October 19, 2012

Fall of the Year

Hey, ladies!

I've never heard this phrase before a year or so into my relationship with Ry.  Apparently it's a real saying, that means fall's a comin'.  Despite my skepticism, I now believe it's a real phrase, and not another one of Ry's nuggets of wisdom that he attributes to wise people, his father or famous people, only to then whisper to me later that he just made it up on the spot.  He makes up really good, quotable sound bites, and earns credibility by attributing it to someone who has more years or experience (and hence wisdom) than he.  Smart guy.  Gets me every time.

It's now fall of the year here in Vermont.  The leaves have turned and fallen. The Connecticut and New York and New Jersey license plates have come, stalled traffic to a complete stop, bought chainsaw carvings of bears, eaten at Ben & Jerry's, and gone.  Now it's pretty much stick season.  And it's been rainy.

A great time of year to be a new mom, sitting at home, nursing and holing up.  It makes for quite cozy times, with a cuddly new born.

Top ten things that I have learned about motherhood, and about Harper:

  1. Harper does not like wearing hats.
  2. I am not afraid of whipping my breasts out in public nor in front of anyone.  I have no more modesty.  They are vehicles for life-giving milk, people! (Often times I forget to put them away, or adjust my clothes post-nursing, and Ry has to remind me that I am half dressed and disheveled.)
  3. Bouncy seats and swings were made by really smart people who were obviously parents.
  4. Harper smiles.  I don't care what anyone says, it's not gas, it's smiles.
  5. My baby is the cutest baby in the world.
  6. It is possible to have a newborn and make dinner.  Sometimes.
  7. Cloth diapers get really wet really quickly, and get everything near them wet, too.
  8. It's true what they say - having a baby is the worst thing you can do for the environment.  I do laundry every day; I use up more hot water washing bottles and breast pump dishes than I ever have before; we leave lights on, and air purifiers and humidifiers and night lights.  To name a few.
  9. I've learned new words and abbreviations from online parenting sites:
      • BTDT Mom - now I myself am a Been There Done That mom
      • BM - both breast milk AND bowel movement.  Don't confuse them.
      • DH, DS, DD - darling husband, son or daughter
      • Photo Bomb - a s*** ton of photos of your DS or DD or LO (little one)

The rest of this post will be a photo bomb.

Pooh face.

My baby can already hold pacifiers in his mouth.  Gifted.


Paci in the eye.

Finally big enough for a baby carrier, which means we can simultaneously drink coffee while holding Harper.

Norse God.

Get in my belly.

First foliage.

August 28, 2012

Back on My Feet

I can't believe the last time I wrote was July 5th, when I wanted ice cream.  Oh, to be young again.  So much has happened since that time.  Here's the short story.*

I went the to the hospital on July 6th with contractions.  We stayed for a long weekend.  The bed rest sentence got stricter.

My water broke on August 18th at midnight.  We went to the hospital.  Out came a baby!

Harper William was born on 8/20/2012 at 3:20pm, just hours under 32 weeks gestational age.  He was 3 lbs 15 oz, and 17 inches long.  He is a doll...very small, but proportional, and cute as can be.  He is in the NICU and will be for a while, but we are coping.  It is made easier by the fact that he is doing so damn well right now.  The emotion behind that is too much to write about now.  Suffice to say, we had a rough go of it, but are beyond lucky, beyond fortunate, beyond blessed to have been dealt the hand we have.  And we know it.

So, here I am, back at home again, recovering from major abdominal surgery (did I mention it was a c-section?), and I am thrilled.  The fact that I can sit in chairs, eat at tables, move around the house -- albeit slowly -- is soul satisfying.  No more bed rest!

I have been pushing it, because it's so tempting to be able to do stuff again, and I know that is bad. But I still feel physically OK...and I still have pain meds.  The first place I started was the kitchen, of course.  Our garden is producing, and it is just too hard to watch stuff go by when I can finally get my hands on it!

I am rusty, however.  So far I have...

  • burned myself with hot oil
  • burned toast
  • set the fire alarm off while making eggs
  • ate an eggshell in the same egg dish
  • forgot tomatoes on Ry's grilled TOMATO and cheese sandwich (it's three ingredients...c'mon)
But I did make a few wonderful things...
  • roasted tomato sauce (froze two ziplock bags flat)
  • pasta bake with said roasted tomato sauce
  • peach, corn, black bean "salsa" - it's more like a salad
  • tomato, mozzarella, basil, grilled chicken panini in a bowl
  • grilled chicken and corn "succotash" over pasta
The succotash dish was/is amazing (I am eating it right now), and I am pretty sure I invented it, so I am going to write up the recipe shortly and post it.

