Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Letter to Kate Middleton (and other new mothers)

I hope you're snuggled up with your new baby, getting lots of rest and recovering from your hard work bringing a new person into this world. I'm sure the deluge of advice has already started, but I just wanted to give you some of my thoughts; things I wish I'd heard with my first baby, that I've learned after having 4 children.

Everyone is going to tell you how quickly it goes by. You'll probably smile and nod politely, but until it's over, it's really hard to grasp. This isn't just something people say, it's a cliche because it is devastatingly true and people who say it really want you to understand that it will be over before you know it. It feels like forever, especially in the hardest parts, but then you have a child who is nearly a teenager and you wonder where your baby went. Assuming everything goes normally, in just a few short months, your helpless newborn will be trying to sit up. In just 1 short year, you'll have a tiny person who is either walking or trying to walk. In 2 years, they'll be talking.

Since it does go so fast, don't get sucked in by baby trainers. When your little baby is an independent toddler who would rather play than cuddle, would you rather be happy you snuggled them as much as you wanted when they were tiny or sad you left them to cry on the advice of complete strangers, many of whom have never had their own children? They are tiny and needy for such a short time, they have a whole life time to be independent. Don't buy into the lies of tiny manipulators who need to self-soothe. Babies don't have the mental capacity for such things. All they know, all they need, is loving arms, full tummies & clean, dry bums. That's it, everything else is just so much fluff.

Co-sleep with your baby in your room, if not your bed, for at least 6 months. It not only makes it easily to hear them and deal with their needs, it also reduces the risk of SIDS. If you bed share, follow safe sleeping guidelines. If you don't bed share, make sure your baby will be safe if you fall asleep while feeding.

Respond to your babies cries promptly and feed them on cue. If your baby is crying, they need something, even if it's "only" some loving touch and reassurance. Parenting doesn't stop when the lights go out, in fact night time is when babies are most in need of knowing they are safe and cared for. There is no set time when babies don't need to eat at night anymore, despite what you will hear from well meaning friends, relatives and sometimes even medical people. Do you sometimes wake up in the night, thirsty, hungry, lonely or scared? Babies do too, far more frequently.

It is NORMAL for babies and toddlers to still be waking up at night at least occasionally at 1, 2 or even 3 years of age. It is UNREALISTIC to expect babies to sleep through the night at 2 months or even 6 or 8 months. Some rare babies will, but to expect it is to be frustrated and disappointed if your perfectly normal baby doesn't. To try to force them to, as the baby trainers promote, is to risk damaging the bond you are trying to build. The most essential skill for babies to learn in the first year is trust and they learn it by having their needs responded to by their caregivers.

Keep your babies close, snuggle them, use a baby carrier if you need to do other things, feed them on cue around the clock, rock them and nurse them to sleep if they want you to and respond to their cries so you can watch as they develop independence on their own terms, when they are ready. You won't regret the small amount of time you put in now because it really does go by so fast.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Christmas Pudding

I thought I'd post my recipe for Christmas/Plum Pudding for anyone who is interested. It should be made at least a couple weeks before Christmas.

1 lb raisins
1lb currants
1lb suet
3/4 lb (about 10 slices) bread crumbs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 lb mixed candied peel
1/2 pint brandy
6 eggs
1/2 tsp mace
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mix all the ingredients together and put in a greased,large oven safe bowl. Glass pyrex works well. I usually cover the top with wax paper tied on with string. Fill a large pot halfway with water, place the bowl in the water. Make sure the water level is below the top of the bowl. Boil for 6 hours. Check regularly to see if you need to add more water. After 6 hours, let cool for a little while, then carefully remove. Cover with foil or take off the wax paper and put on a lid. You can freeze the pudding or just put it somewhere safe (larder/pantry) until Christmas.

