30 August 2013

the beginning of the new adventure

Last week, I nearly posted a very whiny essay about how frustrated and impatient I was for the baby to arrive. I was getting frequent false labour (a couple times I had contractions five minutes apart and when I called the hospital, they said it didn't sound like I was in enough pain for it to be real labour), I was exhausted, and, of course, highly emotional with it all. My due date passed, the clinic scheduled me for an induction a week and a half after my due date, and then that night, after I'd written down all the info about the induction and was not looking forward to the multiple hospital visits the next week, I woke up with more contractions. These ones felt a little different. They were regular-ish, somewhere between 3-5 minutes apart, and they did hurt. They didn't seemed inclined to stop, either. I waited a few hours, and then called the hospital. They told me to come in.

So now I am exhausted and highly emotional because we have a one-week old baby. E. was born about 11 hours after I realized I was in labour, and all things considered, it was an easy birth. I got my wish of no painkillers, but ended up with an episiotomy when she was in a bit of distress there towards the end. As the episiotomy was preferable to the forceps, I'm not too unhappy with that. Not happy about how much it hurts sometimes, but it's gotten to manageable levels.

J. was pretty impressed with how I did during labour, and has been really great. He goes back to work in a week, and I'm going to miss him badly during the day. As we're slowly starting to convince E. to sleep in her crib for extended periods of time, some things are getting easier. She has decided that it's a great idea to be fussy most of the night. I have no real idea of how often she was eating last night, or how much sleep I had. It's a blur of dozing and feeding and asking J. to take her for a bit because she was so grumpy she wouldn't eat. I can certainly see the appeal of formula-feeding, but as the adjustment to breast-feeding is mostly annoying because of the lack of me time, I think we'll stick with it.

For now, since she's stopped eating and dozed off, I'm going to go put her in the crib and hope she stays asleep for a while so I can get some sleep.

13 August 2013

zucchinis and nesting

We don't often cook with zucchini in our home. J. doesn't like it, and I've never been particularly fond of most variations of it. I tend to prefer winter squashes and we both like cucumber, but zucchini is hard to like. I went through a ratatouille phase about five years ago, and both of us got thoroughly tired of zucchini and eggplant stew (since I did the simple peasant version, rather than the elaborately sliced and layered one). I think it's the texture and the bland taste that put me off.

But last week, some friends gave us a few zucchinis. They planted some in their community garden plot this year and, given that this is zucchini, they have it coming out of their ears and are running out of freezer room. I elected to make zucchini bread and discovered that two loaves of the bread used up less than one zucchini. I used the recipe I found here. It's very moist but a little bland, so if I make it again, I'm using brown sugar for at least part of the sweetener, a little more salt, and definitely more cinnamon.

Yesterday I did another batch using a different recipe. This one was for chocolate zucchini bread. I made a double batch and stuck it in the freezer. The chunk of it that stuck in one of the pans tasted pretty good, so I think it turned out okay. More flavourful than the other recipe, but that's what happens when you add chocolate. Then I grated up the rest of the zucchini and froze it in a couple of portions so I have enough on hand to try making zucchini fritters and at least one more batch of bread.

I've been on a baking kick, despite the heat. There are a couple batches of muffins in the freezer next to the zucchini bread. I think it's a nesting thing. We don't have lots of freezer space, so I can't freeze as many things for winter as I would like (such as fruit), and we certainly don't have room for frozen casseroles or anything like that. I can't go with the suggestion to have meals frozen and ready to re-heat for after the baby's born. With the available space, I might be able to squash in one casserole dish. My mum used to do this thing where she'd cook dinners for a month and store them in our chest freezer. She can store a lot of fruit and vegetables in there, too. But I don't get to do that. Maybe someday, when we own a place or live in a larger house, we can look into getting a deep-freeze. I fantasize about an upright one, since I have fun memories of almost toppling into the freezer as a kid. And as an adult. I haven't grown any taller since I was about thirteen, and having to bend over and balance on the edge of the freezer to try and reach stuff near the bottom is awkward when you're short and your arms are not long.

I don't think we'll be living on cereal for weeks once the baby's here, but we did get some canned soup, and I'm hoping to make a trip to the Korean grocery store today to pick up some extra noodles and few other things. My mum will be staying with us for a bit, and the friend who gave us the zucchini has offered to bring food over. J.'s taking a couple weeks of parental leave as well, so living on cereal will probably happen in September, rather than during this month.

