Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lactation Cookies

Now before you get grossed out, let me explain. These are basically just glorified oatmeal cookies, and they're pretty tasty. I've made them for friends in the past, and when we got home from the hospital a few weeks ago, it was so cute when Ross said, "hey, now you can make those cookies for us!" So I did. Repeatedly.

The reason behind the name is that oatmeal, flax seed, and Brewer's Yeast have all been touted as galactogogues, meaning that they can help increase milk supply. I think technically the evidence-based verdict is still out, but many moms swear by these ingredients. Even if it's a myth, those are all also healthy ingredients and I'm pretty darn hungry right now. If nothing else, this is a good excuse to eat cookies in the middle of the night!

I based my recipe off of this one, but of course I lightened it up a bit and made it gluten-free as well. We love them!

Gluten-Free Lactation Cookies
(makes about 2 dozen, depending on how much dough you eat first!)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 Tbs water
2 Tbs ground flax seed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup rice flour (brown or white will work)
1/2 cup almond meal or almond flour
2 cups gluten-free oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 Tbs Brewer's Yeast (or nutritional yeast)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter, sugar, water, flax, eggs, and vanilla with a beater. Add rice flour, almond flour, baking soda, salt, and yeast and mix well. Stir in the oats and the chocolate chips and roll into Tablespoon-sized balls of dough. Place on a lined cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Homecoming + Home Depot

Noah was born on Wednesday, our kitchen counters were installed on Thursday, and we went home Friday... stopping by Home Depot on the way, of course.

He's so squishy. We are so tired. And so in love with this little face.

Boy Meets World

I shared most of our pre-labor story during the 39 week update, but the rest of the narrative feels too private to share online. I will say, though, that the day Noah was born will always be one of the best days of my life.

**I debated for a long time whether or not to add photos to this post. I finally decided to add a few. (No TMI, don't worry!) They still feel really private and personal, but this blog is my scrapbook so I wanted to add a few here to help us remember this perfect day.**

We got admitted to Labor and Delivery around noon and had a baby in our arms 4 hours later. I simply could not have asked for a better delivery and I'm incredibly thankful for and humbled by it. It went far better than I could ever have imagined and it was nothing like I thought it would be. It's hard to even put feelings into words at this point, suffice to say I deserve no credit.

God granted me the incredible gift of focus and living in the moment, starting that Tuesday night. The 4 hours we spent in L and D went by in the blink of an eye. I was so present for each moment, albeit pretty tired and a little out of it by the time our little man showed up. I will always be grateful for that gift of presence.

I worried a lot during pregnancy about things like, "What if I die during labor? What would Ross do? What if the baby gets stuck or has a knot in his cord or has the cord wrapped around his neck or is stillborn or...?" All those absolutely terrifying thoughts were a million miles away when I actually went into labor and I honesty didn't remember those fears until weeks later, and then they were accompanied by nothing but relief and gratitude. The gift of "just being in it" was one of the best parts of Noah's birth day and the following days. My mind was, for once, blissfully clear and simply focused on the task at hand.

Some thoughts on labor in those last stages:

-I love my husband. Neither of us was sure how he was going to handle the hospital and potential blood and guts, but he was phenomenal. I was really bummed that house renovations took up a lot of what would've been baby preparation time. I wanted to read books and attend classes with Ross this past spring and it just didn't happen. He finally got with the program when our doula came over, which I'm so grateful for. Even though we didn't prepare for months and months, Ross was there for the whole labor, super involved, and so supportive. I couldn't have done it without him!

-WOW now I understand people who say water is nature's epidural. I didn't realize how tense I was until I got into the tub in L and D. I don't think I necessarily would've wanted to have a water birth (not that you're allowed to in the hospital anyway) but I absolutely loved being able to labor in the tub for a bit. I think it really made all the difference in my pain and endurance levels and gave me a bit of a break since I could truly relax between contractions. I'm bummed I wasn't able to get in the tub a second time since things were moving too quickly (at my hospital, you had to be put on the fetal monitor for 20 minutes out of every hour, which meant getting out of the tub). I'm very glad I didn't take a bath at home, because it would've been really hard to get me out and drag me to the hospital after experiencing that relief.

(Ugh. These hands. The same little hands I saw waving on my ultrasound at 35 weeks. Seeing these little fingers in real life made it all so... real. And amazing.)
 -Our doula was priceless. She was there full of suggestions when the baby flipped breech at 34 weeks. She was flexible with childbirth classes and came to our house to teach us (a total luxury given the complete craziness of our lives at the time). She kept in touch with me when labor started and was full of encouragement. She was present and active for every minute of my time in labor and delivery. She helped Ross stay informed and involved (I think he appreciated her even more than I did) and she really helped me focus toward the end when I had a few moments of panic. (She also took all these pictures to help us remember Noah's Birth Day!)

-Our Midwife was wonderful. Seriously, so knowledgeable and calm and encouraging. I felt completely SAFE in her hands and if Ross and I can replicate the dream team of our Midwife and our doula for our next child, we absolutely will.

