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Bibimbap

15 Jul

Bibimbop was one of the first Korean dishes I tried eating as well as one of the first I learned to make…oh about 8 years ago. I remember making it in my first apartment when my family came to visit. It was tiny and crammed apartment but they liked the meal so the whole visit is a good memory.

Two years ago on Christmas eve I made Kimchi with a friend. We were both pregnant and unable to be with family that day. We had Bibimbop with our husbands for dinner!

When I was newly married my husband and I would eat bibimbop in a big bowl together with two  spoons. Its a young and romantic memory snug and happily tucked in my heart.

Recently friends of mine went through an incredibly hard time. One of the friends had spent some time in Korea so I always like to give her Korean food. I decided to make this comforting bibimbop for her and her family. They liked it so much and wanted the “recipe”. I didn’t use a recipe as this is a dish you just make up as you go. Below is a list of how I prepared the meal and approximate ingredients. This meal to me is one that must be shared with friends. So today I will share my “recipe” with all of you my friends. ❤

Step 1.
Get your sticky rice cooking in your rice cooker!

Step 2.
Prepare the ground beef:
1lb ground beef (brow in a frying pan)

Mix the following in a bowl together:
1/8th cup of maple syrup
1/8th cup Korean soup soy sauce (It’s a bit different then your typical Kikoman or VH grocery store soy sauce, if you are working with one of these just add it little by little and taste as your go)
1TBS sesame oil
combine well then pour over the ground beef and continue cooking until all is reduced. Taste test as you go.

Step 3.
Prepare the veggies:

Whatever you have in your refrigerator that you can cut into match sticks.

eg. Carrots cut into matchsticks, lightly cooked and salted
Spinach wilted and tossed in sesame oil
lettuce chopped and raw
cucumber cut into matchsticks served raw
Zucchini cut into match sticks and lightly salted
Cabbage Chopped and lightly cooked, lightly salted
Lightly cooked and salted mushroom
(I cook everything except the spinach in a frying pan)

Step 4.
Prepare the egg:
You choose!
1)Fried
2)Flat omelette sliced into match sticks
3)If you are serving in a hot pot warm the bowl before serving, plate everything and crack a raw egg into it!

Step 5.
prepare the hot sauce: (about 4 people)
1/4 cup of Korean red pepper paste (Gochujang)
1-2 TBS maple syrup
1-2 TBS Korean Soup soy sauce

Step 6.
Presentation:
fill the bottom of a large cereal bowl with rice. Place each of the veggies and meat in the bowl as if you were making a pie graph on top of the rice. It is more pleasing to the eye if you separate colours. For example, don’t place two green vegetables right beside each other, place carrots between them. Add the egg last, right in the middle. When your ready to eat each person can add hot sauce and mix their bowl up really well. Eat with a spoon or with seaweed paper. Yumm! I want some Bibimbop now!

Consider this a post in progress! I’ll add pictures next time I make it!

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Konmarie 1 -2 -3!

27 Feb

Hey there people. Back in November I started reading the “The life changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of organizing and decluttering”. It was a page-turner. I actually had a hard time putting it down. The book is filled with anecdotal stories about the author, Marie Kondo, and her journey to finding a method of tidying and organizing that actually works. I felt I had something in common with the author but also felt a bit at risk as her obsession for tidying can be a bit alarming at times. Tidying and cleaning should only take up so much of any persons thoughts and time. Even as a homemaker with a drive for excellence I don’t want to be consumed by my work. I want to tidy and clean to the purpose of making our home easier and more enjoyable for living in. (…which is very similar to her goal.) I can breath better when our space is free of clutter and find its far more relaxing for everyone. Especially me. I don’t mind house work but I do hate that feeling that its never done.
So I chose to take the plunge and give the Konmarie method a go. I’ve learned a lot in the process, gotten rid of a lot and had some surprising life changing paradigm shifts. When she said the book would be life changing I just sniffed at the thought but in all honesty there are some parts that have shifted my thinking over the last few months. More on that another time, maybe.
First let me show you what has happened in my apartment.

Kondo highly recommends beginning with clothes, so I heeded her advice and jumped into my closet. I pulled every last item out so that I was dealing with a completely blank slate. I also prepared two laundry baskets. One labeled “sparks joy” the other, “no joy”. I held each piece of clothing in my hands and passed them to the basket they were destined for. Some items passed more quickly then others. As soon as my eyes fell on some items I knew, ” yes you stay!” or “no! Why did I keep you captive for so long?!”
Other items didn’t spark as quickly one way or the other. I needed to hold them and look a little deeper. Most of those went in the “no joy” basket but not all of them.