Til then, here is our beautiful baby boy.  Love.

*Long story will follow.

July 5, 2012

What I Want Most Right Now...

Is this...

That is a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone from Friendly's, on a plain cone.

We have been buying a lot of these lately:

...and I fear I may have become addicted.  I have a moderate portion at the end of every night.  Ok, and sometimes a small portion in the middle of the day if I am working at home.

Today I am working at work, and can't stop thinking about the green, crunchy, minty, sweet, chocolatey, refreshing treat that is sitting at home waiting for me.

Yes, we live in Vermont so I should be eating Ben and Jerry's.  Sure, we try to eat really healthy and locally and blah blah blah, so I really shouldn't be eating a lot of dyed foods.  With unnatural flavors. 

But there is something still so wholesome and pure about the old-fashioned, traditional GREEN mint chocolate chip ice cream flavor.  And, growing up in Massachusetts, I know Friendly's is the best.  Because, like most other amazing things in the world, Massachusetts is the home of Friendly's.  I would even venture to say that perhaps this ice cream is almost local...since it comes from Western Mass, and I grew up in Western Mass, and we are currently near to Western Mass. 

Nothing else really compares.  The chocolate chips crunch in your molars a certain way that is simply perfection.  (And they then get stuck in your molars, but that just means you have a treat for later, when you get to pick out the chunks with your tongue.)  And the green just tastes better.

June 29, 2012

And oh, how we shall eat...

Just because I'm on the couch doesn't mean we aren't eating well!  Ry has taken his new role of sole-dinner maker to a whole new level.  I swear, I haven't eaten this well in a looong time.

Does this mean that I am not actually that good of a cook? Or that it just tastes better when someone else makes it?  Or are we eating simpler, more wholesome meals where the ingredients just shine on their own?  Or is it that we're starting to eat things from our garden!?  We did just buy a gas grill, which has helped revolutionize and expand our culinary repertoire.

Either way, here is a sampling of our meals recently:

Marinated grilled pork chops and peaches.  Greens from our garden.
Grilled shrimp and whole-wheat linguini with garlic scape pesto.
Boiled beets and greens with butter, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Paaaaastaaa with a hearty chicken and vegetable sauce.  This is my death row meal.  Or my special occasion meal, if you want to look at the lighter side of life.
Steak, beets and simple green salad.
More grilled pork chops, whole wheat couscous and Kat & Ed Tomato Chutney, and simple green salad.
Yeah, that's Mickey Mouse.  Ry made me Mickey Mouse pancakes, for peet's sake!

Here is the recipe from Bon Appetit for the Marinated Pork Chops we used, and we substituted marjoram for oregano.


June 22, 2012

Fists of Solidarity (or Being a Couch Potato)

Our pregnancy isn't what you'd call "normal."  At the risk of giving too much information, I have a short cervix, and need a bunch of interventions to ensure that this baby stays in his cooker.  So, I've had a procedure (success!), and am getting weekly hormone shots (Ry will be starting to give them to me next week)...and I am sentenced to "couch potato rest."

Being in the hospital for the procedure was kind of a big deal, but we only had to be there for 9 hours.  The couch potatoeness, on the other hand, has been a much bigger deal, and one that we will be dealing with for the next 13 weeks.  We are dealing with it quite well, though, one-week in.  We had one tough day of transition, but then I'm proud to say we quickly developed a routine--which we like--and it hasn't been all that bad.

Ry has been amazing - cooking, cleaning, laundering, vacuuming, gardening, getting me everything. We can't decide which is going to be harder once this sentence lifts - me stopping asking for everything, or Ry being in charge of everything.  He has been quite impressive, even labeling condiments that he just opened with the date that he opened them.  Genius.  I think we are both learning a lot about each other.

Everyday I pretend I am one of two things.  The first is a lazy high school teenage girl (which I used to be), who only wants to lay outside in the sun, tan, paint nails and read trashy magazines classic novels.  The other thing I pretend, and mostly when Ry is around waiting on me hand and foot, is that I am completely loaded (like Pregnant in Heels* loaded), and have an actual butler, and I just sit around while someone does everything for me.

I am incredibly fortunate that I am still able to work, and actually haven't had as much time as I thought I would to knit, read, do crosswords, organize iPhoto because I have been working 40 hours a week!  Thank goodness for computers!  I work with a woman who was on strict bed rest for 20 weeks, before the days of the internet, and THAT would be challenging.  This is still hard, but I think I am in the best worst case scenario possible.  

So, here is my set up from 8:30 - 5:

And this is me, pretending I can still garden:

(Note my awesome $50 reclining chair from Walmart.  Game-changing).

