Thursday, June 30, 2016

Rose's Birth Story

Rose was born November 18th 2013 at 4:42am. She weighed 8lbs even, and was 19.5 inches long. I had a pretty short labor for a first time mom. My labor was only 8-9 hours long. I could not have done one second of it without RJ. He literally held me up though my most intense contractions. I am glad my first L&D went so well and I cannot wait to have more babies!


Halfway through my pregnancy with Rose I watched the film, “The Business of Being Born". After watching it I decided I wanted to have an all natural labor and delivery. I did not want an epidural, and wanted to keep interventions to a minimum. We already had plans to move to Georgia so I found a practice that had midwives and obstetricians there. As much as I liked the idea of having an all natural labor and delivery, I was not prepared to have my baby at home. I also thought a birthing center would be a wonderful place to deliver, but at that time there was not one in the Atlanta area. There is one currently under construction, it should be done within the next few months.   


Women are made to have babies, being pregnant is not a serious medical condition. Women have been having children for thousand and thousands of years, and the human race has not gone extinct yet. Pregnancy, labor, and delivery are all normal, and need minimal medical attention for most women. C-sections are amazing and save lives, but they are performed way too often. Before c-sections were easily accessible, 5-15 percent of women died during childbirth. Only 5-15 percent of women should need c-sections today. The rest of pregnant women these days should be able to deliver vaginally. C-section percentages should not be in the 30’s. In England, where medical care is provided by the government, they have recently begun to encourage women to have home births with midwives. Home births are safe and cost effective. The majority of the world has discovered vaginal birth is beneficial to the mother, baby, and all our pocket books. Why hasn’t America discovered this?


When I was over 8 months pregnant with Rose we moved down to Georgia from Virginia. A day or two after we got here I started to have a cramp in one of my calves. It felt a like a pulled muscle but we were concerned it might be a blood clot. It was warm to the touch and a little red. Blood clots can be pretty dangerous especially for pregnant women, so we packed our bags and went to the ER. When I got admitted my blood pressure was very high, I think it was initially so high because I was nervous. Once I was in a room and settled, my blood pressure came down a little but not as much as they would have liked. The ER doctor administered some meds to help it come down. They performed an ultrasound on my leg, I did not have a blood clot, and the pains in my calf were only a pulled muscle. After that I was moved to labor and delivery, because of my high blood pressure they wanted Rose out.


I had not had my first appointment with the practice I chose. They refused to see me at the hospital because I was not technically their patient yet. There is a different practice who takes in all the stray pregnant women who happen to come to that hospital. It is a really great practice and I still use them almost 3 years later. Because of my blood pressure they decided to try and induce me. I was on pitocin for 12 hours and nothing happened. I didn’t have a single contraction, I didn’t dilate, nothing. At that point everyone decided Rose was not ready to come out and we should step back and slow down. I really did not want a c-section and I expressed this repeatedly. They kept me overnight for observation and one of the doctors spent at least an hour looking at my placental blood flow, making sure everything was alright. Rose was getting plenty of blood, and oxygen. There was nothing concerning about my blood pressure when I was lying down, so they sent me home on bed rest.


Last picture of me pregnant with Rose.
I went for check ups once or twice a week. A few days before I gave birth to Rose one of my midwives stripped my membranes. When I was 39 weeks 4 days, we went to the hospital. I was having mild contractions for about 2 days before I went in. When we got there my midwife said, “You don’t seem like a mom who is in active labor but I will check you.” It turned out I was 4 cm dilated and completely effaced. We did some walking to get contractions really going. My midwife gave me some nubain and it did not have the intended effect. Nubian is supposed to calm you, make you a little loopy and relaxed. I felt very strange and did not like it at all. Once it wore off I was having a really hard time coping with the contractions in the bed. It was then that I thought I might not be able to do this. I remember crying in the bed, telling RJ, “I don’t think I can do this.” I remember the very determined, concerned look he had on his face when he told me, “Yes you can, I know you can.”



