28 June 2011

Greens from the Garden

An example of Lila's food: A mixture of spinach, Swiss chard and peas. Just look at that deep green color. So many wonderful nutrients that came about 12 whole feet from our back door. Pretty amazing, if you ask me.

If you want to read more about making baby food, check out my post here. I mostly follow Super Baby Food with some major modifications.

There are many rewarding aspects of making baby food, but one of the most visual is the bright colors that come from homemade food. You just don't get these amazingly deep hues from jarred food.

Other benefits, particularly by making baby food from the garden: The food doesn't have to travel to get to Lila, we don't use herbicides or pesticides, the food is fresh and it costs less. Win, win, win for us, Lila and Mother Earth.

There are some not-so-great aspects of making your own food. It takes time. Not loads of it, but time nonetheless. Sometimes I just want to relax after full day of work and putting the kids to bed. Sometimes I just have to suck it up and make baby food.
Posted by Picasa

Westward Ho!

Over Father's Day, we made the trek to Nate's dad's new house in Montrose, Colorado. It's a relatively long (but gorgeous) drive to the western part of the state. We had a wonderful weekend and the the kids were just amazing. Nate's dad moved here from Iowa, so I suspect we'll be seeing much more of him and his wife. This is good for our kids. It will be nice for them to have both sets of grandparents so close.

We made a day trip up to Ouray, an absolutely lovely and picturesque town settled in a small canyon. We had hoped to take a dip in the hot springs. Unfortunately, the city was hosting a swimming meet there that day. Plan B included drinking craft beers on the rooftop of a fantastic little pub, with views of mountains all around. Everyone (especially Benny) was disappointed about the hot springs, but Plan B wasn't too shabby for the adults in the party.

Lila loves her papa

20 June 2011

Teeny Tiny Pigtails

Lila at almost nine months, with teeny tiny pigtails! She is adorable. She's also a crawling pro now, which keeps us on our toes because she also loves to put everything in her mouth! Walking may be right around the corner too. She now pulls herself onto nearly everything to stand. No cruising yet, but she's close.

She can eat strawberries from our garden as well as spinach, beets and beans. Carrots are coming up and the corn is about ankle high. In the next few weeks, she'll get nearly all of her veggies from the garden!
Posted by Picasa

10 June 2011

Unmedicated, Take 2, Part 3

This is the final "installment" of my Unmedicated series. I wanted to get my general birthing stories down somewhere before I completely forgot about the details. In the next few weeks, two women I know will be giving birth naturally. Hearing about their excitement and concerns makes me a little nostalgic for my own birthing experiences.

I asked my doula to meet us at the house before we headed to the hospital. I thought I could stay home for awhile longer. However, by the time she arrived, we were loading up the car. The contractions were INTENSE! It was about 4:30 a.m. at that point and luckily Nate's dad was in town. Right before we left for the hospital, Nate woke his dad up. It was such a luxury not to have to worry about getting someone to take care of Benny at that hour of the morning.

The drive to the hospital was shorter this time around - and NO speed bumps! However, when we arrived at the hospital, we discovered that the triage area was completely full. I stood in the waiting room with two other moms waiting to be seen by a triage nurse to determine if I could be checked in to the hospital. We waited and waited and waited. Of the three women in labor, I was having the most intense contractions in the waiting room. My doula earned her fee that night. She was insistent that I be seen right away.

Finally, a nurse arrived from the delivery floor to escort all of the overflow moms to be examined upstairs. We discovered, however, that the elevator was not operational because someone had burned a bag of popcorn (no kidding) and set off a fire alarm. The nurse led us to another elevator - but we had to walk through the emergency room to get there. When we got to an examining room, the nurse checked my progress. I was at seven centimeters! Wooo hooo! Like my doula had been saying all along, "This woman is in labor!"