On the day, cover the bowl with wax paper again and boil for 2 more hours. Allow to cool briefly, then remove from the pot. Take off the wax paper, put a plate over the bowl and flip. Carefully pull the bowl off the pudding and serve. Or, for a bit of extra excitement, turn off the lights, pour some alcohol over the pudding and (carefully!) light it on fire before serving. :)

Leftovers can be refrigerated and eaten cold or reheated. It's really nice warmed with some whipped cream.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I have had it with being forced to sign up to every site on the net in order to post a comment, I'm going to just post my comments here.

This one is in response to : Good Parents Aren't Scared to Put Their Kids on a Diet

Given that every study out there shows 95% of dieters will gain all the weight back and then some, that girls who diet in high school are more likely to be fat as adults than girls who don't, no matter their starting weights, it's pretty damn clear that not only do diets not work, they are contributing to the problem. Good parents make sure their kids DON'T diet. More movement and gradually reducing portion sizes to more appropriate amounts will do far more than any diet. When you diet, your body thinks you're in a famine and stores fat, slowing your metabolism, often permanently. No amount of will power is going to fix that.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cooking Ideas

We need to start coming up with more easy meals that are easy, cheap and filling. I've asked people before and get advice about buying a whole chicken because it will make 2 or 3 meals and about making soups. This advice is unfortunately not at all helpful.

My family can decimate a whole chicken in one meal. If someone is slightly less hungry than usual, there might be enough bits left for a bit of a sandwich. This is without any teenage boys or my youngest eating yet. To give a bit of perspective a 4lb store bought lasagna is *just* enough food for us now. If no one is really hungry. When I make stir fry, I use 2 packages of meat, half a huge bag of vegetables & 3 cups of raw rice. We maybe have a bit of rice left.

Soup is an interesting idea, but dh refuses to eat them unless they're practically stew and it's hard to tell from a recipe how thick it will be and if it will be enough for everyone. Plus, I've never made soup in my life and it seems really daunting.

Needless to say, we eat a lot of carbs because they're cheap and our main protein is ground beef.

"Ground beef!" you say, "Why not beans or lentils?"

Well, because dh can't eat high fibre foods. Even the ground beef is a problem sometimes, probably due to the fat, even though I buy the more expensive lean beef and drain off the fat.

As for vegetables, from what I understand if we had a wider range, there's ones we could use as meals. My second son is really picky, though. He won't even eat sweet potato fries. He also hates cooked carrots (but loves them raw). Until now our vegetables have been incredibly basic: peas, carrots, beans (kids hate them), potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce (occasionally)and occasionally things like cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms and whatever else comes in our big bags of frozen veggies for stir fries.

A few months ago I tried making a casserole with butternut squash. I was the only one who liked it. I tried buying an eggplant to make eggplant parmesan, but when I cut it open, it was bad inside. I plan on trying again, though. Crossing my fingers it's actually something the kids would eat. I've also heard that spaghetti squash is good, but I'm not sure I've ever actually seen one, much less have any idea what to do with it. As for any other vegetables, never had them, don't even know if I can get them but if I can, I'd like to try more, especially if they can be made into an easy, filling main dish. Bonus points for cheap even if you're feeding people who eat A LOT.

Spam me with your ideas and recipes in the links, please! We need to get more variety and spend a lot less on groceries.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ds4's Birth

Saturday, January 28, 42 weeks and 2 days from LMP, I was getting more than a little tired of being pregnant. Actually, I'd been more than tired of it for months, since it was really hard on my pelvis and I was barely mobile.

I finally started getting some contractions after doing some pumping for nipple stimulation on Friday, but they didn't last long. All day Saturday I had very mild contractions which were barely noticeable. I didn't want to get excited that it might finally be labour, but I posted a few places that I'd been having mild contractions for hours.

After my 2 older kids went to sleep, around 11pm, things picked up a little bit, but they were still easy to walk and talk through. Around 1 we went up to bed. Lying down made them a bit harder to cope with, but I was able get my toddler to sleep and then listened to the First Stage track for Hypnobabies. By the time it was over, there was no way I could continue lying there, the contractions were getting too hard to handle.

