Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Making Baby Food Is Easy!

It's realllllly not that hard to make baby food. I will walk you through it. Let's make Kale cubes! Mmmmm!

1. Buy 2-3 bunches to fill one ice cube tray, it cooks down quite a bit, so you need a lot.

2. Wash your Kale and rip then stems away from the leaves.

3. Take your leaves and put them in a steam basket. Cover and steam for 8 minutes, leaves will have a hint of emerald green in them, but won't have any crunch if you taste a bit. Be careful not to over cook.

4. Now it's time to get the old food processor out. You know, the one that has been sitting in your closet since you got married. Throw the cooked leaves in and blend till it's the consistency that's right for your baby. You won't need to add any water, the moisture from the leaves is enough.

5. Spoon puree into an ice-cube tray, don't fill it to the top as the leaves are full of water and water expands.

6. Get the tray ready for freezing by covering the kale with wax paper. Gently push down so the wax paper is actually touching the kale cubes. Now cover tightly with plastic wrap. By doing this, you prevent oxygen from getting to the cubes which will keep the cubes from getting freezer burn. I have tried using freezer bags so that I didn't have to waste loads of plastic wrap every time, but I couldn't get the freezer bags tight and the top of my cubes got covered with freezer burn. Now freeze!

7. Leave for 24 hours and store in a freezer bag. I also put my bags of food in a tupperware container to keep them extra fresh. When you want to use one for the morning, take a cube out the night before and let it thaw in the fridge. And then voila! You've got yummy kale ready to serve the next morning!

8. Bon Appetite!! You can also make carrot cubes, asparagus cubes, spinach cubes and many other yummy veggies this way!

The Birth!