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One thing I’ve learned, that she warned about in the book, is that sorting really does take a lot of focus. I went in with so much motivation but found it hard to maintain with my toddler wanting to drag clothes hangers all over the tiny bedroom or unfold all of my carefully folded socks. (I also learned that a weird form of guilt can disguise itself as joy. When I did sense that guilt I used her quirky method of talking to the item in my head, thanking it for it’s use, for whoever gave it to me or whatever. I know it sounds silly but it was actually effective and admittedly I find myself thinking this way occasionally about other things.)
That brings me to the putting things away portion of the method. I was shocked to discover that I did in fact have all of the storage I needed to put everything away in an orderly fashion. My drawers and closet look beautiful when organized according to her method. A month and a half+ later I’ve been disciplining myself to maintain the method in order to develop a new habit of putting things away “just so”. I think the discipline is necessary to achieve the desired results but I’m giving up in one area. The socks just aren’t doing it for me. I miss my “lumpy potatoes” as she calls rolled up socks. When I’m folding laundry with my tot in tow, I don’t have to worry about him unrolling them. If he takes off with my potato socks I can quickly whip them back into the pretty box I discovered fits them perfectly. I was neglecting to put my clean folded laundry away because I knew the minute I started working at it, my meticulously folded socks would be everywhere. I even tried not folding until they were going into the closet but it didn’t work. They stayed in the clean laundry basket. So the lesson learned is that folding my socks into potatoes sparks more joy then folding them the Konmarie way. I wish it could have worked out but I’m letting go of the silly guilt of not being able follow through 100%.

After cleaning out my own side of the closet I wanted to tackle my husband’s side. I bagged up my clothes for donation and started fresh with two empty baskets. I emptied his closet completely and sent him in to sort his clothes. He did a great job. He was thankful that I was doing the majority of the work reorganizing our space. He’s been super helpful with caring arm loads of old stuff to donation.
Side note: our building has a community donation center! It means I’m a terrible procrastinator for not having everything out quickly! Gah!

Our closet space was lovely when it was finished. Here are some before and after pictures!

img_20161209_210201My side of the closet before and after.

Since purging my closet I find it easier to get dressed. I have basically created a capsule closet. I’m pretty happy with that. I only kept the clothes I enjoy wearing. I get more compliments on my outfits lately and I feel pretty good with how I look now. Getting rid of clutter really does make space in other area’s of life for a little more joy.

Stay tuned for another edition featuring our books, and the bathroom!

Micah’s Story: Remembering the first days.

24 Feb

Hey ya’ll, I recently joined our local Le Leche League group. I was nervous about getting involved at first. I wasn’t sure if I would fit in. Isn’t it always like that when you try something new?! I overcame the fear and some reservations and I’m really enjoying it now. I love the supportive community of women and the reach they have. New moms and moms of older babies and toddlers and really whoever are all welcome. I love that I get to meet women who are very different from me yet we have common ground as mothers. Maybe we will have even more in common as we get to know each other. This weeks meeting was super awesome as we discussed some of the challenges of maintaining a healthy breastfeeding relationship. I was able to ask questions about my own experience to mom’s with training who have been there and I loved that.

At the last meeting in January we discussed the struggles of the early days. It brought back a flood of memories as I talked to a new mom struggling to use a nipple shield with her sweet, very new baby. I thought I would write down my experience as a continuation of Micah’s story to share with all of you.

Bringing Micah home was such a surreal experience. That first night I was 100% relying on instinct. My mind was blank but my heart was in full control. Having a baby is hard work physically but it’s also hard mentally. I ran my Marathon, but then I realized that I had to keep going.

Bringing a newborn home becomes a challenge much like those silly game shows  where people run impossible relays getting knocked or falling into a pit of mud. You feel like a champ, “I can do this!” You might rock the first couple of obstacles but then another comes along, and the mud seems oh so close.

The first real challenge we faced was getting this precious angle to eat. I had colostrum coming in for many weeks leading up to having him, plus I’d read books and attended classes on breast feeding, so I felt confident that I knew what to do and things would go smoothly. (I’m going to get really honest here people. Heads up!)

I was sadly mistaken. I did everything “right”, skin to skin right from the beginning and a lot more when we got home. We let him do the “biological nurturing” of placing him on my bare chest and letting him bob and rout around. He was strong, and able to push with his legs to kind of crawl around. His mouth was gaping open and closed like a little fish. I helped him find what he was looking for. When his mouth was open I’d press his lips to the dark areolas and he’d  do a little ‘suck suck’ and fall off. He wasn’t getting any colostrum. This was freaking me out so we went looking for a way to get the colostrum into him. The first two nights I expressed my colostrum and hubby would catch it on a little spoon, we put it into a syringe and fed it to Micah that way. When my midwife came to visit she was happy to see we were trying our best, but concerned that Micah wasn’t getting enough. He was getting dehydrated and possibly a little jaundice. I knew he could do it if the top of his mouth could get a tickle, but in the words of my grandmother, “my nipples weren’t cooperating”.