Shortly after that I remember them letting me get out of that horrid hospital bed. RJ had blown up my birthing ball and I sat on the ball, leant forward on his knees while he was sitting in a big hospital rocker. I contracted like that for a while, my midwife came in and checked me. I believe was 8cms already, but the way I had been sitting pinched my cervix a bit and it was swollen. She broke my water then, and I switched positions I sat on the birthing ball and leant back on RJ while he was sitting in the rocker. The whole time while I was contracting I went back and forth between the birthing ball and the toilet. Every time I moved I would have a contraction or two. This is when RJ got his work out. I held onto his shoulders, and he held me up through many of my contractions. I believe he was more sore than I was the next day. We should have hired a doula, but I didn’t really think about it. We got a doula for Heather's labor and delivery it was great. A doula is definitely a must no matter how you want to deliver! A doula’s job is to support you no matter what happens. It’s great to have someone who is on your team, and who knows the hospital. A doula also knows what all your choices are, can help you decide what you want, and express that to your nurses, and doctors. Doulas are amazing.


After my midwife broke my water I progressed quite quickly, leaving puddles of amniotic fluid everywhere I went. The first time I felt the “urge to push” I was on the birthing ball leaning back on RJ. I got up and moved to the toilet because the urge to push felt like I had to take a giant shit. Before we went to the toilet I asked our nurse to get the midwife. She seemed to know exactly what I was feeling and I almost didn’t even have to ask her. I was still on the toilet when my midwife came in, she told me they catch first time moms on the toilet at this stage all the time, because of the sensations we get. It was definitely not a giant dump and in fact it was the baby coming. She was right, when I made it back to the bed with a few contractions on the way. I was 10cms and it was time to push.


At the beginning I had a hard time knowing which muscles to tell to push. I tried on my hands and knees for one or two pushes, but that was no good. I flipped over to a reclined sitting position on my left side, the bed had been converted to something that resembled a chair. A nurse brought in a mirror, the mirror did wonders. I am very visual person and seeing which muscles I needed to use helped immensely. I only pushed for 45-60 minutes. When Rose crowned, my midwife told me to breath through the next contraction, and my body would gently push her head out. Before I even felt the contraction, her little head just popped right out! When her head came out her nose was up, in the occiput posterior position (OP), which is not normal. She was not breech, just facing the wrong way up (it’s sometimes called sunny side up). Apparently the majority of the time babies in that position stop progressing and need assistance to come out, or it’s incredibly painful for the mom. It was amazing Rose came out so easily the way she did. No one in the room knew she was OP until her little head popped out.


We were able to do delayed cord clamping, RJ cut it after it was done pulsating. Since Rose came out OP she swallowed a bit of fluid. They rushed the respiratory team in to check on her, within the few minutes it took them to get to our room Rose was acting completely normal. The respiratory team joked she was a diva and wanted extra friends to say hello to. I hemorrhaged a bit after the placenta was delivered. I was given pitocin, and cytotec to help my uterus shrink and contract. The bleeding was quenched pretty quickly and I did not have any ill side effects of it. It was scary though. I was worried I would hemorrhage again with Heather but I did not.


The best part of my entire labor and delivery, was the fact that I did not tear, not even a little. My midwife massaged my perineum, while I was pushing. I think that along with knowing I needed to relax those muscles. The last few weeks of my pregnancy when I was on bed rest I read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. In her book she emphasizes that women’s bodies were made to have babies. We will stretch the way we need to stretch, it's important to believe in your body while you are in labor. Knowing my body was made to have babies, and telling myself, my perineum will stretch and I will not tear helped me allot.


After the respiratory team decided Rose was fine and she was brought back to me, she latched quite well. I wanted to exclusively breastfeed, my mom breastfeed my 3 sisters and me. Rose was a bit jaundiced and had to spend some time under the bili lights. With the jaundice Rose got a bit lazy with her latch, and I had to pump and use a tube with a syringe for a few days. I think by the time she was 2 weeks old she was latching perfectly and doing really well. I absolutely love breastfeeding, I missed it a lot after Rose weaned herself. We were able to breastfeed for about 10-11 months and I loved pretty much every minute of it. I am really enjoying breastfeeding Heather, I hope I can breastfeed her just as long as breastfed Rose!


