Monday, March 29, 2010

On the beauty of pregnancy and birth...

I can't believe that I'm saying this but, I came across something today that made me *almost* miss being pregnant and the anticipation that brings... More accurately, it made me mourn that I will likely never give birth again, never hear my own first baby-cry again. I never thought I was one of those birth-junkie types. It also made my (only slightly) question my decision to get a degree in library science instead of nurse-midwifery - the primary factor being the family-friendly nature of being a librarian over being a midwife - although I suspect I'll revisit my decision many times in the course of my years.

This post isn't a forum for me to debate my school and career decisions though. I'm really looking forward to seeing this movie. Le Premier Cri looks beautiful, exquisitely filmed, capturing the strength of the women involved and the power of birth.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour

How did you spend your Earth Hour?

We lit candles in preparation... Here's a pair on a repurposed butter dish.

I spent the hour with a wee babe (OK, not so wee) sleeping blissfully while I journaled his long-over due birth story. Can't believe I hadn't written it in his journal yet.

Time well spent.

Friday, March 26, 2010


So... I just stumbled on a blog that really steams my grits. The Homebirth Debate captured my attention with its title. I thought, "How great! Somewhere women can become educated about the pros and cons of hospital and homebirth [or unassisted or whatever one might choose]." What a misnomer! That I'm even dedicating a post to the blog irritates me, I just can't stop thinking about the amount of incorrect, incendiary information on that site.

"Dr. Amy" [credentials in question] is a pundit on the subject of birth, espousing her own beliefs with little regard for others opinions or the facts in her O'Reilly style "No Spin Zone."

As someone who has had two wonderful births (she only uses "natural" in quotes and a derogatory fashion), the thought that this women claims to care for women is ludicrous. She returns to the mentality that epidurals are a feminist-drug - allowing women to escape from the pain of labor so that they are equal with men. I will not try to explain why that is ridiculous here - there is plenty of information out there on what can go wrong with epidurals, designer births, etc. Birth moved out of the home into the hospital because that was supposed to make it safer, but what we see is monitoring which leads, too often, to unnecessary intervention.

This tirade is not to say that I don't support all my sisters out there who want or need medical assistance during their births - I certainly believe that drugs and intervention have their place - just not in a normal, natural birth - when a women desires a drug and intervention-free labor.

Dr. Amy bashes midwives, waterbirth, homebirth, women who feel they were wronged during their births - think a PTSD-induced birth trauma scenario. It all just left me feeling yucky.

Dr. Amy has now moved her blog to the Skeptical OB - the comments on c-section there seem a *little* less biased but also just less opinionated - she states the "facts" - albeit one-sided that support her opinion.

I have to stop here because, well, I've already taken up too much space with this nonsense.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Long December... and January and February and...

So we've all heard enough about the weather, and we've certainly all had enough of the weather. As I sit here typing this, some awful sludgy-snow hybrid is falling out of the sky. And I'm usually one to like the white stuff but this has gone on long enough...

It seems that all mothers of young children are looking for ideas to keep busy while we try and wait-out Old Man Winter. I know I'm one - indulging in my inherit shyness and homebody-ness (?), I've almost enjoyed certain aspects of the long winter - indoor picnic anyone?

Using finger paints in the shower is one way we've staved off the winter blues.

Oh, and did I mention both child and artwork are easily cleaned?

Monday, March 15, 2010

VBAC OK'd by National Institute of Health

For years, the rate of VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) has fluctuated wildly. Finally, NIH has come to a concensus that trial of labor after cesarean is usually safe for mother and baby. With the high rate of maternal morbiidty and mortality (not to mention a very high rate of infant mortality) in the United States, perhaps our health leaders are starting to attempt to solve this problem.

Intially, cesareans may look good on the surface in our busy times - they can be scheduled by a busy mother - but, they mean that a woman spends more time in the hospital and faces greater rate of complications. Elective cesareans are only helping the doctors who can schedule them, and look good saying "I did my best" regardless of the outcome.

Please read about the NIH's findings here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Foodie Friday: Mashed Potato Enchiladas

Whenever I introduce these to someone they usually question me - What are you trying to feed me?! - the name is a little strange. But, I guarantee they are delicious, comforting food that even meat-eaters will love. Potatoes and dairy form a complete protein which satisfies on so many levels.

This recipe makes a lot, and takes a few steps... but they freeze beautifully (if your family is on the smaller side and you actually have any left).

