Friday, May 28, 2010


Yesterday I actually felt up to cooking something (this happens about once a week at this point), and for some reason, borscht sounded like an excellent meal. I think the idea actually came from the newspaper- every day I read my hometown’s local newspaper, the Erie Times-News, and there was an article published yesterday regarding the Troika Festival held annually at Erie’s Russian Orthodox Church of the Nativity (although I hate Erie weather, I have to give the city kudos for its abundance of international food celebrations- the result of Erie’s many ethnic communities.) Several recipes accompanied the article, one of which was for borscht.

Anyway, I decided to try out the recipe (my friend Denise has an excellent borscht recipe as well, by the way), with a few tweaks. Normally I am all about cooking from scratch, both because I think the taste is better and because it saves money. On this occasion, though, I cheated and went with pre-washed, pre-chopped veggies. So, in looking at the recipe below, I went with a bag of coleslaw (it has shredded cabbage AND carrots!), canned beets, pre-chopped onions from Publix, and celery sticks that I managed to dice myself. And, despite all the shortcuts, my borscht turned out pretty darn good!

I definitely recommend accompanying it with a dollop of sour cream (if you’re like me, it’s more like a small mountain of sour cream!) and some crusty bread (Denise says Russian black bread, but if you’re going the preggo-style route, Publix makes some awesome rustic bread). Yummy! Denise also reports that borscht freezes really well, so I wrangled the leftovers into some plastic containers and stuck them in the freezer. I can see myself stocking the freezer with this later on in pregnancy, when I’m thinking about those early post-baby meals. Plus, I spent a total of $15 to make a huge pot of soup, including bread, and it made enough for dinner for two, plus four containers for the freezer. Realistically this recipe could be made for much cheaper, especially if you don’t buy pre-prepped veggies.

I think I might have some more tonight, with a few pierogie on the side…

1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons oil
8 cups beef or vegetable broth or water
1 carrot, diced
1 potato, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3⁄4 head of cabbage, shredded
1 bay leaf
11⁄2 teaspoons salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons tomato paste (or 4 tablespoons ketchup)
3 (16-ounce) cans of sliced beets, diced
Sour cream, optional
1. In a 5-quart soup pot, sauté onion in oil until translucent. Add garlic, sauté one more minute. Add broth or water and bring to a boil. Add potato, carrot and celery. Add cabbage and the remaining ingredients (except the beets). Simmer until all vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.
2. Add diced beets with their juice. Simmer 5 more minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, optional.
Makes 16 servings
— Igor Stalsky
Per serving: 76.6 calories, 2 grams fat, 2.9 grams fiber, 3.8 grams protein, 12.2 grams carbohydrate, 681 milligrams sodium, 0 cholesterol
Values are approximate

Friday, May 21, 2010

Two random thoughts.

1. Lucy bit me last night. I mean, she REALLY bit me. Drew blood and all. I cried. Still wince whenever she latches on, more out of fear than pain.

2. If I hear of one more person having a c-section because of a failed induction, I WILL STRAIGHT UP LOSE MY MIND. The worst part is the doctor a. pushing an induction in the first place, when it often isn't warranted, b. being surprised when it doesn't work, although the women was barely dilated or effaced to start with, c. acting like the c-section is no big deal. You know what? My poor aunt (still in the hospital) developed four blood clots from her recent section, and is STILL in the hospital due to complications. That's right, in the hospital, unable to see her newborn baby, for days. And thank God she didn't die- so lucky she made it back to the hospital. Did you know that women who have a section are FOUR TIMES more likely to develop blood clots than women who deliver vaginally?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Catching up.

I've been on internet hiatus over the past week or so- I had to go do some training in Panama City, and we had no internet service there. I was lucky in that I was able to bring Brett and Lucy along, and we spent the week in temporary family housing at Tyndall AFB. The place was actually really nice- we had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, good sized living room and a fully-stocked kitchen. Throw in daily maid service and I think Brett was sad to leave!