I got discharged the night before Rose did because of her jaundice, but the hospital let me room in with her. It was probably 12-24 hours after I got discharged that she did.


I am very happy I had a good experience during Rose’s labor and delivery. I got really lucky the midwife who delivered Rose was on call. We had to fight the hospital the entire time. I hate that it’s not typical to have a natural labor and delivery at a hospital. I hope some day it will be, or maybe more birthing centers will be built and women will be given more choices. Luckily with Heather having an all natural labor and delivery was easier than it was with Rose but there are still things in our health system that need to change.

I will post Heather’s birth story in the next few days. As many of you know we had a baby who we discovered was very very sick at our 20 week anatomy scan. We decided to terminate, for my health, and to control the situation as I would have miscarried within the next week or two. It was a very difficult situation and choice we had to make. I do not regret our decision for one second, and if I had to do it over again I would make the exact same choice. I thought I would prepare all my readers because it’s a touchy subject and I didn’t want anyone feeling blindsided. But I do feel like it’s a story that needs to be told and can help a lot of people out there. Be on the lookout for more posts! Let me know if there is anything else you want me to talk about, or any other topics you want to hear me voice my opinion on! I’m really enjoying blogging it’s a great outlet for me lately, and I am excited to keep it up!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Surviving Georgia Summers

Georgia summers are pretty brutal. It’s hot and humid. The second you walk outside you start to sweat. The shade isn’t significantly cooler like it is in the west, because of the humidity. It’s pretty awful. We have learned how to somewhat survive here in the south, here are some of the things we do.


Water


Drink lots of water. This is something I forget, especially being a breastfeeding mother, I need more water than most. On the few occasions I have forgotten to drink enough I get a horrible headache and even start to feel nauseous. It’s awful. One of the things that helps us drink plenty of water, is having a water bottle for everyone. Heather and Rose fight over one if forget to bring one for each of them. Camelbak water bottles are our favorite, the have an adult and a kids version. Heather could operate one at 6 months. They don’t leak, they are dishwasher safe, and you can buy replacement mouth pieces and straws.


Do things indoors.


Here in Georgia there are quite a few indoor playgrounds. Most the malls have little play-places inside. There are also places with playground equipment inside. Rose loves going to places like that, she can play for hours and hours. We all stay cool, and out of the sun.

 This is a photo of Rose at a place called Catch Air this picture does not do this place justice. Rose loves playing here.



Water play


We have not been to the pool yet this summer. We have a great neighborhood pool I have just not been brave enough to juggle both kids there yet. As soon as I can get Rose to wear a puddle jumper without her screaming and taking it off we will go (she’s quite stubborn, and opinionated). In the meantime we have a water table we bought off Amazon. I put it in our Florida room so they can play without needing sunscreen. I strip them both down to diapers and they will play for a good hour or so. It’s a great way to keep them cool. We love swimming but the sun this far south is pretty harsh. Sunscreen is a must, and you have to reapply. Putting sunscreen on kids is a hassle, and making sure I get enough sunscreen on myself while chasing them is also difficult. Most the time we just avoid needing sunscreen.   


Ice Cream


Eat plenty of ice cream. There is nothing better than a cold treat on hot days. My mom sent me the Kitchenaid ice cream maker attachment for my birthday. She also sent me Ben and Jerry’s recipe book.

Homemade ice cream is way better than store bought, there is something so satisfying about enjoying something you made that is typically store bought. It is also very easy. I only make unpasteurized ice cream. The risk of getting sick from unpasteurized ice cream, is way less than the risk of dying in a car crash. I put myself and my girls in a car without thinking everyday. We eat unpasteurized ice cream in our house without a second thought. There are plenty of pasteurized recipes out there if that’s what you would prefer. In Ben and Jerry’s recipe book they do not have a recipe for a Vanilla bean ice cream. So I decided to create my own. Most vanilla bean ice cream recipes are pasteurized, and use the heat to extract the vanilla flavor. I have just substituted the heat with time.


