Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lazy Girl's Pantry Concoction

This should begin with a confession that I like my own cooking.

Also, I am not a picky eater.

Win win for me.

I have no pictures of the soup I made this evening, but I'm sure your facebook's news feed provides you with more than enough pictures of what other people are eating. Not that you would care.

{just imagine a bowl of thick golden-orange liquid garnished with green stuff}

But if you like pumpkin, Thai flavors, and something hot to sip on, you should try this soup sometime:

~ Two (standard) cans of pure pumpkin puree. Butternut squash would work too.

~ One can of coconut milk (full fat!)

~ About three cups of water (give or take)

~ About 3 teaspoons of beef broth concentrate/paste -- this is your salt; adjust to taste. You could make this vegan and use veggie broth instead. I really love the "Better than Bouillon" brand.

~ One tablespoon of Thai red curry paste

~ One or one and a half cups chopped cooked/roasted red bell pepper (I get big jars of them from Sam's Club, packed in water)

~ Lots of finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves. (Wishing later I had some thinly sliced jalapeno too : )

Combine everything in a pot and heat that stuff up. Sprinkle cilantro and ground black pepper on top and serve.

I love soup. 'Enjoyed making something a little different from my usual beans/ground meat/onions/celery scrap stews.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Birthing Bubba II

Continuing on (first half here). This was our second trip to the hospital that day.  Previously we had been sent home after my being stuck at 3cm for several hours. Lucky for me, it meant I labored mostly in the comforts of my in-laws' house.

The car ride was hard during contractions.  They're hard to sit through; I wanted to stand up.  But it was a gorgeous, gorgeous spring morning, and I specifically thought "this would be a lovely day to have a baby." Baby agreed with me.

We found a shady spot in the hospital parking lot and walked inside.  I had a contraction and had to stop, blocking traffic in the middle of the hallway.  A nice lady from the hospital gift shop asked if she could get me a wheelchair.  No thanks, it's easier to stand. "Oh I know, sweetie."

Another one hit right outside the Labor & Delivery unit before they unlocked the doors for us.  Once inside, I announced to the nursing desk. "Hi, I was here this morning. Barb told me to come back when I couldn't walk or talk through the contractions anymore . . . and I think my water may have broken."  Oh okay.  No big deal.  They sent us to the exact same room and we did the same rigamarole as before.

Somebody did a swab test of the fluid and confirmed it was amniotic.  A nurse named Rachel came in and checked me.  "Girl, you're at 8cm!"  Oh thank God.  I was not going to tolerate another car ride.  I was pretty sure if they hadn't kept me I would have camped out in the waiting room until they did.  Or hang (hung? hanged?) out in the cafeteria and made a scene.

Things got busy.  They rushed through a lot of admission paperwork and started an iv.  I really didn't want one, cause I wasn't planning on having any drugs.  Rachel wanted one though, and I felt like I was talking to myself.  "It's policy. We can do a little one. Just in case of an emergency," she said.  Look, needles don't bother me.  Infection risks do.  I've got ropes for veins.  Any nurse worth her salt can get an easy iv on me in a pinch.  And I also knew that "it's policy" doesn't mean squat if a conscientious patient refuses something.  But I felt for her.  I know the anxiety of not having venous access on someone and let her put a #20 in my upper bicep.  I didn't want it in the way of washing my hands.  It stayed a saline lock until after delivery.

Ryan left briefly to get our bags from the car.  But when he came back, I didn't care about changing the linens anymore (yes. My own sheets came with me).  My only request was disposable chucks.  I'd seen what happens on the hospital cloth ones. Gross.  Under my bottom -- never.

Another nurse named Jaynie was working with Rachel and introduced herself.  She was orienting to the unit; she had previous nursing experience and was a Lamaze instructor.  Perfect!  She and Rachel were my new best friends.