I was quickly transferred to a delivery room. It was about 5:30 a.m. An hour after we left our house! The nurse strapped on a baby monitor and declared that I would have to remain connected to the baby monitor because the heart beat was not regular. No getting up and swaying my hips this time. At that point, I was pretty exhausted and I was happy to stay curled up on a ball on the bed. Nate rubbed my hair, like a good birthing partner, and my doula offered me water after every contraction. Things were progressing nicely.

I'm not going to lie, there were three or four distinct contractions I remember considering an epidural. But those moments passes quickly. This time around I knew that contractions would end eventually. The pain was relatively short-lived in the grand scheme of things. And it's amazing what some deep breathing and low groaning will do to relieve the pain. It really is. I was completely present for this birth. I remember everything much more clearly, including the pain.

After about 45 minutes of contractions, I was ready to push. Nate said he knew things were getting serious when the room filled quickly with nurses and two doctors. I probably pushed three times in 10 minutes and Lila was out. She cried and I cried. The nurses placed Lila on my chest and everyone exited the room quickly. The doula stayed with us for about an hour after the birth to make sure Lila latched on and we were set.

Lila latched on right away and then she fell asleep - for the rest of the day! We couldn't get her to wake up to eat for over 14 hours!Once we were settled in our recovery room, Nate left for the evening to spend it with Benny. Lila was up most of the night, of course! She was amazing and lovely. She has completed our family in a way I never could have imagined. We are so happy to be a family of four now.

Lila Marie Brown, September 27, 2010
Posted by Picasa

06 June 2011

Unmedicated, Take 2, Part 2

To be honest, giving birth in a hospital made me a little nervous. I didn't know how much control I would have over the whole birthing process. I decided to hire a doula and, in doing so, I relieve much of my anxiety about the hospital birth. Hiring a doula also took some pressure off of Nate. He wouldn't have to serve as my sole supporter throughout the birth.

Lila was due on September 23. I was scheduled to work right up to my due date, but I had really hoped Lila would come early (or at least on time). Nate's dad planned to be in town the weekend Lila was due so he could stay with Benny if she came on time. The 23rd came and went, so did the 24th, 25th, and 26th. And it's not as if I wasn't trying. I walked and walked and walked. Nate and I had a due date date night and I purposefully ate really spicy food. We tried to "sex" the baby out. Nothing worked.

Nate's dad was scheduled to return to Iowa on September 27th. On the evening of the 26th, I went to bed figuring I had a few more days. Lila clearly wasn't in a hurry to come out. And then, at 1:30 a.m., I woke up with contractions. I wasn't convinced that it was time, so I got up and started reading a book. The contractions were short and far apart. By 3 a.m., however, they were increasing in duration. I woke Nate up and called my doula. She suggested that I lay down and rest. About 30 minutes later I called her back and told her that things were not slowing down. Rather, they were speeding up considerably.

We were off to the hospital to have ourselves a baby!

To be continued...

04 June 2011

Unmedicated, Take 2, Part 1

In between Benny and Lila, I had a molar pregnancy. It's not a miscarriage because there is no fetus. But, it's a random thing that can happen when the sperm fertilizes the egg, but the egg is "blank," or doesn't have any chromosomes. The molar pregnancy was a total surprise. We found out in January 2008 that I was pregnant. I thought everything was progressing because I was gaining weight, having morning sickness, etc. It was at our 12-week appointment that we discovered that something was wrong because the midwife couldn't find a heartbeat.

I had a surgery to remove the placenta that was in my uterus. My body thought it was pregnant and went through all the motions. I had to wait a year to get pregnant again because the risk of abnormal cells growing was too high. So, we waited...

So many things had changed in our lives since that molar pregnancy. I finished my dissertation and graduated and got a job. Benny started daycare and we settled into our house. In the end, things worked out just right for us.

We were definitely ready to start trying again. I found out I was pregnant again just after New Year's 2010. A little scared - for many different reasons: Hoping that the pregnancy was viable this time, wondering how we'd transition to being a four-person family, and whole host of thoughts. But mostly we were thrilled.

