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I love a nice chunky guacamole; tomato, avocado, cilantro and lots of lime, but the kids – not so much. Anything chunky is no good in their books. So, when I’m making things like soups and pasta sauces I often puree them to ‘hide’ what’s inside – a trick I’m sure many parents use. I do this with guacamole too.
This guacamole is great with chips but it’s also great as a dip (for veggies, crackers, or whatever!) and it makes a really nice spread on sandwiches; a great vegan alternative to mayonnaise. It’s has been a favourite around here lately:
- Two or three avocados, skins and pits removed.
- Some freshly squeezed lime – I usually start with half a lime and then add more if needed. I love lots of lime!
- A handful of fresh cilantro leaves – this is a ‘must have’ ingredient for me, cilantro can make or break it!
- One or two cloves of fresh garlic, peeled.
- Half an onion.
- A pinch of cumin.
- Salt and pepper.
Throw everything in a bowl, no chopping required:
Use a hand mixer to puree everything:
Until it’s nice and smooth:
(Alternatively, you can also use a food processor if you don’t have a hand mixer. But if you don’t have one, think about getting one! This is probably one of my most well used kitchen appliance coming second only to the toaster oven. Mine is very basic; it doesn’t have any of the nifty attachments shown in the link, and it was very inexpensive. AND it cleans up in a snap; it comes apart and the mixer part goes right into the dishwasher.)
We’ve been spending an awful lot of time in the back yard now that school is out. Today we spend a good chunk of the afternoon there. It was my four kids, my niece, my sister and her three kids and I. Two adults, eight kids ages 1 to 11.
It’s not always easy finding fun things to do that make all ages present happy but today we did something that was fun for all: an obstacle course.
Here’s what they had to do:
Run around the blue bucket three times:
Hop over the mini picnic table:
Crawl under the chair and table, army style:
Drive the little red car around the giant ant hill:
Drive the dump truck from the purple bucket to the white bucket, get the basketball, put it in the dump truck:
Drive it back to the purple bucket and carefully place the basketball on the upside down bucket:
Dribble the soccer ball to the big digging pit and kick it in:
All the while, the peanut gallery watches and keeps track of everyone’s time with the kitchen timer, so that we can see who wins everyone can achieve a personal best:
Lots of summer fun!
When I was pregnant for the first time, right through most of the pregnancy I had planned on delivering at the hospital with an epidural; that was the plan. I didn’t need to be a hero. There was no need to suffer.
At some point I started leaning toward a homebirth. I think initially the idea of being in my own home with my own things was my motivation. Then I had to wrap my head around the idea of a drug-free birth. That part was a bit more difficult but somewhere along the way I started to trust my body; trust that Mother Nature knew what she was doing and just somehow knew that I could do it. By the end of my pregnancy I felt so confident in my body and my baby.
My water broke two weeks before my due date; labour started several hours later. The midwife arrived, labour progressed. Everything was as it should be, my body doing its job. All I wanted to do was sleep. How about the shower? Well okay, in the shower for a while but I wanted to sleep. All I wanted was to sleep. This is my body coping with labour. I’m listening to my body, it knows what to do. I want to sleep. In between contractions I fell into what felt like the deepest sleep, only to be awakened a few minutes later for a contraction, then back to sleep.
I started feeling the urge to push and I could feel the excitement in the room. The midwife was letting the second midwife know what was going on, equipment was being brought out, I could hear my midwife quietly give her student instructions; we all thought baby’s arrival was imminent. The midwife checked me one last time.
Three to four centimetres. Silence. What? Three to four centimetres. Don’t push. What? Don’t push. How do you stop? It’s like trying not to sneeze, your body takes over and your body does it anyway. Okay, I’ll try not to push. Back in the shower, downstairs, hands and knees, don’t push (push); I protested it all but did it because my midwife wanted me to; don’t push (push). Sleep, when can I go back to sleep? When can I go lie down? Don’t push (push). How about a bath? I am reluctant, I go in the bath anyway; don’t push; I’m trying not to push (push).