Vanilla Bean Ice Cream


Ingredients


2 Large eggs
¾ cup of sugar
2 cups of heavy or whipping cream
1 cup of milk
1 vanilla bean


Directions


  1. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl (I use my kitchenaid mixer, with the whisk attachment). Whisk on high till eggs are light and fluffy.
  2. Turn the speed down to medium and whisk in the sugar a little bit at a time.
  3. Continue whisking on medium and pour in the cream, and milk.
  4. With a sharp knife cut open the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the beans and whisk them into your ice cream base. Throw the outside of the bean in as well.
  5. Transfer your ice cream base to a container with a lid.
  6. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours to infuse ice cream with vanilla flavor.
  7. Use a fork to fish out the vanilla bean.
  8. Transfer base into ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions for your ice cream maker.
  9. Ice cream made by at home ice cream makers comes out soft serve. To harden ice cream put it into a good plastic container with a tight fitting lid and put in the freezer for a few hours.


Tips


The key to smooth ice cream is freezing/churning the base as fast as possible. To achieve this I make sure everything that the base touches is as cold as possible. If you have a separate freezer use it, and set it to the coldest setting. If you have a ice cream maker with a bowl you freeze, make sure it has plenty of time to freeze 24 hours or more. I put the paddle that churns the ice cream in the freezer a few hours before churning as well. When I transfer the base into the maker I do it as quickly as possible. I also freeze the container my ice cream will go into.


I buy my vanilla beans off amazon here. They are ridiculously expensive from the grocery store, and you do not have many choices. I definitely recommend buying them online, buying them anywhere else is just silly.

Summers in Georgia are pretty hot but the beauty of the other seasons make up for it! I hope you all are inspired by my ice cream recipe and try it for yourself. Trust me it’s worth it!


Monday, June 27, 2016

Grilled Pizza!!!

As intimidating as grilled pizza might seem, it is actually very easy. There are quite a few steps but they are simple. The first time I made grilled pizza it came out perfectly. I have not made pizza in the oven or ordered pizza since! This is simple, easy and delicious!


I tried quite a few pizza dough recipes before I found this one, and this one is awesome. Although if you are looking for a quick dough recipe this is not. I have discovered to make good pizza dough you have to be patient. I typically start this dough around three to have it ready for dinner around five or six. I found this recipe on a blog through Pinterest. The instructions are slightly confusing so I will post the recipe and grilling instructions in this post as well as share the links.


Pizza dough


Ingredients


1 cup of warm water
2 tbsp of honey
½ tsp of kosher salt
2 tbsp of yeast
¼ cup of olive oil plus 2 tbsp for crispier pizza dough
3 ½ cups of flour
Extra olive oil
Cornmeal for dusting


Other tools and items needed
Foil
A timer (I just use my phone)
Tongs
Spatula (optional, I usually only need tongs, but occasionally the slightly larger pizzas need a bit of extra help to get them off the grill)
If you have a pizza paddle use it, I do not and have never seriously wished I had one. It’s not difficult without one.


Dough instructions
I use my Kitchenaid with the dough hook attachment to make this.


  1. Add the water (the water should be very warm but comfortable, to touch around 100 degrees Fahrenheit if you prefer to use a thermometer) to your mixer bowl.
  2. Add the honey, and salt to the water, mix on low for 20 seconds.
  3. Add the yeast, and continue to mix on low for a few more seconds.
  4. Add 1 cup of flour mix on low till incorporated.   
  5. Then add the olive oil, mix well on low.
  6. Add the rest of the flour all at once. Start mixing slowly, and increase speed as dough comes together. If dough is too try and will not come together add water a tablespoon at a time. If dough is too sticky add more flour a tablespoon at a time.
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface for a couple minutes. This will help build the gluten, and help the dough rise better.
  8. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover it, place it in a warm dry area, and let it rise for about 45 minutes.
  9. Punch it down. And let it rise for at least another 45 minutes preferably more.