It was about 1030 or so.  I stayed in bed because of all the monitoring equipment, namely the two discs that were strapped across my abdomen.  One monitored fetal heart rate and the other the strength of contractions.  During contractions I moved all around the bed, backwards and forwards and on all fours.  I think one of the nurses got me a second gown and helped me don it backwards because I had my bare butt up in the air at some point.

I was also making some kind of sing-song moan/humming.  Ina May wrote that opening your mouth helped open your cervix, and it did help distract me during contractions.  Or "power surges," mind you.  I was trying to follow directions.  The birth hypnosis book had really encouraged positive thinking and calm mental imagery.  Like, don't think of contractions as such.  Think of them as waves of strength; they're indicators of how strong your body is.  You're also supposed to visualize a flower bud gradually opening into a bloom, and your birth canal should follow suit.

It wasn't hard to be positive (I was so happy the baby was coming without an induction).  It was hard to focus on those damn flowers.  Ryan was texting family updates on his cell.  Jayne was massaging my back and telling me I was doing a good job.

I don't remember the specifics.  I would have to look back at Ryan's text history to trace a timeline.  I think we got to 10cm around noontime, and my doctor asked me if I wanted to push.  I did not.  I had zero urge to push.  Also, all the hippie-crunchy birthing stories had given me the impression that the contractions would eventually expel the baby on their own (yeah, yeah stop laughing.) and that pushing would stress the perineum and make you tear (often true).  Besides, in all those home water births on YouTube, the baby just slips out.

My baby was not slipping out.  Some time passed.  I was still moving all around the bed, bracing for contractions and trying to rest in between them.  Rachel kept moving the fetal monitor disc lower and lower on my abdomen as my son migrated south.  My doctor offered me some pitocin to help move things along.  My nurse immediately answered for me, "no, she wants to do this naturally."  I appreciated her backing me up.  At some other time we were also offered a "kiwi:" a vacuum device to help pull the infant out, and a local nerve block.  We passed on both.

At some point either Rachel or my ob told me that the baby was blocked by some anatomical landmark, and I would have to push his way past it.  The pubic symphysis?  Iliac crest?  I don't remember.  But pushing was weird and hard.  For months I had avoided exerting my stretched out abs, and now I had to call them back from recess and practically do crunches.  I never felt a desire to push, only a hard heavy pressure right below my tailbone.

My sister said, after she birthed her firstborn, that her ballet training helped her through delivery, that she knew her body could go where it did not want to go, and do more than she "felt" she could do. I'm far from athletic, but Martha made me recall those days when I used to be so. What she said reminded me that there had been times I thought I would pass out and die but didn't--like the 100 yard butterfly or the 400 IM.  Swim practices and drills that left you breathless and limp as linguine.

I'm pretty sure the 100 fly is harder than childbirth.  Just not as drawn out.  Fortunately contractions come hard but then cut you a break for a few minutes.

I pushed whenever contractions came, on and off for maybe 90 minutes?  Eventually Rachel said she could see my baby's head.  Things got busy.  She called in the nursery/pediatric nurse, she wheeled in the delivery cart which sort of looked like our code carts.  She got some lube and manually tried to stretch the perineum.  That hurt a lot, but I knew that midwives did it to help prevent tearing and I was thankful she took the initiative.  I mean, how would I have asked her?  "Excuse me, ma'am. Would you be so kind to massage my perineum please?"

They also brought in a big mirror so I could see the birth canal.  That was really encouraging; eventually I could see the top of my baby's head myself and knew the end was near.  Rachel and Jayne kept coaching me through the pushes.  I was pushing so hard I really thought the nurses were going to deliver the baby themselves, and I was quite okay with that.

I don't think Rachel called the doctor in until the last minute.  I don't remember that minute very well. I just recall closing my eyes and pushing with some karate chop shout and there was a big relief of pressure. And he was here : )

He was wet and bloody and purple.  The doc let Ryan cut the cord and they passed him to me to hold.  I remember kissing his slimy head.  He felt vigorous and had tone.  But he wasn't pink.  I tried rubbing his back to stimulate him, and then the pediatric nurse asked if she could work with him.  She took him to a table across from my bed, suctioned him out, and did some kind of baby bipap with him for a few minutes.  He pinked up, and I think Ryan held him after that.