I originally thought I'd be blogging constantly and maybe I still will, once I get bored.  But in the meantime, I ask you to help us keep strong and positive with a Fist of Solidarity.  Close your fist strong, and point it at the nearest cervix, and think/wish/pray/visualize my cervix staying CLOSED and STRONG for the next 14 weeks.  We have to keep this baby boy (yes it's a baby BOY) in!


*I've only watched pieces of one episode, so I am only assuming it's about rich people who are pregnant.  I hope to watch more of it soon.  Maybe that'll be my project for weeks 3 - 5 of this sentence.

June 4, 2012

I think I just made Refried Beans from scratch.

Refried Beans - you just take beans and fry them, right?  Actually I am not so sure.

We had tacos the other day, and didn't have any refried beans, and I really really wanted some.  Consider it a craving, and the only answer is to find refried beans.  No other option exists.  I popped into the pantry and found some kidney beans.

"I think I got this," I said to myself.

Potato masher, big spoon, bowl.  I drain the kidney beans of most of their water.  I mush them all  up.  I heat up some olive oil in a cast iron, and add the mush.  I add some paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt and black pepper.  I stir.  I taste.

They taste like refried beans!  But more importantly, they remind me of the dried refried bean mix you can buy at bulk food stores that I used to eat while camping.

In 2004, I hiked the Long Trail the length of Vermont with a great friend.  We joke that even though we felt pain for each and every single step of the 272-mile hike, it was still the greatest experience.  We had ravenous appetites.  We hiked with two other men, who for some reason, could handle the 12 - 15 mile days with nothing more than a Lipton soup packet and a granola bar.

We, however, had to eat at least 6 full meals to feel satiated.

The point of the story, however, is that dried refried bean mix became our dessert.  Our after dinner treat.  Our last chance before bed to pack on the calories.  So we ate the mix, spoonful by spoonful.  Dry.  My trail-palate thought it tasted like Doritos.  But each time we'd gorge on these Doritos, we'd then drink a lot of water and those Doritos would double, maybe even triple, in size in our stomachs.  It led to some massive stomach aches.

I recreated them in my kitchen, years later.  This time without the stomach aches.  I'll call that a success.

May 17, 2012

Maternity Journal: The First Trimester (Part 2)

Now that I am safely into the second trimester, I am happy to reflect back on those first 13 weeks.  We found out very early on, both because I had a premonition the day I'm pretty sure it happened and was henceforth paying extra attention to my body.  And something was up.  Because I could just "tell" something was up, exactly 4 weeks after my LMP (last menstrual period, and pardon my TMI), we took the test and, sure enough, a plus sign!

So elation ensued!  And uncertainty and a little hysteria, but mostly elation and happy disbelief in the miracle of life.

Those first few weeks it was SO hard not to tell anyone.  But that didn't stop us because we are terrible secret keepers.  We ended up telling some friends, family and co-workers, because we couldn't keep this giant news to ourselves! 

But there were lots of implications job-wise and social-life-wise as well, which made us "have" to tell some folks.  Like was I still going to travel to Africa for work (another topic for another day)?  Like how was I going to try to pretend like I was still drinking?  (We generated some creative ways, but never used them because I am a terrible liar and faker, and I ended up just ordering water, which was a dead-giveaway for some).

It wasn't like we were shouting it from the rooftops, though, as for me it felt like I ended up telling people as an excuse.  Like why wasn't I drinking?  Why can't I go to Africa?  For me, I spent the first few times telling people using it as an apology of sorts, and trying to hide it, and ending up feeling a bit sheepish when I finally admitted it.

Everyone we told was elated, but I still felt guilty somewhat because this thing that was happening to me was causing others inconvenience or changing plans or pause.  I didn't realize how this effected me until I cried one day (big surprise), and it evolved into me feeling weird, detached and kind of sad about being pregnant.  Ry pointed out that I'd been living with this pregnancy as an apology, and with negative feelings, and that I needed to start thinking positively about it.  That realization was everything.

From then on, my perspective and my mood changed.  I relished moments when I got to tell people, and made a conscious effort to make sure I was announcing it and not apologizing for it.  We still waited to get out of the woods miscarriage-wise and tried to wait the standard 12 - 14 weeks for it to become public knowledge, which was tough.  That's why I didn't blog much - because how do I write about other things when there is literally only one thing on my mind?  And because I was tired, and kind of pukey.

I think the best thing that came out of that low point was Ry and I developed a nightly routine where we take 5 minutes, both put our hands on my belly, and talk to our baby.  Sending it positive thoughts, and building a connection.  Reiki for babies.