Friday, January 28, 2011

Birth Art for Baby Girl

Well, hi! It's been a little while-- things as always have been quite busy.

But I have such exciting news! I have switched to a midwife for the remainder of this pregnancy and birth of our baby GIRL. Cheers! We are feeling very blessed to have our second on the way, and we think it is very special that we will have one boy and one girl in our little, growing family.

And our midwife is amazing. She is unlike any other medical professional I have ever met... in such a good way. She sat with us, talked with us, listened to us-- as a couple, as birth partners, as husband and wife, not as 'patient and spouse.' And her answers were never condescending. She didn't roll her eyes at things we said that seemed off (I have no idea if she thought anything we said was weird, which is quite a difference from one particularly rude doctor we encountered at my old OB practice-- that OB rolled her eyes when I acted concerned about being strapped to a bed while laboring naturally, and she flat out laughed while I asked about natural birth classes saying she had never even heard of Bradley. She was joking, right?).

Our new midwife is encouraging and positive-- she didn't focus on what COULD happen negatively, but how to go about making the birth of our daughter a positive experience. And she encouraged both my husband and myself to explore birth art (after she mentioned that we should read Birthing from Within and I said I read it in three days). I might not be an artiste, but I explored art as a student and considered a college career in art so using birth art to explore our feelings about labor is actually quite exciting to me. My husband is having a hard time embracing it because he thinks he can't do it, but he, despite his initial snickers at the thought of birth art way back when, is being supportive, open, and very curious about my use of birth art.

Above is my first piece of birth art done in crayon.
I am laboring in water, supported by my husband. I am warm colors because my body is using and producing strong energy while my husband is in cool colors to keep things calm. There is a tree budding around us because we feel connected to nature, but it also represents our growing family tree. The heart represents our son, Gabriel. The abstract sphere emerging into the tree trunk is our daughter. Around my crayon sketch I have written some phrases that speak to me about birth (some of the phrases are very hypnobirthy).

And then there's waterbirth. Something I never had really considered and then I saw a video. It was so peaceful. Everything was so calm and gentle for both Mom and baby. I read about the benefits-- such as reduced risk of tearing, natural pain coping techniques, and a soft transition for the baby leaving the womb. I read about the risks... which are honestly very low when waterbirth is practiced safely. With my midwife, the baby's numbers need to look great for me to get in or stay in the tub for pushing. And if everything looks good, waterbirth is something we are strongly considering.

What's great about my midwife is that she has done a lot of waterbirths. She is actually on babycenter.com's waterbirth video. And the hospital where I am delivering is waterbirth friendly with a tub equipped for birth in one of the suites.

So we're excited, we're curious, we're a little nervous, but above all, we are now at peace because we have taken the experience in the birth of our daughter into our hands and made it something for us to experience as a family. It's no longer about the medical stuff-- that stuff is important, and our baby's safety and health is our number one priority-- but we are not looking at birth in terms of "going to the doctor" anymore.

And that, is birth art in itself.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet (Giveaway ends 1/11/11)

UPDATE 1/13/11
Winner was selected by random number generator, and has been contacted. Thanks to all who entered!

Well, happy new year all! It has been a lovely start to 2011 already for our little family, and to celebrate, I have some fun for you all with a review and giveaway of The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet by Karin Knight and Tina Ruggiero.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for a sample recipe from the book.
Yes, the recipes include nutrition information. Hot.

So I will just remind you all I love making homemade baby food. It saves money, it's healthier for your child, and it is actually a good time. Obviously, I was ecstatic when I was asked to review this cookbook of homemade baby food recipes.

And I have to say, this book brings it. It's full (as in over 200) of recipes for babies of all ages. In fact, the book is broken up into "chapters" based on baby's age, complete with helpful hints to go along with each stage of food. The book answers a lot of questions parents ask in a short first chapter (Should I Go Organic or Not?), and it serves as a great compass in the ways of homemade food.

