Thursday, July 2, 2015

Toddler-Approved Breakfast Cookies

Since Noah can't tolerate dairy, I'm a little bit obsessed with finding other ways to be sure he still gets enough healthy fats. Because, well, Mama can't breastfeed forever.

Anyway, these cookies totally fit the bill. And he loves them! In fact, if I take one away to warm it up in the microwave, he cries actual real tears.

Toddler-Approved Breakfast Cookies
 makes 2 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (may also use equivalent amount of applesauce or mashed bananas)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup softened coconut oil (butter would work, too)
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup coconut (shredded, dried, unsweetened)
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, egg, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Add oats, almond meal, coconut, salt, and baking powder and mix well. The dough isn't as sticky as normal cookie dough, so a cookie scoop works wonders here. If you don't have one, form Tablespoon-sized balls of dough to put on a lined cookie sheet and flatten with a fork. These cookies don't really fluff up, but that's okay!

Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Life with a One Year Old

Here's a snapshot of one of our days, so I can remember what this fleeting time looks like. We were in a routine for about two months there, but in the last week, Noah has showed signs of being ready to change again, especially in regards to napping.

0515: Noah is up! I let him talk in his crib for 5 minutes, but then he starts to fuss and it's clear he isn't going back to sleep. I go get him and nurse him.

0545: Put baby back in the crib to see if he will fall asleep. He acts like he wants to, but never does.

0615: Ross finally gets Noah and feeds him breakfast and I get to go back to sleep!!! Noah's breakfast has been pretty consistent the past two months, and it's huge:
-1 banana (yup, the whole thing disappears so quickly)
-1 Paleo muffin (I try to change up flavors, but I always go with a Paleo recipe because they're higher in fat and lower in sugar)
-1/4 cup thawed smoothie of pureed mango, pineapple, coconut, and strawberry (organic tropical fruit mix from Target with 1/4 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut added in. I make two weeks' worth at a time, and I add spinach, too, if I remember) + 1/4 cup baby oatmeal

0730: I wake up to Noah crawling around like a madman. I love that pitter patter. He's always so happy to be awake in the morning! I get up and Ross leaves for work. That extra sleep was a luxury today!

0745: Noah very intentionally crawls over to his stroller, stands up, puts a hand on the seat, and looks at me. Kid is a creature of habit, just like his mom! Time for our morning walk. I transfer my mueslix to a coffee mug so I can eat while we walk.

0845: 2 miles down. I love the golden, quiet coolness of summer mornings! And we now have a very sleepy baby on our hands. I nurse him quickly, and put him in his crib super drowsy.

0900-1000: Noah falls asleep after about 10 minutes, but only sleeps for 10 minutes! I leave him in his crib for the allotted hour, but he never does fall back asleep, so I get him up and he nurses again.

1015: First lunch! Noah eats some puffs and a pouch of pureed salmon, quinoa, and veggies.

1030: Some friends invited us to the pool, and I guess the perk of no nap is that we get to go! Time for swim diapers and (torture) sunscreen.

1050-noon: Noah splashes around in the baby pool, perfectly content to play with a shovel and bucket with occasional crawling or walking breaks to find a new spot to sit. At one point, he found a water jet, but it was a little to strong to keep him interested. He also played in the nearby sand. Looks like he's not afraid of it like he was in Hawaii!

1215: Home again, home again. I nurse Noah and he falls asleep in my arms while I'm taking him to his room! Almost never happens, so I sit for a bit and snuggle until he's fast asleep. I cherish those sweet little snores, and I'm sad my back hurt too much to hold him for his whole nap.

1245: I finally lay him in his crib. He wakes up briefly, but falls back asleep while I'm warming up my lunch.

1415: Noah is up after 1.5-2 hours. Not exactly the epic nap I was hoping for, given his lack of a real morning nap.

1420: Nurse

1445: Second lunch. Noah has one toddler cookie with some peanut butter on it and a few green beans. After lunch, he plays for a bit.

1515: Leave for the chiropractor. Noah pulls all the books off the shelf while I get adjusted. We stay for a while afterwards because Noah LOVES to play with their play kitchen.

1700: Arrive home with a VERY cranky baby. He's moaning and groaning with one side of his mouth held shut. Poor teething baby.

1720: Noah gets dinner: a meatloaf muffin, some olives, some hemp milk, and a few strawberry slices.

1740: Dad's home! And Noah is still cranky. He has a temp of 101.8, so he gets some Advil and then it's bath time. So much splashing and talking!

1800: Out of the tub. Diapering and pajama-ing is a two person job these days.

1815: Nurse

1845: Ross reads Noah a story and puts him in bed.