I have cooked this dough it in the oven on a pizza stone, and it is yummy. I do think grilled pizza is much better, and always comes out a bit crunchier than pizza from my oven. I will post oven instructions at the bottom of this post as well.


I have a gas grill with 3 burners (the Weber Genesis S-330I highly recommend it if you are looking to buy one). If you have a charcoal grill I recommend finding a different set of instructions. If you have a gas grill with 2 or 4 burners I'm sure you’ll be fine. If you have 2 burners your pizza might not cook as evenly when you turn off one burner for the second part of the cooking.


Grilling instructions


While the dough is rising, I prep my toppings. My favorite pizza sauce is Target’s heart healthy marinara. It is cheap (occasionally it goes on sale for 1 dollar a jar) and tastes the best. I am pretty sure I have tried every brand out there, and this one is my favorite. I grate my mozzarella, and refrigerate it if it will be a while till I use it. We love Hawaiian pizza. I typically use Canadian bacon for the ham and canned pineapple pieces. Pepperoni is always a good staple too.   


To form/roll out your dough, divide the dough into 4 equal parts. I usually only cook 2 pizzas, in one sitting. I refrigerate the other half of the dough for 3-5 days, and we have pizza later in the week (make sure the dough has plenty of time to come to room temperature if refrigerated).


Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, my pizzas are usually 12 inches. Just before this or while I’m rolling out the dough RJ turns all the burners on the grill on high, you want the grill to get nice and hot.


  1. Lay down a piece of foil
  2. put down 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil, and brush it around.
  3. Put one rolled out piece of dough on the foil.
  4. Put another 1-2 teaspoons of oil on the dough and brush it so it's completely covered.
  5. Now put another piece of foil on top of that so you have a dough foil sandwich.


The foil makes it easy to slap the dough onto the grill. The oil helps it not stick to the foil or the grill. Repeat this process till you have all our dough in foil sandwiches. I place these on a upside down cookie sheet, or cutting board to carry outside.


Very lightly dust a pizza stone or upside down cookie sheet with cornmeal.


Move out to the grill, make sure you have everything prepped and ready to go. This pizza goes quickly and once you're started it’s difficult to stop, or have time to run back inside for anything.


  1. Turn your grill down to medium.
  2. Grab your dough, peel the top piece of foil off, slap it on the grill and peel the bottom piece of foil off.
  3. Shut the grill and wait at least 2 minutes before checking the dough.
  4. When the dough is done it will be bubbly, browning on the edges, and have nice grill marks, remove the dough and place it grill marks up on your cornmeal dusted pizza stone or cookie sheet.
  5. Shut the grill and turn the burners back up to high.
  6. Dress your pizza, top the pizza on the side with grill marks.
  7. Turn your middle burner off, slide your pizza onto the middle of the grill.
  8. Shut the grill, and leave for 5-7 minutes (with only the outside burners on you create a type of oven, your cheese will get all melty and the dough will finish cooking it’s magical).
  9. Once your cheese is nice and melted and you are satisfied with the crispness of your dough, remove your pizza with tongs. Get your pizza stone or cookie sheet as close as possible. Typically I just need to grab the edge of the crust with my tongs and slide it up onto the pizza stone.


Repeat process if needed. I have made this enough times that when I remove the first dough I immediately place the second dough on the grill, while it cooks I quickly top the first then remove the dough, and place the dressed pizza on the grill then immediately top the second. I was not brave enough to do this the first time. The more practice I have the quicker I get.
Here is the delicous finished product, just before removing it from the grill (my mouth is watering, yum).
Oven instructions


Gadgets/tools needed for cooking pizza in oven.
Pizza stone
Cornmeal
Two flimsy cutting boards, or a pizza paddle (again I don’t have one so I use a makeshift one).
Two spatulas


  1. Place your pizza stone in the oven.
  2. Turn up your oven as high as it will go.
  3. Lay your cutting boards out, stagger them one on top of the other so you have enough area to roll out a large pizza, or use a pizza paddle it would make this much easier.
  4. Cover your work surface in cornmeal. Use a good amount of cornmeal. Enough that the dough can not stick to your work surface.
  5. Place dough in the center of the cornmeal and roll it out to desired thickness.
  6. Top pizza with toppings.
  7. Brush excess cornmeal away from the perimeter of the pizza.  
  8. Slide pizza onto pizza stone (This is sometimes a little messy from excess cornmeal. The bottom of my oven may or may not be covered in burnt cornmeal).
  9. Cook pizza for 5-10 minutes depending on how hot your oven goes, and how crispy you like your pizza.


