30 May 2012

Summer 2012 Adventure Journal

That's right, this summer is the Summer of ADVENTURE!!!  I recently spent three days pouring over the pictures and blog posts from our foray in Victoria last summer.  We spent less than two months there, yet in that time we traveled more, and saw more than we ever do in Calgary.  We thought nothing of picking Jared up from class and driving for two hours just to splash in tide pools for an afternoon.  While we lived in Michigan we did the same thing.  We went to sightseeing to Chicago, Nauvoo, Palmyra, Sandusky, and so many more places.  We visited Hamilton and Waterloo monthly.  We went camping and hiking and apple picking and boating.  We had parties and attended parties.  Yet, here in Calgary, it is so easy to do a whole lot of nothing.  No adventures. No exploring.  No fun!

So, this summer is thus named: The Summer of Adventure!

We are going to explore this grand province of ours (and maybe a few things in BC and Idaho as well) as if we are tourists only here for the summer.  We are going to go out and see what there is to see!

What's on my Adventure list you ask?

So far this is what we've got:

Nature, Hikes and Walks -

Johnson's Canyon
Sulfer Mountain
Fish Creek Park
Bear's Hump (Waterton)
Rat's Nest Cave (Canmore)
Bow Glacier
Inglewood Bird Sancuary
Rosedale Suspension Bridge (Drumheller)

Museums and Historical Sites-
Royal Tyrrel Museum
Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump
Frank Slide
Alberta Legislature Building
Fort Calgary
Fort MacLeod
Atlas Coal Mine (Drumheller)
Rocky Mountain House National Historical Site
Writing on Stone Provincial Park
Bow Habitat Station and Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery

Spruce Meadows
The Calgary Stampede
Heritage Park
Calgary Zoo
Calaway Park
West Edmonton Mall
Discovery Wildlife Park (Innisfail)
The Calgary Tower

Around Calgary-
Float the Bow
Prince's Island Park
Chinook Honey Company (Okotoks)
The Peace Bridge
China Town

Okay, I certainly won't get around to going to every one of those places, and maybe there are some others know about, but no matter what, we are going to have fun!  That's the name of the game.  So, my local friends, what else should be on my list? What other adventures should I be having?

28 May 2012

A Winner!

Well, "RANDOM.ORG" was declared a winner. I can't figure out how to get the image from there onto here, so you are just going to have to trust me.  It declared comment 21 the winner, who is Rosanna!!! 

Rosie, it's all yours, and I will send you a copy of my Edith pattern through Ravelry, so check there for it. 

Congrats, and thanks all for entertaining me by playing.

25 May 2012

1000 Hearts Giveaway!

Today the pattern for my Buy My 'Papes, Sir - Newsboy Hat was favourited on Ravelry by the 1000th person.  That's like having 1000 likes on Facebook, or 1000 followers on Twitter - except for I'm not sure about Twitter at all, because I have enough of a social media problem already...

Anyway, it's pretty exciting to me.  I've loved watching as the little heart beside my design climbed higher and higher in numbers.  Even more than that, I love. love. love. checking out the projects that people have made with my pattern.  How fun to see what people come up with!

So, to celebrate such a momentous occasion - or maybe it's just a good excuse for a giveaway - I am offering up one of my newsboy hats, in the infant size, to one of you wonderful readers! Anyone can win, as long as you don't live on the moon!

I suck with suspense, so I'm going to make this giveaway short and sweet.  You have until the end of the weekend (Sunday night) to comment on this post to get a chance to win.  I'll give you a second chance if you are a follower of my blog, just leave another comment to tell me that you are. And, because I'm nice like that, if you are one of the thousand (or become 1006, or any other number) people who have favourited my pattern on Ravelry, leave yet another comment, and I'll give you another chance to win.  Oh, and what the heck, let's add one more: if you Pin the pattern on Pinterest, I'll give you one more chance.  Nothing wrong with a little shameless self-promotion, right?  Let's see, how many chances might that give you?  Four. Four chances. (In my head I sounded like The Count off Sesame Street right there.  Just saying.)   That's not bad.

Oh, and just to be sweet, I'll also include a digital copy of my Edith sweater pattern, which you can purchase HERE, delivered straight to your inbox.  (You could go 'favourite' and Pin it as well, but I'm not giving away any more chances to win, no I'm not!)

So, comment, follow, favourite and pin away!!!

23 May 2012

Ocean or Pond

Eli was what some would call an early talker.  He was having eloquent conversations with us before he was two. Silas, on the other hand, has taken a little longer to warm up to the whole talking thing. Not that that means he has trouble communicating by any means, he's just not as interested in the nuances of language. That's fine.  In fact, it gives us a lot of pleasure. The way he talks, like. every. word. is. it's. own. complete. sentence. is totally endearing.  "Mommy. me. jump. on. bed. on. my. butt." "Me. no. want. to. kill. da. mice.  Me. like. mice. Mice. nice."  The way he describes those things which are ours as "ars." is pretty cute too.  When he's repeating after us to say his nightly prayers, he often adds a few "nan-que for tha inni wee mamamama weeess baby strong."  Ya, we don't know what that means either.

Anyway, Eli is our greatest interpreter.  I'm pretty good at guessing what Si-guy says, most of the time, but where I lack, Eli makes up for me.  And, when Silas has trouble with words, Eli is quick to correct and instruct.

Like this morning for instance, when we were driving down the country road we take to get anywhere in the city, and Silas pointed out a pond and said, "Oh-see-en" (read: ocean), and Eli said, "That's not an ocean Silas, it's a pond." "No, oh-see-en."  Eli, looking exasperated looked at his little brother and said, "Silas, do you think a whale would fit in there?  Then it's not an ocean, it's a pond." Case closed.

So, if you are ever wondering if the body of water you are looking at is an ocean or a pond, just think if it could fit a whale or not and you will know. As for the lakes, sloughs, puddles and seas, I will have to ask Eli to elaborate on his theory for me later.

