Yoga Rebirth

I’ve never been much for exercise. I always hated PE and sports and the gym and and and… until I tried yoga. I think it is fair to say, I love yoga. Granted I am no pro, I don’t take classes, I can’t put my foot behind my head. I just do simple home practice, sometimes with videos, sometimes on my own, but I love it.

Many moons ago, my roommate Timberly brought home a yoga VHS (many moons) from Yoga Journal. I tried it and once I got past the unfamiliar language, I really started to love it. It was such a different idea and it really made me tune in to my body. There is no pushing in yoga, no sweating (yay), no “feeling the burn”, just taking ancient poses to help your body heal, rejuvenate, detox, stretch and align. It’s not a calorie-burner, it’s more like physical therapy, but it helps the mind too.

Since becoming pregnant, I had fallen off the wagon, so to speak. Partially because yoga during pregnancy is trickier and there are certain poses you aren’t supposed to do, you can’t lay on your back, yadda yadda. I tried several pregnancy yoga workouts, but my changing body and the unfamiliar routines didn’t jive and I basically put it on hold.

Then I had a baby via c-section and was told, of course, that I was not to exercise except for walking for 2 months. Then I had a two month old, and no time, no sleep, no life force with which to care about yoga. Cut to January 2013, I have a 21 month old and my body was pretty pissed that I had neglected it for so long. So I hopped on Amazon and found all of my favorite Yoga Journal videos on DVD, ordered them up and I was back in business. I am doing yoga about 5 times a week and starting to get my sea-legs (or warrior-legs) back.

I love it. Again. Namaste.

Vegucated

I like to watch documentaries, probably part of my ‘input’ trait. I like anything about cooking, food, show business, biographies, etc. So today I watched Vegucated, recently added to Netflix. While I am not vegetarian or even close to vegan, I find these films interesting. I loved Food, Inc. and Hungry for Change.

Vegucated was a bit too focused on animal rights (don’t get me wrong, I think animals should be treated well by humans, but I am just as appalled by nature documentaries) and gave veganism a sort of cultish wrap, so I won’t say that I recommend it.

However, there was one tidbit of info that I found very interesting… A doctor that she interviewed said that the standard American diet was roughly 40% meat, 50% processed foods, and 10% whole plant foods, with half of that consisting of white potatoes. With those stats, it’s no wonder that we are not getting enough nutrients on the whole. Food for thought!

Homemade Cornbread

I love making cornbread in my cast iron skillet. I favor this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/grandmothers-buttermilk-cornbread/ But I heat the skillet up in the oven, melt the butter in the pan and add it to the bowl of ingredients so the skillet is well greased, then you pour the batter in the hot skillet. Only takes about 20 minutes to cook.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Homemade Chili

Tonight I decided to try my hand at homemade chili. I’ve made veggie chili before but not really a meaty one and that was the craving today. So I started with the Basic Chili recipe from America’s Test Kitchen (it’s in my cookbook, but I can’t find it on the website), and then added my own twist. Here’s how it went together:

  • 1.5 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 Anaheim chile
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can of diced tomato
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 2 Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce
  • 2 tbs of maple syrup
First I chopped the onion and sauteed it in a bit of olive oil. (I seasoned with salt and pepper after every major ingredient went in.) Then I added all of the peppers and seasonings to toast in the oil. Then I added the garlic and tomato paste to concentrate the flavors. Next I added half of the ground meat and cooked until it started to brown, then I added the second half. After the meat was no longer pink, I stirred in the tomatoes and the rinsed kidney beans. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low and simmer with the lid on for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Then remove the lid and cook for another hour, add liquid if it starts to stick to the bottom of the pot. Toward the end I started to feel like the flavors needed to deepen and be a bit smokier, so I added the minced chipotles in Adobo and the maple syrup, which really seemed to round out the chili nicely and helped kick up the spice a bit. I will also note that you need to add quite a bit of chili powder, probably near 1/4 of a cup, but I added it throughout the cooking process and kept tasting along the way.
Christopher thinks that this would be a good recipe for leftover brisket. I’ll have to remember that.

Gram D’s Potato Chip Cookies

An odd cookie recipe for you:

2 sticks of softened butter (I say one salted, one unsalted)
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup crushed potato chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
2 cups flour

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together. Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Roll into balls, and place on a cookie sheet. Then wet a cookie press with water, dip into granulated sugar and press each cookie to a uniform thickness. (If you don’t have a cookie press, you can use the bottom of a small juice glass.)

