Cry, Cry Baby

So this parenthood thing, it's pretty interesting to say the least. I wrote about my mommy meltdowns a couple weeks back, which I think is an important part of the process. But I wanted to tae a few key strokes to talk about something that just keeps creepin' in my life:my anxiety. It was the reason I did the placenta encapsulation, and I had done pretty well at keeping it at bay. That is, until one afternoon when I thought I was feeling lightheaded.

Turns out, it was my anxiety. Funny thing about anxiety, it can feel like something else if you haven't had it in a while. So I thought I was dehydrated or sick or something. Nope. Just anxious. Luckily it wasn't a full on panic attack, more a generalized anxiety, which I have to say is better because I'm more functional (at least.) Anyway, the next morning when I woke up and still had that "wonky" feeling, I knew it was my old friend: anxiety.

That got my brain ticking...how could I get ahead of this?

I can tell you, the last thing I needed was to be anxious with a little baby who needs me for, like, everything! So I thought to myself: when was the last time I cried? And not like a little cry; I am talking a goooood cry. As a bit of an aside here, my mom is a therapist and she recently told me that when her clients come in and are anxious, she always asks them if they cry. So I put on some sad, have yourself a good cry music and I cried. Ah, now that felt good. But I knew it wasn't going to do the trick longterm.

That was when it occurred to me that I hadn't been meditating since Ruby was born! That's over five weeks! As a person who regularly meditated (daily) before she was born, I couldn't believe I had let this slip...well, I mean, I guess I can believe it because I've been pretty taken up, but really, NOT GOOD! So Ruby and I had our first joint meditation session together. It went well. I cried the whole time and I can tell you, it felt great.

Now, I've re-dedicated myself to meditation for about the umpteenth time in my life, and I hope it'll help me get back on track while also providing a little special time for Ruby and I. Not only that, but during my first session back I thought about this whole crying thing. (Forgive me, I'm new to this whole expression and emotion thing!) I realized I had to let go of my judgement for myself in order to let the emotion go.

This relates specifically to new mommies (and maybe daddies, too) because like I keep harping on, we're supposed to be in this supposed blissful state of new motherhood and crying is generally associated with sadness. But anymore, I have come to realize that through crying I am releasing so much emotion and it's not really sadness at all. This is SUCH an overwhelming time (not to mention my crazy hormones are all jacked up anyway!) and there is a great amount of emotion. So if you find yourself crying, don't judge yourself. It could be the release of joy, overwhelming love, and maybe even a touch of sadness for the life you've now left behind. All of that is valid and okay and it has to come out.

So go on. Give yourself permission to cry, cry baby! 

We Got A 'Roo

Our boy, strutting his stuff!!! 
I know this is coming a little late, but a while back (as in about 8 weeks ago) my husband and I added to our flock of chickens and got five new chickens. This became necessary when one of our chickens hurt it's leg and we had to...eh-hem...put it down. Then the next week, my husband's aunt was visiting on a bird watching trip and accidentally ran over one of our chickens, killing it dead. (The irony of the whole bird watching thing was pretty palpable.)

Anyway, it seemed like our little flock of original chickens was really dwindling...and our Amrocks that we got over the summer to supplement our flock all got eaten (presumably by a fox?) over the fall and winter months, so we were really needing some new bitties. I called my farmer who had some pullets for us and so this spring we integrated them into the flock. There was only one catch: they weren't sexed, so we weren't sure if we got all females or not.

We were in the wait and see game about the hens when one day I was walking outside. All of a sudden I heard a commotion with the chickens and what do I see? I see some of the new chickens running out from the brush and behind them comes what we thought was our "fancy" chicken. Next thing I know, the "fancy" chicken jumps on the other chicken's back and starts going to town...and by going to town I mean he was humping the crap out of the poor thing.

I was a little caught off guard by what appeared to be nature, but honestly felt more like chicken rape. So I threw a stick at the rooster and started yelling for my husband, adding, "Babe! We have a 'roo!!!!"  That was how we found out that our fancy chicken was indeed not a hen at all, but a rooster. We stared at the thing for a few minutes, googled what to do, and considered trading the rooster in for another hen (which my farmer said he would be more than happy to do if we had one by mistake.)