08 August 2013

a couple of finished things

I did manage to complete a couple of knitted things over the last weekend, despite the attack of the late pregnancy angst (triggered in part by the brief visit of rain and clouds that was snatched away by cloudless skies and lots of sunshine. Irritating hot sunshine). The angst has mostly abated for the moment, but of course, it could re-occur at any time. Knitting helps. I should have tried more knitting on Tuesday, when I found out that yes, I am positive for Group B Strep, so I get to have an IV full of penicillin while I'm in labour (which is, of course, preferable to my child catching GBS from me and having to stay in the hospital for an extra week--it just means that I don't get to put "no IV" on my birth plan). That was an angsty day. I'm also 38 weeks along, frequently experiencing false labour, and exhausted all the time. And the baby's running out of room.

Anyway, I finished this hat for one of my friends. She crochets and doesn't knit, but fell in love with the pattern, so I told her if she bought the yarn and the pattern, I'd knit it for her. The pattern is Rosewater, by tincanknits, from their latest collection, Handmade in the UK. You can get the individual pattern or the e-book from Ravelry, or you can also order the print book. 88 Stitches, my LYS, has the book and individual patterns for sale, so Jules just bought the paper pattern. One-half of the Tin Can Knits team is local (I believe they used to both be local before one of them moved to the UK), so I've met them at fibre shows. The baby cardigan I knit a while ago is one of their creations, and while I don't usually knit blankets, I'm planning on knitting their POP blanket at some point, because it's awesome.

Rosewater Hat, blocking over a plate
Rosewater has one of those lace patterns which requires moving the start-of-round marker back and forth occasionally, so it's not a mindless pattern. But it's not a difficult knit, either. Since I have the pattern, and it's one of my favourite hat styles, I'll probably knit one for myself at some point. This one was knit in a heavier weight than the pattern recommended, so I knit a smaller size to compensate. Next time I make it, I'll use something more like the recommended yarn.

Rosewater Hat, post-blocking
I also knit a diaper cover. This is the pattern Tiny Pants, which is free. It's a pretty fast knit. I used some BFL handspun that I finished a while ago and hadn't made up my mind as to what it was going to be. BFL is usually really soft, so it seemed like a good choice for the baby. The striping looks a little off on the second leg and it blocked out a bit weirdly, but I really doubt that Munchkin is going to care. I lanolinized these when I finished them, since they'll be exposed to dampness once in a while. I'd never lanolinized anything before, so I looked up a few sets of instructions on the internet and went from there. That wasn't a thing on my crafting to-do list, although in retrospect, maybe it's something I should have added. I've heard it can be really nice to have a pair of lanolinized socks to wear at night to moisturize your feet, so maybe I'll do that with a plain pair of socks sometime. In this case, I did it because lanolin helps waterproof wool (which I'm guessing prevents wool from felting onto the sheep in wet weather). The material now feels a little greasy, but I think that's normal. These will probably be too warm to wear at first, but sometime in September, we should be able to dig them out and use them.

Tiny Pants, after the addition of lanolin

02 August 2013

book musings: Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

The Lower Mainland's typical weather has returned (although probably only for the weekend). There are clouds, and there is rain. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning to hear rain pouring down. I ventured out this morning, sans jacket or umbrella, to get a few ingredients for dinner. My dinner plans were inspired partly by the weather, and partly by a section in a book I just read.

The book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, by Brian Wansink, discusses a variety of ways we tend to overeat, examining the causes behind our actions and suggesting ways that we can actively change our poor eating habits. He's a fan of the "eat food you enjoy and eat lots of vegetables, but just don't overdo it" attitude, which is pleasantly refreshing after reading a few bits and pieces about the Paleo diet recently. Anyway, there's a section on comfort food. His studies have shown that not all comfort food is automatically unhealthy, and that comfort food can be established in adult life, as well as during childhood. Of course, I immediately started thinking about my own comfort foods and why I associated positive feelings with them.

Tea is a big one. Hot black Assam tea with milk. I've liked tea most of my life, but I really got into it when I was working in a British tea room/import store the summer before I started university. When things were slow, the cook would make a pot of tea and, since she and many of my co-workers were British, it was usually black and usually she would add milk. It took a little time for me to appreciate the milk in the tea, since before that I had been a tea purist who rarely added anything to the drink, but I soon learned that with the dark, malty teas, milk brings out flavours that might be otherwise missed. It's a quick way to relax, and it's certainly not a high-calorie, high-fat comfort food, even if I decide to use half-and-half instead of milk. I've missed my favourite kinds of tea over the last nine months, because I've had to cut down on my caffeine intake, and most of the decaf versions of Assam that I've tried just haven't been all that great. Drinkable, yes. Really good? Not exactly. I've done some reading about caffeine and breast-feeding, and it looks like I should be able to get away with the caffeinated tea, providing it doesn't make Munchkin hyper-active.