22 May 2012

Raw Broccoli Salad

Eli loves mayonnaise. Seriously, he does. I can get him to eat almost anything on a sandwich, as long as it has mayonnaise on it too.  He get's it from me.

Eating raw there are some great dressings, but I sometimes long to douse my salad in ranch dressing.  One of my favourite salads is a broccoli salad my mom makes, but the main ingredient of the dressing is mayonnaise.  Honestly, this raw version is just as good, and a whole lot healthier.

3 stalks of Broccoli
1/2 a medium onion chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup sprouted and dehydrated sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sprouted and dehydrated pumpkin seeds
1 cup currents (or raisins/grapes/dried cranberries, etc.)

1 cup soaked cashews
1/4 cup agave
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
 water to consistency

1. Chop broccoli, stalks and all, into small pieces.  This can be done in your handy food processor, if you are lazy like me.
2. Chop onions and red pepper and add to broccoli.
3. Mix all dressing ingredients in a high speed blender.
4. Pour dressing over salad.
5. Mix in sunflower and pumpkin seeds and berries.

21 May 2012

Raw Chocolate Granola - Oh my!

With all my granola and muesli making, you think it wouldn't have taken me this long to figure out a like recipe with chocolate.  Is there anything that isn't made better with chocolate? Ice cream, pancakes, curry.  You see what I mean. 

So this week, with a jar of cacao in hand, I set off to make a delicious raw chocolate granola.  

And for your munching pleasure, here is what I came up with.  


1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup raw almonds
3 cups buckwheat
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1 cup coconut
1/4 cup chia

1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup cacao
1 tbsp vanilla powder
1 tsp salt

1. Soak the walnuts, almonds, buckwheat, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.  For individual instructions of each of these, see note at the bottom of this post.
2. One at a time, pulse the walnuts and almonds into buckwheat sized chunks in a food processor. 
3. Put all the nuts and seeds into a large bowl.  

4. Place the coconut oil (and honey, if it's hard) in the dehydrator to melt.
5. Combine the honey, coconut oil, cacao, vanilla and salt.
6. Pour over nut mixture and mix well.  
7. Add the shredded coconut and chia seeds and mix.

8. Spread out over two dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 105 degrees for at least 24 hours, or until crunchy (the almonds especially, will need significant time to dehydrate - you can speed up the time it takes to dehydrate this recipe by using previously soaked and dehydrated almonds and walnuts in this recipe.)

9. Enjoy on it's own or with your favourite fresh nut milk andfresh berries poured over it!

A note on soaking nuts and seeds:

Nuts and seeds are covered in naturally occurring phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors to protect them until they find themselves deep under the ground prepared to sprout and grow.  In the moist, dark underground these protections are released from the dormant seed, and the seed becomes 'live' again and grows. 

In their dormant state, nuts and seeds can be difficult to digest at best, and toxic at worst. We learned just how bad the nuts' protection can be when we started soaking nuts last year.  Thinking we would otherwise be wasting the soak water, we began watering our house plants with it.  It killed our previously thriving plants in a matter of days. 

By soaking and rinsing nuts and seeds you release the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, bringing the life back into them, and create a living, nutrient rich food to eat.  There are varying opinions on how best to soak and sprout nuts and seeds, but this is the method I follow for each on in this recipe:

Walnuts - Place in bowl with about twice the volume of the nuts and cover with filtered water.  Soak 8-12 hours.  Rinse and use in recipe, freeze for future recipe, or dehydrate.

Almonds - Place in bowl with about twice the volume of the nuts and cover with filtered water.  Soak at least 12 hours.  Rinse and use in recipe, freeze for future recipe, or dehydrate.

Buckwheat - Place in bowl with about twice the volume of the buckwheat and cover with filtered water.  Soak over night.  Rinse very well (buckwheat gets very starchy).  Leaving the rinsed buckwheat in a sieve, place over a bowl and cover with a clean dish towel.  Rinsing occasionally (2-3 times a day) let sit for two days, or until the buckwheat starts to sprout, and the sprouts are as long as the buckwheat themselves.  Use in recipe, freeze for future recipe, or dehydrate.

Sunflower seeds - Follow the same instructions as the buckwheat.

Pumpkin seeds - Follow the same instructions as the buckwheat, but only sprout or an additional 24 hours after soaking.  Pumpkin seeds will not sprout long sprouts. 

Watch to make sure that whatever you are soaking does not go bad.  You know it has if it starts to smell or gets slimey.  Throw away rotten nuts and seeds as they will not be good for you. 

19 May 2012

Raw Tamari Almonds

I like fresh almonds, but I LOVE tamari almonds!  It only recently occurred to me how ridiculously easy making raw tamari almonds will be.  This is not really a recipe, more of a 'how-to,' and a very easy how-to at that.  This is a great, healthy snack to have around - but I promise it won't stick around for long, because it's so delicious.

4 cups of raw almonds
1/4 cup of nama shoyu (or other soy sauce product - Bragg's Liquid Aminos, Tamari, etc.)

1. Soak almonds for 12 hours to remove the enzyme inhibitor, phytic acid, and improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
2. Drain almonds and rinse well.
3. Place almonds in a bowl and add nama shoyu.  Stir well and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes, stirring often. I did this in a container with a lid and shook the almonds to coat. 
4.  Drain the excess nama shoyu and place the almonds on a deyhdrator tray. Dehydrate at 105 degrees for at least 24 hours, or until very crunchy. 
5. Enjoy!

18 May 2012

A Day in the life of a "Raw-Foodist"

Okay, while I know you are all just dying to see more pictures of my sweet little Atticus, I am going to instead inundate you with raw food info this weekend.  I figure you will either be ready to take the plunge, or never want to hear the words raw and food side by side again by the end of the weekend. I've been asked by friends to provide it so often, and with Atticus soundly asleep on my shoulders, so I can't do anything else at the moment, now's the time.