Serafin Nancy Dorrington was born on June 20th, 2009 at 5:36 AM. She was 8.13 lbs. My due date was on a Thursday, June 18th. I knew in my heart that she was going to be born that weekend weekend.
When I woke up on Thursday morning, I noticed a gift that my husband left me by the side of the bed. It was a DVD with a note on it saying “Jess, this is what you wanted.” I knew what it was and my heart softened. I popped it into the DVD player and the tears started. My husband is a photographer. He went through a period of taking various photos of flowers. I remember I would see him going through is files on his computer and being mesmerized by the beauty and sharpness of his photos, especially those ones of flowers.
Throughout my pregnancy I was obsessed with flowers. To me, they are the ultimate symbol of fertility. I once heard that when a flower blooms it’s like an orgasm—a build up, a peak and then a mini-death. Even though the flower wilts and dies, the rest of the plant goes on producing. The seeds from the flower spread and create more plants with more flowers. If you look into the center of a flower, it actually looks like a cervix.
That afternoon I watched the DVD several times. I visually tried to imagine my cervix opening like a flower allowing my baby to come down as smoothly and as easy as possible. Throughout the day I was in a daze, I actually felt like I was on drugs, like I was in some sort of Euphoria. I knew she was coming soon. That night, I finished my book thinking to myself, I’m not going to have much time to read pretty soon, so I better finish it now! Then I went to bed.
I woke up at 3 in the morning. I was feeling waves in my uterus. It was completely different to the other type of surges I had throughout my pregnancy. I knew labor was starting. The surges were coming at 5 minutes apart already, however they only lasted about 20 seconds. Really, I didn’t know what was going on or how long it would be, just that the process was starting. I got up to get a snack and then went back to bed.
The next morning when I woke, I told my hubby what was going on and decided to call our doula, Esther to keep her posted. The plan was that she was to be the first birth attendant to arrive at our house to help support me during labor, when the birth got closer, we our midwives would come. “How long do you think?” I asked her. “It could be tonight, tomorrow or the next day, try and keep it low key. Rest, go for little walks, drink plenty of fluids.” I got off the phone with her I decided that it would be best to inform our midwife, Shiela, that my surges had begun. After we spoke for a while I was convinced that I was only in pre-labor, my surges were mild and even though they were close together, Shiela re-iterated what Esther had said, “lay low, don’t get too excited, it may be a while, rest, drink plenty and eat to keep your strength.” I do remember thinking to myself, “holy shit, how the hell am I going to deal with this for two more days?” I put it in the back of my mind and started to go about my day.
It just so happened, that my husband was off from work that day so he was hanging around the house. Like me, he also didn’t know what to expect. I think because I was relatively calm and didn’t seem to be in too much pain, thanks to the handy dandy hypnobirthing techniques, we both didn’t believe I was actually in labor! It was almost as if I was in denial about it, I kept waiting for it to be super intense thinking, “gotta hang on cause I’m going to be like this for two more days!” Not that it wasn’t intense, but I think that because the surges start off so mild and gradually build, by the time they are at that super intense stage, you are in such an altered state of being.
Throughout the day, Friday, I hung out and did things around the house. I remember toning a lot when the surges would come. One woman once told me that her surges came on like “waves” and that you had to “get on top of it like a surfer”. I kept imagining myself riding the waves. I was talking to a friend who was also close to giving birth and I would start moaning on the telephone. Sometimes it was more of a chant. I felt like I was “oming” my way through the surges sometimes.
The morning turned into the afternoon, which turned into the evening. At some point during the day my mucous plug came out. In the early evening, I was laying on the couch watching a movie and I remember the intensity of the surges increasing. I was trying to divert my attention and focus on the movie. I also remember kind of drifting off to sleep at one point, but would wake up because the surges were still coming about every five minutes. Again, I called the doula to let her know what was going on.
By that point I had a massive headache. In retrospect I believe it was because I wasn’t drinking enough fluids, but at the time I wasn’t even thinking about why I had the headache,, only, “how the hell am I going to get rid of this headache so I can rest and be ready for birth?!?” Our doula told us to call the midwife to tell her about the headache.
After speaking Shiela I remember feeling a little frustrated because I was hoping she would tell me I was getting close, by that time it was around 9 at night. Instead, she gave me what she called “tough love” because she was still under the impression that I was in pre-labor and it might take a while. She told me that I really had to focus on getting rest, that I should drink more fluids and take a Tylenol for the headache. After getting off the phone with her I really started to wonder how I was going to handle the birthing process if this was only considered to be pre-labor. Like a good mama, I got in bed and tried to get some rest. Little did any of us know, very soon after our baby girl was to be born!
At 11 pm the surges kicked up another notch, I called my therapist, I knew she might be able to give me ideas about how to handle the intensity, after all, we had spoken about things I might do in our previous sessions together, now I needed a little reminding! She gave me the idea of trying to distract myself with a story.
I got off the phone with her and called Gary down. I didn’t want to watch TV, but instead asked him to read me a story to get my mind off things. After several chapters I told him I needed to rest again. My head was pounding. He left the room and I continued to labor. I drifted in and out of sleep. I remember waking up for a surge and staring at the bouquet of flowers next to my bed. Imagining that flower opening--my baby easily coming down the birth canal and being born into my arms. The next 4 hours were a blur.
At about 3 in the morning I called Gary down again. He had been upstairs watching TV. “Call Esther, I need help relaxing, maybe she can help me relax!” I said to him frantically. I had such a nasty headache that I was thinking she could come and give me a massage or something. Or simply just help me calm down and relax! I was laying in our dim lit bedroom at that point breathing through the surges. Slow breathing, in to a count of 20 and out to a count of 20. I kept staring at the flowers. “Open.” I told myself. “It’s ok. Let go.” I was totally in the moment. I was about to give birth! My body went through having chills to sweating profusely. I started vomiting. My body was going crazy! Like a wild animal.
Trying to have a conversation with Esther was difficult. She listened to me have a surge, then said to me, “um, I’ll be right over”. As soon as I got off the phone with her I felt the urge to push! “Call Shiela!” I shouted at my husband in a moment of sanity. “Why don’t we wait till Esther gets here, she will be here very soon, she’ll know what to do.” He didn’t know what was going on inside me, but neither did I! I wasn’t coherent. I couldn’t think clearly. All I knew was that my body was doing what it had to do.
Esther got here very quickly. At that point I was squatting next to the bed, the only place I was comfortable. I told her I was feeling the urge to push “am I in labor?” I asked her (a question that we all laughed about later.). “Call Shiela!” She directed to Gary with a smile. Gary went to call the midwife. I could hear him talking to her but wasn’t listening to any of it. All I knew was that she was on her way.
We had planned to do a water birth. Esther told Gary to bring the tub in and start filling it up. As he rolled it in, she looked at him, shook her head and said, “don’t bother.” This baby was coming soon!
My hands were clenched. I was holding onto the bed in a squat. “raaaaaaaaa” I would scream as my body bared down. I heard this loud amazing mama voice come out of me. As I continued to labor, Esther put cold compresses on my forehead. She gave me vitamin water, which helped with my headache, although at this point I finally wasn’t thinking about my head!
My body was in control. It knew exactly what to do and it was doing it. What an amazing experience this was! At that point Esther started preparing the room for the birth. Shiela arrived, and very soon after, our second midwife arrived (midwives work in twos, one for the mama and one for the baby incase both need attention at the same time). This was happening!
Once Shiela was ther she started asking questions, “Did your water break?” I didn’t know (it hadn’t). “When was the last time you went to the bathroom?” I also couldn’t remember. She insisted that I try to go. With their help I hobbled to the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet was impossible! The pressure on my yoni was unbearable! I tried to squat in the bathtub, it wasn’t happening, we hobbled back to the bed. I tried laying down on my side, turning around on all fours. The only place I was comfortable was in a semi squat by the side of the bed. I resumed position. The pushing urges were stronger and stronger. As each surge would come upon me I would breath down through it, and out through my yoni. This is what we called “J” breathing. I was literally breathing my baby down and out of me.
With each surge I would roar. My body baring down. The surges coming on top of each other, wave after wave. Then my body opened. She was about to be born. Still leaning over the bed in a squat the midwife says, “do you want to feel her head”. “No!” I shouted, I couldn’t take anything else, I just wanted her to be born at that point.
“Come on little girl, we can do it,” I screamed. My water finally broke. It felt like a huge pop! I remember hearing in the background “slight meconium”. This was the only time my head came back because I had heard that meconium in the water was not good. “Is it ok?” I asked, Shiela assured me that everything was fine. Then my sweet baby’s head started crowning. I felt a burn. She sat there, her head just about to come out, waiting for the next surge. “She’s right there” I heard somebody say. The next surge came upon me and out of know wher there was a gush of fluid coming out of me and with it our baby girl!
It was such a strange feeling for me to suddenly not have a baby inside me. It was such a huge relief, but I remember feeling so empty inside. I didn’t have time to think about it, our baby girl was right there! They took Serafin. She was having a little trouble breathing and needed to have some fluid sucked out from her lungs. I saw her flesh become pink and was in complete awe of the entire experience. A minute later she was in my arms. She had an apgar score of 8. Gary grabbed my hand and said “we have our little girl!” They helped us all back into bed and Serafin instantly began to breastfeed. I’m sure with a tough journey like that she must have been hungry!