Training went really well, and I've found that morning sickness is definitely easier to deal with when I'm distracted. Every day we tried to do some fun activities, like going to the beach, going geo-caching, etc. I'm sure Brett thought I was a bit of a Debbie-Downer, because I have been so tired lately, but I did feel up to eating oysters twice (steamed, of course- although Brett didn't seem to mind eating raw in front of me- boo). Panama City has some really beautiful places- especially at sunset- and we were surprised to hear the sound of conch shells being blown into. Apparently many of the locals there carry on the tradition of sounding them at sunset.

On the way home, we took the "scenic route." FL 30A literally hugs the coast, and it has one beautiful town after another- Seaside, Watercolor, and Alyce, to name a few. I don't think I've ever seen such picturesque beach towns- incredibly beautiful, even more expensive. It looked like the Hamptons had landed in Florida.

I was super excited to see a Lilly Pulitzer store- Barefoot Princess, to be exact. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Lilly, and have a ton of dresses. My family (Brett included) knows that if it's my birthday, Christmas, etc., Lilly is always a greatly appreciated gift. Anyways, once I had Lucy, I started dreaming about matching Lilly dresses- I'm such a nerd for them. I begged Brett to do some shopping, and being the awesome hubby that he is, he helped me find both a dress for me, and a matching one for Lucy. Lucy's is a little big (Lillys are so expensive that we bought a 2T, knowing we could just take up/lower the straps as needed), but she'll be able to wear it for a long time. I would have preferred to go up a size in my dress, for when I'm farther on in this pregnancy, but it was out-of-stock. So I will have to wear it frequently now, and then pack it away.

Tomorrow's my first appointment with my new OB at Eglin, and I'm excited/nervous. Excited to see this new little one, nervous because I'm afraid of what the OB (based on what I've encountered so far) will be like. Oh well- worst case scenario, I just "don't make it to the hospital on time." More to come.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Lucy at 8 months.


Lucy is up to eating 3 meals a day. We give her very little “baby food”- we find purees practically unnecessary (I do keep some around for the sake of convenience). She prefers to feed herself, and if I want to successfully spoon-feed her, I have to give her something to play with to distract her. It’s much easier to let her take care of business! I am continually amazed at her hand-eye coordination, and Lucy has a very good pincer grasp as well. She’s very good at picking up even the smallest bits of food and getting them into her mouth. Sometimes Lucy will fill both hands, and stuff one at a time in her mouth. Just when you think she’s forgotten about the other hand, it makes its way in.

Lucy eats a wide variety of food, and increasingly her diet is pretty much whatever we eat, cut into smaller pieces. She loves banana, avocado, mango, cheese, and even spaghetti (she gets noodles cut-up with a small amount of sauce). Heaven help you if you eat in front of her and don’t offer her a bite!

She also loves to drink water out of a cup. We bought some sippies, and then I realized they were difficult for her to use, and she did much better with a regular cup. So now I just pop the lid off of the sippy and use it that way. No big loss- I’d prefer her not to carry one (unless we’re in the car, or anywhere else where a spill would be very bad news) anyway.


Lucy still nurses before I go to work, after work, before bed, and a couple times during the night. Believe it or not, Lucy is down to one 4 ½ oz bottle while I’m at work. For a while she was taking two- one in the morning, one in the afternoon. I think this is due to the fact that she is eating so many solids now, and is often too busy playing to be bothered with a bottle. This is actually pretty wonderful for me, because pregnancy has definitely affected my supply. I am only able to pump 6-7 oz a day (2 pumping sessions), so this enables me to provide that one bottle, plus freeze a little more than a feeding per week. Every time I put a little (even an oz or two!) in the freezer, I feel so happy and grateful, because I know that there may come a time soon when my supply drops to the point that we have to supplement. I figure that even once we get to that point, it will be nice to be able to give her a small amount of milk, and of course I’ll keep nursing, even if it’s just for comfort. We only have a couple more months until she can theoretically go straight to milk (no formula), so here’s hoping we can make it! So far we haven’t had to touch that can of formula I bought a couple of weeks ago, and I feel so blessed.

