Ugh, that stinks!

Noah just fell and hurt his hands… he was upset until I came and simply noticed his pain—“ouch! You hurt your hands!” Then he was okay again and went off to play.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately; we don’t really want people to lecture us about how to avoid the pain, or tell us why it’s not so bad, or that we’re okay. We just want someone to notice; to really see us. To say, “ugh, that stinks!” And then we can move on from our angst and figure out what to do about the situation. (Unless, of course, we are actually seeking help.)

I wonder why that’s so hard for most of us to do… why do we always try to make it (the noise of their whining, if not their pain) stop or to lecture them? I guess it’s insecurity, in a sense—needing them to be okay so we can be okay. Or needing to fix their problem so we can feel better. But what if they can fix their own problems, after we offer a bit of empathy? What if all they need is a listening ear and maybe shoulder to cry on?

#recentponderings #empathy

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Postpartum is…

Cozy moments

Messy hair

Baby squeaks

Breakfast in bed

Bodily fluids in abundance

Sleepy smiles

The full range of emotions

No schedule

A learning curve

Awe over the miracle of new life

Endless thirst

Adjusting expectations

Nourishing your healing body

Asking for help

Pjs all day

Aches and pains

Being needed 24/7

Diaper changes

All kinds of changes

Slow walks around the house

Nursing, and then nursing again… and again

Growing into your new role

A beautiful challenge

It’s life to the fullest, right from your bed.

P.S. to those reading from Facebook, I will not be able to see any likes or comments left on there. (This blog is linked to Facebook so it posts automatically.)

Caleb’s Birth Story!

(Partly written as it happened, and partly written afterwards. Sorry if it’s confusing!)

January 2nd

Woke up around 6:30 because of a rather strong contraction…

Had them all day, not very strong but quite a few strong enough to stop me. They’ve been roughly 10-20 minutes apart, I haven’t been timing.

I cleaned and tidied the house, and then Suki and Leo came over to talk and play. Noah and Leo played the most they have yet, which was really sweet to see.

Noah napped and I showered, cleaned a bit, rested and listened to birth affirmations, and knit.

Brian, Richie’s cousin, and his family came over right as Noah woke up, and they’ve been here since (it’s 7:40 right now). Jenn and Doug and Family came as well. We’ve had a good time… their boys are playing nicely with Noah, and Bella started a lemon squeezing party. She and I made lemonade as well. They all ate Chinese and I ate soup from Mrs. Ursu (I was planning on eating Chinese, but I suddenly worried about accidentally eating gluten and having a stomachache as well as contractions.)

After they left, I finished the green baby hat.

January 3rd

Had a nice warm bath, and then went to bed…slept/rested some and then contractions got strong enough to where I was making noise during them and got out of bed… had the bloody show at about 4:30am.

Stayed up for a little over an hour, timing contractions (8-10 minutes apart, over a minute long), journaling, drinking water, and having a little snack…

Noah woke up and wanted me, so I snuggled him back to sleep and then laid down myself… dozed and rested for almost 2 hours. Contractions got more uncomfortable so I got up and used the bathroom and am sitting in Noah’s room again.

We’re all up and Peter is painting… Noah’s been having a rough time and my contractions are to where I’m moaning through them. This last one I had Noah moaned with me, haha. It’s 10:40 right now.

It’s 11:30am, contractions are spaced out but strong when they come. Mama came, and Emily and Cheryl came and got Noah.

Cathy is coming soon.

12:06, Cathy just got here.

12:30

She checked me and I’m 6cm dilated! His heart rate is steady, and my vitals are good.

Definitely getting to be less fun at this point… they’re about 5 minutes apart and quite strong. I’ve asked Peter to stop painting the bathroom and start helping me through contractions.

Writing this on January 4th now… quite a bit has happened since my last entry!

The contractions rapidly intensified and grew closer together… it freaked me out a little bit and I struggled to stay relaxed and calm (which of course made it more difficult!). Cathy reminded me to focus on my breath, which helped some.