As it turns out, though, we're kind of attached to the fella. Sure, he's assaulting all of our hens, but it adds a lot of flavor to our flock and somehow makes it more interesting. So, we have a 'roo. My husband calls him "Sir Humps A Lot." He hasn't quite begun crowing yet, but he sure is a pretty thing. Since his presence doesn't affect our ability to eat the eggs, we figure we'll give it a shot and see how it works out having a male in the hen house. So far, so good.

And that's the update on our chickens. Oh yea, and check out some of our new hens who like to take their shade in the trees--literally!


Preserving Basil [In the Freezer!]

One of the last things that my husband and I did before our daughter was born was to plant our little herb and veggie garden outside on our patio. It's just a small planter garden, but we really enjoy it. This year, my husband got some really great soil and he sort of babied the garden; he has a pretty good green thumb, really. Did you know that he takes care of all of our house plants? It's true.

Anyway, our basil really took off and we've already got an abundance. So, it was time to try something we saw on the Internet--that freezer basil preservation with olive oil thingy. Yea, I know, I'm being real descriptive here. Which is why I took pictures. I swear, my mind just isn't what it used to be. It's okay, I'm a mom now, I have an excuse...right?


So, we planted two different kinds of bail: purple and 
"regular." I think they taste the same, but honestly, the purple basil is cool looking, so... Anyway, I picked a bunch of the biggest leaves off my plants. 


Now, you can use an ice cube tray for this, but I have these baby food freezer trays and I thought this would be the perfect use for them. So I used those. They are extra awesome because they come with lids which is super duper convenient! 


Chizzity chop your basil up. 
And put it in your ice tray or baby food container thingy, as it were. 


And once full, pour in your olive oil. Then you simply freeze them. When you are ready to use them, just pop em out and add to your favorite soups, sauces, meat or veggie dishes. 

How easy and awesome is this!? 

On Losing That Baby Weight

I have a healthy love for my body; always have no matter what size I have been and I have fluctuated a bit over the years. In more recent years, and before I became pregnant, I have a been a steady and healthy weight. I worked out regularly. So, when I got pregnant with my daughter, I knew I wanted to keep on dancing and doing my exercise routine as long as possible. I made it to month nine in my Zumba class before I was a little too uncomfortable to continue (I delivered just two and a half weeks later!)

My goal was to only gain about 20-25 pounds during my pregnancy, and this was what the doctors also recommended. By the day I delivered, I had gained about 30 pounds, with the final 10 packing on in the last month and a majority of that feeling like it was water weight in my legs (very uncomfortable!!!) After giving birth, I was surprised that I had lost nearly 20 pounds within the first ten days.

Now, everyone's experience with pregnancy weight will be different. I am now about a month from delivery and I am just a few pounds shy of my original weight (though I admit, it seems to be distributed a bit differently these days!) I credit a lot of this to two things: my pregnancy work-outs and breastfeeding.


Me, just days before I gave birth! 


Four weeks postpartum: nearly back to my original size! 


Working out: 
Does it take some extra effort to work out while you are pregnant? Absolutely! Some days it just feels terribly hard to get up and go work out because of hormonal changes, fatigue, and morning sickness. But I really feel it was the single best decision I made on any given day. Whether it was taking a walk or going to Zumba or doing my Ballet Beautiful DVDs, if I worked out at all, it was worth it. My midwives always encouraged me to keep working out, saying that my recovery would be easier and let me tell you: it was!

I also did pregnancy-specific exercises, and I only missed three days of doing them the entire nine and a half months. This included doing squats, getting on the pregnancy ball and doing the cat/cow back stretches and hip opening exercises. I feel these are important to keep your body limber during pregnancy as well as making for an easier delivery.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to start a great workout routine that you love WELL BEFORE you ever consider getting pregnant. That way, you can continue on in your normal routine once you become pregnant. There is just no substitute for a healthy lifestyle!

Breastfeeding:
The day my milk came in I wanted to die. It was the most uncomfortable thing in the world, not to mention it was scary! My boobs were these enormous orbs, hard and freaky looking, and painful as hell. I cried the whole day. The. Whole. Day. Do I understand now why some women throw in the towel on breastfeeding? YES! But, if there is any argument for continuing with breastfeeding other than the health benefits to your child, it's the weight loss.