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes or until slightly golden. You can place a chocolate chip or nut in the center of each cookie, if desired.

Nate’s Birth Story

I had gone a few days past my due date and while I wasn’t growing anxious about the situation, I was beginning to wonder if things would start happening soon. I kept the house tidy, went walking with my husband each morning and evening, and basically tried to relax as I waited for my life to change forever.

April 19th, 2011 – Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, on one of my many trips to the bathroom, I noticed a little more fluid than usual. I was instantly sure that my water had started leaking, but I went back to bed without waking Christopher because (as all of the birth class instructors will tell you) if you can sleep, sleep. In the morning, Christopher and I went for a nice long walk to see if things would start moving along. I hadn’t had any contractions yet.

Half way through the walk my water really, really broke, really. So we hurried home and I showered up. We called the midwife, Simona and she told us to come in so she could check things out. I called my parents at this point to let them know that they should get on the road, since there was no turning back now.

The midwives confirmed the water breakage (duh), and said they didn’t want to check to see if I was dilated because it could introduce infection. Since I wasn’t having contractions yet, they told me to head home and walk around until things started happening. Simona also told me that if I didn’t start having contractions by the evening to take some Castor Oil, gag.

We took care of a few things at the office, and then headed to the mall to walk. My parents arrived and we headed to dinner. Still no contractions. During dinner, a small twinge, maybe a contraction? After dinner we walked around Target, still no contractions. Before bed, I took the dreaded Castor Oil, disgusting.

Everyone was in bed and I was just dozing off to sleep and I felt a cramp. Ugh. Ok, well that was nothing, I can get some sleep before it gets worse. About 12 minutes later another cramp. Oof. That’s cool, I can catnap in 10 minute bursts. Then they started coming 8 minutes apart and lasting about a minute long. I started timing them with my contraction timing app on my phone. After about 10 contractions, the app told me that I needed to upgrade to the paid version…HELLO?? Is this not the worst time in the freaking world to try to upsell me??? Let me just say that after everything was over I wrote a scathing review of that app.

By this point, I had woken Christopher with my moaning, so he got up to help me. The next 10 hours are something of a blur so here is what I do remember (in no particular order): The contractions were about 6 minutes apart and a minute long for most of my labor. While the contractions began in my abdomen, at some point I started to have back labor. I tried to several positions to get comfortable for my contractions, but what worked the best for me was standing and swaying, or leaning forward on the bed or table. My hypnobabies techniques actually did work very well for about an hour sometime in the middle that I was able to concentrate on my relaxation. I wished I would have practiced a lot more. I think my mom and Christopher took shifts caring for me. We called Simona and she told me to come in at 9 a.m. I ran down the water heater twice in the glorious shower, which was the best part of labor. At some point, I ended up in the back yard. I basically wandered around moaning and breathing deeply for what seemed like days. I think they put on the movie “Up” while we were getting ready to go to the birth center in the morning.

In the car, I surrounded myself with pillows, put the seat back and tried to relax. Time enters another dimension when you are in labor. Sometimes the seconds drag on, other times you look up and hours have passed. Simona was wonderfully supportive, she coached me through a few contractions and told me how well I was doing. When she checked me for dilation, I was still at one centimeter. One. 10 hours of labor and I hadn’t dilated any more than I had been the week before. I was quite disappointed. This was exactly what I had feared would happen.

Simona told me to go relax in the birthing suite, but to try to stay active and she would check me again in an hour. This was when I really started to notice the back pain. I couldn’t get comfortable sitting. So I wandered around the birthing suite for an hour and a half and she checked me again. No change. She told us to go home and come back at 4 in the afternoon.

We went home, I tried to rest in between contractions, but it was really no use, they were still 6 minutes apart and 1 minute long. I was really getting tired. At 4pm, we headed back to the birth center and Simona checked me again. No change. I asked her what we should do. She said since I wasn’t progressing and it had been more than 24 hours since my water broke, we should probably go to the hospital and try a little Pitocin. I asked her if she thought that was the best thing to do. She said (you have to imagine her awesome Romanian accent), “You have been laboring for a while and not dilating and this is not a small baby.” I was shocked by that last part. She smiled and pointed to my belly, “No more water in there, that’s all baby.” So off we went to the hospital.