I got up without disturbing dh or 2 year old N and went downstairs where I decided to try timing a few contractions. They were over a minute long and about 3 1/2 minutes apart. I decided I really wanted to start getting the pool going, since it was going to take at least half an hour.

I tried hooking up the hose to the sink, but had completely forgotten how, so I had a little debate with myself about whether to leave dh to sleep or disturb him to start filling the pool. I finally couldn't take it anymore, I really wanted the pool, so I woke him even though I felt guilty.

By the time the pool was full enough, the contractions were coming one right after the other. I'd have one, take a couple of steps and have another. They didn't really hurt, but I had to stop and lean on something and breathe through them.

I got in the pool around 4:30am and it was wonderful. The contractions spaced out a bit and the warmth was just what I needed. After about 2 minutes sitting in the pool I felt a pop and then a gush. I'm pretty sure that was my water breaking.

First time I've ever actually felt it despite having it break before labour with my other 3 kids.

I started pushing a little bit with the contractions around 5:30. It helped me cope as they were getting harder and harder to deal with. Around this same time, N woke up and dh went to try to calm him and hopefully get him back to sleep. No luck and N's freaking out woke our eldest, B. So they both went downstairs to watch cartoons while dh came back down to the basement to be with me.

I can't even begin to describe how awful things were at this point. I was literally screaming through the contractions. I'd feel one coming on and start begging "no more" over and over until they were so bad I'd just scream. I eventually found that anything other than leaning back or sitting were the worst positions to be in. At one point I was trying hands and knees again and flipped onto my back in the middle of a contraction because it was so awful. It wasn't the contractions so much as the pain in my pelvis and feeling like it was splitting apart.

I can't help wondering if I would have had less pain if I'd been able to afford a chiropractor.

I vaguely remembered about high pitches making it hurt more, so I tried to force myself to just yell "get out" over and over as low as I could. When I was able to remember, it seemed to help a little. During all this, I was also doing some pushing, but was scared to push too hard.

Somewhere in here I had dh put on the Hypnobabies pushing track. It was so opposite of what was happening, I had to turn it off.

At some point, dh checked me & could feel the head. He thought I was fully dilated, but wasn't completely sure. I was really not coping well and he eventually asked my new friend, K, who is a midwife, to come over to see if things were going normally.

Nearly the entire time before she got here, I was sure she was going to say the baby was stuck, that's how long it had been going and how horrible it felt.

Shortly before K arrived, I realized that the pain was a bit less and I was pushing more. When she got there, I was able to get through the contractions without screaming anymore, but I asked her to check me anyway. I wish I'd tried checking myself again first (I'd tried at least 4 or 5 times to feel the head, I knew if I could, it would be a sign of progress and it would have been easier to keep going).

She quickly checked and said that the head was nearly there. I was so relieved. The agony was over and not only was I making progress, the baby was nearly here. I pushed through a few more contractions, then called for dh and the kids to come down. I was expecting crowning and the last bit of pushing to be similar to the last 2 babies; 2 or 3 pushes for crowning, then 1 for the body. Boy, was I wrong.

It took another 10 or 15 minutes of pushing just to start feeling the ring of fire and it was a lot more painful than the others. I had to keep stopping pushing because it hurt so much and I was so sure I was tearing really badly. It took several contractions to get most of his head out and I still hadn't felt the relief of the head being out when I felt a kick.

Seriously, he kicked me. I pushed some more and he didn't seem to be moving out anymore, so I asked K to make sure he wasn't stuck. She said he was just rotating; something the others hadn't had to do. And then I felt more kicking and squirming from him. I can't even describe the sensation besides weird and uncomfortable.

I finally got him out, then had to move to grab him from the other side of the pool.

He was born at 8:29am.