Breastfeeding burns calories, tons of them! Yes, it can be a challenge. Yes, sometimes you will eat the wrong thing and end up with a baby who is gassy, crying and uncomfortable. But you will get the hang of it--I promise--and you will see the pounds just literally fall off. In the beginning, you will actually feel your uterus getting smaller as your baby eats, which is both strange and awesome.

Be patient with yourself, and remember to eat well: 
Even with feeling really good about my postpartum weight loss so far, I still look a wee bit different. My weight is distributed differently now, and I still have a bit of belly which I will have to work off the old fashioned way: with more exercise! I won't start that for a couple more weeks because I am still healing and my body reminds me of that with some aches and pains in the hips and other joints.

Also, never overlook eating a healthy diet postpartum. This is perhaps the biggest challenge of all because with a new baby, there is a lot to do! Learning to tackle caring for my new baby, doing chores, and eating healthy has been a challenge for me, but I know that it's worth it. It takes some planning and there are times when I need to be patient and gentle with myself if I can't get everything accomplished.

Most of all, remember you have just had a baby and that is the most beautiful thing of all. Your body, no matter what it looks like, is beautiful and has just given life! Focus on the good, and know that you are beautiful! 

Parmesan & Panko Crusted Barramundi

As you may or may not know, I love coating meats in mayonnaise and adding a little crunch before baking it in the oven. It's sort of my thing. So when my mother-in-law came to cook for us when my daughter was born and she made this fish recipe, I was HOOKED! This is super easy and healthier than the chicken and pork counterparts.

Barramundi is a sustainable swordfish, so it's a good and meaty. We buy this fish in the freezer section at BJs, and they are frozen individually, which makes this an easy weeknight meal. Did I mention that it cooks in the oven in 15 minutes?! Yes, I know. And I know that I say "if I can do it anyone can," but this goes double now...it's like, if I can do it with a baby strapped to my chest, so can you!

So, get your kitchen confidence ready and let's cook!!


Two purdy pieces of fish ready to be dressed up and baked! 


Is there such a thing as too much mayonnaise? I think not, and this picture proves it. In reality it's just a teaspoon (okay a heavy teaspoon) each. 


Equal parts panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese mixed in a mason jar and poured on top! 


Baked in the oven for 15 minutes on 400 degrees. 

VIOLA! 


Dinner is served. I made some green beans and potatoes to go along with my fish and this was, in my opinion, the perfect meal! It's so easy. 

Parmesan & Panko Crusted Barramundi 

Time: 20 minutes, start to finish | Serves 2 | Difficulty: Easy 

You Will Need: 

2 nice pieces of meaty fish like Barramundi (swordfish)
2 hefty teaspoons of mayonnaise
Equal parts parmesan cheese and panko, mixed together

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place your fish on a baking sheet (I used a stone for easy removal once baked). Top the fish with the mayo and then the panko/parmesan mixture.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Serve with green beans and potatoes or a nice crisp salad! YUM!


All I Need Is A Good Friend & Some Nail Polish

I have no idea what I thought that motherhood was going to be like. It's one of those things that you just can't quite envision fully, so you put on our rosy colored glasses and proceed through your pregnancy. And then you have a baby and you bring it home and things go well for a while....and then you have your meltdowns. Yes, mommyhood is practically a minefield of firsts and meltdowns and the learning curve is steep.

A friend of mine told me, just a couple days after I arrived home from the hospital, that I needed to not be afraid to cry. As she put it, "Let it go!" Yes, I made a Frozen reference. Well, she made a Frozen reference. Hey, we're moms here--fair game. But I have to say that it was some of the best advice I got. When I felt the first urge to cry, my inclination was to hold it back, but instead, I let the tears flow and (to my surprise) I actually felt a little bit better. It also opened the floodgates because, believe it or not, that was the moment I realized that I have been holding back a lot of tears for a lot of years. 