Oh yeah.  "It" was a boy, all seven and a half pounds of him.  I don't remember being surprised because I had always felt he was a boy.  I always referred to him as "him."  I can't chalk it up to maternal intuition either.  During a really brief ultrasound our doctor once said he could tell what we were having.  I reckoned it was a boy since the sex was so readily apparent. (Not that that inclination stayed the purchase of many girl outfits from Baby Gap, just in case ; )

Meanwhile, the placenta came out pretty easily, like a floppy fish. I asked to look at it before it got tossed in the bio-haz bin.  "I promise I'm not taking it home or anything."  Pretty cool.  Very large and vascular.  It had been my baby's lifeline for the last 40 weeks.

I had a "little" second degree tear that my ob was stitching up, and my uterus was kind of boggy and still bleeding.  I thought I'd be helpful and do the single thing I remembered from my obstetrics nursing class: massage my fundus.  I also decided my drug-free experiment had run its course.  Hello, lidocaine!  I didn't feel any of the stitching.  They also gave me a whole bag of pitocin.  I looked up and saw the iv tubing cassette dangling from the pole.  "Uh, is that supposed to be on a pump?"  Apparently not; Rachel said it was supposed to be wide open.  Alrighty then.

Afterwards we made our first attempt at breastfeeding, and I ate the second most delicious meal of my life.  It was a cafeteria-grade turkey sandwich, tomato soup, and pudding, and I can't ever recall enjoying eating as much as I did then.

My little boy, on the other hand, was not as interested in food.  The nurses helped us latch on, but he just wanted to sleep and passed out after a minute or two.  Oh the irony.  Nobody knew we had a future non-stop suckler on our hands. 

Later I got out of bed, and Rachel helped me clean up in the bathroom.  "Don't look down," she said. "It's gonna look like someone was murdered in the toilet."  And she wiped the bloody baby slime off my face from where I first kissed him.

Anyhow.  That's our story.  I was really not comfortable with the idea of a hospital birth to begin with (I'm a germ-a-phobe all the way), but if we were to do it over again, I wouldn't change a thing.  The nurses were great.  We really felt more comfortable having the professional support, especially for clearing the baby's airway and getting us started in breastfeeding.  We were not yet in our new house and still living with my in-laws.  So it was nice to have 48 hours to ourselves--just the three of us--even if in a hospital ward.

Oh, and I did put my own sheets on later ; )

Sunday, October 5, 2014


It's 50 degrees outside. 

And I have no socks that fit my son. 

He has everything else a baby could ever need or want. But he's never needed socks before and it didn't cross my mind last I was at Target. 

So maybe he'll go to mass in his footsie pajamas. We'll see how it warms up. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Birthing Bubba I

Someone said that blogs are like plants--they need to be fed and watered regularly to thrive. I must admit both my writing and horticultural endeavors have been pretty neglected as of late. I wanted to remember everything about birthing my son, so I've been piecing together my memories here and there. I'm nowhere near finished. But since I have not posted anything else in a month, here's my start . . . the gory details you've been waiting for! Or not. So, if all things bloody and cervical bother you, stop reading now. You've been warned. 

Waaaaaay back, earlier this spring:

On my due date, having a sit in the nursery-to-be
My due date came and went with baby seemingly content to stay inside. That was fine with me. My pregnancy had been relatively smooth up to that point, and I knew this was the easiest part of parenting. Fetuses are so darn portable, you know? I loved my belly. I loved being pregnant. I was in no rush. All my hippie-crunchy birthing books told me baby would come when he or she was ready. Waiting was not a problem, and I had no inclination to try all those home induction tricks that the desperate mommies on the pregnancy [web] forum were stressing over. Sitting over a steaming cup of coffee? No thank you. Eating 5 pounds of fresh pineapple? My tongue hurt thinking about it. I was relaxed letting things be. 

