Madly Sewing a Katy Kitty Doll Right Until I Went Into Labor

Having a Baby Must Not Interfere With Sewing

Last year I found this brilliant Katy Kitty pattern by Larissa Holland of mmmcrafts.

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I had originally planned to make her Little Red doll for Olivia’s birthday,

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but when JB said how cool the cat looked, I changed gears. I named her Henrietta Pussycat (a nod to Mr. Rogers) because if I had left the naming to my daughter, we would be calling the poor cat Sparkles or Rainbow or… Kitty.

I was a little apprehensive about the project, as I haven’t had much luck in the past with making plush items. But Katy Kitty was too cool not to try. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad! The hardest part for me was to gather all the materials needed, as there were a lot of color scheme decisions to make. What color body? What color face? How about her ears? Should I coordinate her eyes with her shoes? Where on earth do I find tiny stripe fabric for the socks? (Answer: not anywhere in West Michigan.) Buttons! So many choices of buttons!

At first I was going to give it to my 5-year-old for her birthday in October. But I was extremely pregnant (due on Christmas Day) and feeling extremely terrible, so…it didn’t happen. I decided to make it for Christmas instead. Yes, this makes no sense, as I was due to have my baby on Christmas, yet I somehow thought that I could do Christmas crafting that included a Katy Kitty doll for one girl and a Babar throw quilt for the other.

It might have all gone a little more smoothly if a.) I wasn’t pregnant and miserable, b.) my sewing machine did not break in the middle of making these items and c.) we did not lose power for 2 days before Christmas after an ice storm.

I did have a sewing machine backup, which was my mother-in-law’s. I spent one night at her place madly piecing the cat after my machine stopped working. And then both she and I lost power…her for 4 days…in bitter temps…with power being restored on Christmas afternoon.

I somehow assembled the cat before Christmas and only had her accessories left to make: her skirt and shoes. I decided to leave the skirt alone, and would ask my daughter to help pick fabrics for it later, as she loves to do that. This left me with the shoes.

I felt that the shoes really made the entire ensemble, so those HAD to be made, no matter how difficult my circumstances. I had started to sew them on my MIL’s machine. But the small pieces of wool felt looked terrible with the machine stitches so I ripped them out and did some hand stitching. Then, when my power returned (early evening on December 23) I cajoled my machine into sewing the rest of the shoes together. On Christmas Eve, after we unexpectedly held Christmas Eve dinner at our house (as the in-laws were still without power) I put the buttons on the shoes and I snapped this photo of the cat.

(Note JB’s fire smoldering in the background. It was soooo delightful to have heat after the power outage and the house got down to 42 degrees inside. I don’t know how my inlays kept it together for those four days, with my brother-in-law, his wife and their 6-month-old daughter staying there also. At least our house had water the entire time. I think I would have had a meltdown if I didn’t have running water.)

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I remember feeling really cruddy as I sewed the buttons on the shoe straps. It was near midnight on Christmas Eve and I still had to wrap the quilt, cat and my husband’s gifts. I knew I had to get them done, though. I sensed that I was going into labor soon. Nothing changed with my body, but I remember thinking, Now I know how our farm animals felt when I was a kid. We had to keep an eye on them when they were pregnant, as animals want to be alone during birth and will try to run away to do so if the opportunity arises.

And that’s how I felt. Like I needed to go away to a lonesome place.

Two hours later I went into labor.

But I didn’t want to go into labor yet! I stood in my bathroom, openly weeping into a towel (hoping to muffle the noise so no one would wake), because I had worked so hard on my daughters’ gifts and was devastated that I would not be there to watch them open them in a few hours. I made a plan. If I had to go to the hospital, I would take their homemade gifts with me and they would open them after the baby was born. I spent the next several hours walking circles in the house like a zombie, the Christmas tree cheerfully twinkling its lights in the background, and me hoping to wait it out.

Every time I laid down or sat down the contractions would get stronger, so I had to keep moving. Eventually I tired of the aimless walking so I baked the Christmas Brunch Souffe at about 5 am. (Christmas was going to be celebrated at our messy dirty house, as the in-laws were still without power/heat/water.) I waited and waited. Slowly the day came. The contractions were still coming, but very sporadically. Three minutes apart. Then 13. Four minutes. 40. I wasn’t sure if I was in labor. It was more like severe back pains that I was getting. But I remembered the farm animal feeling. Something was definitely happening.

Finally, my children awoke. Merry Christmas! They opened their gifts and were delighted. My husband’s family came and we opened more gifts. I sat on my red velvet couch in a daze, clenching my teeth through the contractions. JB and I hurriedly ate our Christmas brunch, me throwing back a mimosa, and wondering later why I didn’t throw back another one for good measure.

I had done it. I hadn’t missed Christmas. I was in a lot of pain and was extremely tired from having been awake for over 24 hours, but I had witnessed my daughters opening their gifts. It was time to go.

It was a long, hard labor and Gus (10 1/2 lbs) wasn’t born until 11:30 pm, but when Olivia came to meet him the next day at the hospital, she brought her cat.

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It was a Christmas Miracle.

  • What a fun surprise to read a blog post from you today! I love all the details about getting the presents ready and preparing for the birth. I love that you were able to celebrate Christmas all together & that she brought the kitty to the hospital the next day! xo –sarah

  • Your story made me tear up a little bit. I remember waiting for Ted to drive home from the UP, telling him he better come home, I was going to have Elaine. And waiting watching out the window. And then my for real labor started right after he came home. Having a baby is important, but so is the family your already have! It was such a beautiful story! I bet the girls love hearing it when they get older.