[info_box]Guest Blogger #13: Elizabeth Evans. Elizabeth is a single mom living in Longview, WA, a small city in the southwest corner of the state. Her blog, The Cowlitz Locavorian, covers her adventures in local and nourishing real foods.[/info_box]
I used to laugh at myself when I bought Cheetos from the vending machine at work. “Cheetos are good for you,” I would say. “There was actually real cheese in the same room when they were made!”
I get serious cravings for salty snacks and cheesy snacks, even though I know Cheetos and Cheese Nips are a classic example of what Michael Pollan calls “edible food-like substances.” It’s been a while now since I had one, and I might be able to resist if someone waved them under my nose.
For a long time, I just tried not to include edible food-like substances into my diet. I would stand in the store holding a box of Cheese Nips and muttering “edible food-like substance” and on days when both my resolve and my budget were strong, I would buy Triscuits and Tillamook cheddar cheese instead. (Tillamook medium cheddar is a standard grocery store buy in this area, frequently on sale. The cows are partly grass-fed, and it is made within 100 miles of home. It’s my minimum quality standard cheese for cooking.)
Just leaving the bad stuff out isn’t always enough. Sometimes you need to add the good stuff in as well.
Good cheese. Extraordinary cheese. Miraculous cheese. A good sharp Cheddar like Cougar Gold from the WSU Creamery is just a starting place.
My son Nathaniel doesn’t share this craving. It took years of patience to get my son to accept that Tillamook medium cheddar is “normal” cheese, instead of the American cheese he was used to from school.
Since I have to cook for both of us, my quest for cheese became a quest for cheese that he would eat as well.
Then I stumbled across the Pacific Northwest Cheese Projects, a blog that strives to list every artisan cheesemaker in the Pacific Northwest.
Only one was available in my home town, Blue Rose Dairy, which was sold at the farmer’s market and in one health food store. At $16 a pound, I couldn’t buy it very often.
My son turned up his nose at their chevre, which was fine with me. More for me. But it meant I couldn’t cook with it.
He thought my pizza with chevre and beets on a whole wheat crust was just weird. He ate two bites and left the rest for me. I have to admit it wasn’t very pizza-like, but it was tasty.
I don’t leave town just to shop, only when I have to travel anyway. A trip to Vancouver costs me $10, to Portland or Olympia more like $12. So I was elated the day that I managed to get a visit to the Olympia Food Co-op worked into a necessary visit to Olympia. Several of the Washington state cheeses listed on the Pacific Northwest Cheese Project were available there.
I came home with organic blue corn masa, my first-time-ever quart of raw milk, and three little packages of cheese.
Valentina cheese, from Estrella Family Creamery, changed my view on the cost of cheese vs. cheese-like foods forever.
Valentina is a raw cow’s milk cheese, a sharp, well-aged Gruyere-type cheese named after one of their cows.
It was so good that I moaned when I tried it. The little sliver melted in my mouth in a cascade of flavors — sharp, salty, fruity, nutty, wine-like.
It has become my standard for cheese flavor. No cheese has ever measured up to it. I don’t have a large sampling for comparison, but not even imported Parmigiana Reggiono or Asiago quite measured up.
And no Cheeto ever came close.
When I first tried it, I just sat on the couch for about a half an hour, carefully shaving off slivers with a vegetable peeler, placing one sliver at a time into my mouth, and moaning and rolling my eyes in ecstasy as one brilliant but elusive flavor melted into another.
Nathaniel, then about 15, said it was “OK.”
“OK” means he will eat it without significant protest as long as I don’t layer it on too thickly.
I did try cooking with it, with the first delivery from a new CSA, grating a little onto a bowl of white bean, squash and kale soup, and it was excellent in that role, enhancing the soup without either the soup or the cheese being overwhelmed by the other.
He thought the soup was “OK,” too.
The other cheeses? He liked the Adelle from Ancient Heritage Dairy. This one is a soft, ripened sheep’s milk cheese. “It would be good on crackers,” he said.
We were making progress.
And the family Bible study we attended they enjoyed a little round of Cirrus from Mt. Townsend Creamery, a Camembert style cheese. “I don’t know anything about these gourmet things,” said our leader, but a young man who had visited Europe went nuts over it…he had no idea anything like it was available in the U.S.
That was a couple of years ago, during my mis-timed participation in the Pennywise Challenge for locavores (I was only a year late! – no need for Nathaniel to get in such a huff over it when I figured it out).
