her most recent fave has been Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? by Dr. Seuss.  She makes the sound of the rooster, “cock-a-doo”, the cow, “moooooo”, and the cork, “pop pop.”  She can even whisper, which is really cute to hear. “Whisper, whisper, and that is that”, as Dr. Seuss would say.

She walks alot quicker these days.  Her gait is similar to a ducks — waddle waddle — but a fast duck.  She loves closets and she’s always eager to be where the action + fun is.  She loves her Zuma Aunty, Josh Uncle, and Aunt Beth especially.  And both grandmas have a special special place in her heart where kisses reside and special secrets are told.  Her great grandpa is also among her endeared.

She’s still not a big eater, but she loves yogurt.  It doesn’t surprise me after all the yogurt I ate when I was pregnant.  One thing is for sure, she won’t eat what you give her, but she will eat off the floor!

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beach christmas, a photo recap.

the smith’s Christmas 2010 was a lovely one

dhara’s first Christmas + first birthday

her first time opening gifts (and reading a card)

she needed some help from her dada

a set of wooden instruments! thanks aunt beth!

greg and his signature spiderman gift from his sister, beth

tummy tum tum

new cap from the wifey

meeting aunt beth’s new puppy, snowball

two pups

baking a gingerbread man with grandma

one last hug — leaving for woodbine

party plates made by grandma smith with a special note on the back:

“Happy First Birthday Dhara.  You have brought such joy to all of our lives!  Love always, Grandma Sandy, Grandpa Smitty, and Aunt Beth”

confection baby shrug.

Every baby needs a warm shrug, don’tcha think?  This sweater was quite the opposite knit compared to my last knit, the Sandbox Cardi.  For this project I used the Confection Baby Shrug pattern by Tonya Wagner in size 18 months found via Ravelry.  I knit the sweater in the round using Berroco Blackstone Tweed in the color, ancient mariner — which is a heather brown with lovely, lovely hints of purple and olive green.  The Sandbox Cardi demonstrates my love for bold + folksy; and the Confection Baby Shrug, my love for earthy and all-natural.  My heart tends to be swayed either this way or that.

This shrug was my first project involving knitting eyelets at the cuff — co cute.  I also love that this sweater is so thin and airy.  The yarn literally broke apart in my hands if I wasn’t gentle enough with it.  That’s the only drawback to this yarn — it’s delicacy. However, once you have a completed project, it really looks and feels beautiful.  It folds up so nicely too!  Oh, one thing I realized I don’t like doing is picking up stitches!  My stitches were so tight that I had to incorporate 3 double pointed needles to finish off the rib around the edge of the sweater.

The sweater is a little loose on Dhara (12 months) — she wore it to church on Sunday — I think this is due to the combination of thin yarn and size 9 needles.  It should fit her better in the spring.  One thing is for sure, babies won’t be able to take this sweater off due to the way it sits right on the shoulders.  It’s a great shrug to match up with a peasant top + jeans or a simple spring dress.  Maybe I should knit one up for myself?

baby smith handmade #5.

Project #5:  Eclectic First Christmas Stocking.

I’m long overdue on posting a Baby Smith Handmade project.  It was Dhara’s first (actually second) Christmas, so I wanted to make her something handmade that she would love as a child, and love even as an adult every time Christmas rolls around.  A stocking fit that bill.  I had three requirements.  1) I’m not big on Christmas fabric. 2) I want something heirloom + vintage quality.  And, 3) Simple, yet different and pretty.

I made the stocking at Greg’s parent’s home at the beach.  Actually, both Greg’s mom and myself made a stocking for Dhara.  We laid out all our supplies, fabrics, Ghinger scissors, and trims on the long dining table, and got to work drafting our patterns on newspaper and sewing away.  It was so relaxing chatting and watching the old-school black + white version of Miracle on 34th Street in the background.

