Monday, November 16, 2009

::back to life::

So I haven't blogged since my birth announcement a) because I don't get a lot of long stretches to sit at the computer, and b) because I have been working on that post for so long. But hopefully now I can get back to our regular programming, which will likely now include some baby-related content.

But today, I wanted to share a recipe that I just tried and fell in LOVE with. It's Jamie Oliver's "Scrumptious Spanish Chickpea & Chorizo Soup." Man, oh, man, is this ever good - and easy! If I can make while a two-month-old lies on a play mat, it's a keeper. Try it for yourself! I'm going to freeze half the batch. It may look a bit rustic, but it's fantastic. I have posted it here with some changes I made.

scrumptious spanish chickpea and chorizo soup
starter | serves 4

• olive oil
• a ring of chorizo sausage (mild or hot, your choice), finely chopped
• 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
• 4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
• 3 sticks of celery, finely chopped
• one package of frozen spinach, thawed
• one large can of whole tomatoes
• one large can of cooked chickpeas, drained
• 5 cups chicken stock
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 100g prosciutto, finely chopped
• extra virgin olive oil
• 3 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped

Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a large pot and add the chorizo. Allow to heat up and cook for a couple of minutes until the fat comes out of the chorizo, then add your onion, garlic and celery. Turn the heat down and cook slowly for 15 minutes with a lid on and without colouring the onions. Now take the lid off – the smell and colour will be fantastic. Stir it around and get some colour happening now. Add your spinach, tomatoes, chickpeas and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for around 40 minutes.

At this point you can remove about a third of the mixture and purée it in a food processor. Pour it back into the pot, give it a good stir and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the pata negra or ham and 2 or 3 tablespoons of good Spanish extra virgin olive oil. Divide into bowls and grate some hard-boiled egg on top; it actually adds a lovely richness to it.

Perfect with some fresh ciabatta bread and butter. Enjoy!

::becoming mom::

ATTENTION: To any male readers or squeamish female ones, this post contains descriptive phrases and terms like "membranes," "placenta," "tearing" and "stitches." Consider yourself warned. This is Heidi's birth story. :)

Written in my journal:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dear God,

Five days overdue - had lots of contractions overnight but they subsided when I took a 5 am bath and then went back to sleep. This is very frustrating, God. Last night at home group, Gemma prayed for us and said it takes a strong marriage to have a baby, and that perhaps Your plan for Wayne's time at home was to strengthen our marriage so that we can get through this next period of separation. And that makes a lot of sense, but it still makes me sad for Wayne, and sad that I won't be able to rely on him for my recovery. You must really be trying to teach us a lot of patience and grace. You're succeeding because it's definitely difficult. Lord, you've never let me down, and I do trust Your ways. Please show us the lessons You want us to learn here and the ways we can put them into practice, giving the glory back to You. Amen.

Saturday, September, 15, 2009

Our daughter, Heidi London Baxter, was born Saturday, September 12, at 9:20 am at Surrey Memorial Hospital. She weighed 7 lbs. 13.9 oz. and measure 21 3/4" long.

Contractions began, 5 minutes apart, at 12:30 am, waking me up. The day before, we'd had my membranes swept by the midwife (Ina) and I drank a dose of the lemon verbena oil mother's cocktail to strengthen my Braxton Hicks contractions so they would jump start labour. She told me to expect cramps, but when Wayne and I decided to walk through IKEA, the cervical cramps got so bad that I was doubled over in pain and in tears. By the time we were halfway home, I was reclined in the passenger seat, sobbing. Thankfully, Monica, Wayne's mom, had taken Dora for the day, so we didn't have to deal with the dog.

We came home and napped but when I woke up and found that the cramps had subsided and nothing was happening, I lost it. I was so tired and upset that Wayne had only one full day left at home before having to return to Gagetown for his last course. I told him I could only be positive for so long and I was sick of hearing, "It'll happen soon" or "Don't worry." Thankfully, Wayne knew just what I needed - for him to listen and empathize. He was upset, too, but let me dump on him and let out all my frustrations. I'd lost all hope and was angry at God for taking away my dream. It didn't make sense to me that after losing our first pregnancy last August, and having prayed harder than I ever had before to conceive when he was home last Christmas (and we did!), and then praying again for him to be home on her due date (and he was!), that it wouldn't happen while he was here. How could it be?! But I know I should never set my expectations on something I don't control: God's timing. And to be honest, I hadn't spent the time worshiping or praying the previous month to even warrant presuming to know His will or timing for our family. I was too busy prepping for baby and getting to-do lists done to "bother" with that. I should know better.