At one point I got ahold of myself and realized that I was probably in transition already and really needed to relax and allow my body to do the work it knew to do. I knew that the more I surrendered to transition, the sooner it would change to pushing… and the sooner I’d meet my baby. I sat in the rocking chair and focused really hard on my breath and on keeping my body relaxed and my thoughts positive. I thought about how strong and capable my body is, and how soon I’d be holding my baby.

That helped tremendously and it was much easier to handle— though, as is usually the case for transition, some of the sensations were quite intense. It was definitely a very conscious effort to surrender to them.

Hannah came when I was in the chair… I told her between contractions (which were one on top of another at this point, so it was hard to say much at a time, haha) that I was pretty sure I was in transition… she mentioned that I was much calmer than last time and I said well, I wasn’t a bit ago, haha.

Not long after she arrived, I felt the contractions change to the expulsive, pushing kind… I could feel him getting even lower and felt the intensity of the contractions move to the top of my uterus. I also noticed that my breathing pattern changed. I told Peter and Hannah to let Cathy know, and she confirmed… I moved to the toilet for a short time, which felt good. They set up a makeshift birthing stool for me, and I transferred to that.

Had to stand up between contractions as much as possible to keep my feet and legs from going numb… once I figured out how to do it carefully it wasn’t too uncomfortable to stand.

After Cathy told me to stop letting my breath out during the contractions (I’d take a deep breath, hold it for a bit while my body pushed, and then take another deep breath and repeat till the contraction ended.), he started moving down and out quickly. It was only after a couple of contractions with me adding a tiny bit of effort that his water broke and he was born! All in one contraction (if I remember right). Peter caught him and he and Cathy untangled him from his cord and handed him to me… they helped me onto the bed (we had a stool and my legs weren’t numb this time so it was way easier!) and I enjoyed looking at my new son. It was a very sweet time and I felt more “in love” right away compared to last time, I assume mostly because with Noah’s birth I was half dead with exhaustion!

Then the placenta was delivered a half hour later, and we had a bit of a scare with bleeding… but thankfully it was over quickly and everything turned out to be fine.

Shortly after that, we successfully latched and he had a good feeding on both sides. This was probably the best part for me, since it was SO very difficult with Noah. (He wasn’t able to latch and feed for days after birth) I was quite hungry this time and had two kinds of soup, cornbread, lots of water, chlorophyll, tea, and some snacks.

Noah came to meet him after we were all cleaned up and stable… I sat on the rocking chair and Peter held Caleb. I snuggled Noah for awhile and we talked about the baby, and then Peter let us hold him… Noah was intrigued and touched him gently. He was a bit unsure what to think, as well. When my sisters were about to leave he started crying because he thought they were taking him… once he snuggled up to me in bed on the other side of me from Caleb he felt better about everything again. 🙂

Here are a few pictures of Caleb today. 😊

2017

be brave

For me, 2017 has turned out to be a year filled with facing and overcoming fears and anxiety. I don’t talk about it much, and I only just realized it a few years back, but I have struggled with intense anxiety for as long as I can remember. (looking back I can see traces of it as young as 4.) So this is especially meaningful and challenging for me. Some I made the choice to face; some I did not have an option. All have been hard, and I have grown a lot walking through them. Some may seem silly to most, but to me they have all been challenging and anxiety inducing. But I survived.

These have included…

…Walking to Publix with Noah, about a mile away along a very busy street

…Getting my wisdom teeth pulled

…My husband starting school

…Getting pregnant again

…Dealing with spotting again

…A stomach bug (I HATE throwing up with a passion lol)

…Loosing someone close and particularly to cancer… something I’ve always feared.

…A major hurricane and evacuation

…Moving while pregnant

…Making parenting decisions that are radically different from almost everyone close to me

And I’m sure there’s been more. It’s been an intense year.