The stocking I made is crafted of linen on the front and a good quality quilting weighted cotton on the back.  The front consists of swatches of Indian fabrics and some mustard green rick rack.  The 3 beautiful cream crocheted flowers are my mother-in-law’s handiwork — she makes these beautiful flowers.  I am determined to learn how to make them this year!  A garland project made of crocheted flowers has been dwelling on my mind.  The inside of the stocking is fully lined with quilting cotton.  The back of the stocking has a personal note to my Dhara Dear, which I embroidered.  The whole stocking, minus the personal note, probably took me around 3.5-4 hours to complete.

crocheted flowers by greg’s mom

embroidering personal note on back

back of stocking

***

Other Baby Smith Handmade Projects:

Project #4:  Bunting.

Project #3:  Waterproof Bibs.

Project #2:  Shawl Collar Sweater.

Project #1:  Scalloped Blanket.

What is Baby Smith Handmade?

11 months old.

I’m behind on Dhara’s monthly posts — so before I post her 12 month, here’s 11 months!  Since her birthday was on Christmas Day, we decided to have an early birthday party for her.  So at 11 months and 1 week, we had a three-weeks-early-party.  We invited our local church and some friends and family.

I kept it simple in terms of decorations because, in my opinion, decor is somewhat unnoticed when there are lots of people — at least in the crowds I roll with.  [Plus, I hosted a half-birthday shindig in June for Dhara which was designed exactly the way I wanted it.] On the flip side, her birthday being during the Christmas season also helps because Christmas decorations are already up!

So instead of going all out with party decorations for her 1st year party, we had Josh cut down a 15 foot Christmas tree and prop it up in my parents’ circular atrium and decorate the rest of the house with our Christmas decor, we also purchased a bunch of red star shaped helium balloons, and lastly, had a dessert table decorated with Dhara’s homemade strawberry birthday cake embellished with my handmade cake bunting made of fabric triangles + baker’s twine + 2 skewers, a double layered german chocolate cake designed by Zuma Aunty, a single layered small vanilla cake topped with blackberries, and some homemade cupcakes topped with a myriad of fun and tasty toppings.

diana + shreya

grandpa + grandma smith

dad’s [greg’s dad] mixed grille

And lastly, what can I say about my Dhara Dear?  She’s growing up too quick. Why can’t she stay a baby just a little longer?  Eleven months meant a whole slew of new things for Dhara.  She’s officially begun walking on her own!  Her new found freedom was so exciting for her.  Even when she fell down, she would get right back up.  Crawling has become minimal now.

She loves walking around saying “chuckaree”, an endearing Indian term that her Ammachi [my mom] calls her.  New words also include: “book” [she LOVES to be read to], “baba” [her bottle of milk], “amen” [which she says after anyone prays], and “no, no, no” as she walks around wagging her little finger at people.

She also loves to drink water out of cups, peek-a-boo, dance, cuddle with mama, string cheese, and knocking down blocks that we pile high.

For Dhara’s birthday, her Ammachi, designed a cream + gold salvar made of raw silk.  When she was in India, she had it sewn to Dhara’s measurements.  It was adorable, to say the least!  She looked like a little Indian ranee.  A big thank you to my parents who hosted her birthday party.  Especially to my mama who always does above and beyond for her granddaughter.  Thank you.

our birth story, part III.

This is the last installment of our birth story.  [Read Part Ihere, and Part IIhere.]

After I was moved from L+D to the maternity ward, Greg accompanied the nurses as they took Dhara to get bathed.  When she came back to me after her bath, she came placed in a scarlet red Christmas stocking, clad in a white kimono top, with only her head and shoulders peeping out of the stocking.  There was also a knitted red ribbed cap on her head.  It was quite the most merry + adorable Christmas present EVER.  She was fast asleep, my little one.  Her poor little body had been through alot in the hours prior to this.

Little did we know that she would be taken not even an hour afterwards to be put under the lights.  You see, within the same day of her birth, tests confirmed that Dhara had high bilirubin levels.  In other words, my baby had a case of jaundice — which is common in many babies, but she ended up having higher levels which the specialists said could lead to her having a blood transfusion.  Yikes!

