Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lily Grace's arrival in to this world...

April 20th, the night before my due date, I talked to several people who  had taken castor oil and had it successfully start labor, and decided to try it myself.   I figured the worst thing that would happen is I would poop a lot and not go in to labor, OR it could work, and I was so ready to have my little girl.  I took 2 Tbs at 8 PM and 2 Tbs at 10 PM.  I didn't have any pooping that night, but did around 6AM and had a few sporadic contractions.  By 8AM the contractions had become 2 mins apart but only 30 seconds long, and were tolerable as far as pain goes..  The OB's office says to call when they're 5 mins apart but 1 minute long, so even though mine were closer together, they were only half the length.  As time went on, they did intensify as far as pain goes... with each contraction I would have to stop whatever I was doing, lean over the couch or on the wall etc and kind of moan through them, but they weren't horrible, and then I had 2 mins between where I felt 100% fine.  It was kind of weird, but I was excited because I went in to labor on my own (well, mostly,  hehe) and I had been worried that I'd go overdue and need to be induced.  Contractions continued to intensify and I was starting to have a harder time managing them on my own after about 2 1/2 hours, so my doula joined us at home.  The contractions continued to build, but never really got to be more than 2 1/2 -3 mins apart and lasting 50 seconds long.  Apparently I labored at home with Mike & my doula for another 2 1/2 hours, but it went by very quickly. We decided to call the OB's office (my doc was not in so I had the on-call doc) and she advised us to head to the hospital ASAP since they had been going on for over 5 hours and this was my second baby. 

We got to the hospital around 1:30 pm and as I was standing at the desk telling them I was in labor, my water broke, lol.  There was a big puddle on the floor between my legs.   It felt like in the movies or something.  So they got me in to a room, checked me and I was at 8 cms!  Yay!

The pain was getting pretty intense and I wanted to labor in the tub, but they checked me again and I was at a 9 or 9.5 within 15 mins, so they said I could be pushing in the next 10 mins and didn't want me to waste time getting in the tub (especially since I didn't plan on delivering in there, just wanted it for labor/comfort).   ... Well 3 hours later, I still had cervix all the way around and wasn't at a 10!!   :(   There was still a ring of cervix all around.  They tried having me push a few times while they pushed back my cervix, and that was excruciating so we stopped and waited hoping I would dilate the rest of the way, SOON.  The contractions were becoming unmanageable and I was starting to lose control with each one.  Especially because they were never fully letting up so even my "2 min break" wasn't even a break, and I had no idea how much longer this would go on.  I had tried contracting on the birthing ball, the birthing stool, several positions in the bed, leaning on Mike, sitting on the toilet etc as Mike and my doula followed me around the hospital room and bathroom, back and forth offering comfort and support through each contraction, reminding me to keep my moans low instead of high etc but nothing provided enough relief and I started to feel like I could not make take even one more contraction.  I started asking about some of the narcotic pain relievers thinking that it was too late for the epidural and needed something to take the edge off.  At this point I was starting to regret not getting the epidural.   They told me that the narcotics they had would get passed on to the baby, but the doctor let me know I could still get the epi and that it might allow my body to relax enough to complete dilation.  So, I caved and the epidural was placed at about 4:30 pm.... :(   It was crazy though, like someone shut off my contractions, and I felt like a totally different person than I had been for the past 8+ hours, now able to relax, breathe, carry on a conversation with my doula and Mike, text people and check FB on my phone, haha... ;) . whereas before, all I could do was grunt/groan and cry out through the pain that was consuming me, try and recover somewhat with the little bit of relief I got between contractions and then get ready for the next one.

After that I did go right up to a 10 but baby was still high/at a 0 station.  They had me try a few pushes, labor down (let my contractions bring the baby down), lay in different positions etc, but she didn't come down at all, and then her heart rate started to get down in to the 70's with every contraction and/or push.  (it had been in the 130's and 140's prior to that)  They tried putting me on an oxygen mask to see if that would help, tried seeing if she would tolerate alternative positions instead, and they said her cord might be around her neck or in a bad spot that's putting pressure on it with the bearing down of each contraction or push.  After about 20 mins of monitoring that, they placed some kind of thing that screwed in to her scalp to better monitor her heart rate and tried a few pushes that didn't go well :( and after a little while of that, the doctor said that I needed to have a c-section.  :(   :(   Actually she said she wanted to get me in to the OR "just in case" and that they would check me again in there, but really I think she just wanted to get me in the OR with every intention of doing a c-section... I am sure nothing would change in the short trip there that would change her mind to have me deliver vaginally.  My doula and I both cried as they unhooked me from everything to get me ready to move to the OR.  They wheeled me off, checked me again and said that a c-section was needed.  Everything happened very quickly after that.  They were shaving me, setting up the table to have my arms out at my sides, pumping me full of all these different meds, hooking up monitors, putting up the blue sheet and prepping my abdomen for the surgery.  This whole time Mike was not in there yet, I kept asking where he was but they said they needed to prep me before he could come in.  With how quickly things were happening though I felt like she was going to be born any second/before he was in there.  They did finally bring him in though and she came out at 6:17 pm on her due date, Sunday, April 21st weighing 8 lbs 8 ozs and 21 inches long (exact same size as Tyler was)  She came out screaming though and I cried and cried and cried tears of joy and relief that she was out and safe.