I haven’t had many opportunities for cheese exploration since then. Trips to Portland have been centered around Shriner’s Hospital. Trips to Olympia have been centered around college campus visits and shopping for special shoes for him.
But I am convinced that the quest for wonderful cheese is worth continuing.
And on a cost comparison basis?
An ounce of a good artisan cheese (at $16 – $19.95/pound) will cost $1.00 – $1.24. A 2-ounce bag of Cheetos costs somewhere around a dollar. Both measures are light snack sizes. In terms of either nutrition or pleasure, a good cheese wins every round.
I might not want to put the more expensive cheeses into a casserole…but even without finding another cheese to equal the bliss of Valentina — I would much rather spend my $1.25 of snack money on really good cheese. A little goes a long way, especially if you slice it with a vegetable peeler!
And Nathaniel? This summer we finally found a cheese he was enthusiastic about.
At a family reunion, my dad brought out a Stilton cheese and a bottle of port on the last evening. He announced that he had been hearing all his life what a great combination this was, and he had made up his mind that one of the things he wanted really to try was Stilton and port.
I knew just what my dad meant. I read lots of books set in the Regency/Napoleonic wars era. The gentlemen in these novels always round off their dinners with a fine Stilton and a bottle of port, while the ladies retire to the drawing room. I think Bunter served up this classic pairing to Lord Peter Wimsey in Dorothy Sayers’ novels as well. So it felt like a taste of both history and literature, as well as cuisine.
It may have been the effect of letting him sample the port (powerful, rich, and silky smooth), but my son loved the Stilton!
He went around the room with a little plate and fork trying to persuade all the younger kids to try it. “Go on,” he said, “it’s a little strong but it’s really good!”
If only Stilton were local…but since it’s both imported and famous, I can probably buy it at a well-stocked Safeway!
NOTE/WARNING from Elizabeth: I found this news shortly after sending my entry in. On September 4 the FDA issued a press release with a safety warning on possible Listeria contamination in Estrella Family Creamery cheeses. Apparently it was found during testing on cheese from one cave and none of the contaminated cheeses were actually released to the market. Here’s the original FDA release and a story that does a good job of telling the dairy’s side of the story –which is that there was not, emphatically not, an actual recall (which is what happens when contaminated food is actually sold). In fact, this may prove to be a good example of the food safety system working as it should…vigilant attention to safety catching problems before they reach the market place, instead of, say, 15 million eggs later.
NOTE FROM MOMMYPOTAMUS: Leave a comment below to help Elizabeth win the Blog For Mommypotamus and Win Your Own Blog” Contest!Read More »
Lynsey Stone, aka the DFW Birth Photographer, was the first person I called when I found out I was pregnant. Yep, I’m so in love with her work that I scheduled her 39 weeks in advance, and that’s not all! I have actually introduced myself to women I saw on her blog. How do you like this one?
Hi! You don’t know me but I saw you make that scrunchy face as you pushed your baby out. Where? Oh, Lynsey’s website! You did a great job!
Your kids were wearing GOGGLES in the birthing pool. So funny! I hope those boys love their little sister. (To be fair, I met this mom once before at a birth class. . . she wasn’t a COMPLETE stranger)
Or to a mom of four:
Umm . . . you looked like you were enjoying that contraction a little. too. much. [Internal thought: You looked like you were making a baby, not pushing one out!]
Little did I know how important that call would become. After a difficult labor I had so many different emotions to process through. Sharing my story has helped tremendously, but when all was written the experience still felt stained with confusion and disappointment in myself.
Watching Lynsey’s slideshow changed that. In eighty-three images, she washed a grimy window and let the light through. She captured the beauty of the moment and washed the pain away. She made me feel strong again . . . at least, stronger than I did. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen it now, but it has been a very healing experience.
On a totally different note, here’s a little piece of Potamus family trivia for you: The music playing throughout the slideshow, Brian Johnson’s “Love Came Down,” was playing at the exact moment that Micah made his entrance.
Click anywhere on the photo below to begin slideshowRead More »
Note from Mommypotamus: Today’s guest post comes from Crystal Di Domizio, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Prenatal Wellness Coach and Birth Doula in Vancouver, BC. She is passionate about helping women and couples prepare their body, mind and soul for pregnancy. You can find her blogging about her personal journey to motherhood through nourishing foods and conscious conception at PrenatalCoach.com. Thank you for stopping by, Crystal!