I borrowed a breast pump from a friend and started pumping a ton of colostrum and feeding it to Micah with a bottle. I was so relieved to be able to feed him even though I wasn’t directly breast feeding him. I was willing to do whatever it takes to keep this kid alive. This was one of the first real lessons I learned about motherhood. We do whatever it takes to keep our young living. My grandmother with ‘uncooperative nipples’ found a food source for her kids that wasn’t breast milk. They lived!

I really wanted to give breast feeding a chance. I was well informed about the many resources Ottawa has to offer breastfeeding moms, so I went seeking help. Day three with Micah at home we set out on a short journey to a free breastfeeding clinic. Because of a combination issue of inverted nipples and a slight tongue tie I was offered the support of a nipple shield. This was a game changer! I went home feeling so liberated and excited. I nursed him often. We set our minds to revolve around stuffing this boy until he gained back his birth weight. It wasn’t long before he had. So- much- relief!

I continued to use the breast pump to supplement nursing. This was great because it helped establish a hearty supply. My milk came in right on time with no concerns that there wasn’t enough. It was also bad in that I may have gotten some mixed up ideas about what we could do with the aid of pumped breast milk. At some point we thought it would be helpful if after I fed Micah I just pumped an extra feed and then I could skip the next feed and let hubby help out. I could get a little longer sleep in the middle of the night. Great idea right?! Wrong! It was lovely to get a nice 6 hour stretch of sleep every night but I’d wake up with engorged, hot, hard boobs. At the risk of sounding stupid (but really I highly doubt I’m alone because no one knows much about boobs these days) I thought it was just what happens when milk comes in. I thought it would steady out after a while. I was getting information mixed up. Anyways, it wasn’t just silly it was unhealthy because I quickly develop mastitis, only I didn’t know it.

The mastitis journey… I was sick with Mastitis and didn’t know it. I left my sweet baby for the first time to go for a massage about a week after having him. My body was achy and we thought it would help. It was lovely but that night I started to sweat like crazy. I had crouched down to look for an outfit for Micah and when I stood up I blacked out. Thankfully my hubby was on the ball to catch me.

I was first checked by my secondary midwife then by my regular midwife, an on call doctor then by a nurse practitioner. They all checked me for infections and talked about why I was so sick and sweaty. I had a high temperature with no reasonable source. It was the nurse practitioner who was convinced that it was mastitis. She sent me away with a prescription for antibiotics.

I am pretty skeptical of medicines under normal circumstances but as a new mom my ‘oh natural’ sense was way heightened. I got in touch with my ND, my mom and good ol’ Pinterest in search of remedies for mastitis. I found some options that really worked for me. If it had gotten worse I would have taken the prescription but I wasn’t in the kind of pain that doctors get really worried about. I felt like time and my awesome immune system were on my side and it was safe to try some gentler approaches. For relief I used cold and warm compresses and cabbage leaves in my nursing bra. To rid myself of the mastitis I stopped over pumping and  nursed more. I also used lavender oil to massage any blocked milk ducts, took a LOT of garlic to fight infection and expressed milk any time I felt engorged as well as when I was in the shower. Within two week I was all better and haven’t had a relapse since.

Nursing was a really emotional skill to learn. I thought I was going to be a pro at it but even with abundant supply I really struggled. Getting the nipple shield helped me feed my baby for the first 3+ months but using a nipple shield is super awkward in public. Nursing in public as a new mom is challenging to begin with let alone trying to use extra hardware at the same time. I’m happy to say it does get easier! I am a huge fan of nursing wherever you are to nourish baby and meet their comfort needs. I also know how hard and emotional it can be.

Another interesting aspect of the early days with Micah were the hormonal shifts. So much changes for a new mama. After growing this amazing little human in your body then going through the most intense workout of your life to bring them out into the world, life just isn’t the same. It hits you and hits you again. For me there were a couple of lovely moments of welling over emotions, “I just can’t believe you’re finally here!” or  to my husband or baby, “I just love you so much” and of course a bit of, “Can I really do this mom thing?!” Emotions are just on high alert. I knew it would be emotional, but I don’t think I knew the extent. We just laugh about it now thankfully.

My husband had about 4 weeks off to help me with Micah during which time he was a champion. He literally attended to my every wish. I am so blown away by his love. He cooked the meals I wanted, brought me nursing snacks and drinks. He woke up with me during night nursing sessions a lot of the time. He was awesome beyond words. That being said, having a baby doesn’t magically make men into perfect daddy/ husband men. It was a transition for him too. Marriage is way harder for us with a baby, but it’s getting easier again now.  When he had to go back to work, I was sad, but I felt more prepared because of how much he helped me. My mom came to spend the next week with me for which I was so thankful. She helped me slowly transition into being able to get out and do fun things again, like shopping and baby photo shoots.

img_20150910_161503img_20150910_160633Awwweeee my peanut ❤

 

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I feel like it really took the first three months before we actually gained some confidence and knew what we were doing as parents of a new baby. It was around then that I was able to stop using the nipple shield, I had a good understanding of his cues and when he needed to sleep. It was hard at times after that, but not for as long or intense periods of time.