In the bathtub I am sleeping between contractions; I feel only slightly aware of what is going on around me, trying not to push (push). I am dreading that urge, dreading each contraction not because of the pain, because of the urge. A contraction, don’t push, I’m trying so hard (push). I’m fighting my body, don’t, don’t, breathe, blow out birthday candles, my body takes over (push…gush). My husband called the midwife, all of a sudden there was a sense of urgency. There was blood, more than there should have been. Hurry, get dressed; get the car; call the hospital tell them we’re on our way. Don’t push (push). The blood has stopped but everyone is scared.
At the hospital my midwife consults with the OB. There has been no more blood, the baby is fine. At this point it has been 16 hours of active labour, still three to four centimetres. I had an epidural, contractions continued; I never progressed further. Eventually, I was given pitocin. The baby didn’t tolerate it. After 26 hours of active labour I had a cesarean.
I read and read; books, websites, whatever I could get my hands on; anything to do with natural birth, VBAC and c-section prevention. The next time was going to be different.
When I found out I was pregnant with my second I found a doula, midwife, naturopath and chiropractor to support me. My husband was behind me 100%. We planned a HBAC and we did everything right. We did everything we possibly could during the pregnancy to ensure proper positioning and to get my body ready for labour.
Labour started, things progressed. I was upright, on hands and knees, up and down the stairs sideways, in the birth pool, in the shower, on the birthing stool, standing swaying; I did it all. I wanted to sleep so desperately, and I did sleep at times but I was so determined for this labour to be different. I was fine, baby was fine.
The sun was coming up and I started feeling the urge to push. I heard someone say we’d see the baby by morning. The midwife was getting ready. Labour continued, time passed, the urge to push got stronger. The midwife checked me. Four centimetres. What? Four centimetres. But wait, this was supposed to be different. I did everything right. Don’t push. What? Don’t push. No, no, no, not again.
We’re not going to the hospital. We all know what will happen if we go to the hospital; don’t push (push). More moving around, every position possible, chiropractic, homeopathic remedies, and acupuncture; don’t push (push). Another midwife came to consult. Hours passed, blurred conversations; don’t push (push). I’m fine, baby’s fine. Don’t push (push).
Forty hours of active labour. Four centimetres dilated; don’t push (push). Every contraction is a battle with my body; don’t push (push). Why is my body doing this? This isn’t right, it’s not the way. My body is NOT doing was it is supposed to do. Why has my body betrayed me?
We finally go to the hospital and I get an epidural. Maybe if I don’t push, the swelling in my cervix will go down and I will dilate. Maybe if I just get some sleep. Then the decelerations started. Deep decelerations that were not quick to recover.
The OB is paged and comes in. No introductions, no pleasantries. “We have to get this baby out. Now.” Can we talk about it? “You talk about it; I’m going to get the OR ready.” I look around at my team, I can see the devastation in their faces, I can see their pity, I know they are worried about me. It’s okay. I’m okay.
I am rushed down the hall on a bed. I sign the consent lying on my back on the operating table. The baby is born, a boy, I get a kiss then he is gone. I tell, no, I insist that my husband goes with the baby. They go to the special care nursery as a precaution because the baby seemed to be working hard to breathe.
After observation, formula and eye gel which made my baby’s eyes swell, my husband brings my baby to me. I still hadn’t slept; I was awake in my room waiting. In they came, the baby was immediately in my arms and he nursed like a champ right away. The next day I have no memory of holding my baby for the first time. I have no memory of nursing my baby for the first time. I feel completely robbed.
When we leave the hospital I can’t stop crying. We’re on our way home in the car and I can’t stop crying. It’s NOT okay. I am NOT okay.
With my third pregnancy we’re not sure what to do. We’ve tried it all. I am convinced that if I get an epidural early – as soon as I get the premature urge to push – that my cervix won’t swell and I’ll dilate and have a VBA2C. But then…no hospital in the city of Toronto will agree to let me labour after two cesareans. What? It’s my body. It’s my baby. Still, nobody will agree.
It was a very stressful pregnancy, I have my midwife and the same team as before but otherwise nobody will support my VBA2C. I cried a lot. I tried to figure out my best chances of a sucessful vaginal birth. I finally changed OBs in my third trimester; she and my midwife shared care. The OB doesn’t agree with me but is nice, calm and respectful and most importantly she knows she can’t make me do anything. My OB discussed my case with the other 17 OBs at the hospital. She and one other OB think I should be able to decide if I labour or not. Nice.