For pregnancy before you conceive? Well that depends on who you ask! As a holistic nutritionist and prenatal wellness coach I believe that the first opportunity you have to optimize your child’s health is in the preconception period. It also helps to boost natural fertility, which could conceivably save you months or years of heartache when you are ready to have a baby.
Unfortunately, medically unexplained infertility is on the rise and I think that our high stress lifestyles, nutritionally deficient diets and overwhelming amount of environmental toxins are to blame. By starting to make small changes over the 6-12 month period before conception you can ensure that you are creating the best possible environment for a baby to grow and thrive.
Let’s take a look at this concept of nourishing the soil before you plant the seed. Farmers and gardeners understand the importance of preparing, tilling and fertilizing the soil long before they plant their crop. They understand that the nutrients contained within the soil provide nourishment for the plants whole life cycle, not just germination. This analogy is a great example of why preconception health is so important. It should be considered a component of preventative medicine, beginning up to 12 months prior to women consciously trying to become pregnant. Creating a safe and nourishing home for that little seedling to grow will help ensure its survival from germination to maturation.
Did you know that it takes over 3 months to mature the egg to be ready for ovulation and over 3 months for men to produce a new batch of sperm? During this time they are extremely sensitive to nutritional deficiencies and exposure to toxins – so much so that if the quality of the egg and sperm are low enough you may not be able to conceive! Knowing this, I’d like to suggest that you “Act pregnant now, to get pregnant later” which Gabriela Rosa, a fertility expert in Australia highly recommends. The good news is that better quality sperm and eggs lead to increased fertility, reduced risk of miscarriage and healthier babies.
Already pregnant and didn’t prepare in advance? Don’t fret. Applying these preconception tips during pregnancy will also have a positive effect on the health of your baby.
If you have the time, I recommend taking a minimum of 6-12 months to prepare your body for pregnancy. Why so long? Because we don’t live in the same world that our grandparents and parents grew up in… our diets now revolve around packaged and processed convenience foods that are severely devoid of nutrients and our homes and personal care products are filled with toxic chemicals. I feel a strong pull now, more than ever to follow the guidance of our ancestors and go back to traditionally prepared real food to create a healthier generation of children.
Where should you start? The first step is to create a positive mindset and intention for the changes you want to make. Focus on gradually creating a healthier lifestyle through small changes over a period of time and before you know it you’ve set up a great foundation for a healthy pregnancy! The more time you can give yourself to integrate these changes, the better! Remember that it takes approximately 120 days for our cells (eggs, sperm, red blood cells etc.) to change from dietary and lifestyle modifications. It’s definitely worth your time to take at least 4 months to prepare your body for pregnancy.
At least 6-12+ months before you want to conceive. They are known to deplete your body of the very same nutrients that you need for fertility and to nourish a growing fetus during the first trimester. It can also take months for your hormones to find their natural balance and for your body to start ovulating again, which is essential for conception.
I recommend that you do this with the help of a qualified health care professional to ensure that it is the right approach for you. Look for a naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist or holistic nutritionist who specializes in preconception health care for support. (I do NOT recommend that you focus on weight loss or cleansing/detoxing in the 6 months leading up to conception or when you are breastfeeding because the toxins being released from your tissues can be damaging to the fetus.)
This is even more important for subsequent pregnancies. Both pregnancy and breastfeeding require a lot of additional nutrients and if you are not getting them through your diet your baby will take them from your body (ie. if you are not getting enough calcium it will be taken from your bones.) This can leave a mom very deficient and struggling to conceive the next time around. The key to building your nutrient reserves is QUALITY. Choose nutrient dense foods (not low calorie foods!) such as: organic grass-fed meat and liver, pasture raised eggs, organic whole milk yogurt and cheese, wild fish and seafood, unrefined fats and oils such as butter, ghee, virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, organic vegetables that are mostly raw or fermented, leafy greens and sprouted grains.
Eat foods without labels. Buy certified organic meat and produce. Switch to natural skin and hair care products. Use only natural household cleaners. Can’t afford to buy all your fruits and vegetables organic? The Environmental Working Group has found that people can lower their pesticide exposure by almost 80 percent by avoiding the top twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables (or buying them organic) and eating the least contaminated instead. They’ve also put a really great Cosmetic Safety Database where you can find safer alternatives for all your skin care products. Don’t forget to check out the 2010 Sunscreen Safety Guide as well.