I was scheduled to work Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights. Monday morning Ryan picked me up from work. It was pouring rain and I had a routine fetal non-stress test scheduled. Those are kinda nice. You lay back and relax for 10-20 minutes and they monitor baby's heart rhythm and any contractions you may have. 

Baby checked out just fine. I was about 3 days "overdue" and dilated 2cm. Random, painless contractions had been coming and going over the weekend. I guess those were Braxton-hicks. They weren't achy; just a noticeable tightening over my abdomen. 

I was prepared to wait it out another week or so if need be. But apparently my ob was not. "The baby needs to come by 41 weeks," he said, adding that the risks of post term delivery outweighed the risks of induction. "You don't want to wind up with a c-section if we can avoid it." 

Whaaat? I told him that everyone in my family delivered late. I said that I was born a full two weeks late. "You were lucky," he replied. He added that my [slightly] elevated blood pressure and borderline glucose challenge test necessitated delivery before the week was out. 

I argued about it for a bit, feeling very disinfranchised, but got nowhere. I reluctantly signed the consent for an induction via pitocin. 

From there on out, all the wind was sucked out of my sails. People always ask "when is that baby coming?" It never bothered me before, now it hit a nerve. I felt all this pressure to deliver ASAP; my peaceful pregnancy was over. 

At home I read up on all the risks of pitocin use--which were at least as awful as I already knew--just to justify my feelings. To be fair, I also reviewed a study which supported my ob's position, finding that moms with pregnancy induced hypertension tended to fare better with induction versus a watch and wait plan. BUT, I didn't have full blown HTN, so I'm not sure how those findings related to my particular situation.

I was supposed to work the next two nights, but couldn't sleep at all, dreading an induction. I called out and started my FMLA. Everyone at work knew I had already past my due date, so no one was really surprised. 

I know women get induced all the time, and many even request it. But this was my first pregnancy. I really wanted the experience of a natural labor, especially the beginning. What does the process feel like? What will my body do? Some things you just can't learn on a pit drip. 

For the rest of the day following my Dr's appointment I just sulked. I wasn't excited about the baby anymore. The pregnancy felt wasted. I started wondering how soon I could have a second child and get another chance to do it "right." Those feelings weren't rational. I'm certainly not proud of them. But that's how badly I was dreading medical intervention. 

Tuesday I figured I'd start walking, which Ryan had been encouraging me to do (though all the walking at work hadn't made a difference so far). So we went up and down the neighborhood with Kip on a leash. In the afternoon we went to that 4winds grocery place. I had never been there before, but quickly understood why everyone raves about it. We picked up gyro meat for dinner and a box of Jordanian almonds. The grocer, after trying to sell us every item in the deli, told me I'd be having a boy since the baby favored my right side. 

That evening I knew things were beginning to happen--but would they happen in time? I was having lots of Braxton Hicks, and I think I lost my mucous plug ( it looked like a little jellyfish swimming to the bottom of the toilet . . . because you just had to know that). Also, my bowels were, uh, cleaning house. I knew these were all [possible] preparatory signs, but I didn't get my hopes up too high. I knew some women lost their plugs weeks or days before delivery and sometimes just regenerated new ones. And maybe something I ate just wasn't agreeing with me. 

We spent the early evening at our new house. My father in law was working on installing the dry wall for the living room. I avoided the dust by staying outside and took out my frustrations on all the virginia creeper and scuppernon vines choking the azaleas. Maybe in the back of my mind I was hoping I'd break my water with all the yanking and pulling. 