I have learned a lot about calming my body and mind; especially through deep breathing, changing my thinking, and supporting my body with nutrition. I have made a lot of intentional choices about how I handle the things I can’t control, and it has made a big difference.

In spite of the crazy, unexpected turns this year has taken, I have managed to accomplish nearly all the goals I made for myself at the beginning of this year, so I’m pretty happy about that. 🙂

Postpartum wants/needs

So I have been working on my postpartum plan lately, including a list of various things to have on hand or do afterwards for healing/recovering/staying sane. I thought I’d share it since I have a lot of pregnant friends right now!! Hopefully some of these ideas are helpful for you. Let me know if you have any questions or other ideas!

HEALING/PAIN RELIEF

Arnica pills

(Helps reduce pain, swelling, and bruising)

Lavender essential oil diluted in coconut oil for any stitches

(Healing and gentle antiseptic)

Monthly comfort tea

(Nourishment for the healing uterus)

Sitz bath healing herbs

(Keeps infection at bay and promotes healing)

Cramp ease tincture

(For afterbirth pains– not too bad with the first baby, but from what I hear they get worse with each baby. 😬)

Earth mama bottom spray

(Pain relief and healing! I loved this stuff and now I give it to everyone. Haha)

Overnight pads, at least 2 packs

(Not fun to think about, but you’ll bleed for 2-8 weeks after having baby… you’ll need the biggest pads you can find.)

Postpartum massage

(I wanted a massage SO BADLY after Noah… my whole body was sore and tight. I plan to make it happen this time!!)

Bone broth soups, especially blended

(Nourishing and comforting while you heal. Blended soups can be sipped from a mug while your nurse)

PERSONAL CARE/SPIRIT LIFTERS

Lots of easy snacks

(This may not sound like a big deal, but trust me… it is. It’s SO DIFFICULT to eat the first several weeks, because baby wants to nurse nearly 24/7, and you are still weak and sore so getting up and making food is hard. And by the time you finish baby wants to nurse and you can’t eat with two hands anyway. So having a stash of healthy, one handed snacks near the bed and couch helps so much. The nursing hunger is real!!)

Beeswax candles

(Pretty to look at, gentle scent, add an air of coziness that I love. Beauty is really important to me and I remember struggling with the lack of it visible from my bed)

Plant/flowers

(To bring cheer to the recovery/bonding time. I automatically feel much better when I have flowers and plants to look at)

New necklace

(Because sometimes you just need an easy way to feel a little prettier when you’re recovering and mostly covered in various bodily fluids)

Dry shampoo

(Because showers are hard to come by the first few months with a new baby, and greasy hair makes me feel icky)

Chapstick

(Just cause it’s nice to have. Plus sometimes your lips are chapped after all the deep breathing during labor)

Pretty, comfy nursing dresses/nightgowns

(I only had one with Noah, and that was one thing I regretted majorly. We had to wash it literally several times a day because I leaked so much and he’d spit up and etc. Also the pretty + comfy factors are important because you’ll be wearing them mostly all day and night for the first couple weeks.)

EMOTIONAL WELLNESS

Affirmation cards for postpartum

(I was thinking… I made some for labor, and they really helped… postpartum is longer and harder in some ways, so why not make them for that time period too?)

Family to come help

(Help is so essential!! Part of why I want to be a postpartum doula when I am past the little kids state)

A short time each day without my babies

(For me, mentally and emotionally, I NEED breaks daily. Even if only for a few minutes.)

Cooking with Carissa

It’s kind of strange to me that I’m starting to be somewhat known for being a good cook… most of my life my sister Hannah has been The Cook and I lived under her shadow and chopped veggies for her. 😉 Much of what I’ve learned is from watching Hannah cook and listening to her talk about it (I still ask her questions sometimes), and the fact that my mama had us in the kitchen from a very young age. I remember being super proud of a brilliant sandwich I made for my dad at the age of 5, and also of the fact that I knew how to cook oatmeal! If you have little ones, let them help!! Yes, it takes much longer and is messy, but it’s SO worthwhile. Noah already loves to help when he can!