What would you absolutely do or not do if you found out you were pregnant? Since stress is probably the number one fertility killer, looking at ways to reduce your levels of stress and incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily schedule can go a long way in helping you achieve your goal of conceiving a healthy baby!Read More »
[info_box]Guest Blogger #10: Kaitlin Mayhew. Kaitlin and her husband own a small vegetable farm in Stafford County, Virginia. She loves real, traditional food, cooking and preparing from scratch, and living off the land. Visit Kaitlin’s blog at San Ysidro Farms. [/info_box]
Last week I bought a tomato. Now, this may not seem out of the ordinary to many of you. It is still summer, and tomato season is supposedly in full swing. I was, however, very upset about this purchase. The fact is I live on an organic farm, with over three long rows of tomato plants yielding tomatoes of all shapes, sizes and varieties.
Over the last few months I have become positively tomato-addicted. My favorites are the big yellow heirlooms with bright pink juicy centers.
My daily meals came to rely on tomatoes. I made everything from tomato salads, tarts, sauce, sandwiches, curry and anything else I could think to add them to.
I was spoiled with our seemingly endless crop.
Then, disaster hit. A few weeks of the hottest, most humid weather we’ve had in a long time, mixed with no rain created the perfect climate for full fledged insect colonies to descend on our poor defenseless garden.
Our squash, melons, cucumbers, swiss chard, and tomatoes, among others were devastated. Needless to say it was a terrible blow, and we weren’t sure how to react. We salvaged what we had left of our crops, mostly various peppers, onions, and a few greens to dole out to our CSA shareholders. We started pulling out the dead plants and re-tilling and raking the beds to try and plant some quick fall crops. But there were no more tomatoes.
Luckily for me, a farm down the road had managed to salvage a few more than we had and were selling what they said was “the very last” of their own attacked tomatoes. I bought a couple of small, very ripe tomatoes to get my fix for the day. As a person currently craving tomatoes I have a couple of options. I can:
It’s option 3 that I am particularly concerned with. It’s just not something I’m used to, and the truth is, most of America isn’t used to it either. Just for a moment lets forget the fact that I have a particular taste for in-season heirloom tomatoes, if I was willing to just settle for any tomato or even any tomato product, my choices would increase dramatically.
For someone planning on making a homemade spaghetti sauce recipe they just found for dinner one particular night, the notion that there may not be tomatoes would never enter their mind. No matter what the season, draught and humidity or no, the shelves at the grocery stores always have tomatoes. They also always have multiple varieties of canned tomatoes: whole, halved, diced, with or without salt, Italian flavored, with jalapenos, etc.
Want to make tomato soup? A favorite of mine all year round, I keep a steady supply of tomato paste on hand for whenever the mood strikes. Tomato paste is about 50 cents a can, about $1 a can for organic. Tomatoes, in certain form are so accessable people forget what a commodity they are. I have been rudely reminded.
But what happens if modern agriculture the way it exists now does collapse? All of us who are loyal patrons of organic, local food, support the sustainable food movement and sign petitions against the huge industrialized companies. We want to live in a world where all of our food is ideally local and organic, but then, what happens when there are no tomatoes? In a Time Magazine article in 2008, Bryan Walsh asserts that we would need 40 million organic farmers to feed the world, whereas there are currently only one million.
Can we increase the number of organic farmers in the world by 39 million? How would that change our world? We know WHY we want to eat this way: We want to eat real food. Food that is as close to the earth and it’s original form as possible.
As Nina Planck said in her book Real Food: What to Eat and Why, “Real foods are traditional.” Hydrogenated vegetable oil made solid and dyed yellow is not as good for your body as butter. How could it be?
The sustainable movement has many champions, among them, Carlo Petrini. In his book “Slow Food Nation,” Petrini claims, “All this development…has proved to have great limitations and has created a number of situations…which are unsustainable.” He goes on to cite pollution, soil death, scarring of the landscape, reduction of nonrenewable energy sources, and loss of variety of produce and livestock as results of industrialized agriculture.
It’s a controversial issue. Can sustainable, organic agriculture feed us all? Even the urban and low income areas? Petrini holds that “only through a new sustainable agriculture that accepts both old traditions and modern technologies, can we begin to have hopes for a better future.” He advocates networks of what he calls “gastronomes,” or people with passion for food. In essence he describes a network of local food distributors that work together to feed a community.
I think a portion integrating a system such as this comes down to planning. And that is where, I think it is going to hurt for most Americans used to convenience. Want tomato soup? If (like me) you didn’t think to can your own tomatoes because you thought you had another month of tomato excess, then you’d have to either seek out others who have and pay the price, or go without.