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I hope people expecting their first baby read my story and feel a little more prepared. I loved reading mom blogs while I was preparing to have my sweet boy. I felt a sense of kinship and confidence for reading other peoples stories. Remember we all make mistakes and we all struggle in the beginning and it’s all ok eventually.

 

 

How to host a blessingway

22 Jan

Today I co-hosted a beautiful friends blessingway. It was the 5th I’ve been a part of since my own when I was pregnant with Micah. That was kind of the for runner of blessingways among my friends. Have you ever been part of one?

A blessingway is kind of like a baby shower but the focus is less on gifts and more on the womans preparation for birth and transition into motherhood. Through a variety of rituals and sharing stories kindred women contribute to preparing the pregnant woman for the journey ahead. Here is what we did at this blessingway:

Food and hospitality:

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Typically food and hospitality should be kept simple. Putting out tea and a plate of cookies along side a tea light or two would be more then enough. In the case of this event however we had a “grandma to be” with an English knack for hospitality. She planned a beautiful afternoon tea which we all gratefully enjoyed. It was complete with fresh pink carnations, tea cups with saucers, plus a variety of cakes, squares and cookies. She’d even prepared thank you gifts. These are above and beyond the typical blessingway but we were spoiled!

Rituals:

There are tons of ideas you can find online or make up your own. We incorporated a few of my favorites this time.

We had a blessing journal where the woman can write out prayers, blessings and advice.

We also did blessing beads. This tends to be a very emotional ritual. There is something really powerful about speaking out our blessings and words of love.

Finally we did a group art project. One of our more artistic sisters painted a simple back ground and everyone else was invited to add their finger prints.

How do they work? We made the journal and painting available so that everyone could contribute at their leisure but for the blessing beads we gathered around in a circle to present them to our pregnant friend along with our words of blessing.

The next component of our blessingway was to gather around our friend, lay hands on her and offer a prayer. For some, the prayer was spoken only in the heart. I love this part of the blessingway because it’s very intimate and spiritual. Rarely in our culture is it acceptable to act this way. It feels so good to share these prayers and kind touch together.

Lastly, we finished off by giving our pregnant friend some gifts for her and the baby. If you’re hosting a blessingway you really don’t need to include gift giving. We only tagged it onto the end of our event because people really wanted to bring gifts, and it’s the couples first child, so they can use the items. This aspect is totally up to your discretion.

I’m super excited for my friend to have her baby in a few weeks! After being part of her blessingway I feel like I sort of get to join with her in the journey. I love that!

What do you love or hate about baby showers? Would you consider hosting or having a blessingway? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

Remembering grandpa

14 Dec

I’m looking forward to saying goodbye to 2016. It’s hard to reflect on the “hellos” of the year because there have been so many “goodbyes”. John Atkinson, Karen Tuttle, Liz Fulton, baby Aaron Samulack, my uncle Dave and now grandpa. It’s a lot all in one year. This last one hits me hardest.

He’s not just any ordinary grandpa. He was really what all grandpa’s should essentially be. That’s not to say he was perfect but in a sense his imperfection made him perfect. He knew the giver of grace intimately and he in turn became a giver of grace. He was wise and kind with a welcoming & giving heart. You didn’t need to be perfect with him but he’d guide you and would pray for you. He had depth beyond all of his wonderful playfulness.

My earliest memories of him are filled with laughter. I used to love when he would get down on the floor with my brother and I to play “horsey”. He didn’t think about his knees or pride, he loved to fool around and laugh. I hope I’ll have the same ‘way’ about me with my grandkids someday.

He and I also had an especially funny game we played, it was a bit of an inside joke. He started imitating the alien puppets from the Muppets one day and we laughted and laughed until we we’re in pain. Even into my teens and adulthood he could make me smile and giggle with a silly, “yup, yup, yup!” or “nope, nope, nope.” I don’t want to forget the sound of his laugh or his voice.

Besides those  mentioned above it’s hard to find memories of grandpa that aren’t linked to him in the woods. I remember that silly Billy goats gruff story we played out every time we walked across his bridge. My dad would run ahead and hide under the bridge pretending to be the oger saying, “Who’s that walking on my bridge!?” and grandpa would bear my little girl sheiks all the while “protecting” us from getting eaten by the ogar.

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His mark is all over the property and my memory is filled with loving walks and four wheeler rides through those trees, across that bridge, under that tree fort, up that crazy steep hill. Those woods are more alive then any other I’ve ever been in. It will be strange to walk through them without him. Yet somehow I can’t wait to get back in them. As if that’s heaven and I can just go there to see him and I know I’ll see him in heaven.