1900: Baby is asleep!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Toddlerhood Begins

Every two to three months, Noah and I get into a sweet little rhythm. Our routine is established. He knows what's coming, I know what's coming. We're both happy and pleased to be hanging out with each other. Our days feel effortless. (Okay, maybe not effortless. But the predictability goes a long way with me.)

This pattern usually coincides with an increase in sleep on his end. It's safe to say that sleep has been a struggle for us. Nighttime sleep, yes. But almost more so, daytime sleep. I think it's not an exaggeration to say that Noah has only taken the prescribed number of naps for his age, oh, 50% of the time? We will really struggle for a month or two and then have a little breakthrough and enjoy two naps a day for a good stretch. He'll catch up on sleep, and then go through some astounding mental leap and we will have to learn a new rhythm for this new baby with new skills.

The first few rounds of this, I just remember thinking, "Oh my GOD. This is what it's like to have a baby who naps. I should do all the things!" And then I end up napping when he naps for several days in a row, because keeping up with him is hard work.

After going through this pattern around 8-9 months, though, I was able to put two and two together and realize something was about to change. Sure enough, my sweet baby became mobile and life was never the same. I will say that every stage is progressively more fun, but it's hard for me to not mourn the baby stages we're rapidly leaving behind.

Today, we're a few days into what I can tell is the next round of development. I glance at the monitor and see my baby napping with his fluffy butt up in the air, and I tear up a little. Because you know what? Today is sweet, and I can tell it's all about to change.

For some reason, this approaching change has really been getting to me. Noah is much more steady on his feet these days, and he's getting brave. I can tell it's only a matter of time before he goes from toddling between people and objects, to walking full-time. I can also tell we're starting the slow transition from two naps to one.

Is it ridiculous? This is really hard for me. I have a lot of guilt around Noah's naps because I feel like I don't use that time effectively. Part of me says, "you only have one kid once. Enjoy the break! You won't necessarily get it when you have more than one." The other part of me is so confused as to why I have so much on my to-do list and so much theoretical free time each day. I could've been working out and doing Bible study every single day for the past year! Wait. He hasn't napped like this for the past year. But still, it's a guilt trip when he does.

I was catching up on Touchpoints this morning, and the 12 month segment said this, "Not all babies become independent suddenly and dramatically. But when they do, I am always glad to see it. This is another touchpoint and parents will come to see the progress it represents. Though it means the simple intimacy of the first year is changing and becoming more complex, the burst of autonomy is normal and healthy. A baby's struggle to express himself and to find out his own limits will go on for many years, reaching different levels and different ages... This surge toward independence and the negativism that accompanies it starts with walking.  This marks a particularly intense touchpoint, an extraoirdinary growth spurt for the child, and a trying challenge for all parents... (At this time) the close interaction between motor achievements and emotional development becomes apparent... The drive to master standing and walking upsets all the daily rhythms. Two naps, which have been predictable before, become less so."

Noah's 8:30am and 1pm routine is certainly shaken up this week. But for once it's because he's sleeping more! This week, hee's not really ready for a nap at 1 if he actually slept until 11! So, deep breath. Here we go.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies

Sorry, not sorry about the title there. I'm still nursing and while the insatiable hunger and thirst of those early days is long gone, there are still some days where I can tell I really need to ramp up my intake. Enter: cookies, of course.

These are dense and hearty, and based off of another recipe I use and love.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies
makes 2 dozen cookies

1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 flax egg (1 Tbs flax + 3 Tbs water) or 1 egg
1 tsp vanilla 
1/4 cup softened coconut oil (butter would work, too)
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup coconut (shredded, dried, unsweetened)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, syrup, egg, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Add oats, almond meal, coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder and mix well. Stir the chocolate chips in. The dough isn't as sticky as normal cookie dough, so a cookie scoop works wonders here. If you don't have one, form Tablespoon-sized balls of dough to put on a lined cookie sheet and flatten with a fork. These cookies don't really fluff up, but that's okay!

Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Noah's Birthday

A year ago today, I was in this hospital in labor! If I really think about it, I can practically feel the contractions again. Labor is an intense, beautiful, elusive movement-- and labor endorphins? They're no joke! I could use another hit right now.

I know that labor and delivery can be traumatic and terrifying and the best laid plans can go awry in the blink of an eye. I have nothing but gratitude and thanksgiving for Noah's Birth Day. I will never take that experience for granted.

But the best part is, even though my sleep-deprived self craves that labor high and I still (yes, still) miss being pregnant and can't believe it's been a year already, I know the adventure has only begin. Getting to know the little man I met a year ago today? That's the real honor. Carrying and laboring and delivering are wonderful, but they aren't mothering.

I've been writing monthly letters to Noah, but today's is the last one. We made it to a year. His growth and development are accelerating too quickly, his hilarious shenanigans too frequent, to write down every single memory. So I will depart from the early milestones and the baby calendar and the *sniff* baby jammies and follow in the footsteps of my brave little boy: falling forward with a smile and trusting that my feet will catch up!