There are many ways to eat raw, but Jared and I have kind of fallen into our groove of how to do it, and do it easily.  So, here's what we do:

Breakfast: Jared is the smoothie chef (mine are usually much "greener" than his, so he's happy to take over the smoothie making).  He makes an entirely full Vita-Mix container of green smoothie every morning, and we split it between us.  We drink our smoothies first, before we eat anything else for the day.  I will often make another throughout the day and split it with the boys, who love, love, love smoothies.  Our typical green smoothie consists of half of a 1 lb package of organic spinach (or about half of the Vita-mix, tightly packed with any other greens we happen to have), two bananas, frozen fruit, some powdered probiotics and magnesium, and occasionally a pack or two of Emergen-C, if we are fighting something off.  We add water to consistency, and blend it up!  Delish.  Smoothies are a great way to use fruit and veggies that are going bad.  If my apples are getting a bit wrinkly, I throw them in a smoothie.  If I have some cilantro left over from salsa I made a few nights before, a cilantro smoothie it is!  Even avocados are great in smoothie form.  If you are scared of drinking your greens, I suggest starting with spinach with lots of fruit, as it's the most mild green.

Lunch: Usually leftovers from the night before.  I'm not a big fan of leftovers, so I often have a bowl of granola or muesli, topped with some fresh almond milk and lots of fresh or frozen berries, or just snack throughout the day on fruit and veggies with raw almond butter. 

Dinner: We always have a big salad - and I mean HUGE.  I typically fill my entire dinner plate with salad before I eat anything else.  There are many great raw dressing recipes, but Jared often just makes a oil and vinegar type dressing with all sorts of herbs in it.  Then we usually have a raw dish as well, our favourites being: mock tuna or chicken salad in lettuce wraps, quiche, tomato soup, tacos, falafel and mango chutney, nut or beet burgers, nori wraps (sushi)... Oh, there's so much more, but those are a few of our staples. 

And, we always have dessert!  Banana chocolate smoothies, chocolate chia puddings, fudge, brownies, chocolate ganache, or even just apples and almond butter.

Throughout the day we snack as much as we feel we need to.  Yesterday when I was talking about food prep I mentioned the things I always have on the go or prepared.  That mostly consists of snack food (and onion bread):  kale chips, crackers made from dressings and sauces, granola of any sort, tamari almonds, macaroons, even just a handful of nuts and dried fruit.  I have jars of soaked and dehydrated nuts, ready to grab for a quick snack.

And that's about it.  Because my boys don't eat 100% raw with us, I usually make them something besides our meal.  I am trying to keep them away from wheat in general, and prepare them fresh food as well.  If we are having raw tacos, they will have taco salad with corn chips.  Or, I will often cook up some rice, quinoa or other grain, chop up any and all fresh veggies in my food processor, make a raw peanut sauce or curry sauce, and throw it all together.  Rice noodles with raw marinara or alfredo sauce is definitely a fan favourite.  My boys are self proclaimed "salad monsters," so they love it.

17 May 2012

Let Them Eat Raw!

The Wiebe family (and my extended Evans clan) has been eating Raw again for three weeks.

This time a few more of my sisters are joining in the party.  It occurs to me, having done this for long enough, that there are some things about raw food that are learned, not inherent.  My sisters have been calling and texting me, asking questions about this recipe, or that challenge, and it amazes me how much of it is stuff I just don't think about any more.  I could seriously do this in my sleep, almost...

So I thought I'd put together a little how-to of my take on raw; a resource for anyone wanting to know more about eating and preparing raw, living food.

1. Fancy kitchen tools are not necessary, but awful nice when eating raw.  I'm sure I would survive, but my life is infinitely better because of my Vita-Mix, dehydrator and food processor.  Everything else can kick it, but those three kitchen gadgets are pretty imperative to making raw food prep easy.  Of course a regular blender could work, and you certainly don't need a really expensive dehydrator, but some variation of those three tools is pretty imperative. 

2. You have to accept that things, while called "Mock Tuna" or "Onion Bread," will taste nothing at all like tuna or bread.  This is a completely different way of eating, and the things you will eat are completely different.  If you do give it an honest try, you will be amazed at how quickly your palate changes, and how things you didn't love to begin with taste wonderful as you develop in this way of eating.  When I started eating raw in January of 2011 I absolutely hated anything that tasted "fishy."  I never even ate vegetarian sushi because the sea weed would make me gag.  After about a month of raw food, trying the different sea weed recipes, I can happily say that real raw sushi is one of my favourite dishes.  My tastes changed fairly quickly, and I am glad that I can palate so much more now.

3.  If you are hungry, EAT!  Raw food is digested so much quicker than starchy, cooked food.  That means that you have to eat more often than you may be used to. The good thing is, there is very little raw food that will make you fat, and even the desserts are healthy for you!  So, if you find your breakfast smoothie doesn't satisfy you through to lunch, eat!  Whip up some chia pudding, or have a sliced apple with raw almond butter.  Don't be afraid of eating raw fudge brownies for a mid morning snack.  Eating raw is not a diet, it is a lifestyle, and it will be very hard to stick with it if you find yourself starving all the time.  The food is delicious, so don't be afraid to enjoy!

4.  When making raw recipes, don't be afraid to change it in basically any way you want.  I look at some of the recipes that I have posted here, and am amazed at how differently I make them now.  I add cinnamon and vanilla and just about any dried fruit I have in my house to my muesli (which I don't roll the oats anymore, I chop them in my food processor), I cut out almost half of the nuts in my granola and add sprouted buckwheat instead.  Really, you can change them up in a plethora or ways.  And the best part is, it's incredibly hard to mess it up. There is not chemical reaction, very little consistency considerations, just a lot of finger tasting to see if you've got it according to your liking.  So, if you don't like gogi berries in a gogi berry granola recipe, just switch them up for golden berries, or raisins, or fresh raspberries.  If you don't have any hemp oil, but you do have macadamia oil, or even olive oil, just replace it.  The possibilities are endless!  I always tell Jared, raw food is not a science, it's an art.  Let's all say that together now: Raw food is not a science, it's an ART!