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Almost four years ago he was diagnosed with an aeortic aneurysm. Google told me that meant his aeorta (main arterie) was split in two with a very thin wall, meaning it was weaker and he was at risk of rupture. The doctor recommend he take it easy, give up strenuous hobbies and get his affairs in order. Our whole family was in shock/despair/fear of what was to come… I took some time off work and went to be with him and grandma and to help however I could. That week was filled with conversations about what would happen if he passed away. It doesn’t feel real even now that it’s actually happened. He also shared stories with me about his family and life before marriage. It painted a picture for me of who he is as a person beyond the role of grandpa that I’ll hold in my heart. I’m so thankful we had that special time.

Like my earliest memories, my most recent memories are also filled with laughter. I’m more happy then I can possibly express that just last week he was on the floor fooling around with my son. He was making Micah giggle and laugh in his magical grandpa way. I’m only sad that these days have come to an end.

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The memories and grief come in waves that in a way I hope don’t stop for a long time. I want to feel deeply how much he meant to me before I’m through this grieving process. My family patriarch was honorable and deeply loved. May we cherish his memory and live by his prayers.

 

Happy Memories tribute to Uncle Dave

6 Oct

A week ago my Dad’s older brother, my uncle Dave, had a brain aneurysm. It’s terminal. It’s been a stressful week. There are so many anxious, sad, mad, confused and cynical thoughts going through my mind this week. As I talk with relatives I find out I’m not alone. We are going through a hard time.

On Friday he will be taken off of life support and will be allowed to pass away at his own pace. It was his wish that his organs be donated. So like his best organs will go on to preserve life, I too wish to preserve/ celebrate life with my best memories of my uncle.

When I was a kid, I was a super picky eater. My parents believed in encouraging their kids to always try things we don’t like to the point that I always had to pick the mushrooms and onions off of my pizza. (I now love both and believe in the same principle, btw.)

My uncle Dave made amazing pizza. I would venture to say it was probably the best in the history of ever. Whenever we would go to his house for dinner. He would make each person their own pizza. This was always to my absolute delight as he would let me pick whatever I wanted to put on MY personal pizza. After I had told him that I wanted green olives, pineapple, and pepperoni, he would meticulously decorate that pizza with evenly and thickly loaded care. Of course he topped it all off with tons of cheese and baked it on a glass pizza pan. It was soooooo good! I forgot to mention that it was always a home made crust. Thick and fluffy…. I will miss the pizza and I will miss uncle Dave but more then that I’ll remember that he lovingly made it for me.

I know it’s a silly memory, but I was a kid. Kids remember the people that do special things just for them. That’s how I want to remember this special man. I also remember how whenever we visited he would speak well about me. I felt confident and respected.

After I finished high school and moved away I saw him a lot less. I never got to know him as an adult. I wonder what I would be writing today had I known him on a deeper level. I think my last special memory of Uncle Dave was at my wedding. When I looked down into the crowd of my loved ones. I saw my big, strong, bald uncle with glistening eyes. It warmed my heart.

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Mom, Dad, Uncle Dave, late Aunt Karen, Sprout, Aunt Lynn and us at our wedding reception. 

If you knew him well, would you share a good memory or trait about Dave? Something that you loved? Comment below or send me a message.

 

A new kind of worship

27 Jan

On Sunday I left Micah in the nursery with the nursery worker. Gasp! How non attachment parenting! I went into service and, “did my best” to focus on the worship music and then the sermon. My best was very weak. I felt like I was literally holding myself in the sanctuary. I kept checking my phone to see if the nursery worker had text me. Nothing… I was literally looking for a reason to leave and go see him. Finally my milk let down so I ‘had’ to go…  I thought, “I’m ridiculous.”

During that time I gained one helpful, spiritual-growth type of lesson. We were singing an older song that goes, “…in all I do, I honor you.” I had this epiphany that my worship has taken on a new look. My genetic makeup has changed and my worship is now that of a mother’s. When I am changing a poop explosion, I can give God my worship. When I’m comforting a gassy crying baby, I honor God. When I’m at my wits end in the night, it is my ‘sacrificial’ worship. When my nipples are sore from feeding through a growth spurt, I nurse my baby and pray, and worship. (TMI? This is the real deal people!)

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My worship is beyond a prayer and a song. It’s serving God by taking care of the treasure he’s gifted me with, while using the talents he’s given me, even when it’s hard. I can’t explain the amazing patience I’ve experienced, or joy when I should be crying of exhaustion. The verse that says “when I am weak, then I am strong.” is so relevant right now. How could I really do this as the person I used to be?

2 Corinthians 12:9-11 (NIV)

“9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Am I ridiculous for needing to go to my baby? Some might think so. I think God’s blessed me with a new form of worship. In all I do, I will delight in the Grace that is sufficient and worship the one who made me who I am. In all I do, including figuring out what this weird and amazing attachment means that’s between me and my child.

Just to clarify, I’m not worried about leaving my baby with the people in the nursery. I’m not worried about being apart from him for a little while. I worry a little bit that he’s chewing on a toy that’s not his, but really that’s not the feeling I get in my gut when I’m apart from him. It’s not fear that somethings going to happen. It’s simply separation. We are literally ALWAYS together. Being parted even for an hour is simply a break in the new normal. It doesn’t feel right. I think that’s OK. We were literally attached for the first 9 months of his physical existence…. I think I’m allowed to feel a little weird.

