Alina Sewing and Design

Fringe Dress + Palm Springs Weekend + Life Update

Dusting off the old blog here–life has been crazy busy for our family since April! If you don’t follow me on Instagram, I highly recommend doing so because that’s where I post most of my life updates and small sewing jobs. (I’m @alinadesignco on Instagram.) I’m sorry in advance for the slightly longer post, but I’ve broken it up under different headlines to help you find just the sections you’re looking for if you’re uninterested in everything!

The ULTIMATE DIY Project: Chapter 9

Chapter 9: Why 34 weeks is a milestone.

NOTE: DO NOT read if you DO NOT want to read the word “cervix” or know anything about how mine is behaving. You’ve been warned!


34 weeks…already! Can you believe it?! This pregnancy is flying by. 34 weeks has always seemed like a big number in my brain, but today it holds particularly more importance for me.

I’ll back up; since hitting 20 weeks, I’ve always had strong and regular (not in regular intervals, but regular amounts, i.e. 2-4 per hour) Braxton Hicks (BH) contractions (these are “practice” contractions, if you’re unfamiliar, and should be painless). They’ve become part of normal life and they typically seem to only be more frequent when I’ve overdone it that day. (I can’t help my type A-ness on some days, okay?) That being said, the standard recommendations are to go in to the hospital or, at the very least, give your doc a heads up if you’re having more than 3-4 contractions in one hour and they aren’t subsiding with extra fluids and rest. Wellll…that obviously didn’t quite fit me, lest I wanted to be calling the doctor every hour of every day for the last 3.5 months. Last Tuesday night (the 3rd), I started having them 7-9 minutes apart and they were lasting for 50-90 seconds (I downloaded a contraction timer app for the first time that night just because I’d never noticed them so close together before!). J was working the night shift all of last week, so because I was home alone for the night, I wanted to be a bit more diligent in paying attention to them. They stayed consistent for four hours, never gaining in intensity, but just staying steady. I didn’t feel worry or concern in my heart of hearts, so I decided to just head to bed before calling J or even considering going in to the hospital (considering that’s where he was at anyway!). I figured if my body was REALLY trying to go into labor, it would wake me up to tell me so and the best thing I could do was get some rest, as it was after midnight. I don’t know if that was wise…but we can obviously see that it worked out and they tapered off while I slept. However, it had been such an intense few hours that my uterus literally felt sore for two days after! (Think post-intense ab workout!) So, my body was definitely doing something. After that night, my BH were much more intense and menstrual cramp-like, causing a dull lower backache with staying power!

Moving forward to the end of this past week, there were a couple of other things that occurred (I’ll spare you the details!) that are completely normal in pregnancy…just not at 33.5 weeks. Things that should be happening closer to your due date. I wasn’t feeling concerned about any one change in particular, but all together, I felt I should mention them. BUT, I had a routine appointment already scheduled for this past Friday, and most of these changes started in on Wednesday and Thursday, so I decided to wait and just mention everything to the resident then. Based on one change in particular, she decided to check my cervix for any signs of dilation, even though it’s not routine (or even recommended or necessary) to check this early.

I want to stop here to describe this resident to you–she is super sweet, she takes extra time to explain everything to you in laymen’s terms, is very professional and courteous, and speaks in a very calm and collected voice. Are you picturing her? She kind of reminds me of my friend Lydia and would make a great doula/midwife/doctor combo. 🙂