After she was born, it was about 15 minutes that Mike and the nueses were in another room with her weighing her and doing all of her testing etc, but it felt like forever.  I wanted to see and hold my baby.  My arms longed to hold her so badly.  Finally Mike came in with Lily, and I could see her, touch her face and kiss her but I still couldn't hold her.  I was still on the operating table and my body was starting to shake as a reaction from the medication.  It was about an hour before they were done stitching me up and we were out of the OR.   Then once they were done, I had to sit in the recovery area for over an hour while they waited to get me a room.  I could hold her in there, and I was thankful, but I hated the way I felt from all the drugs.. groggy and high like and then also having such limited movement due to the pain that was creeping up as the anesthesia wore off etc.

Obviously being healthy is the #1 thing and I am so glad she is absolutely that, I just wish I wasn't in this much pain so that taking care of her wasn't so difficult.  Everything about my recovery has been slow, painful and difficult from trying to sleep the first few nights in the hospital while hooked up to a million things and with a 10 cm wound in my stomach to getting in and out of bed at night so I can nurse her.  I've been on percocet which I resent - especially since I'm breastfeeding, I am not allowed to drive or lift her in her car seat for 2 weeks, and I walk around slightly hunched over and at a snail's pace.  Recovering has just been all around hard.  I had planned for an all natural childbirth.  My reason for wanting a natural birth was because recovery is so much easier when you don't have all kinds of interventions.  With Tyler's birth (which was vaginal) I was induced and my labor was 21 hours long with 3.5 hours of pushing, an episiotomy, they tried forecepts, the vaccuum etc before he came out.  And I thought that was a painful recovery.  I feel like if I had gone in to labor on my own and not had so many interventions, it would not have taken me so long to recover.  And now with this, I wound up with the "ultimate" intervention, a surgical birth to recover from so needless to say, I wish things had gone differently.  

I am bummed with how far we came without any medical intervention (even thinking back to turning my breech baby when I was 34 weeks, all the reading I did on natural childbirth and hypno stuff I practiced etc) and then of course the 5 hours I labored at home, the 3.5 hours I labored in the hospital without even a hep-lock IV or hospital gown on.... all to end in a c-section.   I am jealous of women who have recently given birth vaginally because they don't have to go through what I am, and I feel like they are able to enjoy their new baby more and wish that taking care of her wasn't so hard with my recovery.  But I will continue to get better with time, the pain will lessen, which will make taking care of her easier every day, so I'm trying to remember that.

Every time I look at her she takes my breath away though, so I need to remember that the important thing is that she is here, and I love her more than words can say.

In between contractions, before we left for the hospital... 

 When I was still in labor

In the OR (obviously)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Cloth Diapers - Part One

I used cloth diapers when my son was a baby, and will use them on this baby as well.  Since I have experience with them, it's not uncommon for people who are interested in using them to ask me for advice or help - so I thought I'd put some of the basic information here.

First off - the WHY.  Haha.  Many people are completely unaware how far cloth diapers have come and what cloth diapering is like today... they hear "cloth diaper" and they still have an image of flat cloths, pins, rubber pants and bleach pails in their head.  They wonder WHY in the world anyone would want to use cloth in this day and age and look at me like I have two heads.

To first clear up that misconception, modern cloth diapers are now much easier to use than they use to be.  They look and function very much like a disposable diaper, only they are made of cloth and they fasten with velcro tabs.  They come in cute, fun colors and prints and they have many options to cut down on the "yuck" factor, such as disposable liners that make flushing solid waste a cinch (they kind of look like a dryer sheet).  Or diaper sprayers that attach to your toilet so you can easily spray off solids.  They are a lot easier and a lot more fun than they ever use to be.