Simona met us in the E.R. and we quickly went back to a desk where I signed my name just once and then I was in a room. Everyone seemed to know the drill with Simona and they all sprang into action when we got there. Since they were starting the Pitocin, I had to be on a monitor, which meant I had to lay down. On my back. My contracting back. Oi. I took one look at the bed and knew that I was not going to be able to manage the contractions laying down. I had been standing for nearly every contraction for the past 20 hours. At that point, I understood the true challenge of labor was not the pain but the ability to endure through the exhaustion that overtakes a long labor. I asked for some pain relief.

Simona suggested a shot of Nubain, which took the edge off enough that I could lay in the bed, but it made me very dizzy. Once I got the meds, she told me she was going to go home to eat dinner and come back in a couple of hours and that she would be there for the night.

I kept my eyes closed most of the time and tried to relax. Christopher and my Mom took turns feeding me ice chips, which I wanted endlessly. There were not enough ice chips in the world. I also kept asking Christopher to put chapstick on my lips. After a couple of hours, the Nubain started to wear off and I noticed that the contractions were stronger, longer and much closer together. They were upping the Pitocin every half hour and things were getting intense.

I reached a crisis point when I realized the contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes and were the strongest I had experienced yet. “That was another one, wasn’t’ it?? That was 2 within 5 minutes!!” Pitocin was not my friend. I began to question the nurses.

“Can I have another shot of Nubain?”

“No, we don’t think that would be a good idea.”

“Can we turn the Pitocin down?”

“No, that would make you lose any progress we’ve made.”

“Can you check me and see if we’ve made any progress?”

“No, we need to wait for Simona.”

“When is Simona coming back?”

“We’ll find out.”

After some very intense waiting, Simona showed up and checked me for progress. Two centimeters. Two. Two? “Maybe two and a half”, she conceded. I told her that the Pitocin was too much and I couldn’t handle the contractions so close together when I still had so long to go. I asked if I could have an epidural and was told the anesthesiologist was in a crash C-section and wouldn’t be out for at least half an hour, and I knew it would take at least another half an hour to start getting relief. I knew I was going to have to make a key decision about how to go forward, but with so little time between contractions and my mounting exhaustion, I could barely come up with two brain cells to rub together. I asked Simona, “Can we please stop the Pitocin??” She reiterated that we might lose the progress we had made. But I was adamant, “Look, I need you to turn it off so I can think and talk to you about what we are going to do.” They obliged and my contractions quickly spaced back out to 6 minutes apart, what a relief!

Simona laid out my options. I could continue to labor on the Pitocin, but since my water had been broken for nearly 40 hours, they would start getting concerned about infection and fetal distress. Or I could have a c-section. I really didn’t want a c-section, but Simona pointed out that right now the baby was still doing fine and it might be better to do it now before we put the baby through additional stress of augmented labor. I also knew that refusing a c-section now might mean that I just had one later and possibly an emergency c-section. I talked it all through aloud, just to make sure what I was thinking made sense. My mom was nodding vigorously, I know she knew exactly what I was going through. I took a few minutes to make sure this was the right thing to do. I didn’t want to ever look back on this moment and think I was pressured into it. And then I said yes. I labored, I did well, I wanted to see my baby.

At that moment, 3 nurses swarmed on me to get me prepped for surgery in record time. This was the worst. I was flat on my back getting poked and prodded very which way and they made me drink something really nasty. Finally, I was being wheeled along to the O.R.  I was still contracting, but it was much better without the Pitocin.

They took Christopher to get into scrubs and took me in to get prepped. I sat on the table leaning forward onto Simona’s shoulder and another little scrub nurse. They held onto me and patted my shoulders while the anesthesiologist poked around giving me my spinal. He missed once, twice, he apologized and said if he missed again, he could call someone else to try. I reassured him that I was fine. I was the most comfortable I had been since I had gotten to the hospital, sitting upright was wonderful after spending so much time on my back. Third time was the charm and my legs instantly began to tingle. They laid me down and that’s when Christopher showed up again. He sat by my head, camera in hand ready for the big moment. I was quickly numb and quite happy about it. I had trouble staying awake through the whole thing. Finally, on April 20th, 2011 at 11:55pm, my little boy was born. Christopher followed the baby and took some photos. He showed me some on the camera while they were closing me back up. “Aww” I said, “He looks like me.” We laughed. They brought him over to me and I fell in love. Our baby. Our little family. I haven’t stopped falling yet.