Want a burger for dinner? You needed to have sought out your cow farmer in advance and set up a time to buy in bulk. Craving bread? Buy your wheat in season in large amounts and grind your own flour. Set up a sourdough starter in your fridge. All these things are hard, extremely hard for those used to popping into a grocery store for a $4 pound of ground beef and a $3 pre-sliced loaf of bread.
And I’m not saying change all your ways. I can’t say that I won’t find myself in the grocery store next month snatching some tomato paste. I’m just asking you to give it some thought. We need to think about what going local on a large scale would do to our everyday lives, and how we could accommodate it.
We’re all busy, but taking small steps towards depending on sources we can put faces on is a positive step. What do you think? Can sustainable small farms feed people on a large scale? What are your feelings on a month with no tomatoes?
NOTE FROM MOMMYPOTAMUS: Leave a comment below to help Kaitlin win the Blog For Mommypotamus and Win Your Own Blog” Contest!Read More »
[info_box]Guest Blogger #9: Lesley Spradlin. Lesley is a certified birth and postpartum doula, wife to Shea, mom to Austin (3yrs) and Alexa Faith (4 months.) “I am just a woman trying to figure it all out…knowing that I truly am blessed!” Visit Lesley’s blog The Blessed Life.[/info_box]
Four years ago my life looked very different than it does now. My husband and I had just bought our first home, had a few dogs, I worked a full time job that I enjoyed for the most part and had a part time job that was my passion, I spent time at the gym or with my friends whenever I felt like it and enjoyed my sleep! I loved my church, felt that I was a woman who had come to understand the word selflessness (by getting married!) and prided myself on seeking to know what Gods plan was for my life. I was not confident in all things..but I felt confident in where I was. And then….I had a baby!
Over that first year of my sons life, I realized that I had not even begun to scratch the surface on what selflessness really looked like until HE entered my life. Gone were the days of sleep, all focus on “me”, quiet moments with my husband, a few dogs and my career focus.
In that first year I felt like I lost myself to this new little human being. I no longer looked the same ( 9 months of pregnancy and little time to exercise will do that to you!), I no longer could think the same ( my brain somehow turned to mush around the 6th month of pregnancy and never really recovered!) , I no longer had a full time job ( trying to juggle a new baby and full time work was NOT something I handled well!) and I felt my husband no longer saw me as his strong, confident, sexy wife…but now as this spit up covered, sleep deprived and often grumpy, shell of who I used to me. I grieved who I had been and began to frantically search for who I was now to become. My title now was not only wife..but mother—and that new title scared me to death!
Fast forward a few years and I now am “mother” to a 3 year old little boy and a 4 month old little girl…and I am still searching for how to fill the role of my “new” title…mom. Before I had children I would see some moms and think “ wow—that looks so easy!” OR I would see others and think “holy cow, they look insane! That does NOT look easy!” I now wonder how other young, naive girls look at me …do I make it “look” easy or do I look insane? Because I am pretty certain I probably look more like the insane ones!
The one thing I have learned over the past 3 years is that although many woman may make it look easy and it may actually BE easy for them…for the rest of us, it’s a constant journey that feels like an uphill battle. I am constantly stressing over if I am handling discipline right or am I teaching my children to have kind hearts or to be servants, or am I feeding them well enough, are we handling school choices ok, or are we as parents setting a good example of love, blah, blah, blah. Seriously the list goes on and on.
I admit it…I don’t feel “natural” in my role as a mom. I feel like I constantly have to search out the answers for things because very few of them just come to me—I don’t just know the correct way to answer a question on life or how to handle a difficult discipline situation or how to make my son understand that not eating ice cream and cookies all the time is important for reasons he can’t quite grasp yet! Basically I fall short…A LOT!!
But here is where the mercy comes in. God is gracious and forgiving. He knows I am going to mess up daily…but yet he STILL entrusted these little souls to my care. He chose ME to mother these two kids..for reasons I am not sure of and can’t quite grasp…but I trust him so I am going to trust this. I believe he created them as perfect beings—he does not do anything half way or mediocre.
So here enters the mercy for myself. If I believe he created my children so wonderfully, why can’t I believe he created me the same in my role as “mother?” If he continually loves me, forgives me and gives me second chances…how can I not do the same thing for myself? One of the many definitions of mercy is “a form of love determined by the state or condition of its objects. Their state is one of suffering and need, while they may be unworthy or ill-deserving. Mercy is, at once the disposition of love respecting such, and the kindly ministry of love for their relief.” ( Ungers Bible Dictionary)
As moms we rarely grant ourselves mercy nor do we hand it out easily to other moms in our exact situations. What is interesting is that this week as I was writing this blog post, I had a heck of week with my kids and some of the challenges we are facing. I also was put in situation after situation of seeing others moms also not at their best…almost like this topic of mercy needed to really be hammered into me before I could share about it.