That night, after a steak supper at Wayne's parents' place, we climbed into bed at 10 and I asked Wayne to pray because I knew that if I did, it would not be heartfelt or sincere. While that's no reason not to pray, he obliged with a simple prayer: "God, we're not messing around anymore. We want a baby by 8 am. Amen." Well, that plea, combined with my emotional breakdown relaxing my body to the point of submission, must have done the trick because two hours later, I woke up with contractions five minutes apart.

I can't believe how fast time passed during my contractions. I handled them on my own for about 2 hours, letting Wayne sleep until 2:30 am. I knew that if this was the real thing, and he was running on only 2 hours of sleep, he would be so tired. Four hours isn't great but it's better than two. :) I realize now that I must have had back labour the whole time because the only thing that would relieve my pain was squatting or leaning on the kitchen counter and swaying my hips. Lying down - or even sitting - was out of the question. And I noticed that my contractions didn't seem to start small, swell and then dissipate, like our Lamaze coach described. The closer together they became, the stronger they attacked, until they began to take me almost by surprise. Two nights prior, I'd woken with strong Braxton Hicks and had spent some time putting together a lunch kit full of snacks for us. It's a good thing because once we realized these were the real thing, the last thing I could do was concentrate on food.

We called Ina around 3 am and she advised me to take a hot shower to see how it affected the frequency and intensity of my contractions. I had about 5 strong contractions in there without any letup so I knew this was it. We called Ina back and she decided to come over and check me out. When she arrived, just after 5 am, my contractions were 4-5 minute apart, lasting a minute-and-a-half, and I was only 2 cms dilated. It didn't seem like much and for all the Baby Story I've watched, I knew the delivery could still be hours away. Little did I know what was coming!

At that point, I realized I was starving, but my contractions were so long and painful that I knew the only thing I could stand would be yogurt. Poor Wayne took the dog out and gas station-hopped until he could find yogurt at 5 am. Ina had me crouched/squatting beside the bed with the upper half of my body supported by pillows, lying face-down, because I refused to lie down. By this time, I wasn't really drinking enough fluids either because the contractions were attacking so strongly that I honestly thought I would vomit as each one began. It was then that I started to worry because I knew the drive to the hospital would be exhausting and excruciating, having to sit straight up in the passenger seat. But when I quickly reached 5 cms, Ina said we had to go, NOW. Danielle, who was on her way to our house, rerouted to the hospital and met us in the family birthing unit. But not until we detoured to drop off the dog at Wayne's parents' house at 5:30 am, mid-contraction. I had about 5 in the car and arched over the back of my seat when they happened. The longest break I had was about 3 mins. I didn't have another good break for an hour or so. We called my parents to let them know we were on the way to the hospital and after parking, had to squat in the parkade twice, and once in the lobby, with contractions. They were coming so fast.

We scored one of the three rooms at Surrey Memorial with a tub and promptly filled it, though I had doubts that it would alleviate my pain. And I was right, but at least being submersed gave me something to do: I doggy-paddled on my side (yes, I felt like a beached whale) through each contraction for the next 2.5 hours, while Danielle kept cold cloths on my neck and forehead and Wayne held my hand. Although I don't remember, Danielle says I didn't want to be touched, save for these two comforts. I needed the lights off and quiet in the room, something the nurse wasn't very good at. She seemed to be all business and she really annoyed me while I laboured (although she was very helpful afterward). I was given an IV of penicillin because I had tested positive for Group B Strep, but received only one dose instead of the recommended two, as labour progressed so quickly. The contractions were so painful and so intense that we didn't even think to call our parents to tell them how fast this was all happening. It was a good thing, too, because a labour that fast doesn't qualify for drugs, and my wails and groans could likely be heard for miles! I don't think my mum would have been able to stand it. I felt stupid at the time, but it even took too much energy to cry from the pain. I just wanted to die. Really. It would have been easier.