If anyone saw me cooking several years back they’d be like “you can cook??” and if I made something that the family brought to a social event, everyone would assume Hannah made it. I just thought it was kind of funny and mostly left the main cooking up to her, with occasional bursts of “I need to learn to cook!”

And then I started dating Peter, and, well, I made him food because that’s what you’re supposed to do to win a guy’s heart, right? Haha. And he was impressed and so I grew more confident and started branching out and cooking more. Since we’ve been married, I’ve branched out quite a lot, between being pregnant and starving all the time and just generally being the main cook (he does normally make breakfast though, and we cook together when we can) and searching for easy/interesting/tasty/healthy/pretty food.

I am still a mess when I cook, though. I’ve often thought if I were on a cooking show it would be some kind of mix between comedy and suspense (Is it really going to turn out??). I’m already bit of a crazy cook, but add in a tiny kitchen and a toddler and it’s a whole different level!

Anyway. So, several people have said I should write a cookbook or start a food blog, which is very flattering… I just don’t think it’s practical for me right now (especially since literally most of my time is spent cooking, eating, feeding Noah, and cleaning up. lol) . I can, however, offer a few tips/principles that I go off of!

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Try new things! Look on pinterest or dust off a recipe book and find something that looks tasty, preferably something simple, and go for it! The above is one of my recent ventures out of my cooking comfort zone. So worth it!! And actually quite simple.

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Don’t be afraid to substitute! Learn some basic subs and make it work. For instance, last night I made muffins that called for 2 cups of rolled oats and a 1/2 cup of greek yogurt. I only had 1 cup of oats and no yogurt, so I subbed 3/4 cup almond flour (less than a cup because the oats would be blended and end up being less than a cup of flour) and 1/2 cup sour cream. You’d never guess! Half and half can be thinned to make “milk”. Butter can (and usually should) be subbed for shortening. Vegetable oil should be subbed for coconut. 1 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon of vinegar makes buttermilk. Applesauce can be subbed for eggs sometimes, or you can make a “flax egg”. There are lots of other good substitutions you can make in a pinch, or to make something healthier!

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I don’t really go by the recipes when I cook. Sometimes, if it’s way out of my cooking comfort zone, I will use a recipe–but most of the time I just use recipes for an idea and then go from there. The more you cook, the more you’ll learn what tastes good and what amounts will be right, just based on look (and sometimes smell or taste) Always start with less than you think you need!

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Big batches for the win! Almost no extra time with lots of extra food. Reheated food is a mom’s best friend! Similarly, making two meals with similar ingredients at once helps save time as well. Yesterday my curry and breakfast casserole both had kale, potatoes, and onions. Since I already had them out it was easy to prep for both meals at once. Curries, soups, and casseroles are all great for this sort of meal prep. I try to tell myself that working harder today makes tomorrow a lot easier, and that helps me get going. I’m actually rather lazy at heart so that’s partly why I like to make a lot at once. 😛

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Enjoy it! I do my best (It’s hard if Noah’s awake and pulling on me most of the time!) to relish the process of cooking. That’s partly why I like to try new things. I love seeing all the colors come together, and I enjoy the different textures and scents and the way the oil and vinegar interact and so on. Food can be so beautiful.  Chopping veggies is strangely soothing to me. Cooking is something I *have* to do, so I might as well have fun eh?

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Make life simpler for yourself by buying some pre-prepped veggies, and by cutting steps when possible. For instance, lately I’ve been buying chopped frozen cauliflower and broccoli. So easy to throw into dishes and make blended soups with! I’ve also been buying big bags of washed green beans, chopped and washed kale, baby carrots sometimes, washed baby greens, etc. Things that are already prepped or need minimal prep. If it was just me at home all day I wouldn’t mind doing all that, but with a toddler it’s tricky to find the time to do all of those things plus cook. I found after I had Noah that I was barely eating any veggies because of the prep time, so I decided it was worth it to pay a bit extra and actually get my veggies in! I also don’t peel veggies unless it’s really necessary, just scrub them well. When I buy things that are unwashed or not prepped I try to wash/prep a bunch at once.

