Monthly Archives: November 2016

In Defense of the Epidural

A week or two after M was born, I clicked on a link for one of those “how to give birth the right way” posts on Pinterest. I laughed aloud (waking a baby in the process, but still worth it) at the line where she described, with pride, the extreme discomfort she felt as she was driven to the hospital during transition because it meant that she would avoid all the medical interventions they force on every woman that are completely unnecessary and actually work against labour. Oh, what she must have thought of my labour.

Despite joking on my way out of the office on a Friday on my way to a doctor’s appointment that I’d see everyone in a year, I had no idea that I was going to be induced the next day because I had cholestasis (PSA: extreme itching is NOT normal in pregnancy and can be very dangerous to your unborn child!). While we did decide after C’s birth — which I had labelled a failure due to my high level of self-doubt and anxiety I experienced, and my attitude that accepting an epidural made me weak, compromised my daughter’s ability to nurse, and made me a bad mom — to hire a doula, having a completely natural birth was not one of our top goals for this labour. Obviously, a healthy mom & baby was our first goal. Not losing my mind was my second. But there was a part of me that still believed “good moms” had natural births, even if that was never something I verbalized.

And, of course, as the internet will remind you, there is nothing natural about an induction.

After labouring for about 4 hours on syntoncinon, and having virtually no progress from when I came in, I knew that I needed an epidural. I needed it because the pain was starting to get intense. I needed it because it would allow them to increase the amount of syntocinon so we could really get this labour going. I needed it because I needed to stay positive, which was especially hard in a high risk labour ward, with very public rooms with giant doors which rarely closed, and a toilet that flushed every 16 seconds (I credit our doula with keeping me as sane as I did for as long as I did! Even though inductions with epidurals are not the usual scenario when you think of a doula assisted birth, I think it was the best decision we made!)

As I waited for the anesthesiologist (who looked to be about 22, for what it’s worth, putting me right in the “older than I think I am” category), I realized the irony. I was requesting an epidural in order to maintain a positive frame of mind, after months (nay, years) of attributing that same medical procedure for the negative frame of mind I experienced after C’s birth (Scott says I can’t call it baby blues, even if I refuse to call it postpartum depression). I rationalized that it was easier to ask for the epidural this time, since I had already lost all hope of a “natural” birth due to the induction, regardless of how medical necessary it may have been.

But I also realized how arbitrary the definition of “natural birth” is, and how, really, unimportant it is in the grand scheme of things. We all want our children to be healthy and happy. We want them to live long, prosperous lives. And yet, we fixate over what comes down to an insignificant period of time over the course of their lives. Even if I could prove the epidural had impacted C’s and my health — both physical and mental — two years later, you would never know the struggles we had in those first few months.

I had two labours involving epidurals and syntocinon (C’s labour having been augmented many many hours after my water broke). So yes, I underwent medical interventions. Yes, I ended up labouring in a hospital bed strapped to monitors because of those medical interventions. Yes, these were all things that the blogger was willing to endure great pain for in order to experience her version of the ideal, natural birth. Yes, in her books, my labours were likely failures.

But I have two healthy, beautiful daughters who make me smile, laugh and love harder than I ever thought possible. And how could I view those births as a failure?

Categories: The new identity | 4 Comments

Doable and Passable Meals: Crockpot Edition

Oh right! This is what it’s like staying home with a baby (and a toddler!). Without fail, every time you pick up your laptop, one of them makes a mess, cries, or wants a snack! I know some of it is because M is all so “new” and so there is a lot of adjustments to be made, but I feel like I have less time now that I’m not working!

Which brings me to my point: I feel an overwhelming need to rock this mat leave, balancing two kids, and making sure that when Scott gets home, he’s not always having to clean up a disaster (literally or metaphorically. I think there were plenty of both last time). Now before ya’ll go thinking I’m going to burn myself out trying to do it all, remember that my motto is “doable and passable”

I hadn’t quite figured out how “doable and passable” was going to translate into meals once my family’s freezer meals ran out until a friend texted me:


Oh right… crockpots! The device that makes me feel like I’ve got my shit together when really I don’t!