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Any other mama’s go through a paradigm shift in your first months?

Dealing with a bad day.

22 Jan

Today has been a hard day. I attended the wake of a man I knew last evening. Since hearing about his death I just haven’t felt settled. Seeing his family grieving yesterday, each in their own way, has been drawing me into a deeper reflective head space. I want to be alone to ponder and digest what’s happened, what they’re going through, how to respond.

But, I am a mom now. Before that I’m even a wife. I woke up grumpy, feeling drained of emotion. Hubby was chippy with lots of love and questions that I wasn’t ready to reciprocate, baby was fussy and wanting more of me then I was ready to give. To top it all off Micah grabbed for my coffee spilling it on the couch. “Ugh, can I please go back to bed? I’m not ready for this yet.”

The answer is, “no”, I don’t get to reset or hide from these feelings or perceived problems anymore. They are the wake of my existence now. It’s hard, but is it bad?

I really don’t think that all things hard are bad. In fact I think the hardest things are what make the world better. Grieving losses, having to be intentional, putting forth effort and setting priorities; lead us to learn patience and self control along the way. Today, hard is, waiting patiently for that ‘moment to myself’ to ponder the things that are on my heart and I appreciate it. I’m not scrolling Facebook or Pinterest! lol

So, I made another pot of coffee, set the diffuser, put the baby down for a nap. (Thank God he cooperated and went down for a nap!) And- here I am, in the middle of my day reflecting.

Allowing it all to settle down in the depths of my heart where it belongs.

Not floating precariously around in my head where is causes confusion and angry emotions.

Soaking, praying, singing, writing.

Just for a few minutes.

The baby will wake up soon, I’ll reach the bottom of my mug, but I’ll cherish this quiet moment.

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oops! Sorry Mommy. Did I do that?

Micah’s story: Birthing Micah (part 2)

19 Jan

While I was laboring with my ‘pillars of woman hood’  I kept having thoughts about my husband. I have a philosophy that I think women should help women in labor and that their presence and experience was going to help me have the story I wanted. They were amazing! But where was my husband? He had been my Doula until just this afternoon, but lately I had hardly seen him.

Most of the time he was watching me or working on feeding my team. I asked for him while I was laboring on the toilet so my doulas picked up on my need for my man. They helped hubby be the one I leaned on and told him how to hold me so that I was secure. I think they liked the opportunity to get me into yet another position and used my need for my man as an excuse to get me to try something different.

I often felt that being re positioned was annoying. I was so in my head that people telling me what to do felt like when I was a teenager and had just woken up to hear my parents telling me to get ready for school. Necessary but annoying 😀 (I wouldn’t have asked for anything else!)

I obeyed because I knew they were trying to get this little guy to move. He was fidgeting inside my pelvis and inside a nice gushy sac of amniotic fluid that was still comfortably (to him) in tact. As I danced with hubby I felt calm and re energized. I was then going to try some other positions and get this baby going!

I rolled my hips on the birthing ball, and hung off of a sling that was secured to the ceiling, laid on my left side, I laid on my right side. Finally I carefully slid off the bed into an extremely intense goddess pose. GUSH! MY WATER BROKE! Well sort of. It felt like a gush to me but it only looked like a trickle to those who’d seen birth before. But it was movement. It was a step in the right direction. It was exciting and comforting. Some of my water broke.

Hours had passed but I was so inside my head and so focused through each contraction that I didn’t notice the time going by. I started to hear my party talking about what day Micah would be born and I wanted to birth him quickly. I prayed and breathed a low loud “ohh” through the next few contractions. People continued to talk about birthday. At that point I rallied some consciousness and asked, “Where is Val?!”

She answered me from the end of the bed very close by, “I’m right here Gina, what do you need?”

“What are we waiting for?” I asked a bit impatiently.

She replied, “Do you feel like you want to push?”

“I think I’ve wanted to push for the last hour!” I replied almost crying with emotion, excitement and prospect. This is what I’d been waiting to do!

Val checked my dilation and I was pretty much at 10cm, close enough that pushing was safe. So on my back with Hubby supporting my shoulders, Alexis on my Left side and Jodi on my Right, mom watching behind Alexis and Val, Dad waiting in the guest sitting area, I pushed! I pushed with all of my might. I pushed for an hour, switching between pushing on my back and laying on my side. I didn’t want to be off the bed and switching between positions was because my little babe was coming into the world looking up! Because the lower part of the membrane was still in tact Val used a tool to loosen it but my next push caused it to make a very wet burst. I was unaware of how messy it was, and I’m glad. I was so aware of my thoughts and feelings and my baby yet pretty much un aware of what was happening in the world around me. I felt protected and nurtured. When I was resting between pushes I heard news that my secondary midwife had arrived but with my permission she was going to attend a birth in another room in the center. Someone else was in distress. My heart suddenly went out to that woman and her child and I prayed a silent prayer for her. Of course I sent the second midwife to her! I have 5 other people attending my birth, pretty sure we were fine.