I love my daughter. New moms love their children immeasurably. But with those little bundles of joy come a lot of hard realities to face. There's the fact that a person is now depending on you. There is the lack of sleep with even the best sleeping babies. There is the breastfeeding, which you get the hang of, but is still overwhelming because you are someone's food source. There's a loss of the autonomy you once knew and no matter how "okay" with that you are, it's just still hard. The lows are tempered with the highs, of course, making the whole thing an emotional roller coaster like no other. Some days I feel like super mom, other days I feel like super shit. 

Couple all of those things with the fact that we are sent these messages that we are supposed to be overwhelmingly happy all the time, and it's the perfect storm. Which is why, as my friend told me in the beginning, we have to be willing to acknowledge when we need to cry or have a release of emotion. Because there will be a night where your baby cries for four hours straight instead of sleeping and nothing you do can soothe her. There will be the day when your husband innocently goes for a run just like he does each day and you feel insanely jealous of all his "alone time." There will be the day when you just need to cry for, I don't know, like, 8 hours straight (give or take). 

And when that day comes, you have to call your good friend. No matter how tired you are, that day you need to pick up the phone and call her. She will come to you, and she will hold your baby while you sort through your pre-maternity wardrobe. She'll help you decide which clothes definitely can't be put back in the closet. She will talk to you about something other than babies and make sex jokes with you. And then, she will break out the most perfect shade of sea foam green nail polish and force you to sit down and paint your nails while you baby sleeps and you will feel like a person again. 

When she leaves, you will realize that you no longer feel on the verge of tears and looking down at the first properly polished nails you've had in months, you will be so grateful. Because sometimes all you need to feel sane again is a good friend and some nail polish. So don't be afraid to ask or to reach out. Letting go in necessary, and you've got to have it in you to fall apart. But don't forget about the people waiting on the sidelines to help you piece it all back together, either! 

Placenta Encapsulation: A Review

When I became pregnant, I knew that placenta encapsulation was for me. I have had issues with anxiety in the past, and I didn't want the loss of all those hormones during pregnancy to become an issue for me...I could imagine nothing worse than being anxious and trying to care for a newborn. The postpartum period can be rough for a lot of women, and for me, the best thing was to be proactive.

Going in, I was excited to give the practice a try. I found someone locally who did the encapsulation, which was great because she came to the hospital the day my daughter was born and picked up the placenta. She then encapsulated it and brought it back to me at home five days later. I chose to go with two different forms of encapsulation, both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the raw version. 

The TCM version is steamed with herbs and then dehydrated, and the raw version is just the placenta sliced thin and then dehydrated from the "raw" state. I began with the TCM version, which is good for people with a history of anxiety and depression and when those ran out, I switched to the raw version. I gave birth on a Monday and the pills arrived on Friday. The timing could not have been more perfect. 

Following the birth, I had a couple of episodes of mild anxiety. One happened Tuesday morning when I wanted to leave the hospital. I became anxious that we wouldn't be discharged, and I was very eager to go home because I couldn't sleep in the hospital. I had a few more little episodes--not full-blown panic attacks--throughout the week, but I noticed that if I cried when they came on, they left pretty quickly. I had a lot of emotion built up that I know needed to come out, so I had to give myself permission to release it, which is hard for me. 

But fast forward to Friday and my milk had come in. That was quite an experience, let me tell you. It's painful and confusing and my breasts had become so engorged that I was having trouble getting the baby to latch on. I was also told that about day five, you really begin to notice the loss of all those hormones. I cried the whole day. I was so distraught that I needed my mom to come and stay with me for two days while I got the hang of nursing. I was very lucky that she was so helpful--even manually helping me squeeze my breasts to help the baby latch. 

At this point, I became a little afraid to take the placenta pills because I was afraid that they would make my milk come in even more (I had read about this in other women.) That was when I had to tell myself: take it one dose at a time (you take them three times a day to start), and if at any time you don't like it, just stop. But it didn't make my milk come in stronger, and the anxiety and tension I was feeling began to subside within a day or two. Within a week, I was really beginning to feel like myself again, which was practically a miracle! 

When the TCM pills were done (there were 48 of those) I switched to the raw, which are supposed to give more of a burst of energy. I really like it. I am still taking them (down to once a day now) and I feel that they have made a lot of difference. I mean, a lot has changed in my life in such a short amount of time, and normally I would freak out just a little (okay, a lot!) Instead, I feel like I am able to take things one day at a time and enjoy the time with my daughter and all this monumental change. I get puked on, and I laugh. Diaper explosion? No sweat.