Now to be honest, I don’t use a lot of recipes. I just throw stuff in and hope for the best. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I put everything into the crockpot, turn it on and come home at the end the day and realize that I never plugged it in (which is part of the reason I bought a new digital crockpot… much harder to forget that step!). But here are my top 7 crockpot recipes, from easiest to most involved

Coconut Curry

1 can coconut milk
2 TBSP red curry paste
Sliced carrots, bell peppers, etc
Chicken breasts or thighs (sliced)

Throw all ingredients into the crockpot. Stir. Cook for roughly 8 hours on low. Serve with rice noodles because they take no time to cook up.

Pulled pork

Seriously, this started from a recipe? Maybe if I followed the recipe, C might actually eat it. For the original:

My take:

1 pork shoulder
Random rub mixture (salt and pepper when I’m lazy)
Half a bottle BBQ sauce
Coleslaw (from a bag. No judgement)

Apply the rub on the shoulder and place in crockpot in fridge overnight. In the morning, fill with water until almost covering the shoulder. Cook on low for 8ish hours. Drain water (a good Mennonite would say to save the broth for…something). Using 2 forks, shred pork. Add BBQ sauce. Serve on buns with coleslaw (on or beside, depending on your opinions of coleslaw and pulled pork).

Salsa chicken

I know the original recipe came from the Kraft website. But I can’t find it, and it was 5+ years ago so maybe they pulled it in favour of something else. Dear Kraft, please don’t sue me.

Chicken breasts
1 smallish Salsa
1ish cups Sour cream
Cheddar cheese
Taco chips
Corn, peppers, whatever you feel it needs to round out your meal

Dice raw chicken. Add to crockpot. Mix salsa and sour cream and top chicken. Crush a generous handful of taco chips on top. Cook for 8ish hours on low. When you get home, add about a cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Serve on top of more taco chips, in wraps, or on top of a salad.

Chicken Gyros

I’ve made these once so I haven’t adapted the recipe yet, but I know the allspice was a little overpowering. We also made the tzatziki sauce the night before. It was a little runny but still good (oh right! Scott didn’t like the allspice in the meat nor the tzatziki sauce. That’s why I only made it once! But I liked it, so it made the list)

Vegetarian Quinoa chili

Another recipe I only made once, but that is because I just made it a couple weeks ago! Chili is a tough sell around this place because C isn’t in to “spicy” (except when she loves spicy. Sigh. Toddlers). Scott doesn’t like beans. And you know what? I don’t like quinoa. But nonetheless, it’s so easy and filling that even if we each pick at it to avoid different parts, we still get a full belly.

Anything soup

This is one part potato soup, one part autumn vegetable soup, and a whole lot of “cleaning out the fridge” soup.

Any other vegetables in season or in your fridge
Milk (optional)
Cheese (optional)
Bacon or sausage (optional)

Chop all vegetables. Put in crockpot. Add broth to about the top of vegetables. Cook on low for Рyou guessed it Р8ish hours. Blend with immersion blender to desired consistency (unblended for Scott, fully pur̩ed for me). Add optional ingredients.

Crockpot Lasagna

(aka: oh crap! People are coming over! We need a lot of food without a lot of work!)

This is not a quick weeknight meal. You’ll notice that this is the only ground beef recipe on here. Ground beef is our go-to meat in this house EXCEPT when it comes to crockpot meals. In my mind, having to brown the beef ahead of time seems counterproductive for how I view my slow cooker. But it is a great “make ahead” meal for when you’re hosting (particularly as part of an event – we piloted this recipe to eat after C’s baptism).

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Third Trimester

We’re getting near to full term here and so in case I unexpectedly pop a baby out early, probably best to immortalize what has been the weirdest Trimester.

The good: I know my limits. By third trimester I know not to run for the bus. I know I can walk on my lunch break or do something in the evening. I’m never sure whether I get my burst of energy most women get in their second trimester during my third or whether I’m just better at knowing how much energy I have.