Happy 1st Birthday, Noah! The week we brought you home, I kept thinking, "surely I have seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." I love you so much. Thank you for being patient with me as I learn how to be your Mama!

Noah on his Birth Day and on his Birthday!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

To Myself, 365 Days Ago (The Birth of a Mother)

This IS real labor, by the way.

mid-contraction before heading to the hospital June 4
You think Ross is taking the day off to set up the nursery tomorrow, but shit is about to get a lot more real than that. Spoiler alert: the nursery crib will not be assembled, nor will the kitchen countertops be installed before you become a mother. You might POSSIBLY know that somewhere deep down, because you sure did freak out about Ross needing to take a random Wednesday off of work.

But holy crap... denial is the best labor tool ever (although your doula is a close second).  But seriously. From the first painful contraction that came during shift report this morning, to 4:29pm tomorrow when you meet the little one who has been in there all this time, will stretch 33.5 hours of contractions. But you will really only feel like you're in labor for 4 hours, because that's the amount of time you officially had to wrap your head around the idea.

Four hours from the moment your Midwife said, "we're going to do a direct admit to L and D right now," to the moment it was suddenly all over. Just like that. And of course, "just like that" foreshadows the entire year to follow, as well.  

during our brief stay in L and D
Just like that, contractions give way to a chubby-cheeked cherub. Just like that, he goes from being a sleepy newborn to a colicky baby. Just like that, he goes from being a talkative wiggle-worm to a baby who can crawl and pull up and get into everything. Just like that, he grows from one size to the next, breaking your heart a little each time you have to change out the clothes. Just like that, 11 months in, occasionally starts to sleep through the night at last, and on those days you already start to forget the mind-numbing fatigue you felt from months 5-6 when he wouldn't sleep for more than 90 minutes at a time.

Let me just give you a hug right now. For 38.5 weeks, you thought labor was the end. But really, it's the very beginning. Not only was a baby born that sunny day in June that dawned after a stormy night, but two clueless parents were born as well. You and Ross didn't know it, but you were about to embark upon an anxious, overwhelming, wonderful, blessed, sleepless, tear-stained, hilarious, frustrating, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful year. It won't take you long to realize that your work experience is useless, and everything is new again when the baby under your care is your own, 24/7/365.

Welcome to the hardest and best year of your life. A year in which you will learn that all those annoying mom cliches are there for a reason. Time flies. They're not little for long. The days are long, but the years are short. You'll realize all of this fairly quickly, and you'll FEEL it all. The highs will be higher, the lows will be lower. Your heart IS walking around outside of your body, and it takes your breath away when you feel the weight of that. Sometimes the weight will be golden and awe-some, in a let's-have-5,000-more-babies sort of way. Other times it will feel impossibly heavy, like you are doomed to failure and no mere mortal should ever be given so much responsibility as to be the caretaker of a little soul.

You will start panicking that "he's already a year old" around 9 months and you will keep reminding yourself, we had only just bought our house this time last year... I was still hanging drywall this time last year... he flipped breech this time last year and I started swimming laps to encourage him to flip back...

Post-partum will kick your butt. You will go to physical therapy for muscles you neeever knew existed. Due to that pain, the first 6 weeks of newborn-ness will crawl by like one long, anxious, tightly-wound day. And when the haze ends suddenly, and time starts traveling at warp speed? You'll want those sweet, snuggly, blurry first 6 weeks back.

Just when you start to feel comfortable with one aspect of Noah's babyhood, everything changes. For better and for worse. Arching, crying, and screaming finally give way to a more comfortable baby when he starts Prilosec. Painful thrush and a poor latch give way to an awesome breastfeeding relationship. Post-partum pain gives way to extreme gratitude for body parts you used to take for granted. But also... exclusive breastfeeding, gives way to introducing solids. Happy wiggles give way to mobility. Two naps (which you fought for tooth and nail) will soon give way to one nap.

And the first year gives way to the second. You made it! Cue the waterworks.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Before I Was a Mom, I Was the Best Mom

I read a blog post by this same title a few months ago, and it continues to resonate with me.

It's sure easy to judge when we're not in it... I thought about this the other day when I saw an old photo of myself, holding my friend's little one. It's so funny how the years fly by-- I can still remember being so young and wondering what it would be like to be a parent, and now I'm a mom... I'm in it. I'm doing it. And of course, all of the things I said I'd never do, well here we are, doing most of them. Parenting is crazy like that, it kind of forces you to take a long look at yourself and the way you do things, and constantly question it all-- is this for the best? Is this working? It's been four years now, and the longer I do it, the more I realize that a big dose of kindness and understanding goes a long way, for both myself and for the parents around me, doing their thing too.