Finally, mid-contraction, a new sensation: the urge to push. It scared me halfway out of the tub at first, and my new vocalization prompted the midwife to ask if I felt like I needed to have a bowel movement. Silly me, I thought I'd have to get out of the tub just to go to the bathroom. Then it clicked: that was Heidi's head! Just when I had "mastered" breathing through my contractions, this new feeling threw me for a loop and things started happening very quickly, although I was so thankful to have something to "do," other than endure the pain of the contractions. Out of the tub I was and onto the bed on all fours, leaning on the back of the bed, which was raised. I was so scared and all I could say to Danielle and Wayne was, "Pray for me!" It finally occurred to me that I hadn't even thought of pain management, but when I asked Ina for the gas, she laughed at me and told me I didn't need it, that I was being such a trooper and would be meeting the baby in just a few minutes! I was too exhausted to argue, but really wasn't working with the contractions. This new sensation was scary and it finally hit me that I really had to do this, I really had to push her OUT. With each contraction, I screamed and panicked and really thought my body would just break in two. But the contractions subsided and Ina saw that I'd need gravity to help. So she ordered me onto the toilet.

Once there, I was resisting the urge to push - Ina was very hands-off, which I didn't really appreciate at the time. I didn't know what to do and her description of how to breathe was lost on me, so I finally had to bark at her that I didn't understand what she meant and to describe it a different way! That was the only time I lashed out at anyone (I think!). Danielle sat by my left foot on the floor and Ina at my right. Poor Wayne was stuck standing in the doorway to the bathroom. While my sense of time was quite compromised while I was pushing, it couldn't have been more than 10 or 15 minutes I spent in the bathroom. When Heidi finally crowned, and I had to pant through the next contraction, I thought she would fall into the toilet like on that show "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant"! Haha. Ina assured me she would catch the baby. She asked me to reach down a feel Heidi's head, but I refused, knowing it would make me panic. On the final contraction, Ina had me stand up and out came Heidi with a GUSH of waters. It was the biggest relief I have ever felt, and she was on my lap, slippery and warm, right away. She gave an annoyed squawk, as if to say, "I've finally arrived! Why is it so cold out here?!" and I was in complete shock. I didn't know what to do. I just couldn't believe THAT was labour. That I'd just done it! It was all I could do to pick up my jaw off the floor and look at Wayne across the bathroom to make sure he was still there to witness this! Neither of us were particularly emotional, just amazed that it was done, and she was here! And that the pain really DOES disappear in an instant. I had to ask if I'd torn (yes, she came out with her fist up by her face - ouch) - I'd previously thought people who said, "You won't even notice if you tear," were lying. But it's true. The relief of that baby coming it far surpassed any pain of tearing.

Of course, Heidi was semi-sitting on my lap as we waited for the placenta to deliver and I couldn't see between her legs. While we'd known for four months that we were having a girl, you never know! So I had to ask Danielle, "Is it still a girl?" :) I was in my own little world for a while, just stunned. None of us wanted to cut the cord - it was too icky for Wayne and I didn't trust myself to do anything at that point, I was so shaky. So Ina cut it, wrapped her up and gave her to Wayne to hold, skin-to-skin. The next hour or so was a blur, as I was being stitched up (I opted for the gas at that time - woohoo!) and Wayne held his first-born daughter. She looked so tiny in his arms.

Because I had only received the one dose of penicillin during labour, there was a risk that Heidi could have a reaction to the Group B Strep, and so her temperature and other things needed to be monitored every 4 hours. If we opted to stay overnight at the hospital, it would be no problem, but if we wanted to go home, we'd be responsible for monitoring her progress. I wanted to stay, because I felt so unsure, but Wayne really wanted to spend our first night at home with the baby as a family, even though he had to be up at 5 am for his flight the next morning. So by 8:30 pm, we were heading home with our precious new bundle, finally a family of three.

Heidi's temperature stayed level all night and the next day and all was well. I was banished to the third floor of the house for three days to heal (too many stairs for the stitches) so I had my mom, Wayne's mom and Danielle taking shifts to stay overnight and bring food, etc. I would have been so lost without so many helpers - thank you, everyone!


Heidi arrived with ginger hair and peachy cream skin, and she is the spitting image of her daddy. The older she gets, though, the more like me she looks. She is gaining weight rapidly and Dora has taken quite a licking (I mean liking) to her - haha. Heidi is the joy of my life and I cannot describe the love that comes with parenthood. I cannot wait for Wayne to join us at home and to experience all her cuteness and sweetness for himself next month.