Do I still have days where I cry? Of course I do. I am told that it's normal, even if it is not how I was previous to having my daughter. Yes, I still get overwhelmed when we have a really bad night and Ruby doesn't sleep...sometimes I cry while she cries. We need our cries. But it doesn't go on for days on end and it isn't accompanied by a feeling of hopelessness or anxiety. Just tears. 

Best of all, I haven't felt the paralyzing effects of anxiety that I feared so much. Especially during that first week. I was nervous that it might all creep up on me again, but  thanks to the placenta encapsulation, I really feel the tide of anxiety was reigned in. I would highly recommend this process to anyone who is giving birth. I know it made a difference for me, and I know that it made this time during my maternity leave more enjoyable. 

What I Learned By Not Cooking

Since having my child, I have been not been doing a lot of cooking...which is something that I thought was going to be really difficult. I thought that I would be chomping at the bit to get back into the kitchen and cook up a storm, but it's amazing how agreeable I was to having others do things for me.

One would think that we ate a lot of take out the week that my daughter was born, but I think we've had take out or pizza just a few times since she was born. Instead, we had people bring us great, homemade meals, including my mother-in-law, my mom and even a friend who brought a great lunch for us. And I found myself thinking "I could really get used to this!" Yes, I know, this is dangerous, but for three glorious weeks I was one of those people who had perfected the art of not cooking and I relished every second!

No wonder some people just proudly declare that they don't cook. It makes so much sense now... it forces other people to do it for you and besides that, you get more time to do other things. Because, let's face it, cooking takes planning and time and that time has to come from somewhere in the time budget. Now that I am a mother, there is less "me time" and more time spent doing things for others--mainly Ruby, my daughter.

Don't fret, I do plan on getting back to work in the kitchen soon. In fact, when Ruby was just shy of three weeks old, I got back into the canning kitchen with my canners, and we made some strawberry jam. (Check out our slightly blurry selfie!)



So it probably won't be too long before I am back in the saddle. But my break from both technology and cooking was perhaps a much needed one and backing away from the stove (and the computer) is sort of an art when it's become so ingrained in your everyday life. I learned that people are willing to take care of me in ways that surprised me. Allowing people to care for me in this way brought me closer to them and it forced me to relax. I was genuinely proud of myself for being able to be cared for and being able to ask for what I needed.

So tell me, what has become ingrained in you that you might want or need to back away from for whatever reason? What might you learn about yourself? Leave it for me in the comments section below! 

The Review of Stuff I Did While Pregnant

I am sure you are all wondering whatever became of the things I did while I was pregnant. What worked out and what didn't? I compiled a little list of the things I did to prepare for birth and how I feel about them in hindsight. I hope it helps all the mommies to be  out there who are trying to sift through the never-ending lists of things on the internet!! And for those of you wondering about my experience with placenta encapsulation, I will have another full post on that coming soon.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
So I drank this tea because it is supposed to help tone the uterus and make for a fast birth. Did it work? Well, that is likely subjective, but I had a very quick birth, coming in at about 8-9 hours. So would I recommend this? Absolutely! For me it was great because it helped me get an extra cup of water into my system each day and I liked the ritual of it...it made me feel proactive. Definitely worth a shot because it can only help, and won't hurt. 

This I used both orally and vaginally to help reduce tearing during birth. So did it work? Well, I think so. See, thing is, that when I was doing the big push to get Ruby out, the midwife asked me stop pushing so that they could shimmy the shoulders out...and I didn't listen. I was so done, I just kept right on pushing and out she came, shoulders and all. So I had some minor tearing anyway. But even so, the tearing was minor and I was REALLY happy about that. Bottom line? Do the primrose oil. 

Also worth a mention. Some women think it helps you go into labor before or close to your due date. I told everyone Ruby was coming between May 9th and 15th and sure enough she did...did the primrose oil help? I guess we'll never know. 