Anyway–I’ll never forget her expression mid-exam. I could tell she wasn’t expecting to find any cervical changes (she had already done a visual exam when she was swabbing for a fetal fibronectin test [I’ll explain this in a moment] and didn’t SEE any dilation). She had been focusing somewhere on the wall behind me while she concentrated and then all of the sudden her eyebrows shot up and she said, “OH! Well….okay….now….you’re actually dilated to 2cm….which is okayyy….but I do want you to go over to triage for a couple of hours to be monitored…” So, over to labor and delivery we went. 🙂 They hooked me up to fetal monitors to watch contractions and baby’s heart rate. In the mean time, they sent the fetal fibronectin (fFN) test off to the lab**. I contracted every 3 minutes for the entire two hours, which almost earned me a night in the hospital on its own. BUT, fortunately, after two hours, the resident checked me again and all of those contractions hadn’t dilated me any further (and they weren’t gaining in intensity, according to me). Additionally, the fFN results came back negative…hallelujah! So, they let me go home with orders to take it easy (not bed rest, just not hiking 5 miles), call if ANYTHING changed, and to keep my already-scheduled routine appointment 2 weeks later as a follow-up. The resident told me specifically that her goal was for me to make it past the 34 week mark this weekend because at 34 weeks, they no longer administer steroids (to help baby’s lungs develop faster if they’re going to be born early) and they no longer attempt to stop labor.

**[fFN is a glue-like protein that essentially attaches the placenta to the uterine wall, so when delivery is nearing, some of that fFN can “leak” out and be detected. If the test comes back positive, it really doesn’t mean you WILL be going in to labor soon, but if it comes back negative, that means there’s a 99% change you WILL NOT be going into labor in the next 1-2 weeks.]

So, hallelulejah…I’ve made it to 34 weeks and, according to the fFN, there’s a 1% chance I’ll be going into labor in the next 7-10 days! However, unfortunately, this episode has me all sorts of messed up mentally. By the end of the afternoon yesterday, I was just beginning to process all of it and this wave of anxiety began to rush over me. I was not in a good place. I had myself talked into BELIEVING that I had to wait until 42 weeks (or whenever they would induce me before that). I figured if I was prepared to go “all the way,” I could be pleasantly surprised if I went earlier or on my own (I’d LOVE to not be induced, so I can be reassured baby is ready and coming on their own time). However, “early” in that perfectly coiffed scenario of my head did NOT mean 6 weeks early…it meant like…close to my due date. You feel me? So, here I am, walking around with a dilating cervix (essentially, I am technically IN early labor), feeling like a ticking time bomb, but knowing that many women walk around at a certain dilation for weeks before actually going into labor (or even having to be induced, ultimately!). My type-A brain nearly exploded. I knew that I would eventually hit this mental wall of knowing it could be any time, but not knowing when exactly…I just wasn’t prepared for it to be this soon. I wasn’t prepared to walk around for up to SEVEN WEEKS with it hanging over my head as “any minute…any second…be ready to drop everything…” Seven weeks of this? Torture for someone like me. How do I prioritize? How do I plan? How do I live my life? (Sorry, pregnancy is bringing out my type-A to the extreme…)

As I was talking all of this out with one of my lovely sisters-in-law last night, she kind of chuckled and said (paraphrasing), “I just think this is funny because you are a planner and you thought you were going to be prepared for every scenario, so God thought it would be funny to hand this to you and say, ‘ohh really?‘!” And yes…she is right. My “plans” rarely actually come to fruition because I am not in control, no matter how badly I want to be or how much time I invest in researching, planning, and scheming. I am not in control. That freaks the socks off of someone like me. I like a good adventure…but I am not a flexible person. Not without significant notice. 🙂

So, in summary…I’m in early labor. There’s no reason to freak out. This could last for hours or it could last for weeks. How many weeks max? There’s absolutely no way for me to know or for anyone to say. I must trust that the Lord is sovereign and allow him to prepare my heart for what he has coming next…whenever that is. Do I think it would be encouraging to hear about how long you or your Aunt Berta walked around at Xcm? No, not really–don’t take it personally. In the end, I can hear 100 stories about 100 different labors and that’s exactly what they’ll all be–different. It’s fair to say I’m at the point where meant-well comments can be super discouraging. So, what’s my plan? I don’t have one. Each activity, each to-do list item, each day will be taken individually. Am I scared? No. Am I excited? Yes! Am I anxious? YES! So, assume that no news is exactly that–no news! Don’t wait on the edge of your seat to hear of the newest addition…you could be on that edge for a long time and your buns might get sore. 😉 But, if you think of it as you go about your day, I wouldn’t dare turn down your prayers! Specially, prayer that our baby’s development matches the timeline for his or her delivery (we’re measuring exactly on time at this point, which is good!), prayer that we will feel emotionally prepared to become parents when that day comes, and prayer that we will have a safe delivery.