Her jaundice was caused by blood incompatibility.  “It happens when the baby’s major blood groups differ from the mother’s.  The most common group incompatibility is when the baby’s blood type is “A”, “B”, or “AB” and the mother’s blood type is “O”.  The mother can create antibodies to the baby’s blood group. Damage to the baby’s blood results in high levels of bilirubin in the blood.  Bilirubin is harmless in low levels, but if the levels are very high, injury to the nervous system and brain occur.”

Up until this point, and for the next 5 days, I didn’t get to hold my baby girl for an extended period of time.  Forget the bonding and getting-to-know-you time that is so important after birth — nope, it wasn’t happening.  I can’t even begin to describe the feeling correctly.  It was just sadness.  You carry a baby for 10 months, go through an insane delivery, and then you can’t even hold her.  Tears rolled down my face many a time during that hospital stay.

One HUGE blessing was that the hospital let her stay in our room while she was under the lights.  Even when my allotted time as a patient was up at the hospital, they moved Dhara and I up to Pediatrics and gave us a room that all three of us could stay in — this was unheard of in the hospital — at least the nurses had never seen it done before.  Usually hospitals will keep babies in the nursery and send parents home to come back the next day and visit with their child.  If they made me do that I probably would have sobbed the whole time she was away.  [My fear of nurseries is that the nurses let babies cry and cry. It makes me shudder to think of that.]  So I thank God with a full heart for the blessing of having her near Greg and I, and us being able to stay with her.  [And especially being there to scoop her up if she wanted to be held close.]  Although, it was sad to see her eyes covered by the goggles which were needed to protect her eyes.  Sometimes when she was awake, we could see her trying to peek from under her goggles.

Every night a nurse would come into our room to take Dhara to the nursery for 15 minutes to get a blood sample to test her bilirubin levels.  Dhara would come back to the room with needle pricks on her heels.  Every night Greg and I were always on the lookout because Dhara had a tendency to pull her goggles over her nose. We were afraid that she wouldn’t be able to breath if that happened when we weren’t watching, so we BARELY got any sleep in the hospital.  That Dhara made sure to keep us on our toes.  We were oh so tired.  I should also mention here that due to my 3rd degree tear, recovery was slow and painful.  No one ever talks about the recovery period for mom.  But it’s icky, and uncomfortable, and painful. Showers and toilet sessions were the worst.

We were under strict orders to only take Dhara out from under the lights for feedings and diaper changes — once those were done, she had to go back.  Those days really felt like the hospital owned her — like I just didn’t give birth to her!  I remember one night of Dhara just crying and crying — poor gal — I told Greg to give her to me.  She slept in my bed for part of the night — sweet bliss! — the next morning, the nurse came in and reprimanded me for having the baby out from under the lights.  I guess she had every right to reprimand me, but I just wanted some cuddle time with the babers.  Infants really are just the sweetest things in bed, they just cozy up right next to you.  Dhara’s test results fluctuated.  This was kinda depressing.  Whenever we thought she was doing better, her levels would go back up again.  Her highest bilirubin level was 18.

A couple of my fondest memories:

— Greg singing a made-up song to Dhara about “that mean Mr. Bilirubin”.  He’s so good at coming up with songs that make me laugh.  Especially during this time when I was kinda down in my spirits.  We had fun singing and coming up with verses for his made-up song.

— My favorite happened during the wee hours of December 29th.  I was partly awakened by the sounds of the pediatric nurse coming into our room.  She came in and shut off the lights above Dhara’s cart.  She then rolled Dhara’s cart next to my bed, and then quietly left the room.  Even though I was half asleep, my heart new it was all over — my baby was going to be alright.  Later that morning, once we awoke, we learned that we would be taking her home that day.  Oh for joy!  I get to finally keep her, was the feeling I felt.  And it was such a good, good feeling.

[End of Part III.]

[The End.]

hello 2011.

I’m going to take a short break from the completion of my birth story and write up my New Year’s post — seven days late.  Boy, did December come and go so very fast with first, my little munchkin’s early birthday party, crafting, mailing off Christmas cards, time at the beach, knitting, Christmas (relishing in what Jesus came to do — what Christmas really is all about), more crafting, and finally New Year’s.