5.  The most important thing to know when experimenting with recipes is how to balance the five flavours.  Basically, if a recipe contains an array of the five flavours, sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter, you will feel much more satisfied and not need to go hunting for more after a meal.  So, when making raw food remember this:

Excess sour is balanced by sweet
Overly bitter is balanced by sour
Fats tone down spices, and mellow too much sweetness
And, salt brings out flavors

So, if you add too much hot pepper to your chili recipe, mellow it out with some more oils. There are very few recipes that are truly ruined by adding too much of one thing, because you can just balance it by adding another ingredient, and in the process make something wonderful!  For more information on this, I find this web page helpful.

6. And finally (for now), for those daunted by the amount of preparation that is required by raw foods, let me tell you that it gets much easier.  Any real food prep takes time (and I'm not talking about boiling some noodles and dumping in a jar of processed tomato sauce.)  If you are committed to ousting processed food and increasing your awareness of what you are putting in your body, you are going to have to spend more time in the kitchen.  The difference with raw food is you just have to put that time in much earlier.  Because you have to soak and sprout many things you will eat, you sometimes have to start 5 days ahead to make a meal. It doesn't mean you spend five days making it - you take five minutes to soak the almonds, a few more to rinse them, 20 minutes to prepare the dish, and then it sits in the dehydrator until you are ready to eat it.  My point is, it doesn't take a whole lot more time, but it does take some forethought and planning.  My suggestion for this is to meal plan, and give yourself some time every day to think about what you might need for your meals in the days to come and start preparing for them. You will find as you become more accustomed to your favourite meals, you will not have to do as much.  I just always have certain things on the go, or make big batches and freeze things for later use.

That's all for now, folks.  I hope it has helped those that have asked me for some starting suggestions.  If you are looking for recipes my favourite books are:

Raw Food, Real World
Everyday Raw and anything else by Matthew Kenney

There is also lots of good information on line, including some delicious recipes.  Feel free to check out my recipes for a few suggestions too, or check out my raw food Pinterest board, where I've pinned some recipes that I'm working through (but be careful, because some of them are not raw, just inspirations for things I will/have made raw).

14 May 2012

The Birth Story of Atticus Booth Wiebe

Disclaimer: This is a birth story, chalk full of words like placenta, mucus plug and vagina.  There are pictures of my labour in it.  Please don't read it if you are uncomfortable with such things.  I promise, you can't un-read it. 

The story of Atticus’s birth most certainly did not begin when the first contraction hit.  No, it started with the birth of my first son, Eli, in 2007.  Born by caesarean section, Eli’s birth, unavoidable though it was, was disappointing, to say the least.  We had planned on having a peaceful homebirth.  We had attended a Bradley Method Childbirth class, I took all the vitamins I was supposed to, agreed to all the tests, did my exercises every night, and yet, my waters broke five weeks early, and four and a half days later, at 5 cm dilated and a distressed fetal heart rate, we reluctantly decided that our little one needed to come out, and by caesarean it must be.  It turned out that Eli was very caught up in the umbilical cord. So much so, that he could not descend, could not put pressure on my cervix, and therefore my body never went into labour.  When I did begin to have mild contractions, the pressure put on him tightened the cord around his neck, which caused his heart rate to reach dangerously low levels.  The caesarean was a blessing, despite it being the farthest from my birth plan. And it's funny how, almost 5 years later, the caesarean is not just something that happened to me, it is very much a part of me, and will be for the rest of my life.

That is why, when I got pregnant with Silas almost two years later, I knew I wanted to have a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean).  The majority of people believe that “once a caesarean, always a caesarean.”  However, I knew enough to know that multiple caesareans limit the number of children you can have, increase the risks of scar rupture, ectopic pregnancy, placenta previa, placental abruption, placenta accrete and uterine rupture, among other things. I did my research.  Unfortunately, I was a Canadian living in Michigan on a student’s budget.  We could not afford to pay for American maternity health care, and being a VBAC I didn’t want to risk hiring a homebirth midwife and having to transfer to the hospital and pay out of pocket for another caesarean.  So, instead we found a midwife in Windsor, Ontario, directly across the border from Detroit, and about 45 minutes from our home.  We traveled to and from Windsor for all our prenatal appointments and planned on having our VBAC baby in a hotel in Windsor, the closest thing to a homebirth we could manage, given the circumstances.  Well, it turns out that traveling across international borders and booking into a hotel are activities not conducive to labour.  I stalled multiple times, but not enough for me to get a good night's sleep.  After two days of off and on contractions, my body actually kicked it into active labour, but I was so exhausted and uncomfortable that I thought I was going to die.  At the first suggestion of going to the hospital to get some relief I foolishly agreed. I didn’t know how much I didn’t want to be in a hospital setting, and being there did nothing to help my labour along.  Despite my apparent eagerness to have an epidural, I did get to 10 cm and pushing without medication.  But, when I was directed to push, because I had no urge, I couldn’t even fathom where that energy would come from.  I was so exhausted from the 2 ½ days of labour that I couldn’t do it.  An epidural was administered so that I could rest and then hopefully push the baby out. I rested, I pushed, and pushed, and pushed, but baby never came.  An OB was called in to consult and adamantly suggested I have an immediate repeat caesarean.  I refused.  She persisted.  So did I.  She finally agreed to trying a forcep delivery, but cautioned me on all the risks (she didn’t do the same about the caesarean.)  In all my research I hadn’t looked up forceps, but it sounded better to me than another caesarean, so I agreed.  In the operating room my dear sweet Silas was born in three pushes with the help of two episiotomies and the forceps 53 hours after my first contraction.  I was in far worse shape physically and emotionally after his birth than Eli’s.  Despite the fact that I had my VBAC, I felt that my body had truly failed me, for this time it was my body’s fault, not uncontrollable circumstance. 