At that point I didn’t feel tired in the least. In fact I was filled with adrenaline and wanted to call everybody and let them know that our baby girl had arrived, even though at that point it was only about 5:45 AM. If I could have, I would have, but there was more work to be done. About a half hour later, with a little work, the birth was complete when the placenta arrived. It was very large and we put it in a bowl to refrigerate. I had organized a women to come and make medicine out of it for future use. She was to encapsulated it for me to eat it and help me with post partum depression or other emotional times.
After the placenta was born I was stitched up. I had a 2nd degree tear. It was quite painful, but in retrospect I am amazed at the strength and courage I had to go through it all. Serafin was cuddling with her daddy through all of this. They both were exhausted and falling asleep in a chair across from the bed. I tried to get up to take a shower, I was very faint and ended up crawling from one place to another. At one point the midwives gave me some oxygen to help me get centered a little. I was pretty weak for the next couple of days, but we had this amazing little girl! I was now a mother!
The two months after Serafin was born were quite difficult for me, both emotionally and physically. Both my husband and I had a hard time coping with the sleepless nights and the adjustments to the new responsibility. Having a child brings up so much stuff. Many times I would feel overwhelmed and simply feel that I just did not know what to do when my sweet baby would cry. My body also hurt for many months after. I had pain right in front of my pubic bone and sometimes it would ache all day long, even 5 months after giving birth.
Now, 8 months later, I know that I’m feeling better, because I think to myself, “yeah, I could do it all again!” At least I would have an idea of what to expect, which could be a good or a not so good thing, I do tend to have an over active mind! Although, believe me, I’m not ready just yet!
I know that if I get pregnant again, it will be a completely different experience entirely and that giving birth is not about having expectations. In fact more than anything, giving birth is about being in the moment. Reacting to what is important and letting go of all the rest. In some ways I feel that giving birth has brought me closer and more comfortable with my own mortality and the fact that I too will die one day. Afterall, birth and death are one of the same, for the moment we are born, we begin to die, and the moment we die, we are to be reborn again. I love it! What a crazy trip this is! I feel blessed and grateful to have this opportunity to live and simply be!


Monday, February 15, 2010

Hold the phone! I'm pregnant!

Giving birth was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. How could it not be? It’s a woman’s right of passage. It brings us into our animal self. Forces us to let go of control and just be in the moment. When I think back, I never actually felt “pain”, just huge rushes of intense energy. It was amazing that my body just knew what to do. I feel lucky that I can actually say that I enjoyed the entire birthing process.

When I found out that I was pregnant, my life got turned upside down. My husband and I had been trying to conceive for almost four years and were in the middle of an adoption process when we found out. It was so hard for me to believe that after all that time it had finally happened. I felt immobilized. The first week I didn’t want to do anything, I was afraid our baby would simply just drop out of me. I spent a large majority of my first trimester in this place of fear. I had dreams about miscarriages. Sometimes when I went to the bathroom I half expected to see blood in my panties. Somehow I didn’t believe that something that I had wanted so badly would actually happen. The four years of trying to get pregnant had really weighed on me and emotionally.

