Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pesto Prep

The rain has decided to water my garden today, so it is time to take some of my fresh pesto.  I avoid using nuts in my recipe as a few friends and kids or friends have tree nut allergies.  Today it is Fresh Basil, Fresh Spinach, Goat's Milk Ricotta, and a little love going into that blender.

Beyond the kitchen, I needed to wash off all the heavy soil and other stink from the last two days of gardening, so this morning it was an ultra cleansing round of olive branch to calm down the red from the sunshine overload and clear away the remaining fertilizer from under my nails.  Laundry is going, kids are comfy int their respective seats, one napping and one with a cup of chocolate raw-milk... so I'm off to the kitchen for a bit!

  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Blend the spinach, basil, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a food processor until nearly smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Drizzle the remaining olive oil into the mixture while processing until smooth.

Pesto Prep

Monday, May 26, 2014

Spice & Sunshine

We finished our garden boxes this weekend and tomorrow I begin the planting part of that effort.  Seeds are all set up into bundles to be dropped in, and many of my items are already started and just need to go into the ground to flourish.  

This afternoon I'm hiding inside while the rain packs down all that soil I just put into the boxes... and I that means time to kill on Polyvore & Pinterest.  Going over ideas for set-up when we haul the stand out and start doing events at fairs and farmer's markets in a few months.  For now, enjoy a look at what home decor is in my dream kitchen.  A little burst of bright yellows, rusty reds, and spice tones in orange and browns.  I feel like these work so well in the kitchen where things should always be warm and bright!

Spice & Sunshine

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Evening Formal Wedding Attire

Wedding season is on and none of my dresses fit the post baby curves.  Once again this means I'm looking for a "fall back dress" to have ready for any wedding I might be covering.  At the moment I have my hourglass back but it is a little "Dolly Parton" and so the retro style helps hide that fact. With a neat little crinoline under the skirt I believe this classy number from Lady Vintage will be my new go to gown.

Evening Formal Wedding Attire

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lucky, A Birth Story in Two Parts (II)

There is this medical myth that second births are faster and easier.  In the grand scheme of things, yes, this one was "faster" but I would never call it easier.  I shared his brother's birth story earlier and now this one for comparison.

I realised as I was writing this that while I use nicknames for my boys, I had not selected one to use for my husband.  To make things simple, I'm using his STEAM handle which fans of the series "Song of Ice and Fire" (or watchers of HBO's Game of Thrones) will recognize.  Just to add to our nerd-score, my handle happens to be the reply.

Nerdy names aside, here is my second birth story:

On the Wednesday before my second little boy was born I had my regular OB visit and discussed my on-going issues with labor being unproductive and the signs of muscle damage in my hips and lower body as well as the continued stress on my kidneys making me weaker.  I was still at just under 5cm according to my OB when he checked and swept membranes again, sending me home with instructions to keep up the walking and allowing me to try anything and everything if it could help break my water or get things moving.

That night, just as we were all settling in to bed for some rest, my water decided to break.  After having to mop up the mess all over the bed and struggling into clothes without waking the sleeping nearly three-year-old it was time to go. I left Valar home with the sleeping toddler and had my mother drive me in with a plan for her to trade with him and watch the little boy once they confirmed this was the real thing.
We arrived at a little before 11:30 at the hospital, meaning I knew we would be having a baby on Beltane (Mday Day for those not familiar with year wheel celebrations). After navigating the world's worst parking garage and improper signage, we the triage department for the maternity ward as my contractions increased from an annoying cramping to drastic squeezing of my innards, making me sure that we made the right call about it.  The nurses hooked me to the monitor and we all watched my contractions at a steady 5 minutes apart and about a full minute long with a healthy dose of "Why am I doing this again!?!"  

And so it went until the attending arrived.  She nicely watched my contractions, asked what made me think my water broke, looked thoroughly squeamish when I mentioned that I was being intimate when it happened - did she not know how the baby got in there to start with - and said she wanted to do an exam.  After finding fluid she said she still doubted my membranes had ruptured because many women mistake loss of bladder control for their water breaking.  I assured her it was not my bladder, but she seemed to have a low opinion of my ability to tell the difference.