I went into labour on Christmas Eve. I had a shower and cried and cried. Thank you baby for starting labour before my scheduled c-section on my due date (which I didn’t plan on showing up for, agreeing to book it was strategic. It made it easier for my OB to answer to her superiors if I had a c-section booked even though we both knew that I’d go into labour before, just like my other pregnancies). This is the day my baby was meant to be born.
Labour was much the same. It wasn’t long before I started to feel that urge. “Do you feel pushy?” my husband asks. “No!” I answer a little too quickly and a little too loudly. They knew. We all knew. My body was betraying me again.
We went to the hospital; we called on the way to tell them we were coming. It was Christmas Eve. I would learn later that I was the only woman in the hospital in labour on Christmas Eve. We arrive at the hospital and I am offered a wheelchair. No, I want to walk. We get off the elevators and step on to the L & D floor. A nurse walking down the hall took one look at me and said, “We’re going to section you right away.” Umm, no you’re not.
Another nurse met us down the hall and led me into triage. I said to her, “I know you all think I’m here for a c-section but I’m not.” She says, “Okay, I’ll get the OB and then you won’t have to explain things twice.” I’m shocked. The OB is not my OB, his name is Dr. B. I explain my wishes: I know the risks (I cite VBAC and VBA2C statistics off the top of my head) I have the premature urge to push, I want an epidural and I want to labour for a few hours to see if there is any progress. Dr. B listens patiently. He calmly explains the risks (and also explains that even though I know the risks he still has to explain them to me). He says “okay”. Pause. What? We’re all shocked. I realize that Dr. B is the only other OB that thinks I should be able to decide whether or not I should be ‘allowed’ to labour and I realize that someone is watching over me that day.
The hospital respected my wishes and the OB discussed everything with me, my husband and my midwife. After labouring for several hours and seeing no progress I was satisfied. I really had tried everything and all my “what ifs” were answered. The OB agreed to all my wishes before I signed the consent for the c-section.
In the operating room my husband, my midwife and my doula were with me. When the baby was born he was lifted up above the curtain. The room was silent and I got to announce the gender. I don’t know why this was so important to me, but it was, and it was a moment I will never forget as long as I live. “It’s a boy” I said.
My husband did skin-to-skin with the baby in the OR. The baby tried to latch on to my husband. There was no eye gel, no formula and we were never separated. The baby latched on in the recovery room and nursed contently. I remembered everything the next day. I felt okay. I felt at peace.
An addition to the original post: My fourth and last pregnancy was a scheduled c-section. When my OB asked me to choose my baby’s birthday I refused. I told him to choose. I hated that my baby wasn’t going to be born on the day she was meant to be. My OB chose October 24. It wasn’t until I got home from my OB appointment that I realized the significance of that date. My children were all born on a ‘four’. December 14, March 4, December 24. Somehow it was easier for me to accept the chosen date of October 24. Maybe she was meant to be born on that day after all….
Last week I took Son-S to the allergist. The allergist did a skin test for his usually allergens: dairy, eggs, bananas, walnuts, and pecans, plus she also tested for dust and some moulds. The following day I took Son-S to have blood drawn so that a CAP RAST allergy test could be done. He’s never had a CAP RAST test done so I’m very curious to see what his IgE levels are.
As far as Son-S’s egg allergy goes, he’s never had a severe reaction. He has tolerated a bit of egg in baked goods before but we thought that it might be causing some eczema so we had been avoiding it altogether. Since the chances of outgrowing an egg allergy are pretty good (our allergist told us that 80-90 % grow out of it) and he’s never had a severe reaction to egg, we’ve been told to slowly introduce egg into his diet.
Eggs in baked goods are the way to start introducing them because (a) one egg in a batch of cookies isn’t very much egg – not like having a fried egg and (b) because when an egg is cooked one of the two allergic components is considerably modified by heat such that it can be tolerated by some people.