Moving though contractions used the most mental stamina I think I’ve ever used at once. Pushing took that much mental stamina plus an equal amount of physical stamina. I had more stamina than I actually thought possible. I walked and did yoga during my pregnancy but I was in no way fit to this level of work. It is amazing because my body and mind just did it. The encouragement, prayers and support of my team kept me going but there was also a very wild sense that God has made me for this, prepared me for this and I’m doing this! From about noon that day until a few days after Micah was born I had this blood rush sensation of numbness all through my face and parts of my head and neck. It was in one word, sensational. I felt good. I felt intense, but then I felt ready and more ready and come on baby!

Then Micah was born! In a flood of miconium he was hoisted onto my chest. I breathed and panted until I found myself again. The attendants were wiping the miconium from anywhere that he could ingest it and wiping him off a bit but I just wrapped my shaking arms around him. I kissed his head and beamed with joy. The last 28 hours of labor were a far off memory now. I felt so proud of myself and so thankful to God. It was about 1am August 6th.

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So many women desire this kind of story and for one reason or another aren’t able to see it happen. So I don’t take for granted this amazing experience. I don’t resent it in even one-single-way. Though parts of my story might sound snarky I was in a way more alive then I’d ever been and I felt like a bit of a mama bear.

After being so anamalistic for so many hours I started to remember what I had learned in prenatal class and prenatal breastfeeding. Get this baby to nurse! Well he bobbed around on my chest for some time and I helped him find what he was looking for but without much luck. More on that in a future post.

I kept Micah 100% on me for the first hours despite being asked about having him weighted etc. within the first 10 minutes. I simply smiled at the uninformed attendant and said no. No need to get hyper about it. Simple.

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While cuddling and trying to nurse Micah in the first hours my Midwife gave me some laughing gas and a small shot of pitocine. I then easily birthed the placenta and she went to stitching me up. I gladly took the laughing gas though in retrospect I don’t think I needed it and wouldn’t have done that if I could turn back time. I was so tired I just wanted to get things done, get cleaned up and hold my baby some more.

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After I was content that I’d held him as long as I NEEDED to, hubby took him and held him for the first time. He was such a perfect and proud daddy. Hubby stood by and helped with Micah’s apgar. I took a light rinse off type of shower (there was meconium EVERYWHERE) and put on some warm comfortable clothes. We settled into the bed and Alexis dressed Micah and handed him to his grandparents for the first time. Hubby sent his parents in Korea pictures of their first grandbaby. It was a quiet and special moment. We cuddled in bed and took pictures. I ate some weird quinoa dish and shared with whoever wanted some. I preferred the cheese and crackers mom brought me. (FYI Normally I love Quinoa)

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Alexis and Jodi went home to get some sleep and we left the center at about 4am with Val and my parents. I remember us putting Micah into his huge car seat with so much care. I sat in the back seat beside him because I couldn’t bear the thought of being so far from him as the front seat! 😉
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My parents slept in the living room that night and Micah slept on my chest where I could hear him breath and feel him move. He was home!

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Micah’s story: Birthing Micah (part 1)

11 Jan

Thank God we were well prepared for this part of the story! It’s the climax in my memory. For as much as I loved being pregnant with Micah, I REALLY LOVED giving birth to him. I know that probably seems a little crazy and that’s why I’m so excited to share my birth story- because it wasn’t scary and traumatically painful. It was hard, intense, biggest challenge of my life, but not in ANY way was it bad. Like I said, thank God.

Early signs: For most of the third trimester I was having Braxton Hicks (practice contractions that basically feel like menstrual cramps) they didn’t get me too excited because I was aware that I would probably have some and that they were a good sign that my body was almost ready to birth this baby. I also started having birthing dreams around this time.

I remember one dream where I was laboring on my hands and knees while my midwife, Val, was near by. I received my baby without anyone’s assistance and it was all very quiet and peaceful. This is far from what the actual experience was like but it was beautiful, encouraging and a sign that my mind was at ease over the prospect of having my baby.