Without further adieu, here is the recipe:

5 lb. bag red-skin potatoes, partially peeled and cut into rough 2 in. cubes
1 bag 8-in whole wheat tortillas
1 lb. block cheddar, shredded (I use white cheddar but it really makes no difference)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet onion, large dice
1 1/2 c. sour cream
2 15 oz. cans (red) enchilada sauce (you won't need it all)
1 Tbs. butter or olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place potatoes in a large stock pot with water to cover and a dash of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are soft, then drain.

Meanwhile, saute onions in butter or olive oil until soft and fragrant (about 7 minutes), add garlic and cook another three minutes or so.

Brush tortillas with enchilada sauce, cover with tin foil and place in oven for about 5 - 8 minutes.

Once potatoes are drained, return to pot and add 1/3 cheese, garlic and onion mix, 2/3 can of enchilada sauce, and sour cream. Mash together until well combined.

Pour enough enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan to cover.

Fill warmed tortillas with potato mixture and place in 9x13 pan. Drizzle with enchilada sauce. NOTE: this is to taste - however, using a lot of enchilada sauce can turn dish into a casserole (which still tastes great) instead of individual enchiladas. Cover with remaining cheese and place in oven for 35 minutes - until cheese is bubbly (and browned if you like).

These are great with a fresh salad or green vegetables.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Mothering Mondays - A Break

No, I'm not taking a break from this blog (again). I am just reminded through my conversations with other mothers how hard we can be on ourselves. I found myself incredibly depressed, depriving my child simply because I was trying so hard to be that perfect mother. I stressed over the words-per-hour she heard, whether or not I was playing the right games or music... I found myself reading about what I should be doing, feeling guilty I wasn't doing it rather than just doing what came naturally.

Giving yourself a break can be incredibly liberating. Sometimes that means going to get your "hair done" (my break of choice when I can manage), other times it means that a dinner from scratch isn't going to happen, or just allowing yourself to enjoy being a mother, relaxing and taking a deep breath. Being there for your kiddos is all they really need or want.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Foodie Friday: Spanikopita

Here's one of my all-time favorites... Spanikopita or Greek Spinach Pie. It's amazing hot out of the oven, even cold the next day and freezes well. Also, it's high in vegetarian protein thanks to a wallop of spinach and feta.

Three bunches green onions, chopped
Three bags frozen spinach, thawed and drained
Three tablespoons dill, chopped (or more if you're like me and fresh is best)
Three tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin)
Two packages of feta cheese, coarsely chopped
One package of puff pastry, thawed (traditional is made with phyllo dough, but this is much quicker; the package should have two sheets of pastry)
One egg, beaten or butter

Preheat oven to 350.

Saute your onions in about one tablespoon olive oil in a large-ish sauce pan over medium heat until fragrant. Add the spinach, dill and feta. Turn heat to low and mix well. The flavors become more delicious the longer you allow them to "get acquainted."

Meanwhile, prepare the puff pastry according to package directions. Basically, flour your work surface, roll out the dough, fold in on itself and repeat a few times.
Place one sheet into bottom of a 13x9 pan. Fill with the spinach mixture. Place other puff pastry sheet on top. Cut a few vent holes, brush egg or butter on top and bake about 45 minutes until crust is browned.

I usually serve this with couscous or tabouleh. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary

Today is my best girl's birthday. Last year, there was little fuss. This year, she really knows what is going on. "I want a bunny. You buy it for me." Yeah, right...

It is also the anniversary of when I became a mommy. During labor, our midwife kept saying, "You're becoming a mother." At the time, I thought something like, "What a redundant thing to say, I know that!" But she was right, labor prepares us for the true pain of motherhood: worrying over our children, feeling their pain as our own.

So, today I'm celebrating my daughter's birthday, but also my birth as a mother and how thankful I am for that.

The birthday:

1st Birthday:


And many, many more.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Branching Out

Finally finishing the "story" of the kid's room. While it's been done for some time now, I've been quite remiss in actually getting some pictures here.

Views from my desk:

Tree details:

Again, I can't take credit for the paint job - Papa did all that...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Reader's Resource - Raising Your Spirited Child

With the advent of the dreaded twos - which, I'm told are dwarfed by the threes - I found myself in need of a little advice. Between a two year-old (nearly), a newborn, and graduate school I am not feeling particularly creative when it comes to discipline or explanations or the ability to answer the same question for the seventieth time in a row. I am feeling a bit more centered, a bit more grateful and more able to understand my dear daughter. Knowing that I'm not alone helped.

"Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka (I don't get any kickbacks) felt like something I could have written... well, the descriptions of a "spirited child," not the advice. Simply this book may allow you to see your child in a new way, a more positive one. By changing the words used to describe the traditionally "strong-willed" child, I was granted the ability to accept, and appreciate my wonderful daughter's unique, spirited, vivacious personality.

I should note that I found the book a bit light on actual advice. However, I found it to be incredibly valuable as a parenting resource because of the attitude it encourages you to adopt concerning a child that might require a bit more effort at times.

I loved how she describes how a parent might first learn that they have a spirited child. Perhaps it was while you were still pregnant and those kicks felt harder than what other women described or what you experienced with other pregnancies. Or maybe it was when your cousin had the "good baby" at the family reunion.

My daughter is my first so I initially thought that babies were all "demanding" or as Dr. Sears says "high needs" or "holding high standards." I can now appreciate and love that she has always known what she wants and won't back down from trying to get it.

If you're in search of a new outlook or just a few words of encouragement as you try to move forward as a gentle parent, this might be a good match.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mothering Mondays - Simon's Birthday

How to start?

My dear son’s pregnancy was not an easy one… one in which I found myself wallowing in pity for a time. At 18 weeks I was diagnosed with a complete placenta previa and put on partial bed rest and told to wean my 18 month-old daughter after a bought of bleeding. Selfishly, I questioned why it had to be me, why couldn’t it be someone who already had a cesarean scheduled, someone to whom it wouldn’t matter? Why did it have to be me with these best-laid plans (for a natural pregnancy and birth)?

Then, I decided to take action. Regardless of the warnings that complete previas seldom resolve, I chose to try my best to resolve it. Acupuncture, homeopathic tinctures and positive thinking/prayer… I’m not sure what did it but the previa resolved within two months – not only had my placenta moved enough (4 cm) but it had moved completely out of the way (10cm). The midwives cleared me for a natural delivery and I was able to pick my dear daughter again.

We chose not to find out the sex – really hard with multiple ultrasounds to observe the previa. But somehow we both thought it was a boy (my dear husband has a way of knowing things – knew I was pregnant before I did, knew DD was a girl, etc). In my mind, for whatever reason, I have always thought that boys were harder to birth and more likely to involve complicated labors. So I was scared, especially after the previa made me question my own body.

In preparation for the birth, I reread all my birthing books, started a regimen of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, and thought happy thoughts. I had prodromal labor for a few weeks – I thought the baby was coming as early as Christmas Eve. He didn’t show up for over two more weeks. Almost everyday I’d have a few contractions that didn’t go anywhere – but were real contractions.

We went in for the weekly appointment with the midwives on Tuesday and I decided to let them check me… something I wouldn’t have considered even a few days before… funny how that last stretch of pregnancy makes you willing to do almost anything to get labor started. The midwife told us she didn’t think it would be long… And she was right. (Same scenario with dear daughter.)

We came home, went about our normal day and then around dinnertime the contractions started coming more regularly. My mother came to bathe dear daughter and I told her I thought this was the real deal so Lucy went for her first slumber party. (I knew a nearly two year-old was not what I needed in labor.) My dear husband was wonderfully attentive, asking what I needed, getting the living room warm – I shivered terribly.

After an hour or so of regular contractions we moved into the bedroom so I could lie down and rest. The contractions were coming regularly and lasting but I didn’t want to go to the hospital too soon (and yet we had about an hour’s drive). When I stood, the contractions were right on top of each other, but slowed when I would lie back down. The midwife suggested we come in and so dear husband bundled me up, and off we went – with him guiding me over the ice and snow packed everywhere.

At the hospital, they whisked me upstairs, did some monitoring… less than with dear daughter, but still, ugh. I was allowed to lie on my side this time (I was on my back while they monitored me the first time) which was infinitely easier. While I was being monitored, the midwives (we lucked out and got two!) filled the birthing tub.

I climbed in, certainly feeling ready to push, but wanting to wait for the water. Heaven! The water eased everything, the contractions, the pressure as I pushed. Within ten minutes of entering the tub, I felt the baby crowning (no “ring of fire” this time) and then he was here… our midwife caught him and then he was on my chest, in my arms.

My first glimpse of him, I thought he looked like a football player – thick, broad, strong. Oh, that delightful squishy, wet baby feel, that fresh-from-the-womb smell (we didn’t bathe him for days – soaking in all we could).

Simon Atticus

9 pounds, 11 ounces

21 inches long

1:58 in the Morning