So the day after Son-S had his skin test, the same day I took him for the blood test, I baked cookies with an egg. I made Peanut Butter cookies, much like the ones I tried to make here, but this time I used an egg (and the cookies turned out much better!). It is the recipe straight of the back of the Kraft Peanut Butter jar:
- 1 cup peanut butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 egg
Mix until well-blended. Roll into 24 balls, press down with a fork. Bake 15 minutes in oven preheated to 325° on an ungreased baking sheet.
I made a couple of small cookies and Son-S was dying to try them. He watched me make them so he knew there was an egg in them; which I realize now probably wasn’t the best idea. Anyway, he had a small cookie and seemed perfectly fine. He had another little piece of a cookie a little while later. He seemed fine.
Later that afternoon we went up to the hospital so that they could draw blood for the CAP RAST test. Just before we left Son-S started complaining of a sore tummy. Uh oh. I check him out all over. There were no hives, no rash, no redness, nothing. But he kept complaining about his tummy. The whole drive there the poor boy was whining and complaining about his sore tummy. I started to feel really bad…what was I thinking? Why did I give him so much? I should have waited for a day that we were going to be home all day. I should have given him just a tiny piece of cookie…maybe I shouldn’t have done it at all…oh, the guilt. At one point when we were in the van Son-S whined to me “I don’t ever want to eat that again!” That put me over the edge. I was bawling! “Oh honey, you don’t have to eat it anymore,” I cried. Oh, the guilt.
Son-S complained on and off about his tummy for the next few hours. He had the blood drawn and we went home.
The funny thing is, my tummy hadn’t been feeling all that well. It wasn’t that bad, it was subtle really. I was so wrapped up in keeping an eye on Son-S and the guilt I was feeling that I barely noticed. Later on that day Baby-M (who’d also had a cookie or two) had a really gross diaper – I’ll spare you the gory details but let’s just say it was out of the ordinary. Baby-M clearly had some tummy upset too.
And then I started thinking…hmmm. That’s a funny coincidence. Uuuh…wait a second. I wonder how old those eggs were. We rarely use eggs and I’d used the last egg in the carton, so I started thinking that they might have been in the fridge for a while. I went and dug out the empty egg carton from the recycling. The best before date stamped on the egg carton was May 25th! AAAK! No wonder! Later that day when my husband came home I told him the whole story. Not wanting to take my word for it he insisted on trying a cookie for himself. Sure enough, a short time later his tummy wasn’t feeling so well.
A couple of days later, with a fresh batch of eggs, I made the cookies again. Not surprisingly Son-S wouldn’t go near them. I don’t blame him at all. I guess we’ve scared him to death about his allergies. The poor kid.
I’ll have to find something else to sneak an egg into and try again.
There’s been some talk recently about CIO or cry-it-out on some blogs that I read; Phd in Parenting and Metropolitan Mama are just two of many. I’ve been sitting here biting my tongue. I never meant for this blog to be provocative or controversial. I’m not writing to start some great debate. But there is something nagging me about this issue.
As much as I love comments on my blog, I don’t really want to read comment about why people choose CIO. Seriously. I don’t. I don’t use CIO and I never will. No amount of “well, I wasn’t crazy about it at first, but it worked!” comments are going to change the way I feel about it. Of course it worked. Beating my kids to make them sleep through the night would probably work too but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Now people, don’t get your knickers in a knot, I’m NOT saying that CIO is the same as beating your kids. I’m not. I’m simply making the point that there are probably tonnes of ways to get someone to do something they don’t want to do; but just because it works doesn’t mean that we should do it and it certainly doesn’t make it right.
I’ve been tired. I am tired. I have four kids that are pretty close in age; when the youngest was born my oldest wasn’t quite 6 yet. I’ve dealt with sick kids, sleepless nights and marathon nursers. There have been many, many times when I was home alone putting four young kids to bed. I get it. I know people are tired. I know what sleep deprivation is. I’ve been frustrated about sleep. I’d still never use CIO.
But the thing nagging me the most is this: why do we (as in, our society) think that babies should sleep through the night? That sleeping through the night is the norm? It’s really, really great if you have a baby that sleeps through the night on their own without CIO but babies like this are the exception, not the rule. Our standards are way too high.