What I particularly love about this book is the great variety of recipes in it. I have been making my son's food from the start, and there were ideas in here that sound delicious that I had not thought of (and I was skeptical that nothing in this book would sound new to me). Sure, there are how-to recipes on simple purees, but there are also great ideas for using food in baby-friendly ways (like a strawberry omelette or green beans in cream cheese and yogurt).

These recipes are simple enough to make, but they are inventive so that your babies will enjoy them, and I firmly believe that getting kids to try a variety of foods at a young age will help them to have a more developed and adventurous kid palate. I know it could happen, but I am trying desperately not to have that kid who will not eat anything at the party just because he hates all food. And honestly, I know this book has opened new doors for me involving what I prepare for my son.

One other thing I just wanted to note is that this book is helpful in getting you into new foods for your little one. We are not a huge tofu-eating family so I am sort of intimidated when it comes to preparing it, and this book is totally unassuming of your experience with varied foods-- I felt good that I didn't need to be a vegetarian James Beard winner to know what to do with the tofu mentioned in this book because it points out what is what so that you can successfully prepare the right tofu (or whatever!) product for your kid.

The book is priced at $19.99 and was published in November 2010 so it's a hot new item out there in the baby market. And if you want to make your baby's food, I would buy this book as your go-to-- it really did impress me, and I was not paid to say that. It's hefty and worth the purchase.

And you can win a copy of The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet!
*Include your e-mail in every comment so I can contact you if you win!*

Option #1: Follow this blog (on the left hand side) and leave a comment.

Option #2: Follow @amomwriting on Twitter and leave a comment.

Option #3: Visit
the book's website here: http://www.homemadebabyfood.net/ and tell me something you learned there.

Option #4: Tweet about this giveaway, including a link to this blog post (http://su.pr/1wFGTe), the title of the book, & @amomwriting. (as much as twice per day) Comment for each tweet.

Bon Appetit!

This giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on January 11, 2011. All entries without an e-mail address included are disqualified.

I was given a copy of the book to review, but was not paid for opinions or this giveaway event. These opinions are mine and mine alone.

Excerpted with permission...

7 months: Orange You Cute Carrot and Sweet Potato

Baby carrots can also be cut into thin strips (julienned) and microwaved, steamed, or simmered until very soft and served as finger food. When cooked or served with a little unsalted butter, the fat helps the body absorb the carrots’ vitamin A.

4 baby carrots
1⁄4 cup (60 g) peeled, cubed, and cooked sweet potato
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water

Microwave Method:
Cut the carrots lengthwise, then in half, and place in a small glass bowl with the cooked sweet potato and water. Cover and microwave on high 2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then purée in a blender or mash with a fork. Use apple juice, breast milk, or formula if needed to achieve desired consistency.

Yield: 4 baby servings, 2 tablespoons (30 g) each

Each serving contains: 12.8 calories; 0.0 g total fat; 0.0 g saturated fat; 0.0 mg cholesterol; 7.1 mg sodium; 3.0 g carbo-hydrates; 0.5 g dietary fiber; 0.3 g protein; 5.0 mg calcium; 0.1 mg iron; 3009.2 IU vitamin A; and 2.1 mg vitamin C.

--The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet, 2010. Knight & Ruggiero.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Catching Up on Christmastime

I hope you had yourselves a Merry Christmas! We sure did. And somehow, I made it through the other side of Christmas without completely crashing. Oh, I got sick all right, and I got the first really gross cough I have had in years, but Santa came, my son loves his new toys, my husband and I actually have had time to spend together, and we had a lovely time with our family.

A blurry, but cute picture of Gabriel in his new Ikea chair (and wow, he loves it).
Thanks MomMom & Grandad!

So what now? Back to life. But it's starting to feel like a different life is unfolding for me lately. I think it has to do with the budding belly I have (and I might have been eating jolly the past weeks, but that bump is mostly baby, I promise).

Things just seem different to me. My purpose, I guess. I feel much more connected with being a mother than ever before. I feel like I CAN manage things. And it isn't that I didn't feel that way before-- I just think that somehow getting all our Christmas shopping done, stripping our cloth diapers of ammonia, cleaning, baking cookies, working, and being Mommy all at once made me feel good about myself. I mean, wow, I got a lot done in December.