Other things that were happening during these early days were: crazy purging of all useless items in our home, laundering and sorting everything that had been gifted from his FOUR baby showers, exercising, eating dates like crazy, getting acupuncture, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, squatting, visiting the chiropractor, getting a massage, writing up a birthing plan, reading positive birth stories like it was the only thing in the library and online (Ina May Gaskins guide to child birth and Birthing from within where my favorites), calling my mom, and finally making some freezer meals. Which brings us to the story…

Labor begins: I was bustling about our kitchen late in the evening on August 4th. I was baking lactation cookies for the 6 ladies in my life who were due with babies in the coming weeks. I was up so late because August had been hot! The only time I was going to turn on the oven was at night. Even that felt a bit of a sin in this weather. One friend had already had her baby a few days “early” so I needed to get on things before my time came. While talking on the phone with a relative (multitasking) I felt distracted and just a little “off”. When our conversation ended I felt what I assumed was another Braxton Hicks contraction. I wrote it off and continued with my baking and packaging everything up. I wanted them to be ready for a pick up the following morning for the friend who had just had her baby. I had a fridge full of food that I was supposed to drop off to her from other friends (The Good Food Group). Things just felt a little crazy and busy so getting the cookies baked and packed up was crucial to me feeling ready to have Micah.

All night I had cramps that would wake me up. They were annoying disturbances, but not all that exciting. My hubby was suffering with a stiff neck all night and couldn’t sleep. He came to discover that something was up when he woke in the middle of the night to find me in child’s pose breathing deeply.  We slept off and on the rest of the night but woke early and called my mid wife on call. She encouraged us to get some more sleep. Hubby was able to crawl back into bed for another hour tops but I wasn’t able to sleep any more. I had been forcing myself to sleep all night so now resting was the best I could do. I ran a warm bath since I’d heard that was something that labouring women do. It wasn’t as enjoyable for me as I’d heard it is for other women. I had been in child’s pose when hubby found me and I pretty much wanted to be in some variation of that position for every other contraction. Thus the tub was not my comfort of choice. Rather counter pressure was the key. Hubby would use some of the tools we learned in our prenatal class and with our Chiropractor Jodi (who will come join us later). Learning these pressure points made a HUGE difference. Though I was so focused during the contractions, any pressure I felt in my back and uterus was alleviated by the counter pressure hubby was using.

Hubby was on all morning timing contractions, giving me counter pressure and warming up my heating pad. He was off the hook around noon when my girl friends aka doulas arrived. He subjected himself to the kitchen where he made us lunch and prepared dinner to take for the party attending my birth. It felt joyful when they arrived since they just busied themselves around helping me through my contractions. Actually Jodi took hubby to the bed room and gave his neck an adjustment after taking one look at him. (yeah! thank you!)

Their experience told them I should call my midwife, this was shortly after lunch. Things were getting a little more intense but I was still managing well. Val came and checked me out. My mucous plug came out (thankfully into the toilet) around the time she arrived. I was progressing well but only at about 5 cm. She left and told me not to transition until after rush hour. 😉 My parents arrived at about 4pm. Mom and my doulas took me for a little walk down the street against my wishes. I just wanted to stay on my couch on my hands and knees doing child’s pose when a contraction would come. They felt that if I was more active that things would move along more. So I complied with much difficulty. I slipped into my running shoes and green socks and hobbled a few steps out the door stopped for a contraction. Hobbled into the fresh air, had a contraction. Got to the end of the side walk, had a contraction. Almost didn’t make it across the street, had another contraction. Walked a little further two more contractions…. I want to go back home! 🙂 They took me back in, stopping at each point for another contraction along the way. The weather was beautiful!

The contractions at this point were really intense and the pressure on my pelvis was what was making it hard to walk. I felt like I couldn’t tuck my pelvis into walk up straight. I didn’t find out for hours later but my baby was turning a lot and spending time in a posterior position. FUN!

When we got back into the apartment building someone saw the stairs that go down to the basement and suggested I try them slowly with support. I felt at that point that if I comply they will let me back into my apartment. As soon as I stepped in the apartment I had the most massive and intense contraction yet. I vocalized louder, and my mind went blank. I only remember telling my dad off for taking my picture. (I don’t kow what happened to that picture.) We called the Midwife (it was now the middle of rush hour…irony) and she agreed we should head to the Birthing center. We beat her there by at least 20 minutes though it felt like hours. We weren’t permitted into the center until she arrived so I labored on a picnic table in the yard of the center.

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When she arrived and we were permitted into the room I was ushered into the birthing tub. It was warm and nice on my back putting a towel on the floor of the massive tub helped alleviate some pain I was starting to have in my knees. Jodi and Alexis were in the tub with me most of the time doing counter pressure and offering other options for positions and reminding me to keep my breathing and vocalizing low. They were really encouraging. They also offered me drinks after every contraction.

At some point I was told to leave the tub to try going to the bathroom. I had been drinking a lot and not peed in a very long time. The only time I was scared was when I got out of the tub. I was immediately so cold that I started shaking like crazy. I could see my bloody show all over the towel I was standing on and I was in such a focused state of mind that it didn’t entirely make sense. I was quickly comforted though. Someone threw a big warm blanket around me and then my team walked me into the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet was very uncomfortable. I knew it was necessary but it was painful on my back and awkward to have people I normally drink tea with hugging me and breathing with me. The funny thing about being in that moment though, was that its something you just go with. Its real and those people still want to be my friends. Actually, we are closer then ever.

to be continued…

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