That’s it I hope the instructions make sense, and aren't too intimidating. I will post pictures of the whole process soon! Enjoy.




Sunday, June 26, 2016

Meet the Husband

A friend told me after doing a post all about the girls I needed to write a post all about RJ. I thought a post all about him and me would be a better idea. We do practically everything together. Aside from when RJ is at work we are pretty much inseparable.  

RJ grew up in Portsmouth, UK. He attended college in London, at the University of North London. He moved to the U.S. after graduating, and has pretty much been here ever since. He’s not very English anymore. To me he doesn’t have a British accent anymore either he just sounds like RJ. He got his American citizenship a few years back.

RJ’s parents and only sibling live in England. We hope to plan a trip there in the next few years. RJ never got along with his sister, they haven’t spoken in years. He wishes he would have had that sibling bond so many of us have but he never did. That’s one of the reasons he wants six kids. If he had more than one sibling, maybe he would have liked the one of them. RJ wants our children to have enough siblings that hopefully they will be best friends with at least one, hopefully more.

RJ holding tiny Heather just a few weeks old.
RJ loves cars. He would like to buy a Caterham sooner than later. They are very exciting cars, with no roof, no stereo, no heater, no AC, and basically every other thing a luxury car has a Caterham doesn’t. He enjoys watching Top Gear, mostly the british one although he occasionally watches the american version. If he had the space, time, and tools he would do every car repair himself. It’s nice to be married to someone who knows a good amount about cars. He also loves photography. He has a good collection of cameras. Eventually we will probably set up a dark room somewhere in the house. If he could make a living off taking pictures he would, but he can’t so he does computers instead.

RJ holding Rose just before we left the hospital.
RJ and I have been together for almost 4 years. Although Rose was not planned, getting pregnant was the best thing that could have happened for us. RJ is an amazing daddy, both Rose and Heather love him very much. He’s great at helping, and a pro at diaper changes. Heather when though a colicy phase and RJ was the only one who could get her to fall asleep sometimes. Rose loves going on rides in the convertible with daddy. Heather hasn’t been on her first convertible ride yet, i’ll make sure I document it.


RJ makes me feel beautiful and amazing every single day. He says thank you so many times a day I cannot count. He is careful not to take me for granted, I hope I make him feel the same way. He thanks me for having his children, making his dinner, doing the laundry. It really makes my job as a stay at home mom more bearable. He tells me I look beautiful or pretty even when I haven't showered and I’m still in PJs because it's been a hard day with the girls. I love him. I love how much he appreciates me. I hope I make him feel as appreciated as I feel.

RJ is amazing in bed. This is definitely a benefit of being married to a older man. RJ has a good amount of experience. Who would want someone with no experience? Everything is better if you already know what you're doing. Over the past 4 years our sex has never gotten boring. It has gotten better and better as the years pass. It may have gotten a little kinkier too but, there is definitely nothing wrong with that! We are currently trying for baby number 3. The best advice I would give to someone who is trying for a baby would be to have as much sex as possible, don’t think about your cycles. Enjoy the process of making a baby. Every time we have actively tried to get pregnant, when I took ovulation tests we did not get pregnant. We only got pregnant when I relaxed, trusted that my body knew what it was doing, and enjoyed the process.

I absolutely love RJ. I am so glad he is mine. A lot of people don’t understand our relationship, or know RJ like I do. And to be honest I could not care less what they think. People who have never even met him have judged him and I hate that. So to anyone out there who has an opinion about RJ you can keep it to yourself. And if you can’t then fuck off (pardon my french but I’m fucking tired of people judging).

Thanks for reading. I am looking forward to posting some recipes this week!