However, there are many more reasons to use cloth, besides the ease of use they offer now.  Such as saving money.  Who doesn't love that??  Disposable diapers cost around $80 per month, per baby.  Add that up over 12 months and an average of 3 years and you're looking at spending nearly $3,000 on diapers per child.  Cloth will cost $500-$1000 (depending on what you buy) and you can sell them after you're done with them recuperating about 50% of the cost, or use them on another child, also extending the savings.  How many times have you changed a baby or seen a baby changed, only to have them poo in to a fresh diaper, not even used for 5 minutes?  Bummer, right??  With cloth, it doesn't matter when that happens because you aren't throwing it away!  And forget about trying to sell used disposable diapers to recoup any of the money you spent on them.  Lol.

If cost isn't enough, what about healthThink of all the chemicals that are in disposables to make them more absorbent.  Do you want that against your baby’s bottom 24/7?  Your skin is like a sponge - so it’s good to be conscious about what you’re putting next to your baby’s skin for the next 2-3 years, 24 hours a day. Disposables contain Sodium Polycrylate – the stuff that makes diapers super absorbent. This chemical was banned in 1985 from use in tampons because it was linked to toxic shock syndrome!  No studies on how it affects infants have been done.

Also, disposables also use dioxin to bleach the diaper materials white. This chemical has been reported by the EPA as the “most toxic of all cancer linked chemicals”. It’s use has been banned in most countries except the US. It is known to cause damage to the central nervous system, kidneys and liver. The FDA has reported: rashes, chemical burns, and noxious chemical odors.  Cloth has no harmful chemicals used or added to cloth diapers.

Still think cloth is weird?  What about the environment?   
About 2 tons of non-biodegradable waste per baby (82,000 tons of plastic and 1.8 million tons of wood pulp (1/4 million trees) are consumed each year.  An estimated 5 million tons of untreated waste and 2 billion tons of urine, feces, plastic and paper go into landfills annually.  It takes 500 years for a diaper to decompose.  Considering that disposable diapers have not even been around that long, that means that every single disposable diaper that has ever been put on a baby's bottom, is still sitting out there somewhere, fully intact.  We have also begun to dump trash in to our oceans.  Imagine the effect it must have considering all that is in diapers and human waste.  Disposables generate 60 times more solid waste and use 20 times more raw materials to make, such as crude oil and wood pulp.  The manufacturing of disposable diapers amounts to 2-3 times more waste water than cloth.  And every year, we throw away enough disposable diapers to stretch to the moon and back, 9 times!!!
Cloth diapers are made with reusable materials, like cotton and bamboo. The life expectancy of a cloth diaper is 100150 washes. Many well made products can be used for multiple children. There is no human waste going into the landfills, it goes into the sewer system with the other human waste. Washing cloth diapers at home uses about 50-70 gallons of water every 3 days, about the same as an adult flushing the toilet 5-6 times daily.  Compare diapers, to dishes. You wouldn’t live using all paper or plastic plates & cutlery, throwing them away with a single use every single time right? That is wasteful. Instead you buy durable dishes that can be washed and reused.  So why not apply that same logic to diapers? Do we really need to throw something away & replace it every time a baby urinates or has a bowel movement?  Especially something that we're using about 10 of, per day?

So that's all for today.  Another day soon I will write about the different types of cloth diapers for those interested in getting started. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Veggie Pho

'Tis the season for soup!!  This is the third time in the past two week's I've made soup.  And as you probably know, soup usually makes a pretty decent size batch and you usually end up eating it for days afterward.  So basically.. I've been eating soup pretty much every day. 

The nice thing with most soups is if you don't like a particular ingredient, you can leave it out or swap it for something else.  Ideally, my perfect veggie pho would have everything below, but sometimes I forget ingredients at the grocery store, run out of something etc and I don't have everything I want in it, but it's still delicious.  In the batch of Pho that is pictured above, I didn't have seitan (which is a vegetarian meat substitute made from vital wheat gluten... and what 'mock duck' is made out of) or any of the garnishes.  But alas, it was still super delicious and even my 3 year old ate every bite in his bowl, and my omnivorous husband went back for seconds. 

4-8 cups vegetable broth
A few TBS of oil
8 oz. fresh mushrooms washed and cut in half
1-2" knob of fresh ginger - peeled and grated
dash of cinnamon
handful of shredded carrots 
1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed and cut in to cubes
1 package of seitan
1/4 head of cauliflower cut in to pieces and washed
1/2-1 head of fresh broccoli cut in to pieces and washed
Asian rice noodles

fresh cilantro as a garnish
bean sprouts as a garnish
wedge of lime, squeezed as a garnish

Start by draining your tofu and setting it up to be pressed, so that it can set while you're doing everything else with your soup. 