Choosing Natural Childbirth

Well, here is the part where I explain why I chose to try and have a natural childbirth. First of all, let me say that this is a very personal decision and I don’t for a moment think that everyone should do what I did. As was explained in my childbirth options class, you need to decide what you are comfortable with and whether that means you want to have your baby in your own bathtub with only candle light or whether you want the epidural in the parking lot of the hospital you should be able to have the birth experience you want.

I have been fascinated by childbirth for years, and even continue to be now. I love (LOVE) reading birth stories, reading birth books, watching birth videos, etc. It is a truly miraculous happening and I am enthralled with the whole process. I found that over the years, I was drawn to the stories of natural childbirth. I loved learning about women’s experiences when they let nature take over. I also enjoyed “The Business of Being Born” and it made a lot of sense to me, even though it is slanted toward a certain perspective.

So once we found out we were expecting, I made an appointment with an OB to check things out. Through the first half of my pregnancy, I started researching my options while still seeing the OB. I knew from the start that I would not stay with this practice since they had stated before I even made my first appointment, “There are several partners in this group and regardless of who you see for your prenatal care, whoever is on duty is who will deliver your baby.” This made no sense to me. Why see one doctor throughout your pregnancy only to roll the dice when it came time to deliver? I may as well walk into an emergency room and tell them I am in labor. No. I wanted someone who had gone through this experience with me to know my preferences even before my first contraction hit. I wanted to know the person advising me through the biggest challenge I would face as a woman.

So I began asking around and researching online to find a new practitioner. I was open to the idea of a doctor or a midwife, as long as I felt this person could respect my preferences and advise me. That didn’t seem like too tall an order, but I suppose I was wrong. At this point, I still wasn’t dead set on a natural childbirth, but I was considering it heavily.

I researched and took the recommendations and basically came down to 2 possibilities an OB and a midwife. Then I gathered some questions from some of my favorite pregnancy/childbirth books and set up “Meet and Greet” interviews. Both were extremely friendly and knowledgeable. When I told the OB I wanted to have a natural childbirth, she sort of chuckled and said, “Well, I think that’s a little crazy. Everyone thinks they want a natural childbirth, even I did, but it hurts more than you think.” While I appreciated her honesty, I was a little disappointed that if this was the path I chose she wouldn’t encourage me. The meeting with the midwife was at her birth center and I just fell in love with her and the facility. Afterward, I did a lot of thinking and came to my decision based on the following:

  • I’ve always wondered if I could have a natural childbirth.
  • We are only planning on having one child, so this could be my only chance.
  • If I wanted to try to have a natural childbirth, it only made sense to go where I would be supported in that decison.
  • I don’t like hopsitals, so if I could have my baby without going to one, that would be great.
  • Natural childbirth was going to be enough of a challenge without having to try to go against the hospital system.
  • I loved the midwife and her experience was considerable.
  • I loved the birth center.
  • There was a hospital right across the street from the birth center in case of emergency.
  • My husband and parents understood where I was coming from and supported whatever decision I made.
  • Childbirth was a natural process that my body was capable of going through without IV’s and medical intervention.

Again, this was my process, everyone has to decide what is best for them.

 

Pregnancy Classes

Times have changed and parents-to-be these days have a lot more options than just the basic Lamaze class. I hadn’t thought about it, but my midwife gave me a brochure and suggested I take some classes. The brochure was from PacifiCord, a local cord blood bank. (Side note: Cord blood banking is an interesting concept and seems to have a lot of utility. It may be something you want to check out. You can follow the link above to find out more about PacifiCord.) The classes were free so I thought I had nothing to lose really.

My preconceived notions were these:

  • It’s a free class how good could it be?
  • It’s sponsored by a business, so it will probably be a huge sales pitch with a little additonal info.
  • We will probably be pressured into buying their services.

I have to say that all of these notions were 100% wrong. The classes (after the first I signed up for another) were fantastic! Lead by labor and delivery nurse, doula, lactation consultant and mother of 3 Wendy Spry, the classes were extremely informative and entertaining. She also emailed everyone her materials after the class, because as you may know pregnancy does a number on your memory. At the end of her 2 hour presentation, she showed a quick video about cord blood banking and explained it briefly (total it was less than 10 minutes). Then she introduced Kevin, who could answer any questions we had and that was it. Class over, no sales pitch at all!

We ended up taking a breastfeeding class and a childbirth options class (going over the process of childbirth, what happens in a hospital, and what you can do to make the experience the best possible outcome). The classes were great and I recommend them to everyone.