I knew motherhood was hard, but I didn't KNOW it was hard. It's beautiful, and life-giving in every way, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. But just like everyone said it would be, it's humbling, it's exhausting, it's exhilarating, it's terrifying. I've been an emotional wreck as I climb this steep learning curve of new-motherhood.

Because see, I thought that the first 6-12 months of motherhood were going to be so easy. Exhausting, yes, but not unmanageable. I thought I'd rock it. I take care of babies for a living! Toddlers are where the mystery begins, right? Um no.

I should've know better when, for the first 24 hours of labor, I was pretty sure it wasn't real labor. My due date wasn't for 10 more days, but more than that, I wasn't READY! Initially, I blamed the chaos on that early surprise. The house wasn't finished. My non-maternity clothes weren't unpacked. Heck, the baby's crib wasn't even assembled! But now, 11 months later, I can see that it would've been difficult no matter what. (And I'm just now unpacking the last of my non-maternity clothes. Ha!)

Yes, I take care of babies for a living, but I didn't factor in the hormones (ohhh the hormones), the postpartum anxiety, the 5 months of relentless pain. I didn't know that breastfeeding would be a full-time job for the first 6 weeks (seriously, 8 hours a day). I didn't realize that just because you know your baby isn't desperately NICU-level sick, doesn't mean you don't question every little cry, quirk, and squeak. I didn't anticipate how much harder it would be when the baby is YOURS. When your heart and mind and body and soul are invested in this unpredictable little being.

I mean, for the first 6 weeks, it took everything in me to let anyone beside Ross hold Noah without me wanting to snatch him back into my arms. For the first 3 months, it made me overly anxious if Noah was out of my line of vision. For 6 months, I couldn't hear Noah cry without wanting to cry myself (and there was a lot of crying on both ends!)

Today I sit here totally identifying with Ann Voskamp's words:

Yeah — if you’re being gut honest here — you don’t really want the cards or the flowers.
Or what gets wrapped up in shiny paper, or stuffed in a bag with wrinkled tissue paper, or anything that gets tied up and presented with these dangling tendrils of curling ribbon.
What you really wanted is to be extraordinarily, obviously, good at this. At this mothering thing.

You wanted to be the best at this.

You wanted to take the podium and gold medal in mothering — not take a million timeouts behind some locked bathroom door, turn on the water so no one hears you sobbing at what a mess this whole shebang is, and how you’d like to run away. Ask me how I know?

Honest? You wanted to be more... Never once did you ask to come stumbling into this with all this baggage — all these unhealthy-coping mechanisms, all these triggers, all this unspoken broken.
What you really want, desperately, wildly, in spite of everything — is for them to remember the good…. to remember enough of the times you whispered, “I Love You” … to know how many times you broke your heart and how how hard you really tried.
All you want? Is for them to feel a deep sense of safety, that they are safe to trust people, safe to dream large, safe to believe, safe to try, safe to love large and go fly — and you need to know that you haven’t wrecked that. That they feel the certain, tender embrace of your love —- in spite of all the storming times you acted unlovely.

I didn't know motherhood would make me doubt everything. I didn't know it would challenge my endurance and patience from the start. I didn't know that I could feel like such a spectacular failure on a daily basis.

But I also didn't know how much more I would love this baby who is my own. I don't take the honor of being his mother lightly. In fact, that's probably why I'm so hard on myself. This is real life. A real person. So impressionable. So dependent. The stakes are high. The calling is higher. I can only do this by, in turn, being dependent on One who is above me. By learning to rest in my own Provider when I can't do something alone. By remembering that He cares for me and has my best interest at heart, even when I don't understand. A mom's love for her baby has given me a beautiful glimpse into this kind of love God has for us. Thankfully, His love is steady and unfailing when mine is not.

On this, my first real Mother's Day, with Noah's first birthday on the imminent horizon, I have a lot to be thankful for.

Thank God for my mom, who put up with me being a 4am riser for my first year. History repeats itself, eh? She's been such a good listener through my anxiety, and as a mother of 4 with a husband who was a medical resident and then young doctor, she did motherhood with everything she had. Harder and better. I have the best role model. And I grew up with some pretty awesome grandmothers as well.

Thank God for friends who take my panicked texts into stride and continue to pour out love and advice without laughing at me (or... at least not in front of me)!

Thank God for a doula who has taken my worried phone calls for months, and never fails to strike the perfect balance between super natural crunchy mama and, well, common sense, that resonates with me.

Thank God for physical therapy and the emotional clarity that started to resume once I wasn't in a steady state of pain.

It does take a village to raise a child, and I'm so thankful for mine.

Happy Mother's Day to the one who made me...

...and to the one who made me a mother!