Heat oil in your stock pot and add your mushrooms to sautee.  When they're coated in oil and starting to darken a bit, add a splash of the veggie broth and cover until they're nice and soft.  Then add the rest of your veggie broth and cook on High.  *I usually start with 4 cups/one carton of the broth and then have another standing by to add more as needed.

Add grated ginger & cinnamon.  Taste and adjust if necessary. Add cauliflower, carrots and seitan and cook until the cauliflower is soft.  Add tofu.

When your soup is pretty much done, add the broccoli and rice noodles and remove from heat - let stand for ~5 mins until broccoli is done to your liking.  (the broccoli and rice noodles both cook very quickly so it you put them in while everything else is still cooking, they will get overdone)

Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs, bean sprouts and squeezed lime.  Serve.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

2 Tablespoons Earth Balance (or butter of your choice)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup of finely chopped carrots  *tip, I buy matchstick carrots and then just chop them up a little more. Works beautifully.
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
4 cups vegetable broth (the recipe calls for chicken broth, but I am a vegetarian so I use vegetable)
1 large baking potato, peeled and chopped
2 Tablespoon flour
1 cup water
2/3 cup milk
2 cups chopped broccoli
2 heaping cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large soup pot.  Add onions, carrots, and celery and saute over medium heat until tender.  Add garlic and cook 1 or 2 additional minutes.  Add broth and potatoes, bring to a boil, and cook until potatoes are tender.  Mix flour with water, add, and simmer until soup is slightly thickened.  Add milk and broccoli and cook until broccoli is just tender and soup is heated through.  Stir in cheese, allow to melt, add salt & pepper and serve.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I can't believe I'm blogging this

I guess I just have a ton of emotions right now and feel like blogging it out.  They say that talking about your feelings helps you deal with stress right?  Here's hoping.

So, 2 1/2 weeks ago (August 10th), I was surprised with this:

Well, perhaps "surprised" is the wrong word... because we were trying, but after having two losses this year, and this being our first month trying again, (only now having one fallopian tube)  I was not expecting to get pregnant this quickly.  I was prepared for it to take a while, especially since it took us 9 months of trying for Tyler's sibling before becoming pregnant in January, now with only having one tube I thought it could take even longer.

So, that morning, I called the doctor's office as soon as they opened.  Since I have had 2 ectopics this year, I knew they would monitor me closely so that if it were another ectopic, we could catch it more quickly than last time.  I got in that morning and they did a blood draw and told me the plan would be getting it drawn at the hospital every other day so they could, 1 - see if my numbers (hCG/pregnancy hormone) at least doubled every 48 hours, as that is a sign of a healthy pregnancy (if they did anything else it would be a sign of miscarriage or ectopic) and 2 - because as soon as the numbers reached 2,000, they could do an ultrasound to just determine the location of the pregnancy.

My numbers went up as follows every other day:  First draw @ 12 days past ovulation - 56,  then went on to be 190, 555, 1380, 3489, 9136, respectively... which is good.  They almost tripled every 48 hours.  So they scheduled the ultrasound on the day that they were 9,136 (the previous draw was on a Saturday so the offices were closed and I couldn't get in for an u/s). 

I had the ultrasound at 5w1d, and I knew there was a chance that I would only see the gestational sac.  A yolk sac and fetal pole *may* be visible at that point, but it could go either way.  I didn't see anything other than the gestational sac which looked to be empty (again, I knew it may be too early to see anything else), but the good news was it was in the right spot, and the doctor had me come back in another week to see if we could see some growth inside the sac, and if we were lucky, maybe the heartbeat.  (the heart usually begins to beat at 6 week, so again, it may be visible at that point or it may not)

I was so nervous right before the appt, worried that we could get bad news.  I had nightmares the night before that the sac was still empty, that I started bleeding etc.  But much to my relief, we saw the baby measuring right on schedule, the yolk sac, and a beautiful flickering heartbeat of 102 bpm.  This is low, as later in pregnancy baby's HR's tend to be anywhere from 120-190 bpm, but since it had only been beating for a couple of days, it wasn't a concern.

u/s pic and video of heartbeat below:

Okay, so far, everything has been progressing exactly on schedule.  I was elated yesterday (day of the u/s) and feeling very good about things, but now I'm already a nervous wreck again.  Every time I hear of someone who has had a loss at a later stage in pregnancy than I am, I think "that could happen to me".   I looked up statistics for "rate of miscarriage after a heartbeat has been seen", to try and make myself feel better and it said about 4% of women who have seen the heartbeat will still have a miscarriage, but women who have had vaginal bleeding during pregnancy have about a 13% chance after a heartbeat has been seen.  I had spotting for about 4 days starting the day after I got a positive test.  Thankfully it's gone but it still worries me that I had it at all. 