I want to show myself mercy—let myself off the hook and not try to control it all, but that’s soo hard for me. This is part of the reason why I think it’s so important that we give it to each other—showing mercy to each other slowly teaches us how to show it to ourselves. I have so far to go in this learning process, but I am trying to make myself aware and do better. I am trying to find my “groove” in motherhood and allow myself to continually be shaped…it isn’t pretty and most days it’s downright messy, but growing children into incredible adults is hard work!! ( I wonder if God says that about dealing with us most days??)
So this week I am going to give myself some room—I am going to focus on the fact that I am doing the best job I know how to do with the information, resources and challenges I have been given. I am going to try to not chastise myself for not keeping it all together and I am going to try to show my kids what mercy can look like. I am going to remember that the women I come into contact with are juggling their own challenges—and might just need someone else to say they understand, free of judgment or advice. This week I am going to try to do better ..knowing I won’t ever it get it perfect.
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To show grace is to extend favor or kindness to one who doesn’t deserve it and can never earn it.
- The Grace Awakening Devotional, Charles R. Swindoll
After being coaxed out of the birthing pool I got on the bed and worked through some contractions in an inverted “V” position. Cindy’s goal in suggesting this acrobatic feat (besides getting a good laugh) was to encourage baby’s head to disengage and then re-engage at the proper angle. Daniel really, really wanted to tweet this photo but held back out of kindness. He HATES this bathrobe!
Cindy gave me one final adjustment to help baby’s head reposition and . . .
Finally, something worked. Like magic.
I had barely been able to walk for the past 24+ hours. After that final adjustment I started stomping around the house like a parade elephant.
Within just a few minutes of my one-woman-parade the pressure increased so much I thought I needed to use the restroom. I headed for the toilet and sat down.
12:38 pm: My water broke. Since that hadn’t happened with Katie (it was still intact when I was pushing her out so my midwives had to break it) I just sat there, trying to figure out if I’d ruptured an organ.
When I finally realized what had happened I was terrified. When a woman’s water breaks in the hospital she is put “on the clock,” meaning she has to deliver within a certain time frame or the doctor will insist on a c-section. I thought it was the same for homebirths and since my labor was progressing so slowly I thought I’d just bought myself a big fat lemon of a birth. After Cindy reassured me we had DAYS left on our clock I relaxed and tried to assess my situation.
The relief from pressure in my belly was ah-MAZ-ing. I stood up, put on some fancy new Depends, and began walking through contractions. With each one more amniotic fluid came out, reducing the pressure. I don’t imagine there will ever be a time when wetting my pants will be as delightful as it was right then. My mind, which had been overwhelmed by indecision about what to do next (rest or not, walk or lay down, etc.) cleared.
Rather than try to figure things out, I put myself in Cindy’s hands. From then on it was “Yes Ma’am” to whatever Cindy suggested. Labor on the bed? Okay. Two more like this? You’re the boss.
That’s what contractions are supposed to be like when you’re near the end, right? I thought so. My contractions were ten minutes apart at this point. I could have told you my whole life story while waiting between them, so when Cindy told me we should probably get in the tub and get ready to push I was completely dumbfounded.
Push? Now? Cindy informed me that Lynsey, our birth photographer, was on her way. I could tell by the way she said it that Lynsey was racing to get here, and that was when it finally hit that I was almost there.
Despite all my second-guessing I was going to make it and not have to be transported to a hospital. I climbed in the tub and wept for joy.
The front door opened and in ran Katie, eyes glowing with excitement. My mother-in-law Marian and sister-in-law Kristine trailed behind, followed shortly thereafter by Lynsey Stone, the rock star of birth photography.
It was standing room only when everyone finally gathered. There was my all-star birth team: Cindy Haggerton (midwife #1), Christy Martin (midwife #2), and Alexa Gumm (doula). Surrounding them were my Mom (Gigipotamus), Marian (mother-in-law), Kristine (sister-in-law), Katie and Lynsey.
Daniel climbed in the tub with me and held my hips together as I prepared to push.