The bad: we got struck with a family cold. C was the best about it, with the exception of one night when she struggled to figure out how to sleep with a stuffy nose. Scott was hesitant to fully drug up to get a good night’s sleep since I couldn’t take anything. And I panicked that all my immobility would doom me to an eternally transverse baby, but sitting up made me dizzy and standing made me feel weak. Almost two weeks later, I’m still stuffed up a bit.

The ugly: hey, did you know full body itching ISN’T a normal pregnancy thing? My whole “but I remember being this itchy with C” excuse doesn’t mean it’s ok now and it turns out that it may not have been ok then. Currently awaiting test results to find out if I’ve got intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, and if so, what that means for reaching that due date. So far baby seems to be doing all right (it’s most dangerous for the baby) but I’m losing my marbles between the actual itching, the psychosomatic itching, the itching from the stress of it all, and of course, being allergic to the bandaids that they used to do the bloodwork. I keep reminding myself to look at the big picture. I can still go about my regular activities with little interruption. I’ve had a friend with severe SPD during a large part of her pregnancy. I’ve had another friend diagnosed with a painful cancerous tumour during her pregnancy. What right do I have to complain about being itchy? Much easier to convince myself during daylight hours where activities can distract me and regular ingestion of food or beverage allows me to monitor fetal movement without much worry. But at night? Holy beans I want to burn my skin off, and then just check myself in the hospital to get this baby out of me. Fortunately, I trust my doctor 100% to make the right calls here. Even better, my doula who has worked all kinds of births with all kinds of doctors here in the city trusts him implicitly too. Now if only lying awake at night didn’t always lead to reading up on ICP and exactly how dangerous it can be when left untreated.

Categories: The new identity | 1 Comment

Currently: In November

Is it just me or is time moving slower around these here parts? There’s still not enough time to get everything done, but at least it’s not flying by at a dizzying pace! Thanks to Anne of In Residence and Catherine of A Short Blonde for this month’s Currently!

Discovering: a slow growing tolerance of dates. There have been some preliminary studies (of the actual scientific, peer-reviewed journal type) that eating dates in your last weeks of pregnancy can help labour. Since it’s one of those “no real benefit, no real harm” things, even if the science isn’t proven, I’ve decided to give it a try. Day one was rough because, ew, dates. But day two took less convincing and slowly each subsequent day has been getting better and better.

Celebrating: almost being done work. It’s my understanding that in countries like Germany, the last six weeks until a woman’s due date, she is required to be off work and not have the time count against her total maternity leave allocation. I totally get this so much more the second time around. By 3 pm every day, I’m wiped. But we are into less than a dozen days left of work. Thank goodness.

Starting: baby preparations. With Intrahepactic Cholestasis of Pregnancy potentially being a factor in my prenatal health (ICP is a liver issue which makes pregnant women crazy itchy and can cause some scary complications for baby), we don’t know whether it’s safe to let the baby keep cooking in its own schedule. 1 in 10 women with ICP go into early labour, with many more being induced between the 36-38 week mark. Being right in that range, I keep fearing that at any minute I’ll get a call to go straight to the hospital to pop this baby out. I know it won’t be that sudden (heck, I still haven’t actually been diagnosed yet!), but might as well get everything under control.

Wearing: the softest most comfortable clothes I can find. Anything touching my skin drives me nuts. Plus, some of my maternity clothes are getting a bit too snug, which just isn’t comfortable either.

Googling: shhhh don’t tell my husband I’ve been googling ICP as though that will magically make everything better. No no, it does not. It is a scary scary part of the Internet and absolutely no woman who is pregnant or who ever wants to be pregnant should ever read anything about the stillbirth rates of babies whose mothers have ICP in the middle of the night because google isn’t a doctor and if you’ve got a good doctor, s/he will have done her/his research and looked at your own history and blood work and fetal assessments and determined what is safest for you and your baby. But do I listen to myself? Nope, of course not. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go obsessively google some more.

Categories: The new identity | 3 Comments

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