With four young kids people ask me all the time, “How do you do it?” I often answer, “I’ve lowered my standards.” People usually laugh but it’s true! My expectations are much lower than they used to be. I know that my kids are going to do things even after I’ve told them a hundred times not to. I know that my kids haven’t quite mastered impulse control. I know that my kids – all of them, even my seven year old – are still going to need me at night sometimes. As they get older, they need less and less attention at night but they all need it sometimes. I know this and I expect it. Somehow knowing that it is normal makes it easier to manage, even from the groggy depths of sleep deprivation.
There are lots of resources out there that explain why babies don’t sleep through the night and why they need us at night. Dr. James McKenna, Dr Sears and Kelly Mom are just a few. These links will lead you to more.
Instead of fretting, arguing and debating night waking – something that is normal and should be expected – I choose to focus on coping. All parents probably need more sleep and at some point or another will have to cope with sleep deprivation. I’ll leave you with some of the things that have helped me get through:
- Eat right and take vitamins (if you think you need them). When I’m giving my body what it needs it just makes it easier to cope with anything!
- Fresh air and sunshine. We all need this, but it’s often overlooked. Even on the coldest of days, bundle up and get out, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
- Caffeine. I know, I know, probably not the best way to deal with it but it helps me. Even a nice hot cup of herbal tea can do the trick.
- Talk to like-minded parents. Commiserating and knowing that it’s normal for babies to wake in the night can be comforting.
- Exercise. For you and for the kids! It helps all of us sleep better and gives us more energy.
- A catnap or quiet time. On days when I’m feeling totally desperate, when the babies are sleeping I’ll put on a movie for the older kids and cuddle up with them on the couch. Even if I don’t actually get to sleep, putting my feet up and relaxing for even ten minutes has saved the day for me many times.
- Ask for help. Something most of us don’t do often enough. Ask family or friends to help. Swap kids with another mum: they take your kids one afternoon and you take theirs another. Ask Grandpa to come over and take the kids to the park. Hire a mother’s helper or babysitter to come over for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Tap into your resources – whatever they are.
- Go to bed early. Go to bed with the kids.
What are your secrets for coping with sleep deprivation? Comment below and share them!
The baby of the family. I never quite got that before now. Sure, I know what it means, but I get it now in a way that I didn’t before. That’s because we have a baby of the family.
Our baby of the family is the youngest of four, the only girl. She is our last biological child and there is no possibility of any more. So not only is she the baby of the family, she is the baby girl. But you know, one could say that she’s not really even a baby anymore. She is 21 months old, she is nearly two. By many people’s standards this is a toddler, not a baby.
I always thought of my babies as babies until they were much older anyway, but the difference with Baby-M is that she is the last one and that when the others were her age there was another baby here (or almost). So Baby-M is the baby of the family, and always will be. She’ll get to be a baby longer than the rest, and there will never be another one after her.
The other night I went out around 7:30 to get a couple of necessities from the grocery store. When I got back, my baby was fast asleep. Normally she nurses to sleep and she sleeps in our bed, but last night Baby-M, her brother, and Daddy all went and lay down together. And she fell asleep happily. Without nursing. Without me.
I guess I should admit that I have some mixed feelings about this. I am happy and proud of her that she’s reached this milestone – it’s a big deal around here. I also think that this is the beginning of the end of the baby years, so that makes me a bit sad.
It’s also a reminder, like many things are, of how my kids were born, all by cesarean section. Because we might have had more kids – we probably would have had more – if my insides weren’t totally f**ked up by four major abdominal surgeries. *sigh*
I’ve been a bit hesitant to post on this blog more details of my kids’ birth, and how they all came to be born by c-section. Unnecessary cesareans are a common topic on some blogs and I always shy away from commenting on them. I just don’t think my comments would come across right. I always feel like I have to say “No really, I was one of the ones, the ones that truly needed a c-section” because I know, probably better than most, how unnecessary most c-sections are. And I still wonder if people are thinking “oh sure, she’s one of the ones who thinks it was necessary” which by the way, is what I usually think when I hear women say that they needed a c-section. But then I think, blog posts and comments about unnecessary c-sections aren’t really about me, why do I feel the need to comment anyway?
It is these circular conversations in my head that make me think, “I have to let go.” This is the way my kids were born. There is nothing I can do to change that. Accept what has already happened. Let go.