He started a tiny little cry as soon as he was out of the water and didn't really stop for the next hour or so. I cuddled him and checked to find we had a 4th son. He definitely looked heavier than my others, he had a little bit of fat on him. I was curious to see how much he weighed.

The placenta came out after about 20 minutes and was really nice looking. I sadly forgot to take a picture of it, but hopefully there's some video. I got out of the pool after that and we all sat upstairs for a bit. I finally tied and cut the cord after about an hour since I was tired of dealing with baby, placenta & bowl.

Shortly after K left, we finally weighed him. He was 9lbs 3oz. Over a pound bigger than my eldest and nearly 3lbs bigger than my toddler had been. Bear in mind, my eldest was delivered by cesarean because, according to the doctor, I was "too small to ever give birth". When we measured him on Monday, he turned out to have a 15 inch head and be about 19 inches long. He is very tightly curled up, so getting an accurate length is tough. We also double checked his weight and still got over 9lbs.

I'm definitely done having kids, but I do wish I could get a do-over on this birth. It was nearly the opposite of what I was hoping for. Hopefully one day I can come to terms with it and with never having a daughter.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

24 hour Salad

I'm going to be making this tomorrow. It's so good I usually double it, but we're low on eggs this year & it's just the 5 of us, so I'm only making the regular recipe. Maybe I'll make it again in a couple months instead of doubling it.

1/2 cup (or more) of halved marashino cherries, set aside to drain
1 can orange segments, drained
20 oz pineapple chunks, set aside 1/4 cup of juice, drain the rest

(I usually just put all the fruit in a strainer together & leave them while I make the rest)

3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 c sour cream
2 c mini marshmallows
1/2 c whipped cream (or more if you like)

Combine pineapple juice, yolks, sugar, salt, cornstarch & lemon juice in a saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat until it thickens. Cool. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Add fruit and marshmallows. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Add whipped cream before serving.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ds3's Birth Story

My newest little guy is over a week old, so I guess I should really get on writing a birth story for him.

Ds2 was 3 weeks early, so I was expecting my newest baby 'any time' after that. Waiting was extremely tiring. I loved being pregnant this time & didn't mind that he hadn't come early, I just wished I had some idea *when* he was going to come.

On Sunday, March 1, 2009, dh had an attack of labrynthitis (vertigo). It usually takes him several weeks to recover. Since I was already 40 weeks (or over, depending on the calculator), we knew there wasn't going to be that much time, but I really hoped it was be at least a few days, otherwise he wasn't going to be able to help much, if at all.

About 7:20 on March 2, I woke up to go to the washroom & felt like I was kind of damp. I stood up & gushed water all over the floor. Every step I took to the bathroom, I gushed more water. 3 labours, 3 times with my water breaking with no contractions, despite all my attempts to have it start differently. In the bathroom I quickly checked to see if I could feel any cord, since I didn't think the baby was engaged. No sign of anything, so I figured it was fine. I put a towel between my legs, went out to the living room & called my friend, Jamie, who had offered to come to the birth, to let her know that I'd probably go into labour in the next couple days, since my water had broken. After I talked to her for a bit, I went back to bed & tried to get more sleep.

When I eventually got up, I was still leaking a little bit, but it only seemed to happen when I got up from lying down or bent over. I grabbed the fetoscope & listened for the heartbeat. It was nice & strong. I also started getting contractions around this time. They were fairly mild, I just had to pause briefly when I got one. The baby was quite active during them.They were about half an hour apart. I called Jamie again to let her know I was getting contractions, but still figured labour was a long way off, since I'd had to wait 3 days after my water broke with ds2.

I spent the day mostly taking it easy; losing bits of plug all day. The contractions stayed about half an hour apart until around 10, when they started coming every 12-15 minutes. I decided to try to get some sleep. I realized it could be sooner than 3 days until labour really started, but was still hoping that I had at least another day for dh to recover. By this point I seemed to have stopped losing plug & had a bit of blood.