I decided that I needed support. I went to yoga classes. Tried to get centered. Surrounded myself with other mamas and listened to their experience, strength and hope. I realized that I was not alone in my fears.

As my pregnancy continued and my belly grew, it became more and more real. I still had a lot of fear and as the birth grew closer I found myself getting lost in the details of what my birth would look like. At this point we had planned to do a hospital birth with a midwife and doula. As I would walk with my pregnant friends, we would talk about what was going on and I kept hearing myself say that I didn’t like my current midwife and that I was dreading going to the hospital. But I was so afraid not to go to the hospital. My mom had had an abruptio placenta during my birth and she and I both nearly had died. If it hadn’t been for the speedy actions of the doctors taking care of her, I may not have been here.

Towards the end of my second trimester my husband and I started taking a hypnobirthing class. Hypnobirthing is not for everybody, but it was right for me in this birthing experience. The class didn’t’ go over too many details about how much your cervix is going to dilate, or what type of procedures the hospital will do if something goes wrong.

Hypnobirthing focuses on using positive thinking, breathing, guided imagery and confidence that our bodies would know exactly what to do when the time comes. For example, the word “contraction”, a world that insinuates tightening and closing, the very opposite image one wants when giving birth, is not used in the hypnobirthing model. Instead, they are called “surges” or “waves”. We learned how to breath long, slow and deep breaths, as opposed to the quick and rapid breaths women are taught in Lamaze classes. We watched birth after birth of mamas quietly birthing their babies in a deep trancelike state. This classes helped me let go of my of my fears and focus on what I really wanted my birth to look like. How cool would it be to be one of those calm and meditative birthing mamas? While I knew that I had no control over my experience, I also knew that I could make preparations to make my birthing experience as comfortable as possible.

It was being surrounded by this positive energy that really changed my perspective of where I wanted to give birth. I knew deep down that birth was a perfectly natural thing. That I “was not sick” so therefore why do I need to go to a hospital? Still, looming over my head, was a fear of “what could go wrong” and I new that if I was in a hospital, I could be tended to.

So I began to research. I found loads of statistics that were in favor of home birth for women that had healthy pregnancies. I spoke with other mamas who did home births. I called midwives and asked questions. I even rented a movie about home birth. Then sat with myself and decided that if the only reason I wasn’t doing a home birth was because I was afraid, that this was not a good enough excuse for me. I did not want my daughter to be born into this word from a place of fear.

At that point I was 33 weeks pregnant and thought to myself, “if the universe sends me a midwife who we like and trust, then so be it! We will do a home birth!” And then it happened. It turned out that our beloved Doula was an apprentice midwife to a woman who had an opening! We met with her and decided it was going to work! I felt such a sense of relief. Although I was nervous, I also felt so empowered about my decision. I was finally excited to give birth! I began to prepare the birthing room.

Our bedroom is bright orange. It actually is very womblike. It was the perfect place for me to prepare. I hung mantras all over the house. I got all the supplies that my midwife told me to get—ice packs, receiving blankets, a plastic sheet for the bed, straws, my gosh it was a long list. I created a birthing box and put everything in it. Now this box, which is decorated with ribbon and Serafin’s initials, holds her memorabilia. The weeks were passing and I was beginning to feel ready, or shall I say, ripened!

Our midwives and doula would come to our house each week and do all the “usual” stuff. Check my blood pressure, check for protein in my urine, and answer all my questions. As we approached week 40, I remember her asking me when I thought I was going to give birth. “This weekend” I told her. I new it was going to happen. I felt it in my bones. Low and behold, our sweet child was born that Saturday, June 20th, 2009.

Pregnancy and birth was an unforgettable experience. I am grateful to all those around me, my beloved husband, my parents, my other family and friends, and my sweet animals; they all gave me the loving support that I needed through a time of fear and uncertainty. I am also grateful to my higher power, my strong will and body, and my sweet daughter. Somebody once told me that “courage is fear that has said it’s prayers”. I am grateful that I found the courage to follow my heart as well as let go and let the process of birth unfold.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Many people have asked what the deal is with me and dragonflies. Have you ever looked at a dragonfly close up? One landed on our Jacaranda tree a couple of years ago and I had the opportunity to really get a good look at it. What an amazing creature! It's body was blue and its wings were translucent but had kind of an opalesque quality to them. Since I met my hubby over eight years ago the dragonfly has been appearing in my life constantly. It is the symbol of transformation and new beginnings. This blog will be about my journey into motherhood and it's adventures, for I can't think of anything that has been more transformative in my life than giving birth to our daughter and becoming something I've always wanted to be, . . . a mother.