This sentiment lingered after Silas’s birth.  Through 1 year of physiotherapy to manage the damage to my pelvic floor, through doctors visits where I was told that some women just couldn’t labour naturally, through constant self talk about what I did and didn’t do in Silas’s labour to get to where I got, through it all I remained disappointed with the outcome, and my body.  But, knowing I still wanted more children, I again began on the path of figuring out how I could do it differently.  I decided to pursue becoming a doula, a professional birth assistant, in an attempt to help other women where I felt I had lacked.  Through the reading material required to certify as a doula, and attending multiple births of incredible women, I was able to absorb the knowledge, conviction, and experience that I somehow lacked before.  I also found that as I was able to “mother” those mothers through their labours, I found healing in my own soul and gained a trust in the woman and her body.  

So, when I got pregnant again, just as I had done before, I decided that I needed to do things completely different.  I needed, more than anything, to trust in my body, to throw out all those fears and opinions, and allow my body to do exactly what it was supposed to do.  With incredible midwives I started my journey. I refused every routine test, knowing that my body was doing exactly what it needed to nourish and care for the baby inside me.  I didn’t use the Doppler at my appointments to hear the baby’s heart beat, instead trusting that the feelings inside of me indicated far more than a heart rate could.  I had a “pants on policy,” and never had a vaginal check through my pregnancy or labour.  I had no ultrasounds.  I ate well, remembering to take my vitamins when I happened to.  I never officially weighed myself.  I didn’t do chiropractics and acupuncture, as I had promised myself I would after Silas’s birth.  I just trusted, trusted in my body, and in God, that I was meant to do what I wanted to do.  I even decided that I would not hire a doula, as I had saved for and planned, because I didn’t want anyone at my labour besides my family. I wanted to allow my body to do what it could do without any unnecessary encouragement or intervention.
Throughout my pregnancy I visualized my ideal birth, in my home with just me, Jared, the boys, and my sister Chloe (to take pictures and watch the boys).  I knew I wanted the midwives there, but ideally wanted to call on them only as I was pushing.  They would come in, make sure all was well (which it would be) and leave.  Perfect. I felt that having a peaceful birth with my boys there would somehow help me, and them, heal from the trauma that marked their births. 

And that brings me to being 39 weeks pregnant.  Huge.  Tired. Sore.  Knowing that I was ready to go just as long as baby needed to be in there, but praying that he or she wouldn’t wait too long. On the morning of the 10th of April I woke up with the first more powerful pressure waves.  I didn’t time them or think much of it, I just noticed that they were stronger than the weeks and months of Braxton Hicks I’d been having.  They continued very sporadically through the day, but never strong enough to stop activity or make be believe anything was about to happen. Jared, the boys, and I went to my midwife appointment that evening, at 6 pm.  It was only the second Jared had been to, as all the rest had been during working hours.  He had come to my very first appointment back in September.  I was measuring 38-39 weeks along, we could hear baby’s heart beat through the stethoscope (in the 140’s), Wendy, the midwife, took my blood pressure (96/60), and besides that we were sent on our way.  As we left we joked that hopefully we would see her next at our house, and not at the following week’s appointment. We stopped at my mom and dad’s on our way home to say hi and chatted for a few hours.  Eli showed them how he could ride his big boy bike, which he had learned just that weekend.  When we got home Jared put the boys to bed while I checked my emails/Mothering/Ravelry, etc. and I noticed a few more strong contractions while I sat on the couch.  We went to bed at 10 pm, joking that we had better get a good night’s sleep, just in case.  Besides the few contractions, I had had no signs of impending labour, and no reason to think that that would be the night.  

From my labour journal:

At 11:30 I woke up with a few contractions.  They were not incredibly strong, and I’ve had many just like them in the previous weeks, so I tried to fall back asleep.  I was able to rest between them, but by 12:30 am I realized that they were still going, and quite regular.  I had to pee, so I decided to get up and time the contractions for a bit.  I used the contraction timer app on my cell phone.  For a half hour they were 4-5 minutes apart and about 1 minute and 10 seconds long.  They were still not painful in any way, but definitely stronger than they had been when I first woke up. I am pretty sure that this is it.  

There are a few things I want to do during this labour, so before I wake up Jared I am going to put on my Grandma Jackson’s necklace that she gave me for my university graduation.  I want her strength during this labour.  I’m very excited to welcome this little one into the world!  I’m mostly excited that he/she has decided to come BEFORE my mom leaves for Paris on Saturday.

1:00 am - The pressure waves are still very tolerable, but the last three have been only 3 minutes apart.  I realize that this may go faster than I think. (I had figured that I’d call Chloe in the morning, but maybe I will sooner.) In any case, I wake up Jared to help me tidy the house and prep the pool for what seemed imminent.  The boys had been playing LEGO earlier that day and I didn’t want to step on any pieces in the heat of labour! 

2:00 am – The pool is filling, Hypnobabies is playing in the background, the floor is even swept! I feel unsure of how fast I am going. I don’t know if I should call Chloe or not yet. I don’t want to call the midwives until I’m absolutely sure – and I know I’m not there yet. 

Contractions seemed to have slowed down in frequency over the last 45 minutes (although I will not time them again), but increased in intensity.  I have been singing and humming made up lullabies to my baby through them, which has helped.  After everything is prepped I think I will lie in the bath tub and try to get some rest. 

While the pool was filling we lay down in bed for a bit, but before long I couldn’t even pretend to be resting and NEEDED to move.