I'm really trying to be positive and not let it consume me, but it's so hard after having been through 3 losses in the past and knowing how very possible they are.  I worry about every little thing.  Last night I chased Tyler around the playground a little bit and was worried that it did something to affect the pregnancy.  I was swinging and then worried that could have done something..  Then last night I had insomnia so this morning I got a medium latte and forgot to order it half-caff, so now I'm worried about that.... that since I haven't been drinking caffeine since I found out, it was too much for my body and I jeopardized my baby/pregnancy.

I know that worry and anxiety aren't good for pregnancy, and I try to just pray and put my trust in the Lord, but I can't just turn off this constant, nagging fear of what might happen, not knowing if I'm really going to have a baby in April, or if my heart will be shattered once again, before that.  This marks my 5th pregnancy.  You would think that I would take it as the odds would be higher for this one working out but instead I feel like it usually doesn't work out for me.  I see other women who are pregnant full-term and think, "if they have made it that far, there's no reason I can't make it that far too" but I feel like it's just wishful thinking.  I try and remember that 80% of pregnancies work out and I try and remember Matthew 6:34; "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."   But still I sit, worried about everything.

Since my doctors are keeping a close eye on me, they want me to come back for another ultrasound in 2 weeks.  2 weeks from yesterday will be Mike's birthday, but I was afraid to make the appointment on that day in case we got bad news... so I scheduled it for the Friday before.  I'm such a wreck.  I wish I could be one of those people who get pregnant and can simply just be happy and excited about it.  Blissfully unaware of how it feels to lose a baby and live without the fear of having it happen again.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chickpea Strawberry Mango Salad

This salad is from one of my favorite cookbooks Peas And Thank You.  It's written by a vegan mother and wife who has two young girls, so she knows very well the struggles of picky toddlers -- and husbands when it comes to a plant based diet.  I didn't try this recipe on my husband, but I do think that he would have liked it if I would have made it for him.  ;)

8 cups of romaine lettuce (or green of choice) washed, dried and torn in to bite sized pieces.
1 (14 oz) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 mango, peeled and cut in to chunks
2 cups strawberries, washed and sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup roasted almonds (I just used slivered raw almonds)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

Cinnamon Vinaigrette Dressing
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
3 Tbs Apple cider vinegar
3 Tbs lemon juice
1/3 cup agave nectar or pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil

Whisk together all ingredients except for the oil. Once they are thoroughly combined, slowly add the canola oil while whisking, until the mixture has emulsified. Serve immediately or store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pasta with Pesto Cream (Vegan)

The abundance of sweet summer basil and tomatoes inspired this recipe.  The rich and creamy texture makes it irresistible.  This recipe is gluten-free friendly and can easily be adapted by simply preparing it with gluten-free pasta.
Makes 2 1/2 cups; Serves 3-4

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (this is a lot of basil, so try and find a large clamshell package of basil leaves in the produce section and you basically end up using all of it)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 tsp white rice flour (I used regular flour)
  • 1/3 cup soy milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk because it was what I had on hand, & couldn’t taste the vanilla flavor at all)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 (16-ounce) package pasta, spaghetti style (I like brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta)
  • Asparagus, ends trimmed and cut in to 1-inch pieces
  • 1 basket red cherry tomatoes, halved

To make the pesto: Combine all ingredients listed for pesto in a food processor. Pulse the mixture, scraping down the sides of the food processor with a spatula, until smooth.

Prepare the pasta according to package directions and start on the sauce.  *Note - When pasta is just about done, add the asparagus to blanch for just a few minutes, then drain all together and set aside.

To prepare the sauce: Whisk together the olive oil, flour, salt, and pepper in a saucepan until smooth.  Put on medium heat and whisking constantly, add the soy (or almond) milk a little at a time until incorporated. Reduce the heat to medium-low; return the saucepan to the heat. Slowly whisk in the vegetable broth and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 6 minutes. Add the pesto mixture to the saucepan, whisking until thoroughly blended and heated through. Take care not to boil the sauce. Taste and correct the seasonings. 
Gently toss the pasta and sauce together, serve the pasta topped with tomatoes.  Enjoy! 

Photo coming soon.