Then she went a step farther in being thoroughly inadequate in her diagnosis by saying I was just over 3cm, then seeing that their own hospital OBs had been the ones to do my last exam she said she'd leave it to what he had stated.  At that point she informed me that while they could see I was indeed having contractions and feeling something distinct, she felt I was not really in labor yet or only the very early stages if this was labor.

Curbing the urge to hop off the bed and throttle her as she told me I was not even in labor while mid-contraction... I asked her to simply humor me and she agreed to let me wait a while and see if the contractions did indeed progress things.  My desire to kill reduced greatly once she had exited the room and the nurses were again commenting that from everything they could see in my monitors, this was indeed labor.  Unfortunately, when two hours later I had only progressed a tiny amount that same attending tried to send me home because she did not feel it was safe to follow the advice of the supervising doctor from my OB's office about giving me pain medication and a sleep aid to allow my body some rest before needing to work even harder while pushing.

About the point that I was struggling to pull on my pants while trying not to scream from contractions every three minutes, my husband wisely dragged in another nurse in the midst of their shift change and explained that if they were serious about discharging me he wanted both a wheel chair to bring me to the car and the name and number of the best person to call while filing malpractice against the hospital for their behavior.  At this point the nurse, now with the fear of legal action, went back out and returned with another nurse and MY doctor as he had just come in for the day shift.  He assured me that he was not allowing them to send me home, pointing out that had the girl called him as directed he would have told her to admit me and do the transfer from the triage section into a progressed delivery room so that he could have a more experienced doctor doing the care until he arrived.

I was then moved from the initial room to a delivery room with a birthing tub, yoga ball, and far more comfortable bed to rest between what was now a routine of contractions every three minutes. My new nurse assisted us over and assigned husband to run a warm bath in the birth tub as I had expressed in my birth plan how that was the preferred location for my labor.  After another check from a doctor with more than half a brain we were vindicated with the news there was just a pin-prick hole and the baby was pressed tight against it but that they would open it a tad more once I was ready to move to the tub so things could progress.

Having had such an easy first labor, it was a shock to my system when we could hear an audible crack as the bones in my hips and spine suffered with each contraction.  After getting in the tub with my first son, there was such relief and quick progression.  It was exactly what I needed to relax, to allow the steady ebb and flow of contractions in waves, and to reduce the pressure from all the weight and muscle movement.  But unfortunately there is one saying about pregnancy and birth that IS very true… “Every birth is different.” 

Valar puts up with much of my complaining.  He's held my hand through two long pregnancies, and I adore that he has learned to read me so well over our years and can see when a migraine is coming or I need a break because the long term damage to my knees is getting to me. But when even he finally had to excuse himself to go have a cigarette and even cry a little to shake off the concern from my whimpering and howling at the pain in my spine and legs... it is fair to say that something was very wrong.

I would have stayed longer in the water if the intensity and frequency of these contractions hadn't been causing me to slip down into the tub as I started to pass out. The bed was safest this time and I'm thankful for it. Once there, it was easier to focus on breathing and using my mind to overcome the pain.

I asked for something first just to reduce the edge and make it tolerable to ride out without being so aware of how badly my bones were grinding and the least amount of interference with the baby's heart rate. That worked for perhaps ten minutes before I was back to having to bite a pillow to stop the howling and my body fought itself.

Finally it was my nurse who called in the attending and told him point blank that even she was uncomfortable with the level of pain I was putting myself through after all our other complications this pregnancy. He stayed to watch through two contractions before telling me he felt it was time to do something to both push the progression (fourteen hours of active labor at that point and only a single centimeter) and reduce my suffering. Within a few minutes the team was setting up for an epidural even knowing my scoliosis might be problematic.