New skills:

Lucy isn’t crawling yet, but she can pull herself up. I am really starting to think that she is going to be one of those babies that skip crawling in favor of cruising and then walking. If she’s in the sitting position and reaches for something, she’s very good at keeping her balance. If Lucy does fall forward reaching too far, she immediately rolls onto her back. Little thing HATES being on her belly! When there’s a pillow behind her (like her boppy), she can pull herself from laying on her back to sitting (like a sit-up), and I think that soon she will be able to do it without even a pillow to help.

....And as of this afternoon, she has started to "cruise" the furniture and stand by herself for a few seconds at a time- I think my jaw dropped. Where did my baby go???

Her favorite things are her puppies (my, does Savannah love her!) She will play with and pet the dogs for as long as they’ll stay there. Lucy even pulls on Savannah’s ears and face, which Savannah graciously allows. Lucy especially loves it when we put her exersaucer in the backyard and let her play with the dogs out there, or to swing outside and look at the birds. Lucy is quite the outdoorsy girl and will often pitch a duck-dying fit (in the words of Brett) when we bring her inside.

Our little girl has been talking up a storm lately! So far she mixes “BA” and “MA” sounds- like “BA BA MA” or “MA MA BA.” She has definitely cried “mama” and reached for me (this tends to happen around bedtime), much to Brett’s dismay. Lucy has also learned how to hissss, and funnily enough directs her hissing towards whoever is making her mad (i.e. changing her or taking away something she can’t have). She is definitely starting to show a bit of a drama-queen personality.


We are so, so blessed that aside from a few days with a stuffy nose (easily fixed with the humidifier), Lucy has never been sick (PLEASE DON’T JINX ME NOW!!!) This is especially surprising considering how many times I’ve been sick recently- all hail the power of mama’s milk! Of course, it also helps that she doesn’t go to daycare, and so isn’t often exposed to germs that I am not- and therefore can provide her antibodies for.

The last time I weighed her, Lucy tipped the scales at 17 lbs. 10 ounces, but that was a few weeks ago. I am looking forward to her 9-month well-baby appointment so that we can see exactly how much she weighs, and to measure her length. She is wearing mostly 12-month stuff now, because her 9-month clothing is getting small (remember, those cloth dipes add some bulk!), and I have stopped buying anything smaller than that.

So far, Lucy has only two bottom teeth- no complaints here! She’s only bitten me twice, and it’s actually been weeks since it happened, which I’m very grateful for.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Controversial question of the week.

Why is it that the same mamas who criticize me for drinking coffee (amongst other things) while pregnant are the first to ask for the epidural? Has the epi become so common that people forget that there are risks involved? (Edited to add: As pregnant women, we all make decisions concerning our actions based on a perceived risk/benefit ratio. My beef is not with other mamas' decisions so much as what I've recently discovered- apparently it's socially acceptable to comment on a mama's choices while pregnant regarding nutrition, exercise, caffeine, etc., but heaven forbid someone mention the risks involved with an epidural. It's a hot-button issue, and I personally feel that many women who themselves have epidurals either haven't been sufficiently informed of the risk, or it is downplayed by their physicians.)


Update: This info is from Marsden Wagner, MD. (If you don't know, he is a perinatologist and perinatal epidemiologist, and served as the director of Women and Children's Health at the World Health Organization). The article was originally published in Midwifery Today, and the whole piece can be found here.

"Twenty-three percent, or nearly one in four women, given an epidural block will develop a complication. One undesirable complication is death—epidural block for relief of normal labor pain results in a three times higher mortality rate for the woman than labor without epidural block. One out of every 500 epidural blocks results in temporary neurological problems, such as paralysis in the woman; and in one out of every half-million epidural blocks, this neurological damage to the woman is permanent.