My insurance situation had changed in the interim as well. No longer on Nate's insurance, I had switched to Kaiser when I started my job. Since Kaiser in an HMO, having a baby at the birthing center would have been expensive. I had heard some good things about Kaiser, including their staff of nurse practitioners and midwives. It was a difficult decision because I had had such a great experience with Benny at the birthing center, but in the end, I figured I could go natural at the hospital.

To be continued...

03 June 2011

Unmedicated, Part 3

By the time I was ready to push, I was completely and totally out of it. I knew what was going on, but it was like I was on another planet. I was so freaking tired. Nate rubbed my hair and encouraged me to keep going and two additional ladies were in the room to help out.

I wasn't pushing hard enough, so Rosewitha told me that I needed to vocalize lower. Once she told me that, it all came together. I was so relieved to be at the point of pushing because the contractions were less severe and I could actually rest in between them. I may have even fallen asleep a couple of times. After 35 minutes of pushing, Benny crowned. Rosewitha asked if I wanted a mirror to see Benny's head. Although I was completely and totally out of it, I came to long enough to shout, "NO!" Just like birthing in the tub, I had pretty strong feelings about not seeing the crowning. The sensations of feeling it were enough. Nate had also resolved not to see the "crowning moment." However, when given the opportunity, he said yes. Later he reported that it was pretty cool to see Benny's head full of hair for the first time. After another push or two, Rosewitha asked me again if I'd like to see Benny crowning. Again, I snapped out of my fatigue stupor and said, "NO!"

Five minutes later, Benny was out and crying and beautiful. Rosewitha placed him on my chest and I was able to bask in the glow of his new life. I was relieved and happy and, surprisingly, not so tired and HUNGRY! Nate cut the umbilical cord and everyone left the room so that the three of us could be together. Benny latched on right away and started eating. He also took his first poop, right on me! Guess it was pay back for pooping on Nate's foot!

Rosewitha returned to clean Benny up and perform a few standard tests and I devoured a plate of pork chops.

Six hours later, we were on our way home with our new baby boy, Benjamin Jasper Brown. And my life has never been the same - I can't imagine it without Benny.

Benjamin Jasper Brown, July 25, 2007

02 June 2011

Unmedicated, Part 2

Seven centimeters?!? I remember thinking. I was shocked that I made it that far at home - and it wasn't too bad. I was also shocked that Nate was able to fall asleep on the couch while I was laboring in the other room, but that's another story.

We settled into our room. It was a little cheesy - the Southwestern room. But I remember being really happy that we didn't have to move into the Victorian room. My body may have rejected that room and slowed labor WAYYYY down. Side note: Why did a birthing center feel the need to have theme rooms anyway? I'll never understand. Nate packed the fridge with the massive amount of food we brought: Popsicles, overpriced bing cherries, frozen pork chop dinners. I ate a total of one thing while in labor - a strawberry popsicle that was GLORIOUS!

Laboring standing up, while swaying my hips, seemed to feel the best. At some point, someone in the room (Nate or the midwife, and I'm guessing the midwife), put the birthing ball on the bed. I leaned on the ball and swayed for what seemed like hours. I can't exactly say what Nate was doing at this point, but I'm sure he was freaked out.

Rosewitha, our midwife from Germany, worked on paperwork while I swayed and had contractions. One of the most interesting things about this labor was how in tune she was to me. Once I started making different noises, her ears perked up and she said, "Something's different." I was progressing and she asked if I'd like to get in the tub to help with the intensity of the contractions. At that point, I was happy to be shepherded through the process, but I knew that I didn't want to give birth in the tub. Don't ask me why, but delivering in the tub kinda grossed me out. I could only visualize all the blood and other after birth stuff.

As Nate helped me walk to the tub (I was completely naked at this point, by the way), I had an incredible urge to take a poop. In natural birthing, that usually means you're ready to push. So I pushed, standing up, and pooped right on Nate's foot. It was my gift to him for going through labor! Still likes to tease me about it.