3:45 am - I felt that things were moving along quickly enough and finally got in the tub.  Contractions were definitely more intense, and at first didn’t seem much better in the water.  At about 4 am I feel like I’m going to puke, so Jared grabbed me a bowl to use.  I cleared out everything in my stomach.  Eli woke up and came out.  So as not to frighten him I concentrated very hard through a few contractions (which I had been vocalizing very loudly through) and was able to manage them a lot better.  I found that counting through them in my head and aloud helped, as they were generally peaking at about 30 seconds.  I knew if I could get to 30 they would subside.  I had to get out of the pool every 45 minutes or so to go to the bathroom.  Jared lay down with the boys and I spent a lot of time just labouring on my own, resting between contractions.  At some point I asked Jared to give me a blessing, which he did, over the side of the pool.  

5:45 - I got out to pee and decided to stay out for a bit, worried that the pool was slowing things 

6:00 am – I vomited again.  This time I was out of the pool, so I just heaved over the toilet. I texted Chloe to tell her to call in sick for work – and to come over as soon as she was up and ready.  She works for my dad, so I wasn’t surprised when my mom called at 6:30 to say she could come by to help any time.  

I spent the next bit labouring in the bathroom.  Silas woke up and came into our room, where Eli had spent most of the night.  He came in crying “Me want my Ee-I.”  He lay in the bed for a while, watching what was going on. When I felt I could I went and laid with him for a while, getting my last cuddle with my “baby.”  It wasn’t long before I couldn’t lie there any more, for contractions were too strong.  

6:45 am – I got back in the pool, but had to get out shortly after to pee again.  At this point I lost my mucus plug in it’s entirety.  I got back in the pool, closed my eyes, and laboured very internally for the next bit.  At some point Chloe showed up.  She was taking pictures, but my eyes were closed, so I didn’t notice much.  The boys woke up and Jared and Chloe made them French toast.  I noticed that I didn’t like the smell, but it didn’t bother me enough to come out of my reverie.  I was surprised each time I decided to open my eyes how bright it had gotten.  It seemed that it was suddenly morning.  I felt things were getting very intense, and every time I knew a contraction was coming I would call, “Jared” and he would come running over to hold me while I was having the contraction. Then he would go back to caring for the boys. 

8:00 am – I finally decided it was time to call the midwives and let them know what was going on.  I figured they would be up anyway by that point.  I still didn’t want them here, but wanted to give them a heads up.  Jared called the pager and Wendy called back.  I heard him tell her that contractions were 5-8 minutes apart and pretty strong.  I knew that he was painting a much prettier picture than it really was, that they were much closer and harder than he described, but didn’t correct him, as I didn’t want them to worry and want to come. He told Wendy that we would call back when we were ready for her to come. 

Shortly after that contractions intensified greatly!  

At 8:30, in the pool, I told Jared that I either had to poo, or push, so I got out to see if it was poo.  I had never felt the urge to push, and I liked knowing what my body was doing.  I apparently went through transition at the same moment, because on the toilet (where I didn’t poo) I had a break down.  My sister Alice came over while I was sitting there and I really felt like I was loosing it.  Jared had gotten on the phone with his office to let them know he wasn’t coming in, and I told her to tell him to get off the phone right then!  I also told her she should leave, as I didn’t want her to see me like that.  The boys had been a little distracting, so she said that she would take them with her and bring them back as soon as I wanted them (she lives just down the street.)  Alice said that Chloe would stay out of the way, and be there when I needed her.  I didn’t feel that she was in the way, but she seemed to come and go just as she needed.  

After Jared got off the phone with his work, he called Wendy again.  He told her what I had said about pooing or pushing (at that point I knew it was definitely pushing) and she said she would head right over.  

I got back in the pool and between the next two contractions I felt a gentle “pop” and knew that my water had broke. It was 8:46. I asked Jared to check and see if the water was clear.  He said he couldn’t see anything, so I knew there was no meconium.  At this point my body started pushing.  Nothing too strong, but after the peak of the contraction I would feel my body doing what it was meant to do.  I was sitting in the pool kind of sideways and Jared said I should move around, but I liked where I was.  I would lift my leg as my body pushed, and would involuntarily grunt little short grunts as it did it.  

The other midwife, Carol, a close friend, called at 8:51.  Apparently Wendy had called her and they had agreed to switch off clinic duty for coming to my birth.  She was on her way.  She could hear me in the background and asked Jared if he wanted her to stay on the line as she drove, afraid I may have the baby before she got there.  I was having a contraction and said “NO!” and Jared got off the phone and came to me.  

I continued to work through contractions and let my body push when it did. 

Carol got there at 9:04 am.  I don’t know if it was after she got there, or shortly before, but I was feeling like this could go on forever and there was no way I could finish it.  Now that I look back I see that fears from Silas’s labour were creeping up.  Thus far I had done so well trusting my body and my instincts, but for some reason, with Carol there, I felt like there was no way I could do what I was about to do. It seemed more real than it had yet. I said to Carol, “I lie to all those moms, and YOU DO TOO!” To which she replied, “No, I say it hurts like hell.”  I told her to “Push it back in! I don’t want it out.”  When she told me that the baby was right there and I could reach down and feel his head, I said, “No, I know, I can feel it, it’s in my vagina!” Carol and Jared talked me down from some of those fears, trying not to laugh.  For two contractions I cried that I couldn’t do it, that I didn’t want to do it, that the baby could stay in there forever, etc.  Then, about halfway through the next contraction I changed my mind and realized that I could, or that I had no choice, so I may as well. I went from whimpering “I can’t, I can’t” to saying, “I can, I can” and with that contraction I pushed the baby’s head out. 