Later that night, around one in the morning, the contractions felt different than Braxton hicks.  They felt like period cramps and were coming every three to five minutes. At two am they were still coming in regular intervals. My doc had said to come in to the hospital if they were every five minutes for an hour (check) even if they didn't feel strong (check). At this point I was getting a little excited and woke Ryan up. I really didn't think the contractions were bad at all, but I was afraid of delivering quickly like my sister and decided to play it safe. Besides, two thirty in the morning was a perfect time to slip out of the house. We were staying with my inlaws and I didn't want to cause any you're-gonna-have-a-baby! commotion. 

We checked into the ER and were sent upstairs to L&D. One of my coworkers said "I'm supposed to wheel you up there, you know." I declined. I could walk just fine and I really didn't want to sit in a gross wheelchair. I mean, I sanitize wheelchairs when I'm through with them, but I don't know if everyone else does. 

The labor and delivery unit was pretty quiet. A nurse called "Barb" took us to a room where I took a whiz quiz, changed into a hospital gown, and had the fetal monitors strapped onto me.  I had brought my own sheets and gown, but had left them in the car. We weren't sure if we'd be staying. 

Barb verified that I was having contractions regularly, but I was only dilated 3cm. An hour later I was still at 3cm. Another hour later--about 6am--I hadn't budged so they sent me home. The contractions were pretty uncomfortable but they were short lived and not debilitating. I was still scared of having a precipitous birth, and the contractions remained frequent. Barb told me to come back when they were "too strong to talk or walk through." Ok. Home we went. But first I stopped in the cardiac unit to say hey to my coworkers and pick up my spare keys that I had left in my locker. I took an alternate route out of the building. I didn't want the ER folks seeing me leave--I felt like a phony now.

Neither of us had slept much, so I went back to bed while Ryan ran to Tom Thumb for his cancer sticks. He brought back Snickers and gummy sours for me. I ate a few pieces and slept until about 0800 when the contractions were too uncomfortable to sleep through. I was still, uh, leaking some, and had been since about 1am. At the time I presumed it was the remnants of the cervical plug coming out. In retrospect I should have suspected my water had broken. 

Ryan was sleeping so I got up and walked around a bit. His parents had already left for work, which was nice because I didn't want an audience. I had a strong feeling this baby was coming today and figured I should get as many calories in as possible. I took two bites of a banana and promptly vomited into the kitchen sink. 

It was about 0900 and I had to pause for the contractions now. They were getting pretty strong. I started to get fixated on riding in a car and getting in and out of a car. In between contractions I was fine. But I was starting to get paranoid thoughts, like what if another contraction came--and it stayed? And then I wouldn't be able to move, and how well would Ryan drag me in and out of the car? I woke him up and told him we were leaving. Again. 

"Are you sure?" He was afraid of getting turned away again and looking like silly first timers. I was afraid of having the baby at home. Off we went. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Only once

I realized yesterday that I've been blessed with a difficult sleeper. I mean, I've known Bubba is a tricky fellow to keep asleep, but I hadn't thought about how lucky I am that he is the way he is. 

I'm entertaining myself with my iPhone right now after giving up on slumber. The birds have just started chirping outside, and there's a faint glow coming through the curtains, but the sun isn't up just yet. Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter are some of the few things I can do in the dark with one hand while my other arm cradles my sleeping son.

Last night he went to bed in his bassinet around 2230. I brushed my teeth, flossed, and was catching zzz's myself about an hour later. But I've been mostly awake since his 1am nursing. He usually gets squirmy and calls out to eat, nurses in a semi-conscious state for about 10 minutes, and is back to bed. I'm impressed how he can swallow a full meal without really waking up. 

I wish I could stay drowsy like he is, but I'm too alert by the time he finishes. I actually did fall back asleep around 0325, but he woke us up again at 0345, so I'm not sure that counts ; p

As the dawn approaches, he gets more and more restless. By 4 or 5 am I have to pick him up and take him into bed with me so that he might sleep till 7 (when he finally poops). He fidgets and squirms and I'm scared he'll roll face down into the bedding, so I stay vigilant. 