The tub was great, I'm not going to lie. But I was progressing quickly and couldn't get much traction with my contractions. Rosewitha put the baby monitor on my belly and discovered that Benny's heart rate was high, so she suggested that I get out of the tub and onto the bed to start pushing. As she said, in a thick German accent, "Ve need to get thees baby out!" It was probably about noon at this point. After laboring for about nine hours, I was exhausted and I wanted the baby out too. I was completely out of it - in a different mental space - but when Rosewitha mentioned that the heartbeat was a concern, I snapped out of it and asked if he was OK.

It was time to push. I remember looking at the clock, thinking This will be over soon.

To be continued...

01 June 2011

Unmedicated, Part 1

I was at a baby shower this weekend at Table 6 and I sat next to a girl who had lived in Austin. We were laughing about the lack of hiking near Austin. She mentioned that her husband, a native Texan, had taken her on a "hike" at Pedernales Falls State Park. She described it as a big rock. And that's exactly what it is - a big, hot rock in the Texas Hill Country. Nate and I hiked there several times, missing the mountains and the wonderfully exhausting hikes we'd been on in Colorado.

As we talked about the park, I was hit with the memory of finding out about my first pregnancy. It was late November 2006. Nate and I had had the day off. We decided to take a hike and drove to Pedernales. We brought snacks and enjoyed a lovely walk on the big rock. It was November, which meant the height of the Texas summer heat had finally passed. We stopped to grab a snack and I realized that I hadn't eaten all day. My stomach had been slightly upset all day. I wasn't normally nauseous, so it gave me pause. When we got home, I decided to take a pregnancy test - just to be sure. My entire family would be in town the following week for Thanksgiving. I didn't want to embark on a Thanksgiving that was sure to be filled with lots of alcohol with a doubt of pregnancy on my mind.

I sat in the bathroom, armed with a pregnancy test and a nervous feeling in my gut. The pregnancy test was positive almost immediately. "Ummmm, Nate," I yelled from the bathroom. He said he knew I was pregnant as soon as I yelled from the bathroom. He was thrilled; I was a little freaked out. A baby?!? We hadn't necessarily been preventing pregnancy, but we hadn't been actively trying either. My life changed dramatically that day.

In Austin we lived next door to a fantastic couple with a year and a half year old son. Emily had described her natural birth and I was intrigued. I didn't even know what a midwife was before I met her. Almost as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted an unmedicated birth. At that point, the best option seemed to be going to a birthing center to deliver my baby.

Fast forward to 3:30 a.m. on July 25. I was five days late, enormous, uncomfortable, and ready to meet my baby. I woke up with some major pain in my lower back. I had experienced a few contractions before, so I wasn't convinced that "this was it." I spent about an hour on the internet, reading about contractions and what they were supposed to feel like before I woke Nate up. He was shocked. It was time. I hadn't really thought about laboring at home much. I just didn't want to show up at the birthing center only to be sent home. I'd heard enough of those horror stories.

Nate went to the store to buy some food for the day (and returned with really expensive cherries) and I called the birthing center at around 6 a.m. The midwife on call told me to lay down and that she would schedule me for a check up at 11 a.m. But, she said if the contractions got any stronger, I should come in. Nate fell asleep on the couch and I managed to rest a bit in between contractions. By 8 a.m., the contractions were strong enough that I didn't feel comfortable being at home any more. They HURT. And they were coming much more quickly.

There were three speed bumps and about 30 minutes between our house and the birthing center. I'm fairly certain I was having a contraction for each of the speed bumps. We made it with a lot of groaning and moaning and deep breathing. At 9 a.m., I had checked in and they asked me to wait in the waiting room (with about three other couples who were just there for check ups). After several contractions in the waiting room, I made my way to the bathroom where I could groan and moan and move. I finally saw a midwife at 9:30 a.m. who declared that I was 7 cm dilated and more than ready to get settled into my birthing room.

I was more than relieved with this news! No going home. Only 3 cm to go!

To be continued...