So much to post about, but I will begin by posting my New Year’s resolutions for this new year.  There’s something so refreshing about feeling like you are working on a new slate — a clean board — a second chance.  Now I don’t want to be legalistic about this list, rather, I do want them to guide my year.  Plus, I tried making sure to stick to things I feel like I can accomplish.  So here goes.

Now back to your regularly scheduled backlog of posts!  We ended up ordering our Christmas cards from tinyprints.com — they have a myriad of shapes, sizes and modern designs.  I loved the simplicity and square shape of the template I ended up going with.  I also got an uber cool free calendar with my order.  The calendar is pretty awesome for being free — the photos ended up being so crisp, and the paper, a really good quality.
cards, envelopes + stamps
2011 photo calendar

our birth story, part II.

Read Part I, here.

8 PM, Christmas Eve. I received the epidural — a needle in my back — and was finally able to lay down comfortably as the drugs dulled down my pain wracked body.  The nurse checked all the IV wires now attached to me, made sure I was in a comfortable position, covered me with a super warm and cozy blanket just out of the dryer, gave me the infamous hand held epidural control to increase the amount of pain meds if I began to feel pain, and quietly walked out after turning out the lights.  Greg laid on a cot next to my bed and we both caught up on some much needed sleep.

10:30 PM, Christmas Eve. I began to feel uncomfortable — the need to turn on my side was almost OCDish, so I called for the nurse.  She helped me turn.  It was thirty minutes later that I began to feel that back jabbing pain again.  I pressed the button on the epidural control for more drugs.  Greg was worried that I was pressing that button too often.  Whether I was pressing it too much or not, it didn’t matter, because it wasn’t working.  The pain was intensifying and that button seemed to not be doing its job!  I called for my midwife, Bayla.  She checked my progression — I was 9 cm dilated and she could feel the baby’s head, which by the way, had lots of hair!  Bayla upped the Pitocin to make the inducing go faster.  I needed to do something because of the pain, so she used some of her midwifery techniques and got me to try different positions to get the baby’s head down lower. The one position I remember was getting on my hands and knees.  Prior to this point, I remember feeling timid about my body being uncovered, but at that point I didn’t care!  Uncovered, I was!  I was in so much pain that I would do anything for it to subside, even a little.

1 AM, Christmas Morning. It was this point in time I began telling Bayla and Greg that I couldn’t do it.  It was too much.  I began begging for a c-section.  Bayla told me to press the epidural button for more drugs.  I was pressing the button, but it wasn’t helping!  She called the nurses in.  I remember a few coming in to provide me with some physical and emotional support.  The head nurse took Bayla’s place and began urging me to push.  She told me that she could feel the baby’s head, even see it, and that I just needed to push — all I could do was somewhat push, cry and say I couldn’t.  I remember constantly looking at Greg with such anguish and begging him to let me get a c-section.  ”Cut me up,” I was thinking, just let this pain end.  The pain was so unbearable — I can’t even begin to describe it.  The nurses, after seeing all the pain I was in, decided to call the anesthesiologist to check my epidural.  Once he came, they had me sit up.  My body was being wracked with such forceful contractions that I was literally shaking.  The head nurse took me in her arms and held me while the anesthesiologist checked the needle in my back.  He was outraged — the needle had come out of my back at some point!  [Put aside all the pain I was in, the very fact that the epidural needle came out of my back was reason for suing the hospital because such incidents could lead to paralysis, etc.]  I personally think it must have come out when the midwife had me try various positions to get the baby’s head down lower.  The anesthesiologist redid my needle and taped it all up.  All the while, I felt the baby’s head lower while I sat getting the needle reinserted.  It felt like I was literally sitting on the baby’s head inside me.

2 AM, Christmas Morning. After the epidural was replaced and the drugs now flowing freely through my body once again, the pain began to slowly subside.  I laid back as I sucked on ice chips and began joking with the nurses, “I was just kidding about all the c-section stuff.”  Everyone laughed.

