Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Distraction comes in many forms, and for me, these holidays, it come sin the form of the Cocoon lace wrap. I have had the pattern for many years in my library but never got round to knitting it. Recently I was given a huge hank of Handmaiden Seasilk in Ebony and thought it perfect for this pattern. I believe the original pattern was intended to be knitted in a brushed mohair yarn but brushed mohair (or brushed anything) and I don't get along too well. It makes me sneeze. It's still a pretty pattern, though, and I still wanted to knit it and so I am making it in a smooth silky yarn.

That's what it looks like held up against the light. I am well into the 14th repeat (out of thirty). It will probably be completed befor the year comes to an end, or so I am hoping. Just 3 more sleeps to go.

I must say that what I do like about this pattern is that it is almost reversible. Almost. The back looks like this

This is unblocked, of course, and it will look much more crisp and the pattern much mroe defined once I have completed it and blocked it. I do believe the seasilk is meant to block out nice and cripsly too!

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Saturday, December 26, 2009
Christmas 2009

Thank you for all your kind comments and messages regarding my recent surgery. I am recovering very well, and will soon be back to "normal".

Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope all of you had at least as good a Christmas as I did.

On Christmas eve we had dinner with my in-laws. This is the first time my parents are in Sydney for Christmas and so they were invited too. As usual, I made roast pork with crackling.

The recipe is actually very simple. This year I ordered 2kg of boneless pork belly with the skin left on. I left it out in the open to "dry" from about 9 in the morning. Every couple of hours or so, I sprinkled some salt on the skin and wiped off the moisture with a clean paper towel. At about midday, I used a knife to puncture the meat side of the pork belly and rubbed liberally with light soy sauce and Chinese 5-spice powder, and left it to dry further with the skin side up. By about 2 in the afternoon, the skin looked nice and dry. I baked it in the oven for about 2 hours, with the skin side up on a rack in a tray with about 1cm of water. Oh, and the oven (fan-forced) was set to about 180 degrees. I checked on it about 1 hour and 30 minutes into the baking time to see what parts had crackled and what had not. teh parts that did not crackle were gently dried with a clean paper towel and brushed lightly with some lemon juice (you can also use vinegar). The pork was then popped back into the oven for further baking and pulled out just before two hours. if you are not sure whether it is cooked, use a meat thermometer to check. Cutting it to check for pinkness and then re-baking will cause it to dry out. There you have it.. my very simple roast pork with crackling.

I also made potato bake, but this year it was a failure. As I am still recovering and did not want to have to do everything in one stretch, I peeled the potatoes early and soaked them in water, ready to be assembled into a tray in the afternoon. Unfortunately they must have absorbed water and released said water during the cooking. My potato bake turned out more watery than usual and definitely not as rich and delicious as it normally is. Very unfortunate!

Chris's mother made her very popular coconut prawns dish. Don't ask me for the recipe as I have never made it. I know it has prawns, pumpkin, chokoes, ginger and coconut milk in it and it is very delicious. Unfortunately, I was unable to indulge as prawns in large quantities make me itch. I did eat a little, and it was definitely delicious and rich.

During dinner, Chris's parents pulled out a headband with antlers for Alex. I made the bad bad mistake of calling them ears. Oops. Now he calls them "Rudolph's ears".

As usual, Alex scored the largest number of presents, including a new bike. It came with a helmet and although the bicycle is not yet assembled, Alex has been wearing the helmet daily. He just won't leave it alone! He wears it in the car, falls asleep and then my dad who sits next to him in the car has to try to take it off without waking him!

The other big present he received was from my parents - a bed! Alex now sleeps in a toddler bed. I am very surprised how good he has been. i was expecting to be woken at all hours of the night by a little boy wanting to climb into our bed, but he only comes round in the morning, usually at about six, but soemtiems at seven. When he does come in he is very good and climbs into our bed and snuggles. Sometimes he even goes back to sleep!

I think I did better than Alex this year, though. Amongst my many presents, i got a Food safari cookbook and a handmade shawl! I participated in the Christmas exchange on Ravelry and Helen, the person who sent to me, made me a shawl. It is a pattern that she saw was both on her queue and mine. How lovely is that?!

You have probably noticed how shaggy Alex was looking in those Christmas photos. He was long overdue for a haircut. I had grown used to seeing him shaggy and quite liked the look. Today we decided to give him a haircut.

Haircuts are a family affair here.. Alex to sit still, me to hold the scissors and cut, and Chris to take photos!

I much prefer him with long hair. Luckily, it will grow long again before too long.

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Monday, December 21, 2009
One tube down...