I got my own hospital gown because I didn't want to wear the ones the hospital had; it was a karma thing. And a "me" thing. At the last minute, though, I decided on a whim to throw a sarong into my bag because I thought perhaps I would want to wear that while I was in labor. You know what I wore while I was in labor? Not a damn thing. At a certain point, I threw off all my clothes and strutted my stuff naked the rest of the way. And I didn't care who saw me. The president of the United States could have walked in and I wouldn't have cared. 

But I am SO glad that I bought the gown because it was the PERFECT outfit for the day I was in the hospital. After I showered, I got into my cute little gown and was able to visit with everyone and feel comfortable and covered. Totally get it. Totally. 

If you do nothing else, you must do the nurse's gift basket. Seriously. Those women (and men) work way too hard and you know what? It sometimes makes them grumpy and prone to not taking your shit. The gift basket is the perfect neutralizer and allows you to start out on a great note with the nurses. It lets them know that they are appreciated and it buys you a little tolerance because, let's face it, we all have requests that may seem a little unreasonable or just rub someone the wrong way. This is your buffer zone. Do it. 

My Experience At Beebe Hospital

When I knew that I was delivering at a hospital, and where that would be, I immediately began Googling to see what people had experienced there...and I found nothing. That left a lot to the imagination for me, and ultimately, it made me a little worried. After all, I was going for a natural childbirth experience and I had heard horror stories about hospitals being unfriendly to the natural process.

So, I wanted to write a review of sorts, about my birth at Beebe Hospital. I want to say: both my husband and I felt it was a great experience and were very pleasantly surprised. I wanted to talk about our positive view of the care at Beebe because so often people talk about their negative experiences but not the positive ones. If you would like to read my birth story, you can read that by CLICKING HERE.

First of all, I think it's important to note that Beebe is a Baby Friendly hospital. The certification of "Baby Friendly" takes years to obtain and it centers on facilitating an environment that promotes breastfeeding and bonding between the baby and mother (and father, to a lesser extent.) So they do kangaroo care, which means that immediately following the birth (in the case of a vaginal delivery), the baby is laid on the mother's bare chest and allowed to bond for two hours.

The baby isn't bathed right away, not even weighed and measured, until this bonding time has taken place. I really enjoyed this because the last thing you want to do, as a mother, once you have birthed your child is to have them taken from your arms. Those two hours were like gold. They also allow the baby to go straight to the breast at a time when they are the most alert (babies are very alert in those two hours following the birth).

Also, Beebe does "rooming in," so the baby is never taken from the mother to a nursery or anything like that. The only time Ruby left my side in the hospital was when she went to get her hearing test and her daddy went with her to that. Along with those features, the Baby Friendly title meant that at no point would the staff offer or try to formula feed the baby--something that I read frequently that hospitals do. They have a fabulous lactation consultant on staff who was helpful during my stay and afterward when I had any questions about breastfeeding...or a meltdown, which I had when my milk came in.

These accommodations which come with the Baby Friendly title are amazing and make Beebe a great place for babies and mothers alike. But beyond that, I really found the staff quite friendly and accommodating. For instance, we declined some of the normal vaccinations, and they really didn't give us a hard time. (They did push the vitamin K shot, and we ended up getting that one.) One thing we really wanted to do was to give Ruby her first bath and they didn't even balk at our request. It was wonderful to be able to give her the first bath of her life.

In addition, they were VERY respectful of request to have a natural childbirth. Not once was I offered any pain medication. I was offered a sleeping pill at one point, which I declined, and they were respectful of that. I was even able to decline the routine IV. The nurses didn't hover over us, and neither did the midwives. It was the family birthing experience I was hoping for, and that meant so much to me. The nursing staff was also very kind to us. Many of them even came to check on us the next day and follow up to meet Ruby.

All in all, whether you are planning a natural delivery or not, if you are delivering at Beebe, you can feel confident that you are good hands. My advice for mothers delivering there would be to know what you want ahead of time, and be your own best advocate. If you are, the staff there will be receptive and you'll have a great experience. It's great to have a hospital that is focused on the bonding aspects of the birth process, and I felt pretty comfortable in the hospital environment (even if I couldn't wait to get home!)

Did you birth at Beebe? Please share some of your experience in the comments section below!