-I don't feel any tougher for having gone through labor and delivery without an epidural or pain medication. I do feel incredibly grateful and also in awe of my body. Delivery is an absolute symphony and childbirth is a miracle. I don't take that for granted for a minute.

(Ahhh his little shouts!)
-I can't say enough how much of a difference it made to get a break between contractions. Labor wasn't one long continuous pain for hours on end! Also, the fact that labor pain was productive and serving a purpose, made it far different than any other pain I've experienced. I didn't really know what to expect going into labor, except for what I'd seen and heard at work. Being on the other end of it was not like I expected. They say labor intensifies your natural inclinations and for some people, that's LOUD! For me it was quiet and more meditative and drawn in.

(Ah-mazing Midwife)
-It was hard to comprehend that Noah was ours at first. Completely unbelievable. I just stared and him and kept saying, "he's so big!" Which I think was simply my way of saying, "he's so REAL. He's HERE. He's a PERSON!" He's the wiggle worm who was moving and growing in there the whole time. That blows my mind.

-Squishy newborn cheeks are the best.

-We had some extra cake left over from my family baby shower and my mom froze it and then brought it to the hospital after Noah was born. It was really fun to celebrate his birth day that way!

All in all, words can't express how special those first few days were. I'm so grateful I'm able to experience this all!

Friday, June 6, 2014

39 Weeks: The End, and the Beginning

Where to begin? I guess we left off with me feeling cautiously optimistic that maybe we'd make it to our due date and actually have time to get stuff done and take a breather before beginning the next chapter of our lives.

This week started with my brother's wedding on Saturday. All along everyone gave me a hard time about going into labor at the rehearsal dinner, and I'm happy to report the weekend went off without a hitch. In hindsight, we should've gone to bed earlier Friday and Saturday, but when your family is partying, you don't want to be the spoilsport! Also, the wedding was actually really fun and we're so happy for Tommy and Sarah!

(May 31)

So we were super tired on Sunday, but that's to be expected after several long days and late nights. That evening, our doula came over for the last bit of our childbirth class. When she left, I said, "I'm so not ready to be done being pregnant. I haven't hit the miserable point yet. I really love it and I'm going to miss it!" She laughed and said, "that's exactly why you're not even on my labor radar yet!"

(June 1... notice the nursery jam-packed with moving boxes...)
I had a ton of hip pain Sunday night and didn't sleep well at all, but I chalked it up to being on my feet all day Saturday. The hip and back pain continued into Monday, which I had planned to be a really productive day but I think making one freezer meal and running a few errands totally wore me out and I ended up taking an afternoon nap on the couch before meeting Ross at our hospital for a tour of Labor and Delivery (procrastinate much?!).

So... Saturday wedding. Sunday childbirth class. Monday hospital tour. Tuesday... I went into labor.

I say that in hindsight, of course, because I was totally in denial at the time. I started having painful contractions Tuesday morning at work. I'd had regular Braxton-Hicks contractions for months, so I wasn't really concerned at first. But these contractions continued to be just painful enough to make me take notice. It was really the perfect day to go into labor (besides, you know, being a good week or so earlier than I was mentally prepared for): I was at work in the NICU, so I had something to occupy myself with, but I had a really easy assignment meaning I got to sit when I needed to sit, and drink lots (and lots) of water.

(lopsided belly at work)

[As a funny aside, one of my patients was going home, and the baby had a due date just one or two days off from mine. He was 7 1/2 lbs and seemed huge to me. When his mom found out that my own delivery was imminent, she said, "as for a spinal the minute you get to the hospital. This sh*t is going to hurt!" Uhhh...How do you even respond to that?! ]

Throughout the day, the contractions continued to be frequent enough and "painful" enough that I timed them every few hours. (I put painful in quotation marks, perhaps because I now know how much more painful they were going to get, but also because they weren't really painful enough for me to stop what I was doing when it happened... just enough to make me take notice and take a deep breath). Anyway, they were 8-18 minutes apart all day.

I gave my doula a heads-up, but I really didn't think much of it. My Braxton Hicks always acted up during 12-hour shifts, so I figured this was going to be the same kind of thing... practice contractions, doing some of the work of labor (work that I wouldn't have to do later on in the hospital, as my doula always said) but not the real deal yet. I had big plans to go home, take some Benadryl, and go to bed.

Which is more or less what I did, after making a labor playlist and throwing some stuff into a hospital bag (maybe I knew something was really happening after all?). I went to bed around 11pm or so, only to wake up at 2am. There was a HUGE storm that night and I listened to the thunder and laid in bed for a few contractions before waking Ross up to time them. Then I proceeded to have a few painful hours of contractions lasting 1-2 minutes, and coming 5-6 minutes apart. I was really able to breathe through them, but they were significantly more painful compared to the ones I'd had all day. But again, it was a different kind of pain than I'd ever experienced. Maybe because it was productive pain instead of needless pain? I felt normal between the contractions throughout all of labor, which was an immense relief to me. The pain isn't continuous! It can and will end! Although as I laid there that night, I noticed my shoulders were starting to hurt from being clenched up and my abs were sore like I'd been doing situps.