In the mean time, I realized I should move the nursery’s rocking chair down the priority list and replace it with installing the car seat and packing the hospital bag. Just in case we need either in the next SEVEN weeks… 😉

Aye yi yi.

P.S. Here’s what a difference 10 weeks can make! Below is 24 weeks and 34 weeks…ironically, both in the same tank top (I didn’t do that on purpose). Anyway, the reason I ended up putting these two pictures together is because the baby has dropped significantly in the last week and 24 weeks is the last time I had this much room to breathe and eat!!!! It’s GLORIOUS. I even woke up in the middle of the night last night with a growling, starving stomach. (You know I got up and ate a Luna bar at 3:00 am–ain’t no thang!) The only negative side is that my bladder lost all of that extra space my lungs and stomach gained. One swift punch or elbow jab from the babe and I find myself frozen, trying not to pee. It’s great fun. 🙂24weeks vs 34weeks

The ULTIMATE DIY Project: Chapter 8

Chapter 8: We’re HOW far along?!

Well, here we are in the third trimester.

How did THAT happen?! A friend phrased it well today: “the days are long, but time is short.”


I woke up yesterday and realized that this baby will be considered full-term in less than 10 weeks…which means I could be a MOM in 10 weeks. Or 15. (Or tomorrow, but let’s pray this baby stays in until all development is complete!) That’s the thing…it’s like knowing you have a deadline for possibly the most life-changing event to-date, but not knowing where exactly that deadline is. It’s felt so far away, unreal, non-threatening, and out-of-reach…until now.

I’m leaving for Wichita in two weeks and will get to spend two full weeks there, which I’m super excited about. But when I get back, I could possibly have as little as 6 weeks left to “prepare” (ahh, the elusive, immeasurable p-word when it comes to parenthood). It hit me the other day that I should REALLY make the childbirth/breastfeeding classes and labor & delivery tour a priority when I get back. I mentioned this a few days ago, but I’ve given myself a mental goal to finish the nursery before I leave town, and really I’m pretty close. Just a few small things and one big project left (building and upholstering the rocker)…but I’ve got two weeks to do that (and a bunch of other stuff! oh dear).

As for how the actual pregnancy is going? It’s going well. I’ve really only started to feel uncomfortable in the last week and a half or so and I know I am one BLESSED girl to have made it this far with such minimal discomfort. Actually, to have made it this far at all. I am blessed, blessed, blessed.

I would say the awesomeness of comfort peaked at around week 24; I was looking pretty pregnant and it was obvious that I wasn’t just hauling around a burrito belly, I was enjoying the baby movement, I had great energy, I could still fit into ALL of my long tank tops and maternity shirts normally, I could sleep comfortably…you get the picture.

Since then, the baby has continued to grow “up”…into my ribs. May I explain to you that getting kicked in the ribs while simultaneously feeling the baby’s head bounce the other direction into my nether regions is unpleasant? It is. Or that breathing or eating normal amounts is quickly leaving my list of abilities (squished innards). Or that this baby is getting heavier by the day, which is confusing my body and my back on the basics of weight distribution, resulting in a fair amount of constant lower back pain. Oh, and that increased urination has returned, which makes sleeping through the night a thing of the past. It’s not comfortable to sit slightly slouched (ouch, ribs, but good for the always over-arched back) or with my back slightly arched (see above). Also…I’m quickly running out of maternity shirts and extra-long tank tops that stay covering the belly without constantly tugging them down…what do I do when they don’t at all any more?!

I sound like I’m complaining…I’m not. I’m actually quite grateful for the opportunity to carry this surprise baby and I’m so blessed that this baby is growing so well, so on track and so strong (even if I do feel like my ribs are cracking). I know this is part of the territory. But I can tell the lack of solid sleep is making me a bit more impatient, which makes all of the nagging aches and pains seem amplified in my mind.