 At some point Carol had asked me to reach down and feel the baby’s head.  I ended up supporting my own perineum at the top, while Carol did so at the bottom.  As I was pushing the head out Carol told me to slow down. I’d been at another birth with Carol and knew how valuable this advice was in preventing tearing, so while I wasn’t necessarily “pushing” when she was telling me to, I did consciously stop pushing when she said.  Once baby’s head was out I felt my body give one more push, in the same contraction, and the rest of the body slipped out at 9:23 am on April 11, exactly 19 minutes after the midwife showed up.  I reached down into the water and pulled out my new little one. 

I couldn’t believe it.  I just cried, “I did it, I did it.”  Finally my body had done what I knew it could do.  I wasn’t broken!  I didn’t even care if I was holding a baby boy or girl, I just rubbed, and kissed, and loved my little water baby.  After a few minutes I finally lifted my little one up to see that I had another boy!!! The boys walked in about 5 minutes after the baby was born to meet their new little brother, and were completely in love, just like me and Jared were. 

 With both Eli and Silas I remember exactly my first thought when I saw them.  With Eli it was – where’d he get those lips? And with Silas it was – he looks just like Bradley.  With this little one, I don’t remember anything but pure ecstasy.    I was just so happy to have done it.  Once I knew he was a boy, my first thought was – we don’t have a boy name.  

We stayed in the pool for about a half an hour, waiting for the placenta to be delivered.  Again, I wanted my body to do it on it’s own, so we waited patiently, filling the pool with some more hot water so that the baby wouldn’t get cold.  He was so calm and alert, looking at his brothers and new world with his dark eyes.  He floated in the water he was born in, happy as anything. I nursed him in the pool to try to get the placenta moving.  He latched on like a champ.  I delivered the placenta at 9:41.  Carol wanted to cut the cord, but I said I wasn’t ready yet.  I really wanted to call the shots, even on this.  At 9:50 I was feeling ready to get out of the tub and so Eli and Jared cut the cord and I passed the baby off to his dad.  

Delivering at home was such an amazing experience.  With both Eli and Silas I was so anxious about my new baby.  Because both were born on the operating table, I wasn’t the first to hold them.  Numerous doctors poked and prodded both of them before I even got to take a look. They were both placed in my arms after they were wiped clean, diapered and wrapped up. I would never have calmly walked into a different room, because I was afraid that some nurse would give my baby formula or something. In both cases Jared was under direction to not worry about me and to not leave the baby’s side.  At home everything was different. No one held my baby until I was ready.  Only Jared and the boys even touched him while he floated in the pool.  Once I got out I had no worries about who would take my baby or what they would do to him.  By that time Alice, Chloe, my mom and my family were all there.  Any of them could hold the baby, and I wasn’t concerned.  I was so peaceful and so calm about it.  

 Despite the fact that I had a few minutes of fear and worry before I pushed the baby out, the entire experience was completely empowering and faith promoting.  I managed the entire labour without pain medication, only using Rescue Remedy and Arnica.  The only part I found at all painful was the last hour, and everything disappeared as soon as I held the baby in my arms. While I can’t say that it was comfortable, as my Hypnobabies programming had told me it would be, using the Hypnobabies definitely helped me. Every time a track ran out I noticed immediately and felt way better when we turned the next one on.  I was able to use my peace and release cues to calm myself throughout.   

 What really kept me focused and calm though was the fact that I was on my own, unwatched and uncoached. I was able to, just as I wanted, labour on my own, trusting my body and my instincts.  No one was there to give suggestions that, however well intended, were not what I needed. The entire experience was very primal, incredibly internal, and totally beautiful.  Is it wrong to say that I’m excited to do it all over again, this time armed with the absolute knowledge that I can do it, and do it amazingly well? 

After I got out of the pool, onto my bed, the midwives checked me and I didn’t tear at all, only had a little rub.  Someone brought Atticus into me and he nursed again, side-lying, like he’d been doing it for ages.  I immediately felt better than I had in months, or even years.  It was hard to believe that I had just had a baby!  

Things I want to remember from the birth:

Eli waking up and watching me in the tub.  Going back to bed twice, and then finally falling asleep in our bed, telling daddy that “Kids need to get sleep when babies are coming, right?”  Wanting to be so helpful and involved. Taking a few pictures, but being too tired to really notice what was going on. 

Silas waking up much later (6 am-ish) and coming into our room crying, “I want my Ee-I!”   Crawling into our bed with his big brother and falling right asleep.  Me lying down with him while I was out of the tub and having a last cuddle with my “Baby.”  Contractions slowing just enough that I actually get a chance to do it. 

Thinking calmly and clearly enough to know when to call the midwives, that I didn’t need them sooner, and what I would do if baby came before they did.  Calmly told Jared to check if the fluids were clear when my water broke.  Was ready to have Jared check if there was a cord around baby’s neck if he came out before the midwives got here.  Knew when my body was pushing and just let it happen.  Trusted in my body and what it could do.

At the same time, I felt an unconscious fear that this labour would be as long and miserable as Silas’s.  Through transition I thought it would last forever.  And, although I felt the urge to push so strongly I couldn’t resist, I was worried that I would be pushing for hours. With Si I pushed for 2 ½ hours.  With this baby, I never did push, my body just “expelled” him. 

An hour after Atticus was born, a woman stopping by with her 3 week old baby for my cancelled LLL meeting. After Alice explained that we had just had a baby, her picking up her car seat to leave and Silas screaming, “HEY! That guy stealing our baby!” It sure didn’t take him long to know that he was a big brother and needed to protect his new little charge.

11 May 2012

He Who Must Not Be Named

Sometimes babies are born that don't have names. It's not because those babies are so terrible that no one dare speak their name. It's just because they don't have names yet.  That's all. 

Their mothers don't love them any less, I promise.

After one long month of deliberating between "Baby Brother" and "Crossbow," this little one of ours has finally found his name.