(at 3:25am June 4)
I was planning to head to the hospital when either my water broke, or when contractions were one minute long and 4 minutes apart for one hour. Since neither of those was true, I laid there through the contractions, taking slow deep breaths. In hindsight maybe this is when you would typically go to the hospital. But whether it was my fatigue after the last few days, the Benadryl, or my straight up denial, I didn't even consider leaving the house yet. After an hour or two of those painful contractions, I got up and had Ross finish packing our hospital bags (again... procrastinate much?!)

Ross had actually planned to take Wednesday off to finish a few things around the house, put the crib together, unpack a few boxes... you know, important things. He said at this point, though, that if he didn't have the day off already he would've called in then. I was moving out of my denial a bit, but still thinking we had a ways to go. Yet I was literally praying, "God, make these contractions stop. Give us a few more days. I'm not ready!"

I managed to get up, make a smoothie, take a long hot shower and take a second Benadryl (I'd taken one capsule before bed earlier in the evening). By that point, I was comfortable enough to go back to bed, although it was a weird sleep. I feel like I slept seamlessly through the contractions, but was still coherent enough to feel each one before drifting off again. I woke up around 9am and the contractions were still just as painful, but had spaced out to 8-10 minutes apart.

I walked to the garden in our backyard with Ross to get some kale to eat with my eggs for breakfast, and the uneven ground was incredibly painful to walk on and basically gave me constant contractions as I walked out and back. I remember saying to Ross, "this is so painful! How on earth do people go on long walks in early labor?!" (Spoiler alert, I was not in early labor anymore!)

Around 10am I decided to call my Midwife's office just to be sure my water hadn't broken or anything (I always swore I'd never be one of those people who "wasn't sure" if her water was broken or not. Joke's on me!) The nurse called back and told me to come on in to be checked. I hemmed and hawed for a bit. Considered painting the kitchen cabinets that really needed painting. Considered baking brownies because I wanted to bring them to the hospital. Finally decided I should probably be seen before the office staff went to lunch, so we left the house around 11:15am.

(5 HOURS PRE-BABY! So oblivious. Photo taken mid-contraction.)
 I was really afraid they'd say I was crazy and send me home, but we also brought everything we'd need to stay and I think I knew deep down that we were leaving the house for good. But again, I was in denial. It was easier to say, "I'll bake the brownies when we get home later!" than to say, "the next time I walk through that door I will have a baby and life will never be the same again."

We got to the office around 11:45am and the elevators were being slow, so I said, "let's just take the stairs!" Up 4 flights. I had one or two contractions on that hike. I think that kicked things into gear again and from that moment on, my contractions started getting closer together. When we got to the office, they took me back pretty quickly. I went to sit on the exam table, but had a contraction again and stood up to bend over the table. (Ever since the end of my shift the day before, it hurt to sit during a contraction). Of course, that's when my Midwife walked in and I think she went into labor mode right then and there. She said, "oh, you didn't tell me you were having labor contractions!" I said, "I wasn't sure if I was!" She was like, "Um yeah those are not your Braxton-Hicks anymore."

She checked me and said, "well, your water's not broken, but you're 6cm dilated, 100% effaced, baby's at zero station, and we're going to direct admit you to labor and delivery right now!" All I heard was, "6cm... direct admission..." I started tearing up and it was all I could do not to sob. It was starting. We were going to meet our baby THAT DAY! I was shocked, elated, and... mostly shocked. Also relieved that the pain had been productive and I was over halfway there!!! Ross started tearing up, too, and I think we were both just completely in awe. This was real. It was really happening!

When Ross pulled my phone out to tell my parents we were being admitted, he noticed a missed call from our doula around 11:30am. He called her back to update her and she said she was calling to tell us that if we hadn't been checked yet, we should think about going in. She knows me so well. She said when I rated my overnight contractions at a 7 out of 10 on the pain scale, she knew it was the real deal. I just couldn't stop apologizing because all along, she'd said "don't be the hero. I don't want my first update to be your calling from the hospital." Ooops! But I legitimately didn't think I was in real labor yet until my Midwife said those words.

Then the nurse brought a wheelchair over to take us to L and D. Of course, I took one look at it and in my split second of hesitation, the Midwife said, "It's going to hurt to sit isn't it? You can walk if you'd rather." So we walked very slowly across to the hospital and I had very frequent contractions the whole way there. I'm glad we left the house when we did, because things had accelerated rapidly in that hour.

(family of THREE)
We were admitted Wednesday afternoon and had a baby four hours later. One of the best days of my life thus far! And that's the story of my 39th week of pregnancy... the day we would've been celebrating turning 39 weeks, we left the hospital with a baby instead. The end of this pregnancy, but a whole new beginning.

(baby cheeeeeks)