I don't think I got much rest, the contractions got a lot more painful when I was lying down & started coming closer together. About 1:30 I couldn't take it anymore. I was thinking that an epidural sounded like a lovely idea. H was still up, but I made him go to bed. I was still thinking it would be a long time. Getting up made the contractions hurt less, but they were still pretty painful.

Around 2:30, I couldn't take it anymore & decided to try having a shower to see if the water helped with the contractions any. I had a waterbirth planned, the pool was all blown up, but it was in the bedroom with the sleeping kids & I really didn't want to disturb them if I didn't have to. So, I got in the shower. It was wonderful. Standing up was difficult, though, so I sat on the tub floor & just aimed the shower sprayer at my belly. By this point I had pretty much given up on hypnobabies. It seemed to have helped.a bit with the early contractions, but they didn't really hurt anyway. I stayed in the bathroom for nearly an hour. I knew the contractions were getting harder & closer together & I really wanted my waterbirth, but didn't really want to get out. I kept hoping that dh would wake up & come in so I could stay there while he got the pool ready, but he never did. So, I reluctantly got out of the tub, dried off & decided to try to move the pool into the living room. I wasn't sure we'd have enough space, but was hopeful that it would fit. At this point contractions were coming about every 5 minutes, but picking up fast.

I rolled the pool out to the living room, discovered it would fit & went to grab the plastic & sheets to put under it. I woke up dh around 3:30. The thought of trying to dig out the hose & fill the pool was too overwhelming. I laid out sheets (for padding & warmth, my pool didn't have an inflatable bottom & our floor is concrete) & put plastic over them; between contractions which were coming every 2-3 minutes by now. At some point in here (around 3:40am or so), I also called Jamie & told her the contractions were about 5 minutes apart. She said she was going to have a shower, then see if I wanted her to come up.

I thought about getting in while it was filling, but it seemed like way too much effort. When the pool was finally full (no idea how long it took, in our practice run it was 25 minutes, though) dh encouraged me to get in. I had to go find a shirt to wear in it, since I felt really uncomfortable with the idea of being totally naked. The kids were awake by this point, not sure if it was me getting the plastic out of the bedroom, dh getting the hose out of the closet across from the bedroom, or my moaning through the contractions that woke them, but at least it meant I could turn on the light to find a shirt. I finally found the one I was looking for & got in the pool. I think it was about 4:30am at this point, but I really wasn't paying attention to the time anymore.

The contractions were really close together & very painful. As expected, doing the pool was about the extent of what dh was capable of doing for me with how awful he was feeling. I figured Jamie was probably on her way & just hadn't called. Just before 5, she called to say she was on her way. I really had thought she'd be here any minute when she called. Dh told her he thought I was in transistion. I wasn't moaning through most of the contractions anymore, just screaming & begging dh to kill me. I was also giving deliberate little pushes on some of the contractions, just because it seemed to make them hurt a little bit less.

Ok, to be totally honest I was pushing quite hard on a couple of them. I just couldn't handle the pain anymore. I was trying all kinds of different positions to try to get away from how much it hurt. I was really scared of a long pushing phase (ds2's was about 15 hours, several of which he was stuck for) because I knew I couldn't take this much pain for that long. I was also scared that I was pushing too soon since I'd only been in active labour for a few hours & I wasn't feeling any kind of pushing urge, it just felt less painful.

I asked h to check me, since at least then I'd have some idea if pushing hard was likely to cause problems. He checked & said he couldn't feel anything that seemed like cervix, just something jello-y feeling & possibly the head underneath. He figured the squishy thing was probably the sac. I started pushing with every contraction after he told me he didn't feel any cervix, but I still wasn't pushing really hard.

Sometime around here, Jamie arrived. It was about 5:20am Dh was relieved. He was starting to worry he was going to have to decide whether I needed to go to the hospital or not. In fact, just after she called, I'd told him that I was going to make her take me to the hospital as soon as she arrived because I couldn't take it anymore.