I am thankful the anesthesiologist was so skilled and steady, placing her line even as my body decided to challenge her with only a two minute window between contractions that lasted nearly as long. After that it was so much calmer. I was quiet and mentally unclouded enough for us to sit and discuss with the doctor about all our options which lead to a safe, healthy birth for our little hobbit baby.  By sixteen hours of labor, I was exhausted mentally and physically.  I wanted it to all just be over. Valar wanted it to be over. Even the doctors must have wanted it to be over as they willingly listened to my concerns and questions if a c-section would be needed based on heart rate for myself and the baby.

My doctors listened kindly, agreed to see how soon there would be a surgical room open as we all felt the baby had been stressed enough and my body was beginning to suffer too.  As they left the nurse reminded us to call for her right away if I felt any change as I had just reached 7cm and with my eldest, all that was required for me to move from there through transition and into birth was the "effort" of standing up after a trip to the toilet.  It took perhaps ten minutes for me to ask Valar to call the nurse back in as I felt a touch of pressure.

I wish I'd been holding my camera at the moment she lifted the blanket to look.  The jaw drop and look of shock told me more than her rush to the room phone to call in my attending.  It was time and Valar just smiled and took his place next to me, holding my hand and grinning.  Since the epidural was doing a good job of dulling the contractions, I was able to resist the urge to push until the were all prepared.  This time took far more pushing as he was much larger, but as they lifted our little boy onto my chest and he opened his big blue eyes for the first time, I was so happy just to make it through all the challenges of this pregnancy and birth.

Epidural is not a dirty word.  Pitocin, though I feel it is used too frequently, is not a dangerous chemical.  In my case, these were the tools that lead us to another calm birth rather than a dash to the operating room or another baby born on a bathroom floor. I may have had to request pain medication and required the use of Pitocin to alter the progress this time around, but I am very happy to know it was possible at all.

Our mutual recovery from this experience has been much slower physically.  I required stitches which I promptly managed to rip open upon getting home and returning to being Mommy to a toddler and never stopping for long.  I had bruising at the spot where my epidural was placed and where one of my IV lines had blown during the first attempt at pain management with Nubain while in labor.  Over all, things have been slow but no more problematic than any fatigued life with a new baby.

The little Hobbit Baby did require a short trip to the hospital's NICU on his second night as he had tried to inhale while still in the birth canal and swallowed fluid and blood.  His lungs required a round of oxygen therapy and antibiotics to fend off infection.  He is on a vitamin D supplement to combat jaundice and steadily gaining weight perfectly.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Lucky, A Birth Story In Two Parts

There is a long debate on the benefits and risks of medication for pain management while in labor and the complications or interventions it requires.  Having had two very different births and done a large amount of research on the topic for each one (because medical knowledge evolves as new studies and options come available) I wanted to share my experiences and my thoughts on each method I experienced.

Just under three years ago my first son was born.  The pregnancy was a big surprise as I was on birth control and not showing signs until a regular doctor's visit to discuss the stress at work and my history of ulcers which revealed a positive pregnancy test in my blood panel even though I had not tested positive via pee-stick.

Pressed for time to get the first ultrasounds and tests done, I contacted a local OB at the closest hospital with a birthing center and learned my first hard lesson..."not all doctors like having involved fathers with lots of questions".  She would ignore him or answer in a sarcastic tone, and seemed put-out when he insisted on staying in the room to hold my hand as the did the highly uncomfortable first ultrasound with that horrible wand.

Just before my 20 week ultrasound we moved from New York back up to Maine, meaning I was able to transfer to the care of the OBGYN who had treated me for some long standing issues and knew my history already.  Here we were able to ask any question, get an honest answer, and feel confident that our baby was getting the quality of care we felt was deserved.

By the time our little boy was born, I was forty-one weeks and three days and so uncomfortable just trying to walk that the thought of it often made me cry a little.  When my ultrasound that week showed our son was still not yet 7lbs and there was some possible issue of being restricted because I had failed to gain any weight for the last six weeks of my pregnancy we agreed that it was time to accept that all the natural labor inducing tricks and home-remedy methods were pointless.  My doctor and I discussed the least invasive of ways to induce and arranged for me to be induced the following evening.