These extremely serious risks of epidural block are not so common, but several less serious, but still significant, risks are much more common. Fifteen percent to 20 percent of all women given epidural block develop fever that results in the undesirable necessity of administering diagnostic tests and antibiotic treatment to the baby. Fifteen percent to thirty-five percent of all women given epidural block cannot urinate and must have a tube inserted into their bladder. Thirty percent to 40 percent of all women given epidural block have severe backache for hours or days after birth, and 20 percent still have severe backache one year later. So they have traded pain relief during a few hours of labor for severe back pain for a year or more! Because labor pain is an essential component of the normal mechanisms of the body for the progress of labor and since the epidural block eliminates this necessary pain, epidurals also eliminate the normal mechanisms for the progress of labor. So it is to be expected that considerable research documents a longer labor if the woman is given epidural block. As normal labor is no longer possible with epidural block, there is four times greater use of forceps or vacuum extraction and at least twice as much cesarean section after epidural block. These surgical interventions, of course, carry their own risks both for woman and baby. So the woman choosing epidural block trades less labor pain for a longer labor and, if a cesarean section is done, more pain for several days after the birth, as well as increased risks for both herself and her baby.

Thus, epidural block presents many serious risks for the woman. Are there risks for her baby? Since it is unlikely any woman would choose a form of pain relief that puts her baby at risk, women are not told that in 8 percent to 12 percent of labors in which the woman is given epidural block, severe fetal hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the unborn baby) is shown on the electronic fetal monitor. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, after acknowledging the frequency at which birthing babies suffer hypoxia after the woman is given an epidural block, recommends that all women given epidural block have continuous electronic fetal monitoring so that fetal hypoxia can be identified."

Wordless Wednesday.

Brett sent me this while I was at work today.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weird, but true.

I actually meant to write about this right after Lucy was born, but I *somehow* forgot. Anyway, I was re-reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth last night, and came across the same line that led to my epiphany the first time, so I'm going to hurry and write this out before I forget *again.*

I think that one of the major reasons birthing in the hospital is difficult for women is because most of us have difficulty being uninhibited around others, especially people we don't know (this includes doctors, nurses, midwives, etc.) Some of us are even somewhat uptight around our own spouses!

When I was pregnant with Lucy, I read over and over again that one of the keys to natural, as-pain-free-as-possible birth is being completely uninhibited. To not worry about what you look like, how you sound, *gasp* if you poop, etc. So I really practiced focusing on what my body would be experiencing, and sort of separating the mental from the physical. I strove to push aside any insecurities and fears I had and embrace the waves (I hate the word "contraction," by the way).

When it came time to go to the hospital, I put my plan into action. I rocked, I moaned, I got in the tub. When I decided to get out, I *politely* declined a gown. No clue why. I just didn't want it. I must have been a sight- laboring, naked, preggo woman walking around the room, squatting periodically and circling my hips, making crazy, low, moaning sounds . (This is cracking ME up just writing this!)

Then, transition hit. All the information I read prior had indicated that most mamas having unmedicated birth don't throw up. Well, I guess I an am exception, because I puked my guts out. Granted, it only lasted a few minutes, but it was crazy how violently sick I was. Since I had declined the iv and was, as a result, drinking tons of water, dehydration wasn't an issue. And because I was busy pushing my baby out a few minutes later, I didn't have time to think about it.

Later, though, I wondered why I had been so sick. It's silly, but I almost felt like it was a sign of weakness.

Then, I came across a quote by Ina May. In her chapter on "sphincter clause," Ina May describes how certain parts of our bodies are connected. Loosening one end of the sphincter subsequently loosens the other. This is one reason doulas encourage laboring mamas to loosen their mouths- to not hold tension there. Relaxing the mouth "above" relaxes the mouth "below."

Here's the connection. What's going on during transition? The cervix is working to dilate those last few centimeters, and pushing is imminent. Ina May writes that "Vomiting normally helps the dilation of the cervix, a la Sphincter Law" (221). I think that if we (as birthing mamas) can let go of our inhibitions, our bodies will find their own way to birth. For me, it was throwing up. That's what my body needed to dilate those last few centimeters.

Getting sick wasn't a sign of weakness at all. Instead, it was a sign that my body knew what to do, and I was able to let it happen.