Anyway, that’s where my head is at these days. Want to see where my body’s at? *snicker*

I’ve been taking weekly pictures since the beginning, as you probably already know. I decided to put them all together, thus far (minus week 8, which is when we were house-hunting and hotel-hopping here in Virginia back in March, and week 23, when time got ahead of me and, before I knew it, I had missed that week altogether).

I noticed big changes at weeks 13 and 16, and then the biggest being the 17-19 range (which is the weeks we were moving across the country). Since then, it looks pretty consistent!


Let’s just take a look at the day we found out (4 weeks, 1 day) vs. yesterday (27 weeks, 2 days…I’m a bit behind this week) to compare…


Three things:

1. I miss that flat stomach and being able to bend over normally. And laying/sleeping on said flat stomach.
2. I still have 10-15 weeks of growing left?!?!?!?!?! Ouchy.
3. I’m completely blown away by how God designed the human body…or that we females can grow a whole ‘nother person inside of ours, sustaining them AND ourselves. It’s amazing how fast something so small (see left) can grow to be so big (see right) in the matter of 23 weeks.

So, that’s where we stand, at the end of the second trimester/beginning of the third. This train is about to REALLY start moving!

The ULTIMATE DIY Project: Chapter 7

Chapter 7: Halfway (Across the Country and Through This Pregnancy)

Hello friends! It’s been a few weeks…a busy few weeks. Last time I checked in, we had an impending move and were 15 weeks pregnant. Today, we stand on the other side of said move and are 20 weeks! It’s been a VERY full 5 weeks. I have a lot to catch you up on, but I’ll do my best to give the Reader’s Digest version. 🙂 (Uhhh, yeah right, this post is gonna be LONG.)

The weeks leading up to the move were packed to the brim with “final” coffee dates and dinners with friends and family. My mom graduated from college with her bachelor’s degree four weeks ago. I headed home from there to throw my best friend a baby shower.


Three weeks ago, my best friend and other half graduated from medical school (WHAT WHAT!!! There’s a doctor in my houseeee!).


Monday morning, the day after he graduated (on the other side of the state), we woke up to a team of professional packers; they had everything that would fit into a box in boxes within a matter of hours. They had planned to pack Monday AND Tuesday, so we ended up having Tuesday free, which was really nice. Our truck driver was scheduled to show up on Wednesday morning, but we got a call Tuesday night to let us know he was a day behind schedule. Our option was to either have the company that packed us (a local company) come and load our stuff onto one of their trucks on Wednesday, as scheduled (and then our driver would move it onto his truck at their facility whenever he got into town), OR wait until Thursday for our original driver. We chose to let them come Wednesday.

We left Wichita after they finished loading the truck and we had cleaned the house. We spent the night with friends in KC before heading to Indianapolis on Thursday morning. We still had no arrival date for our shipment, so we felt a bit aimless, although we knew we were heading to Indianapolis to at least spend the night (all of Cowboy’s extended family lives in that area). LOOOOONG story short (seriously, once we finally did hear from the driver, our arrival date changed three times…oh, and they also let us know that they couldn’t fit all of our stuff on their truck, so they left it at the local company’s facility…which we later learned the main office knew nothing about until we called to ask how they would be getting those things to us…argh…), we ended up leaving Friday morning for Michigan because Cowboy’s cousin was getting married that weekend! We wanted to be able to go, so this was exciting. We had to both drive our vehicles across the country (neither are big enough to tow the other) separately, but we both packed into my car (plus Cooper) to make that trip.

We were able to stay in Jackson, MI for THREE nights, which ended up being a bit of a luxury amidst the nightly bed-hopping. It was a beautiful weekend and wedding!


^At the family softball game on Saturday. (I tend to make softball a contact sport, so I did not play.) 🙂_MG_1825

^Cracker Barrel for brunch on Sunday (wedding day!) with Cowboy, his dad, two of his brothers and grandma!_MG_1875^Sunday afternoon, right after the wedding before we headed over to the reception.