At 6:10pm the following evening they placed the first round of cervical ripening product (Cervadil) and my husband and I settled into our respective beds in the room in L&D.  Poor kind hubby, he had to sleep on the stiffly overstuffed couch while I was relatively more comfortable in my post on the hospital bed.

Unfortunately, my pushing for minimally invasive efforts to start things meant I went from only 1cm to 1.5cm in the course of the night.  By 8:30 the next morning I was bargaining for one more try with a cervical ripeness aid rather than something more drastic.  Thankfully they listened and with this round my body finally began to respond, getting the hint and moving into early labor without much issue.  I bounced on the yoga ball, walked around with my husband, and eventually sunk into the glory of the birth tub when the harsher contractions kicked in just after my water broke.

By 8:00 that night I was clearly going to have a baby soon and we made sure to call family and update them before people went off to bed.  Shortly after 9pm all three attending doctors were busy in deliveries in other rooms and the intern on her first night in L&D offered to check and see how things were looking before I hopped back into the tub for a bit more relief.  She declared I was about 7cm and most likely would hit transition soon.

For some reason I had it in my head that going to the bathroom would be a good idea before it was time to push.  I still don't know if perhaps it was some cruel trick of my body to mess with my plans, but I am once again so thankful my husband was standing just outside the bathroom door and quick enough with his reflexes that a dive to keep me and the baby from hitting the floor was not a futile effort on his part.  I remember crouching on the tile floor, looking up at the nurse who asked what was wrong and in a not-so-calm-voice tell her "I'm holding my baby's head!"

It was blur after that... they must have rushed me to the bed because I remember vaguely the effort to lift myself onto the birth bed and holding my husband's hand. I remember the nurse holding my leg for me and telling me to breathe, then her panic as I started to faint with the first push.  But somehow he took only three pushes and one pause as they moved his shoulders, coming out quiet but flailing and going straight to his father's waiting arms.  

Small, skinny, and having huge feet and wide eyes... my little man was perfect from his first breath. He's an amazing child, full of smiles and so bouncy and bright. When he began crawling, then walking well ahead of the normal timeline his father and I thought we had beaten the odds so perfectly.  We had faced a long battle just getting through my health problems and his pregnancy had come as a shock after so many years being told I was going to face a battle just trying to conceive.  And yet, there he was, perfect and giggly and bright as the sun in the sky after a long labor and un-medicated birth.

My recovery was a walk in the park, literally. Once we were released from the hospital after an extra day of watching because he was under weight and not latching correctly to breastfeed, I was walking almost every day.  Eventually I had to admit breastfeeding was not working because of sharp pains and bleeding from the breast, but until then I did my best and even after I investigated our options to find the healthiest, most natural choice for our baby.

Tomorrow I will share the full story of my second child's medically assisted birth and how it compares to my natural labor and birth of our first baby.  I want to do this with a clear head so that you can all see the difference and how each has merit.

Farmer's Market Fresh

Tomorrow is Saturday, that means farmer's markets and gardening at our house.  Tomorrow is also predicted to be very damp with off and on rolling showers and late afternoon storms.  Since I am still somewhat bloated from baby weight, I'm thinking along these lines while I head out to enjoy the green growing things.  Of course, add a newborn in a cuddly baby wrap to complete the look and you'll get a pretty good picture of how I really do look out there.

Farmer's Market Fresh

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thursday Interview Outfit

Interview number two is this afternoon and I'm about to hop in the shower while the baby and toddler are napping now that I nailed down my outfit.  Going slightly less formal today and drawing my color choice from my wedding ring to draw a little encouragement from my family and husband.  I do have to say, thank the powers that be for SPANX.  I still have some swelling in my abdominal area and feet, so compression waist slips and compression socks to help with the water retention thanks to my kidneys.  Anyway, now that Pinterest and Polyvore have eaten my soul, I am sure this blog will be more interesting in terms of fashion, though it can all be taken with a grain of salt since half the time I buy the lower price knock-off at Target or Macy's rather than the high price ones that take my entire food budget for the month in one pair of pants.

Thursday Interview Outfit