It was my intention to post after Christmas with photos of knitting and spinning done over Christmas, and news of an impending bundle of joy. However, that was not meant to be. On the Friday that just passed, I had to join the queue in the emergency department of my local hospital with what I thought were terrible gas pains. I am now so relieved I got it checked out, eventhough I did think at the time that I'd really look the fool if they did turn out to be "just gas", as they found that the pregnancy was ectopic and it had ruptured my right fallopian tube.

It all went very quickly after they found the ruptured ectopic pregnancy in the ultrasounds. What I did not know when I was at home was that the aches and gas pains I was experiencing was from internal bleeding caused by the rupture. According to the obstetrics registrar on duty that day, if left too long, I could have died! I have never "nearly died" before. I had never, up till that time, had surgery before. I had never been under any sort of general anaesthetic before. It was all quite an experience, and not a very pleasant one.

I wanted my "regular" obstetrician to do the surgery and for that I would have had to transfer to the local private hospital which was about 10 minutes away. That would have been doable, but the private hospital did not have room for me. My "regular" was very good about it, though, and recommended an obstetrician in the hospital where I was and assured me I was in good hands. I was indeed. He turned out to be very nice, and in some ways reminded me of my "regular".

The surgery was successful and took less than an hour. It was minimally invasive (and that is not to say it was NOT invasive) as it was done via laparoscopy. I am now left with three tiny holes (stitched up, of course) in my belly and just some residual pain. I was lucky they caught it in time and managed to find the ruptured tube easily and removed it and the ectopic pregnancy and cleaned out what they could. Who knows what the outcome could have been had I waited. I was going to wait for Chris to finish work on Friday, and I am now glad I did not. He missed his office Christmas party. Had I waited, I would have been much more sick from the bleeding. In the 3 hours when we waited in the emergency department's waiting room, my blood pressure dove down to about 97/68 (or thereabouts). I started feeling a bit light-headed and a lot more pain. The pain that had started in my tummy had started to spread up my backto my shoulders. By the time they wheeled me into the theatre for the operation, the pain in my shoulder was quite unbearable.

This is not the most desirable outcome from a pregnancy. Far from it, in fact, but I am grateful to be alive. The staff at the hospital took great care of me and they were all very gentle and sympathetic. Even the nurse removing my catheter tried to distract me while she was doing it when she found out I had never had one before.

It was a scary time for all of us. Something I hope to not have to go through again.

I think not enough is said to pregnant women to encourage them to seek medical attention when they have aches and pains during the pregnancy. I have heard others tell me that they have been told, "You're pregnant, what do you expect?" Well, I thought that too. I was pregnant. gas is part of being pregnant, what did I expect? I was lucky, I think, because I have a GP who is vigilant. I had been spotting very lightly for about 2 weeks prior to the ectopic pregnancy being discovered. He was monitoring my HCG levels very closely, and they were going up satisfactorily. In fact, the last test, taken the day before, showed the HCG level to be at about 3700, an acceptable level for someone who was 6 weeks pregnant. I was meant to have another test this week and then a scan, but of course that is probably all unnecessary now. My GP emphsised to me every time he saw me or spoke to me that if I had any pain I needed to go to the emergency department and tell them that I was pregnant, spotting and had pain. It was because of him that I decided not to wait. Better safe than sorry, and this time, it was certainly much better safe as sorry would have been too late.

Aside from the recuperation that needs to happen physically, there's probably going to be a lot of emotional baggage that will come along. This pregnancy was never going to be a baby as such since it was ectopic, but for a few weeks, it was the promise of a baby. We were all excited. Alex had placed an order for a sister. In fact he was absolutely convinced it was a sister. When I told him I did not know whether it would be a boy or a girl, he retorted, "YOU don't know, but I know! It is a sister!" None of us have said anything to him about there being no more sister, but he has not mentioned her once since the operation. He knows that I am not feeling very well and I have "owies" on my tummy where he should not press on me, but we have not said anything about the sister being gone. He just seems to know. I wonder how. He has not asked to say goodnight to his sister since I came home from the hospital, but he used to say goodnight to my ytummy every night before that.

From now on, if we were to get pregnant again, we'll have to be ever so vigilant. I am sure my GP will be. He always is. I will have to be too. I am sure we will all be very nervous about a repeat of this happening and will probably not be able to rest till we get a scan showing the baby to be in the uterus. Oh, what a lot of stress!

On the bright side of things, I am glad it is Christmas and I am able to take the next couple of weeks off from work to rest and to enjoy my family.

Merry Christmas everyone! I will be back after Christmas (if not before!) with photos of more completed projects.

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