Monday afternoon, we left to go back to Indianapolis for what we thought was going to be a couple of days…but right before we got there, our driver called and told us he needed us there a day earlier, so our plans were once again changed! We spent Monday night in Indy with family again, spent Tuesday (day) with Cowboy’s grandma and evening with his mom’s side of the family (where we were staying). Since we had already committed to the dinner Tuesday night, we left after dinner and ended up driving to Charleston, WV that evening. We rolled into a bed somewhere in downtown Charleston (I don’t even remember which hotel) around 1:00 AM and were back up at 7:30 to hit the road. We drove the rest of the way to Portsmouth on Wednesday, stopping along the way to call the utility companies to get everything turned on and in our name. As soon as we got into town, I went to the city hall to sign paperwork to have the water turned on and Cowboy went to the property manager’s office to get the house keys. We got into the house around 4:30 and I started house-cleaning straightaway while Cowboy unloaded both of our cars. We left to get dinner and pick up an air mattress around 7:30 and collapsed onto said air mattress later that night. The next morning, the truck showed up with (most of) our belongings and the unloading began! 10 days later, we are still unpacking boxes and figuring out how to arrange and organize our stuff in this house, but finally have internet!

WHEW! If you follow me on instagram (@AlinaMichele), you got to “experience” this adventure with me! Overall, we drove through 8 states, drove a combined 3,300 miles (not including all of the in-town driving we did in Jackson and Indy), slept in 6 different beds/states, and traveled for a combined 56 hours.

Road Trip to VA

And all the while…I didn’t realize how much this baby was starting to make itself known! Here’s an update from the past few weeks…last time you saw me, I was 15 weeks…


There’s was a significant change from 15 to 16 weeks and boy, was I feeling it. (Again, if you follow on Instagram, you might remember me saying so that week.)

16weeksThere wasn’t as much of a change from 16 to 17 weeks, but I do sure look gross! (This was the day they were loading the truck [Wednesday]….so, I was a few days behind on getting a picture.)


Another big change from 17 to 18 weeks and I didn’t even realize it (I was essentially living in a car–see above!). This is actually 18 weeks + 5 days, so there’s a 9-day difference between the 17 & 18 week pictures. (YIKES…look gross again in the 18-week picture…stopped to snap a picture in the middle of unpacking! At least I have the pictures. 😀 )18wk5dMy 18-week picture is probably more like a 19-week picture and there’s only 4 days between these two, so not as much of a change.19wk2d

And here we are at 20 weeks!20w0d _MG_2047

I’m not typically a fan of bare-belly pics (for myself, that is…I do not mind at all if others have them done), but I did want to be able to remember this 20-week belly…when I only thought I felt big and had no idea what was coming. 😉 I think I have an outtie belly button headed my way.20wk0d

I honestly can’t believe we’re halfway done. Four weeks ago, I was hanging out with my mom the night before her graduation and she said, “wow, can you believe you’ll be halfway done in four weeks?” And I couldn’t. I’m in even more disbelief that it’s already been four weeks since then! I’m so grateful that this pregnancy has been problem-free and [mostly] comfortable. I’ve had a lot on my plate and don’t know what I would have done had I needed to stay down–whether by dr’s orders or because my body demanded it. Sure, there have been uncomfortable nights, aches, pains and annoyances, but they haven’t been anything I can’t get past mentally. We’ll see how the second half goes. 🙂

There are a few noteworthy things that I’d like to remember from the past week:

  • A week ago today, at exactly 19 weeks, Cowboy and I had taken a break from unpacking to have a date night. We went to a dinner theatre in downtown Portsmouth to see Iron Man 3. I had been feeling flutters of movement on the inside for about 4 weeks (which is a bit surprising considering I have an anterior placenta), but during the movie, I received some of the biggest kicks to date. Startled, I quickly placed my hand where they were and realized they were strong enough to feel on the outside. I quickly told Jonathan and after a few tries and I’m-not-sure-if-that-was-it faces, he felt it for sure. The kicking went on for a solid three hours, so he had plenty of opportunities to feel again and confirm later that evening. And THEN, I was laying in bed and realized I could SEE them! It was a crazy evening full of exciting firsts. 🙂 The karate kicks have pretty much been consistent for the past week and have moved from right below my belly button area to right above it. It’s so encouraging to feel the baby move “up” and know that it’s growing.
  • This week, Braxton-Hicks became very apparent to me (did you know that they actually start at 6 weeks?!). My whole lower abdomen will harden and while it isn’t painful, it is a bit uncomfortable, especially if I attempt to pull my knees toward my chest (i.e. to stand up from the floor) or put pressure on it at all.
  • My abs are streeeeetching right now and that, my friends, is quite achy and painful. Stretching abs and round ligament pain was pretty obvious between 15 and 16 weeks (when I said I could “feel” growth that week, that’s what I was talking about) and that’s what I’m feeling again this week, only a great deal more painful since we’re talking about growth on a bigger scale now. None of the pain is the concerning kind–rather the necessary kind, considering every day my abdomen and uterus are bigger than they’ve ever been–it makes sense for it to ache and feel uncomfortable.
  • Three brave souls have asked me this week if I’m pregnant/when I’m due (and two of them were men!), so I take that as a sign that I might actually look pregnant to other people besides me now. Haha!
  • Baby’s starting to get all up in my innards…eating has become a bit of a chore in that I get really full really fast…and then am hungry again shortly! Pressure on my stomach is making things a bit tight.
  • We’re touring a local birthing center tomorrow night–I’m really praying that it will be a good fit, as our options here are a bit limited. I last saw my doctor in Wichita at 17 weeks and would prefer for there to not be more than 4-5 weeks between appointments, so I feel a bit of pressure to get settled with a doctor or midwife here. At least baby is actively letting me know he/she is alive and well in there! 😀

I feel like there was more, so I may be adding to this as things come to mind, but I’ll stop here. I highly doubt that anyone who is not my mom read every single word in this post, and that’s OK!  It’s mostly for my own record so that I can look back and remember the details of these past few weeks. I thank you for bearing with me. 🙂

I hope to be back within a week or two with an introduction to our new house! I’d love to photograph the area, the neighborhood and the places we discover, too. Oh, and I guess, at some point, I should start thinking about a nursery…but not yet. I still have boxes to unpack! Babies don’t NEED nurseries anyway, right? Food, a place to sleep and clothing will be provided, regardless of what they look like. 😉

The ULTIMATE DIY Project: Chapter 6

Chapter 6: Making Memories

Hi friends! I love that you’re all caught up on our pregnancy now. I also love that I don’t have to remember to not slip anything telling, but can REALLY talk to and confide in friends when they ask how I’m doing with the move.

We’re abut halfway through our 16th week, which seems crazy to me. Time is seriously flying right now! I know it’s because our life is so full and we have so much up in the air right now…I’m thinking things will slow down just a bit as I get further along (and more uncomfortable). 15w1d

As far as cravings go, I’m still craving fresh, leafy greens in form of salads and juice. Earlier on, I was intensely craving citrus, but that’s lessened just a bit…although, I am usually drinking some lemon or lime water, so maybe that’s secretly fulfilling my cravings. 🙂 My other main craving is SUSHI. It’s really borderline shameful how many California rolls I’ve consumed in the last three weeks. Nom nom nom. _MG_0815In other news, life is pretty hectic right now. The moving truck comes two weeks from today and the packers will have been here packing for the two days prior. However, I’m hosting a baby shower for my bestie, who is ten weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy, on Saturday evening! So, this week is focused on getting ready for the shower, having coffee and dinner dates with friends one last time and fulfilling any shop orders that come in.

Amy and her little family move this weekend (wahhhhh!!!!!) to Kansas City for residency. This past Monday was their last week at our church community group, so we had a picnic at the park and took a couple of final group pictures (serious and goofy, of course)!

Chapter61 Chapter62

Amy asked me to come take family pictures in front of their house before they move this weekend. I’m going to miss these people immensely!


These are the memories we’re trying to make and capture during this hectic-on-hyperspeed last two weeks. It’s a bittersweet time!


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