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Except blogging. Errr... sorry about that.

To follow, though, I want to say that I am feeling much more at peace with our decision to prepare for a natural birth. My husband bought me two books for Christmas (ones I wanted), which most natural birth Moms know (Birthing From Within and Hypnobirthing). They are excellent reads thus far, and they even came with a very sincere note from my husband that he is totally engaged in our preparation and pursuit of a natural birth. It was really touching to read his sincere commitment to something I want so badly. It made me realize this is something WE want, and I know that is going to be important.

Almost 19 Weeks along with our Gumdrop (#2)
Our "big" ultrasound is January 4th

I guess where I am going with this is that pursuing a natural birth needing to be a team effort is much like the effort to go green. It has to be a team thing. You can't do it alone, and it's not always easy to make the choices you do. As this year closes, I realize we have so much more to do to be a greener household, but I feel exhilarated about making further changes (maybe taking on composting next Summer?!) rather than daunted because this is something we do as a family. And maybe that is what this Christmas has taught me. Making the journey of life as a family is a true gift.

I am lucky to have a beautiful, blossoming family.

(Review and Giveaway of The Best Homemade Baby Food On The Planet & a Review of Rockin Green Funk Rock coming later this week! Don't miss it!!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Snow Baby.

Gabe explored snowfall for the first time today. There was plenty of snow last winter, but he wasn't really able to comprehend it. This year, he is a curious little man.

Hi, snow!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Not At Peace with Separation

My son would like to be on the E*Trade commercials.

Or at least own a Blackberry.

I know my posting has really slowed down the past two months, and I am sorry for it, but things are seeming nonstop here in our little household. For one, I took on a 25 hour (4 almost full days) per week schedule to attack student loans, and second, we have a very curious toddler. I miss writing almost daily so much, but running around has really gotten in the way of it. I am going to try and pick up steam over the holidays, but we'll see! I do have a fun giveaway coming up-- a newly published book on homemade baby food. Yum!

In any case, things have really been full speed ahead. We're now 17 weeks along with our gumdrop (this is the nickname I have been calling the baby, though I don't think anyone else knows it), and I have been battling separation anxiety.

No, not my child's separation anxiety. Mine.

I feel so guilty for leaving him at childcare. And I know this is a working Mom's plight-- something that sort of will bother me in waves. But for some reason, the past few weeks have been brutal, and I am hormonal from the pregnancy anyway. I find myself crying on my way to work quite often, whether I am leaving him with my Mom on Mondays or at "school" on other days of the week.

Maybe it is that he is now so much more a little person than ever before, with clear preferences, pet peeves, varied physical abilities, and a clearly curious nature. And a strong-willed sense of self. (as in, he has a hard time listening to me say, "No.")

Either way, it has just been hard. I want so much to be with my baby, to be the one teaching him, feeding him, loving him. But at the same time I know that being a good Mommy to him right now is working. The bills can't pay themselves.

So that's where I am tonight... not really thinking about life as a green Momma, but just life as a Mom in general, wishing so badly I could spend more days like tomorrow (I don't work tomorrow!) with my son.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Little Saint Nick...

Tonight is December 5th, which in my family and many family's traditions, it is St. Nicholas Night. We, like many children in the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium (we're not German to my knowledge, but who cares!) put our shoes out in the hallway in the hopes that St. Nick will leave us a little something. And this year, the tradition continued from my childhood to Gabriel's!

He put out his shoes in his stylish Santa in Space pajamas (compliments of his MomMom and Grandad)...

He had a nice evening looking at books and reading with his Mommy and Daddy...

And then St. Nick stopped by with exactly what every little boy and girls wants... an organic brown rice yogurt bar and banana! I smile because my little man really does find these things to be a treat.

Nom. Nom. Nom.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You can bet your bottom dollar...

Or can you? I was driving home tonight, and I heard an advertisement for a new food chain in my area. Bottom Dollar Food.