The contractions were still ten minutes apart, so Christy gave me a homeopathic remedy to help make them stronger and closer. The first contraction I had after taking it resulted in baby’s entire head being born. That’s good stuff, I’d say!
We had to wait ten more minutes for another good contraction, but when it hit baby’s body was out. I wish I could insert some suspense about baby’s gender here, but ya’ll already know we had a boy. For us, though, this was the first moment we knew our “sense” about this pregnancy had been correct. We’d never come up with a name for a girl and toward the end of the labor I didn’t even pretend I was trying to be objective. It was “he” and “him” and “Micah” all the way.
Micah came out extremely blue, but I saw that at a good friends birth before so I wasn’t alarmed . . . at first. But as the seconds ticked by and he remained limp in my arms I started asking “is he okay?” He was not breathing. My AMAZING, COMPETENT midwives worked quickly to revive him, rubbing and stimulating him until he gave a good, loud cry. It took two long minutes, but it didn’t freak me out because Cindy said he was okay and I trust her that much. Cindy later told me that his umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around both his neck and body when he was born, basically choking him until they intervened. I love my midwives. LOVE LOVE LOVE those women.
After our little scare Katie climbed in the tub with and welcomed her baby brother while I stared at Daniel in amazement.
Throughout this whole pregnancy we worked to overcome the barriers that had prevented me from reaching out to him when I was in labor with Katie.
Bringing Micah into the world is one of the (if not THE) most intimate experience of our marriage. Daniel was with me every moment . . . comforting me, rubbing my back as I puked all over him, literally holding me up through contractions until I could feel the strain in his muscles. His love was present, physical and real. He showed up for me when I needed him most and I have never been more in love with him than I am today.
Since I got the Sept. 12 birthday I wanted for Micah I don’t regret my decision to rest and try to delay. However, I will always wonder if making a different decision would have changed the course of the birth. Many of my friends have “butter births” that go so quickly the midwives barely make it in time to catch baby. So far I have only succeeded when the process involved 30 hours of pre-labor drama which exhaust me so much that I start talking jibberish. I like lizards . . . seriously?
My confidence in my ability to birth a baby has been somewhat shaken, but my confidence that I am doing something right in the kitchen has never been stronger. My placenta was HUGE and extremely healthy. Because of the length between contractions my midwives were concerned I may have excessive bleeding (not sure why), but instead my bleeding was lighter than what’s considered normal. Cindy thinks both of these were a direct result of all the good food I ate while carrying Micah. Go me!
Oh, here’s the surprise ending: Micah finally has a middle name!
Welcome, Micah Cole! We love you!
[info_box]Guest Blogger #8: Jennifer Carroll. Jennifer is passionate about seeing people come to their full potential in God. She enjoys teaching, journaling, going to the beach, and LOVES being newly married. She resides with her husband, Matthew, in Fort Worth, Texas…and…. enjoys a cup of coffee for special occasions. ;-)[/info_box]
The contemporary music played – not too loudly – over the speakers in the university coffee house, as if to remind the college students that the night was young and ready for some caffeine-induced study time. Choices, choices…the menu was full of them.
Finally I settled on my favorite – a white mocha – and gave my order to the blonde-haired guy working behind the counter. We exchanged a few words about upcoming tests, and he ducked behind the espresso machine. Within just a minute or two, he scooted the drink across the counter with a grin, “I threw in an extra shot for you; hope that helps you pass!”
Whoa. My roommate didn’t quite know what to do with me, but I felt great. It was only about nine, and I had until eight the next morning to internalize the concepts needed for my music theory test. “Who needs sleep?” I thought, “This is awesome!” The buzz, and my oh-so-productive study time lasted until four o’clock the morning of the test. I crashed for a few hours, then got up, and aced it. Feeling that this approach was a great success, I continued my coffee habit as often as I could, and felt quite pleased with the grades I was making.
When I began college, I began to slowly understand what it meant to have your professors run your life. I was a music major, which meant that I was practicing somewhere between two and four hours every day, in addition to completing all my other homework, attending classes, being a part of the school choir, and trying to have clean laundry by Monday morning. Eating and sleeping quickly became luxuries that I often did not have time for, so…I emptied my wallet and filled my body with the wonder drug of caffeine.
Symptoms can accumulate slowly sometimes, and, like the well-known story about the frog in the boiling water, we may often learn to ignore them until suddenly we are at a crisis point. As each stress-filled month passed, I got more tired and more depressed, but still was intent on the completion of my degree, regardless of the cost to my body. I wasn’t having fun with my music, I became exhausted, and I was frequently not good company, since smiling and laughing took precious energy that I literally did not have to spare. I thought to myself that it didn’t matter so much if I didn’t feel well; I could always feel great again in about five minutes once I had my coffee. To me, It was all about being in control.