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Have some quick, easy go-to meals for when you’re really hungry and need food fast. For me lately blended soups have been my go-to. I do a black bean/corn/salsa one and a creamy broccoli one.

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I’m all about that presentation! Maybe it’s not your thing, but I encourage you to at least try to make the food pretty sometimes. It doesn’t take much–the main thing I do is include lots of color. Sometimes a little garnish (maybe half a lime, a sprig of fresh herb, etc, nothing crazy) helps. I believe food is a blessing to us, in all ways. And art is important, but some of us don’t have much time for other kinds of more traditional art during our busy days… so this really helps to get a chance to express ourselves in an artistic way while doing something we NEED to do.

And, finally, familiarize yourself with herbs and spices. Learn which combos make which flavors, and which ones are strong and need to be used sparingly. There’s lots of info on pinterest about this!

 

Question Everything

 

If I were to give one piece of advice to newly expecting first time moms, or newly married girls hoping to be moms one day, that would be it.

And when I say everything, I mean it quite literally.

Down to asking more experienced moms what questions to ask!

Ask questions about your treatment during pregnancy, and/or research it ahead of time. Find out if all the tests are really necessary for YOU. Ask what they are for and why and how the results may change things. Find out if the shots have been tested on pregnant women (I’ll just tell you; they haven’t been. It’s a good thing to research yourself, though. They will push several different vaccines on you.). Find out if the cervical exams are needed. Find out the c-section rate of your doctor. Find out how much weight is realistic to gain. Learn about what an optimal diet is for a pregnant woman. And a woman trying to conceive. Find out what normal but unusual symptoms you may experience (for instance did you know your rib cage will expand noticeably? Or that you may experience a stuffy nose every night?) Or that Learn about midwives and consider home birth or birth center birth. If you feel uncomfortable with any aspect of what they are doing or how they are treating you, FIND A NEW DOCTOR/MIDWIFE. Really. Even if you’re 37 weeks pregnant. Your care team makes the biggest impact on how your pregnancy and birth goes.

Ask questions about birth. Does it really need to be a terrible experience? How can you improve your chances for a peaceful birth? What happens during the different stages of labor? What positions might be helpful for different stages? What interventions are common? Which are necessary and at what points? (hint: None at all are necessary unless baby or mom is not okay. You don’t even need to consent to cervical checks! Literally every single thing they want to do, you can refuse if you don’t want it.)

Ask questions about immediately following birth. What will happen with you? What will happen with baby? Look into every single intervention. From circumcision to the shots to the eye ointment to the cord clamping (when will it be done? And what will be used?). Even down to the bath. Many of them are unnecessary for most, if not all babies, and all of them cause harm or potential harm. Do not accept anything just because it’s how your family did it or because it’s hospital policy. Both mom and dad NEED to be on the same page and one or both needs to make sure your wishes are carried out.

Ask questions about postpartum. What’s normal? What isn’t? What should you do to prepare yourself and your home? Who will help you afterwards? What will you do if you are struggling emotionally? What all goes into nursing? What do you need? What will you do if it’s crazy hard? Who is your support person?

Ask questions about newborns. What is normal for them? What isn’t? What can you do to help them? What do their cues mean? What gadgets do you need… or not? What shots will they get, or will you delay or skip all together?

Ask questions about parenting. Question spanking. Is it necessary? Is it biblical? Are there other ways? What tools can you use? What skills can you gain? What parenting outcome/goal is most important for you? What do you want to instill in your children?

All that said… feel free to ask me questions! (In the comments, or on other forms of social media if we’re connected there. If I don’t know the answer I’d be happy to research it with you or point you to a book or article that may help. 🙂 )