It was then that I slept between contractions.  The nurses would wake me up when it was time to push.  It was heavenly sleep — those few minutes here and there. Heavenly.  The pushing seemed futile to me because I couldn’t feel anything.  It seemed to be futile to the nurses too because the baby’s head wasn’t budging.  It was still stuck and couldn’t get past my tail bone.  Greg watched and listened as the nurses shook their heads and quietly spoke about me needing surgery since the baby wasn’t budging.  He left the room to call my parents.  He asked for prayer — specifically that I would not have to get a c-section.  They ended up calling my grandparents, and others in the church to pray for us.  [My dad says that within a couple hours they stopped praying because they knew, by faith, their prayers had been answered.]

3:30 AM Christmas Morning. The surgeon was called in.  A nice fatherly looking man.  He felt for the baby’s head and the exact position of the baby.  He talked to Greg and I and asked permission to try a technique he had tried once before.  If that didn’t work, he would take me into surgery.  Greg and I gave him permission to try the technique.  The technique — during a contraction, he gripped the baby’s head and shoulders with one of his hands and began to turn the baby.  It was such a forceful, yet concentrated maneuver, that the surgeon had to slowly turn his whole body around while turning the baby.  Greg watched in horror thinking that his baby’s neck would snap at any moment.  Instead, in a matter of a few minutes, our precious baby girl was born.

4:13 AM, Christmas Morning. Weighing in at 9 pounds, 1.6 ounces, and 21.75 inches long was, Dhara Avonlea Smith.  Otherwise known as, Dhara Dear.  As she came out, Greg’s eyes got real wide and he said, “Whoa, she’s a big baby!”  Here’s a short video of her seconds after being delivered.

Below are two photographs taken of my sweet cupcake within a couple hours of her birth — her first photo.  She literally looks like a cupcake.  : )  Thanks to Zuma Aunty and her camera phone.

early morning rays and a sleepy newborn

All that being said, Dhara was delivered just fine, except for the minor cone head. Even though she was stuck in the birth canal for an extended period of time, her heartbeat always remained constant, as did mine.  I did have a 3rd degree tear. But, so grateful to the Lord for our protection.  I’m also grateful for a group of prayer warriors who prayed at 2 AM for a vaginal and safe delivery.  I was literally 5 minutes away from being taken to the operating room for a cesarean section.  I think it was their prayers that moved our mountain.  Soooo happy now that I don’t have those scars on my tummy to show for it.  Instead, God’s hand lead us all the way.  It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure!

Most moms that I’ve seen look great after giving birth.  I looked like I had just been in a train wreck.  I felt like the whole experience could have added a couple of years to me. It’s a good thing that I’ve lost all sense of the pain I felt that day because all this being said, I still want to try birthing naturally next time around, especially if the baby is in the correct position.  Call me crazy, but it’s still a deep desire of mine. Both Greg and I are interested in trying a birthing center next time around.  We wouldn’t mind birthing at home, but I think both sets of parents would think we’re loony. But who knows, maybe we will one day.  Greg personally thinks that we shouldn’t have had to induce with Dhara.  He thinks the midwife could have done more to turn the baby during the early laboring phase, such as putting me in various positions, or using a rebozo to “sift” the baby.

For those of you who are wondering about the doula I initially hired, we ended up not having one because of the hospital switch I made later on in my pregnancy. The cost of the new midwives was not fully covered under our insurance, so we decided to forgo the doula.  However, in hindsight, we both wish we had a doula with us.  She would have helped in going to the hospital at the right time — we ended up going too early.  She probably would have also helped in turning the baby to the right position with various “baby turning” techniques.

Also as a side note, the epidural ended up having a negative side effect on me.  For about two months my right foot was numb.  In other words, it was like I had a lead foot.  I was worried that I would be stuck with it, but thank God it wore off in a couple months.

So there you have it!  Our birth story.  I’m going to go ahead and write up a brief Part III because I don’t want to forget what it felt like to have Dhara under the lights due to her jaundice.  Part III coming up.

[End of Part II.]