You know what though? This little guy is 4 months old already. I know "he'll always be my baby" and all, and I know toddlers and children can be sweet and snuggly too, but this first year of infancy and true babyhood is A THIRD OF THE WAY OVER. And this is time we're never getting back. Might we have other kids? Maybe. Maybe not. Even if we do, this period with him--my first born little boy--is running water. 

Those poor moms with babies who sleep through the night: they miss half the experience! Bubba has already grown into an "easier" baby. For the first 10 weeks or so, he had to be held all. the. time. And he wanted to nurse every 45 to 90 minutes. 

People said I was spoiling him. People said he cried because he was held too much. People warned that he was "using" me as a "human pacifier."

I'm glad I trusted my gut and disregarded that rubbish. 

Here we are just a few months down the road and he may go 3 hours sometimes between feedings. He can watch contentedly from his swing or play mat while we make or eat dinner or fold laundry . . . for a little while at least. I wish I knew the high-need intensity of those first few weeks was a passing phase; I wouldn't have stressed as much. 

The best parenting advice I've been given was from my coworker who has a single, grown son. I was nearly full-term and talking about how much maternity leave to take. 

"Liz, they're only little once."

I've remembered her words every time I've gotten up in the night, every time he won't sleep without the boob within an inch of his face. What would I have done if he had been an easier baby and, say, taken naps in his swing? Filed paperwork? Washed more dishes? All good projects, but does anything compare to this?

Nope. I'm thankful my child is vocal enough to keep his mother's priorities straight. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Instagram win

Funny what can happen in a year.

I was scrolling through some old tweets and saw this pity-party note from 2013:

 referring to this night with Bruce the kitty cat:

 . . . not knowing that wee little Bubba the Blastocyst was just getting started.

I suppose retrospect is 20/20, huh?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My hunger games

I'm doing an experiment right now and it's driving me a little crazy. 

Baby has had problems with gas pains for a long time--since he was just a few weeks old. Also, almost all of his stools are runny, mucousy green. Different references tell me different things. Some say green stools can be normal; others say it can be a sign of an irritated gut. 

His doctor isn't too concerned since he is growing wildly (95th percentile for his weight and age). You only have to glance at this chunky monkey to know he is not malnourished. But my pediatrician is not the one having to hold him when he's writhing in pain every other day. Fart, little buddy, please just fart. Oh and he tries so hard I swear he's gonna blow a gasket. He sounds like a weightlifter in the mornings. 

Bubba's temperament is quite sweet. I don't think this is real colic--like the babies that mysteriously cry inconsolably for hours on end. So I've been wondering if there's an allergen in my diet that's getting into the breast milk. 

Suspecting this, I cut out virtually all dairy products weeks ago with some but not much improvement. I wasn't very thorough in eliminating "hidden" dairy; you know, there's whey protein in almost every thing!

Hoping we could do better, I've started an elimination diet. It means sticking with only the most hypoallergenic/easily digestible foods to see if symptoms improve. I've heard this part can take weeks; some offending proteins can hang in your system for a long time. If things do get better, I'll periodically eat new foods one at a time to see if I can zero in on a culprit. The usual suspects are dairy, wheat, corn, citrus, nuts, seafood, and soy: Basically everything I like to eat. 

I need to figure this out. I'm worried I won't be able to pump enough milk when I return to work next week and may have to supplement with formula. Most all formulas are dairy or soy based : (

In the meantime, I've been living on chicken, rice, sweet potatoes, and pears for five days now. I made macaroni and cheese the other day for Ryan and wanted so badly to lick my fingers after squeezing that fluorescent orange gooey goodness into the pot. And then we had to shop at Sam's Club today for dry goods . . . 

Oooooh. It's gonna be a long two weeks. I'm already dreaming about food. For real. Preggo cravings have NOTHING on post partum/breastfeeding cravings. Nothing.