Then I faced the challenge of choosing a childbirth methodology and find a class. Since I had chosen to try to have a natural childbirth experience, I explored Bradley, Hypnobirthing (recommended by my midwife) and Hypnobabies. As I mentioned in a previous post, Bradley is very involved and requires 12 classes. If there was a Bradley “Lite” that probably would have been perfect for me. Self-hypnosis did not seem like it was for me at all and I struggled with the recommendation. My midwife assured me that hypnosis was the method that she saw the most success with in her experience (which is considerable). So I tried to be open-minded.

Finding a class proved an even larger challenge. All of the classes I could find were in LA and I didn’t feel like fighting traffic and getting home at midnight. I found a few teachers that were willing to do a private class with my husband and I, but scheduling conflicts ruled out that option. The weeks ticked by and I was finding myself at a deadend. I emailed Wendy Spry and another childbirth educator (Sheridan from Enjoy Birth) and explained my dilemma. What was I going to do?

They both emailed me back and recommended the Hypnobabies Home Study Course. I ordered it immediately and Sheridan offered to do a review with me when I finished it. Finally, I had found an answer! The course materials could be a bit better organized (hint hint Hypnobabies), but all in all I really enjoyed the program. There were some cheesy parts I had to get past, but I found the deep relaxation that comes with self-hypnosis much more powerful than I had imagined. I was very happy that I was able to be open-minded about the process.

Pregnancy Websites

In addition to the many books, I also frequented websites to supplement my pregnancy learning. These are nice because you have the benefit of search and there are usually forums loaded with personal experiences. Some of my faves:

These all have general information and some have those cool emails you can sign up for that tells you what is going on with your baby that week (for both during the pregnancy and after the kid is born).

A couple other sites I like are:

  • momversation.com – Full of videos of moms talking about mom issues, both entertaining and informative.
  • lets-panic.com – This is just for fun, 2 bloggers started this site to poke fun at all of the stuff that moms get told to do and not to do.

Then there are the countless mommy blogs, some of my favorite:

Finally, since I have an iPhone, apps were put to good use during my pregnancy as well:

  • BabyBump – Similar to the websites above, just general information. Weekly updates, daily updates and forums.
  • BMotion – A kick-counter app for when you need to count such things.
  • A Contraction Counter – Read the fine print on this one. I opted for a free version and it only allowed me to time 10 contractions then required that I buy the paid version, which worked TOTALLY differently. This is not something you want to deal with while having contractions.
  • Similac Baby Journal – This is an awesome free app for all of the many things you need to chart once the baby is born.

I’d love to hear about your favorites.

Pregnancy Books

The learning curve for pregnancy is pretty steep for something that is only going to be a very small part of your life. I, personally, tried to learn just about everything I could. Gathering a varitable library on the subject, I read the better part of around a dozen books. Here are some of the books I would recommend:

  • What to Expect When You’re Expecting- Tried and true. More than a page-turner, this is a good reference book. You can look up just about anything.
  • The Pregnancy Book – There is a whole series of books by Dr. Sears and his wife (who went through this a few times) and I found them all to be a very good overview.
  • The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy – Casual and easy to read, it will answer some of the less “technical” questions about this wild process.
  • Belly Laughs – This is just a funny personal account by Jenny McCarthy.

Then there were the childbirth books, which I was very interested in because I had decided to try to have a natural childbirth (more on this later).

  • Birthing from Within – A little to artsy fartsy for me, but an interesting approach to the childbirth process.
  • The Bradley Way – About the Bradley method of childbirth. It was a good overview and I think it would have been interesting to take a class about it. Bradley classes are 12 sessions, and that was a bit overwhelming so I didn’t end up going this route.
  • Hypnobirthing – Recommended by my midwife and a family member, but unfortunately I couldn’t find a class.
  • Hypnobabies Home Study – If you decide to go the hypnosis route, I preferred Hypnobabies to Hypnobirthing. I felt that they gave you a clearer understanding of how to achieve the goals of hypnosis and how to practice.
  • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – This is an amazing book by a very famous midwife and her immense wisdom gives so much information that is NOT in any of the other books I read. Her book gave me a whole new perspective on childbirth.
  • The Birth Book – Dr. Sears again, this book had very good suggestions for pain management techniques and very good overall information.

The last 2 books are definately my favorites. Happy reading!