I had finished most of my classes for the day, and walked in the door of our little duplex, absolutely spent. As I lay on the homey quilt, staring up at the bunkbed slats, I felt as if someone had attached a vacuum hose to my arms and legs, sucking all the energy and life out of me. Getting up and taking three steps would have been a monumental achievement, because I was too tired to even think about doing that. I was so tired, it scared me. I thought to myself, “Will I ever have normal energy again? Will I ever feel good again?” I was too tired to eat, and it literally took too much energy to go to sleep, so I just lay there.
God was gracious to me in the midst of all my lapses in dietary judgment, and He got me through those next couple of years leading up to graduation. I was able to limit my caffeine intake, supplement my diet with whole food sources, and make better menu choices, but deep damage had been done to my whole system. The shock of pushing so hard had left me, at the end of it all, totally worn down. I cried often, and felt depressed almost constantly. I would wake up after fourteen consecutive hours of sleep and feel exhausted, as if I had just run a marathon.
As I tried to work through, and pray through, and improve my eating through all of those low, low months, the thing that I struggled with most was how distant I felt from God. I remembered in past years, how my times with Him had been full of delight and joy. I remembered insights and analogies He had given me. I remembered such sweet, sweet fellowship—and now? What was this shadow, this cloud? It was as if my soul were wearing fogged-over glasses. I would squint, and try to see through, rubbing the lens over and over again with precious little results. John 10:10 haunted me: “…I am come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.” If this was abundant life, I wanted out.
It has been four years since that season of my life, and since then I have come to realize that God has designed our bodies to work in such a way that all parts-spirit, soul, and body- harmonize together. The state of your body affects the state of your soul. Depression was a very real companion to me during that season, but it wasn’t because I was a failure as a Christian, it was because I was abusing God’s temple, and paying a very high price for doing so. I wanted to be in control at all times, and caffeine was my way to accomplish that.
I tend to be a perfectionist, so the caffeine to me translated into having control over my grades. For others, it may mean having control through having a spotlessly clean house, or perfectly groomed children. Control may mean that you get to be in charge of the ladies’ ministry at church, your home-owners association, and the PTA meeting tomorrow night. It may translate into perfect, gourmet meals that would send Martha Stewart running to get your recipe.
I don’t know what control means to you, but I know what control did to me, and it wasn’t worth it. Here is the hard truth about control: the more in control you try to be, the more out of control you probably are. Am I advocating poor grades, messy houses, dinner at McDonald’s, and no community involvement? Absolutely not. What I am advocating is the idea of balance.
Four years and a lot of sleep and whole foods later, I am enjoying so much more of the abundant life that John 10:10 talks about. And I have learned to ask a different set of questions. Instead of asking, “Do I get some rest, or drink coffee?” I am learning to ask, “Am I trying to take control over this situation, or am I allowing my body to have the things God designed for it to have like pure food, exercise, sleep, and water? Am I worried, anxious, or irritable? How might that be signaling to me a depleted area of my body? Do I want to pay the price of crashing after the buzz wears off?” And when I think about it in that light, the decision is not so hard after all. Now, when I am feeling like I want to take control, I gladly remind myself that God is in the driver’s seat of this girl’s life. Then I take a nap.
NOTE FROM MOMMYPOTAMUS: Leave a comment below to help Jennifer win the Blog For Mommypotamus and Win Your Own Blog” Contest!Read More »
[info_box]Guest Blogger #7: Kristine Dessinger. Kristine (aka Kiki) is the full-time caretaker of Grandmapotamus. In her “free time,” Kristine enjoys playing with her niece Katie and her nephew Micah, visiting friends, learning Mandarin Chinese, leading worship, and participating in outreaches to victims trapped in the sex industry. She is passionate about the nations, worship, and mentoring.[/info_box]
I have a very non-crunchy kid. She is 87, and she’s my grandma. Her idea of a good meal includes anything fried, processed, sugared, or sweetened with artificial sweeteners. I can visualize the looks of horror on your faces right now. Oh, and did I mention that she’s a redhead? Let’s add hair dye to the list of toxins she adores. My kid has some memory problems. Sometimes she can’t remember her family members’ names, her name, her birthday, the day of the week, or what she just said. It is very frustrating for her and for her family.Read More »