A rose by any other name would smell... better than that! I KNOW that times are rough, and I know families are struggling to feed their little ones more than ever, but with stores called Bottom Dollar Food coming out of the woodwork pretending to be saintly, consumers are bound to be fooled.

I wish I could hear advertisements on the radio explaining that WIC and senior citizen food programs can be applied toward fresh farmers market food-- and believe it or not, farm fresh food is not always the most expensive (Yes, free range meat is pricey, but string beans? pumpkins? These things go for a steal straight from the farm.)

So that's my little rant for the day. And sorry for ranting, actually-- that is not normally my style!


In other news, Gabe is now a full fledged toddler, and he enjoys getting into everything, and ignoring the word, "No." Hi, temper tantrums! I feel like the world of parenting is now just beginning for my husband and me. It's a wonderful challenge.

Oh, and Gabe also now sings "Lalala" if I ask him where his tongue is. It's adorable.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Our Quest for a Natural Birth with Baby #2

So we're out of the first trimester (Whew!), and I am finally starting to feel human again-- as in, food is not repulsive, I can cook and change diapers without gagging, and I do not fall asleep sitting up on our futon watching Gossip Girl (Yes, I watch Gossip Girl. It is my one guilty pleasure).

And now it's starting to really hit me-- we're actually having another baby. And let's focus on the verb there. HAVING. As in, there will be labor.

I had preterm labor with Gabriel, and I contracted for seven weeks before I was induced with our first little nugget. My husband and I had signed up for breathing and relaxation classes that were scheduled for while I was on bedrest. As in, we never went to them. And in all the fear of "I'm not ready to be a Mom of a preemie," etc., our plans for an epidural-free birth went out of the window.

And now I'm not scared. Of preterm labor anyway. If it comes again, I am not going to let it intimidate me from having the birth I want. And I will say that Gabriel's birth was beautiful-- I was very clear that I would only go with induction if I had extremely good odds of it working well (I was dilated to 3 cm before any pitocin, and Gabe was very low-- I had very good numbers in the "this will work well" column), and things took off once my water was broken. I had a vaginal birth, which was the most important thing to me in the world, and I am so glad for that.

What was awful? The epidural. I was stuck more than five times. Whatever the resident did to me made me feel like a metal straw was being stuck into my vertebrae over and over again. The head anesthesiologist of the hospital then came to patching things up, and things went uphill from there... but the mere thought of an epidural sends crampy aches through my lower spine. I just can't even imagine thinking about epidurals while in labor. I just want to labor.

Is that reason I want a natural birth? No. I want to experience natural birth because I feel strongly that I want to experience the full-natured embodiment of child birth. I want to birth a baby without drugs going into his or her little body. I want to be able to walk right away without nurses hovering at my sides. I want a lot of things.

And so now, we're figuring out how to do this. We have decided, and to some natural birth mothers this may seem odd, to remain in the care of our OB team. I really have enjoyed working with these doctors, and they are in full support of letting us go natural. They have agreed to allow us a low intervention experience at the hospital without the constant monitors and IVs (so long as there is no emergency). And I do think this practice roots for vaginal birth. And they did a few things that made me happy while in labor with Gabriel-- one of them being a massage of oil for my perineum while I pushed rather than an episiotomy.

But what now? How are we planning to cope with the pain? Will I be able to get the room with the tub at the hospital so that I can labor while in water? What about water birth? Lamaze? Bradley? Hire a doula? Can we do any of this without spending a bagillion dollars? Is anything natural covered by insurance? What?

These questions all seem awkward, because a lot of the classes and things are meant for first time parents. And I have already been in labor and been coached and pushed. My husband and mother were amazing. My husband was such a calm, loving, and encouraging presence, and my Mom was empowering-- she always let me know that the head was coming closer or that she could see more. They helped me along so well. So I know that as my husband undertakes the role of a hands-on labor coach (I'm thinking massages and the like), he will be amazing at it. We just need the details.

So here we are... looking for the details. Any suggestions on our quest for a natural birth, including books, etc., would be great!