Silas was upset that we didn't pick "Baby Brother" - that or he's been sick for two days and didn't want to get out of his pajamas.  The sun beam shining down on Atticus proves just how angelic he is. Too bad for the rest of the babies out there, they don't get golden rays of light following them around.

For those wanting to know "Why?", I'll tell you.

Atticus after Atticus Finch in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, one of my favourite books of all time. He's a lawyer: Jared likes that.  I've always wanted to name a girl Harper, but I've become convinced that I won't ever make a girl, so Atticus climbed the charts instead.  Actually, I had another name that I really really loved, but when it came down to it, this baby just wasn't that name.  As much as I tried, I just couldn't call him that name. Atticus just kept slipping out.  So, I guess you could say he named himself, as I knew he would.  He's super advanced, you know.

Booth (rhymes with smooth) is the name of my grandma's brother, my great grandpa's middle name, and my great-great-great-great grandma's maiden name (she was not only very great, but pretty spectacular also, I'm sure.)  I like family, and family names. 

And that's it.  It took a month. Get over it.  But, feel free to love it!

08 May 2012

Sit back and snare a gopher

It occurs to me sometimes that there is a whole lot more I could be doing with my boys.  There is preschool, swim lessons, zoo programs, art classes.  There's gymnastics and baseball, soccer and tumbling. Even around the house I could be doing weekly letters and themed activities.  My Eli is almost five, and while he could count to 10 at 18 months, he hasn't gotten much beyond that.  There is a whole lot out there, and not much of it do we do.  Sometimes I feel guilty about it. Maybe we would be better off getting up and going to some lesson or another, rather than sitting around all morning eating breakfast slowly and playing lego.  Maybe the boys would have a happier summer at the lake if only I had them in swim lessons all year long. 

And then, we go out to the farm to do a whole lot of nothing, and Eli spends half an hour staring at a gopher hole.

And catches a frog in the grass, calmly examining it before he "lets it go back to it's family."

And in the meantime, Silas quietly and independently crawls over piles of wood, up mountains of dirt, and in and out of barb wire fences, staring down horses in the way.   

 And to some, racing off to swim lessons and gymnastics club, this may not seem very productive or educational, but to me it was absolutely beautiful. They will learn to swim this summer when they see all their cousins jumping in the lake.  You should see their tumbling acts as they wrestle on my bed every morning. Next week I may work on the alphabet, and counting past ten, and writing their names.  This week we're going to work on nothing, and enjoy every minute of it. 

And in case you wondered what Baby Brother was doing, he was going for his first horseback ride, just as you would expect a boy of mine to do.

05 May 2012

For the record, the WINNER is...

Remember when I asked you to guess when baby would be here? 

Well, in case you were wondering who guessed the best..

Cheryl and Alice both won. 

Alice guessed: Boy, April 13, 8lb 8oz. Bald.
And Cheryl guessed: April 10, female, 8 pds

He Who Must Not Be Named was: Boy, April 11, 8 lbs 2 oz.  

What did you win? My love and adoration!  Yeah for you two!

To do...

Saturday May 5, 2012

My To Do List today:

1. Dig out the winter clothes, which we JUST packed up, so the boys can go out and play in the snow storm going on outside. 

2. Clean the garage. 
- Not going to happen - see item #1

3. Go shopping for more produce. We go through it like... like... herbivores.

4. Sand down the top of the kitchen table for refinishing.
- Maybe next weekend - again, see item #1.

5. Name the baby.
- ...

6. Teach the baby to talk so he can name himself.

Well, 2 out of 6 aint bad... right?

03 May 2012

There's a RAW-volution going on

For anyone that's known me for more than a year, you'll know that last year my mom, Jared and I did a 30 day Raw Food Challenge, which turned into about 6 months of us eating pretty exclusively raw.  It was fantastic.

Then... I got pregnant.  And, for the next 9 months I pretty much ate whatever I felt like, whenever I felt like it.  I'd like to blame my amazing ability to put on pounds in pregnancy on genetics, but I think it has more to do with the late night ice cream runs and the indulgences all along the way.

Seeing as summer (and the cabin!) is just 2 months away, and I'd like to naturally and healthily drop the extra weight I'm carrying, two weeks ago Jared and I started eating raw again.

Now, lest I seem totally vain and only concerned about my appearance, let me tell you another story - the story of baby brother and his terrible skin!  When baby was born his skin was already pretty dry. Even though he was only 39 weeks gestation, he was definitely full term. He had no vernix left on him to protect him.  In the days that followed his already dry skin broke out into a horrible rash, with little sores all over his body.  I couldn't help but notice that the rash was aggravated when I ate certain things.  I'm not entirely certain, but I think MSG, gluten, and refined sugar were the main culprits.

So, with a baby covered in sores, and a lot of weight to be lost, we have embarked on another raw food adventure!  It was hard for the first week or so, but I think that I have fallen back into the good habits I developed last year, and I'm finding it's no trouble at all. It helps that I already know the recipes and the work involved in each.  We've basically just picked a few of our favourites, and will recycle them over and over for two months.  There are a few more involved recipes that I will tackle every once in a while, but basically, we will stick with the simple.

I do love opening my fridge and seeing it full of fresh fruits and veggies (you will notice some non-raw things in there too: they are for the boys, who are not eating only raw.)

And, really, there's nothing to complain about when this is what you get to eat.  That's a cauliflower couscous salad, onion bread with cashew quiche, and some veggies (or are avocados and tomatoes fruit? I never know.)


And, what really makes raw food not just bearable, but delightful: raw desserts!

Auntie Phoebe came home from Paris where she's been for the semester, and I made this raw strawberry cheesecake to celebrate. It was, I assure you, absolutely delish. In fact, it's all I ate for lunch the next day.

The boys (excepting Silas, who was in the worst mood in the world) were as excited to see Phoebe as I was to see the strawberry cheesecake. Welcome home, Phoe.  


Related Posts with Thumbnails