The baby was obviously moving down, since I felt like I needed to have a bm. At this point, I wasn't even really thinking about the baby, I just wanted to get rid of that feeling. It's horrible! So I started pushing really hard, several times each contraction. I was just concentrating on pushing & so, even though I felt it, it took me awhile to realize that I was feeling a burning sensation & a little bit longer to process what that meant.

I told everyone (the kids were watching from the hall, I think my screaming had scared them a bit, especially ds2) that I thought I was crowning. Then I reached down to feel if I actually was. The baby's head was partially out already, with the edges of the membranes floating in the water. What I really wanted to do at this point was to push as hard as I could to get his head out & stop the burning. I also really wanted to avoid tearing.

So, despite how much I wanted the burning to stop, I slowly pushed his head out. Push, pause, burn, push, pause, burn. After about 7 pushes, his head was out. I waited until the next contraction & gave a hard push & his shoulders came out. It almost felt like there was a 'pop' as they came out. I think Jamie said his arm was out even before I pushed out his shoulders, but the timing of everything is a bit fuzzy. Unlike with ds2, who had just slipped out on the push after his head was out, I had to push again to get Nick's body out after his shoulders.

He floated up to the surface of the pool, face down. I grabbed him out of the water & brought him to my chest, then checked to see if he was a boy or a girl. I was kind of surprised to find that he was a boy, but also relieved that labour was over. It was 5:35 am, only 4 hours from when I couldn't handle the contractions in bed anymore, even though they had still been 10 minutes apart.

I leaned back against the side of the pool and looked down at him. He was a little blue & completely quiet, which freaked me out a bit. Then I saw him move his mouth & knew he was ok. He looked up at me, then promptly closed his eyes & went to sleep. Jamie grabbed a towel & covered him with it.

After waiting for a little, I started getting a few mild contractions and decided to try pushing again to see if the placenta was ready to come out. It took a bit more work then I was expecting & as it came out, Nick woke up & cried for the first time.

Before I'd gotten in the pool, I'd grabbed some containers for things, since I knew dh wouldn't be able to find anything with as bad as he was feeling. He handed Jamie the bowl for the placenta, which she floated in the pool while I was pushing it out. Once it was out, it was put in the bowl.

The pool was very bloody at this point & I decided I wanted to get out. I gave Nick to Jamie & leaned on dh to get out. Then I sat down on the couch with some towels under me & a big blanket around me & cuddled my new little guy. I tried to nurse him, but he wasn't at all interested at this point. My older boys came over to see their new brother & dh started draining the pool.

Eventually we cut the cord & confirmed something Jamie thought she'd noticed earlier. There was a knot in the cord. When I cut up the placenta to dry it for encapsulation, I took pictures of the knot. After we'd dealt with the cord, I went for a quick shower to get rinsed/warm & get dry clothes on. Jamie went home about 8:30 & dh & I crashed for awhile. The kids were wide awake, so I napped on the couch with the baby while they played a game on the playstation. At some point my youngest had a nap on the floor, but my oldest stayed awake for the whole day.

I don't know exactly how much he weighed at birth; need to weigh the blanket he was wrapped in & subtract it, since it clearly weighed several ounces. I think he was around 6lb 6oz, maybe a bit less. 19 1/2 inches long & head circumference of 13.4 inches.

Nicholas is 9 days old now. Breastfeeding has been fairly easy (compared to my other 2, it's been stunningly easy). My milk came in at only 2 days. He only had 3 meconium poos before it became normal bf yellow. His cord stump came off at only 5 days. He seems very strong & alert for such a little baby. He regularly lifts his head off my shoulder for several minutes to look around at the world. He's still incredibly calm, only crying when he's hungry or when I change him.

ETA: He was anterior, but his head may have been slightly asynclitic.