Miso soup
 There are other comfort foods on my list. Miso soup, which has been wonderful at soothing my stomach during this pregnancy. Sushi, which I associate with J. and some of our earliest dates (he puts sushi on his comfort food list, too). Cafe au lait, though I'm not sure where that one came from. Ginger cookies, associated with my dad, although my mom makes them, too. Funny how a lot of these are more savoury or bitter, rather than sweet.

Another comfort food, best in the winter, is biscuits and gravy. That definitely falls onto the more unhealthy side of the comfort food spectrum. This was a meal that my family never had at home, but the retreat centre that we went to every year and that I later worked at would do biscuits and gravy as one of their breakfasts. Actually, when I worked there and was on breakfast duty, that was one of the meals I helped make. So once in a long while, we get some sausage, make the gravy, and bake biscuits. I haven't done that in ages (probably a year or two), and it sounds rather good right now, but it's probably best made after the baby's out, so I don't have to try to figure out the carb content of the gravy plus the biscuits.

However, a biscuit-centred comfort food that I am going to make, today, is tomato soup with biscuits. I'll toss in some whole-wheat flour to up the fibre content of the biscuits, and skip doing the tomato soup with milk like I usually do (we're almost out, anyway, and my back doesn't want me to lug home a four-litre right now). This was a family dinner when I was a kid, and it's special to me because biscuits were one of the first things I learned to bake on my own. After that, whenever we had tomato soup for dinner, I'd make the biscuits. I had the recipe memorized for a while, though I don't right now. I'm doing buttermilk biscuits this time because I'm also making chocolate buttermilk muffins to freeze so we'll have them after the baby's born. We don't have a deep-freeze, so I can't pre-make a bunch of things, but we do have room for a batch or two of muffins. They aren't exactly comfort food, but they are convenient and hopefully tasty (new recipe).

Anyone have some interesting comfort foods, or ones with great backstories?

01 August 2013


It's this feeling of waiting without any real knowledge of when the next change is coming.

I struggle with focusing. With sleeping. With making plans that may have to be cancelled at a moment's notice. We're about to tip over the edge into an entirely new adventure, and I don't know when or how it will happen. I can't plan for this more than we already have.

I dislike uncertainty.

Uncertainty is hard to live with, and it is inescapable. I can't live a life without it, yet I am always in tension with the principle of unpredictability.

I keep wondering how it's going to start. Will it be like the false labour I experienced a couple Saturdays ago, when I woke up with contractions so painful that I couldn't breathe deeply until I'd been standing under the hot water in the shower for at least five minutes, and then it really got easier to handle once I threw up from the pain? Or will it be slower than that, more like the milder contractions I've been experiencing for the last two weeks, but building in intensity? Will the contractions regularize like the books say they do? Will my water break earlier or later? Will I even realize I'm in labour at first? Will I keep getting these preliminary contractions, this false labour (or pre-labour, which is what the book the clinic gave me calls it), for weeks and end up being overdue? Or are all these little pre-labour signs happening now to get me ready and I'll end up going into proper labour in a day or two? I'm already hoping for the latter, because I'm tired of waiting, tired of aching constantly with no apparent progress being made.

I sit here, typing, my back aching, wondering. I've been pondering what labour might look like for me since I found out I was pregnant, although I put most of my concerns about that to the back of my mind. It was more important to deal with what was at hand then, which was the constant vomiting. Now the vomiting's mostly subsided, and my back hurts and there are twinges happening at the top of my uterus, or the base of my uterus (or both at once), and every once in a while, the baby rolls over, kicks me in the side or in the ribs, and seems to settle her head ever more deeply against my bladder.

There's also not knowing where and when this is going to happen. Will I be at home when the real labour starts? The grocery store? What about during church on Sunday, or knitting group Monday nights? Will it be the morning, evening, or afternoon? The middle of the night? Will I be able to wait for J. to get home from work at the normal time, or will I have to call him, tell him to come home, and then call my back-up ride to get me to the hospital?

The waiting is strange and a bit surreal. It's the first of August, and we're less than 3 weeks out from my official due date, but realistically, the baby could decide that it's time tonight, or that it's time 4 weeks from now, or any time in between. J. has compared it to waiting for Christmas to arrive when you're in grade school. I pointed out that at least with Christmas, there's a set date, but he countered with the response that, for most kids of seven or eight, their perception of the passage of time doesn't really make that fixed day seem to arrive any faster. For me, all I know is that sometime during this month, I will give birth to a baby.

This is a bizarre idea. Ever since December, we've been getting ready for this, and it still doesn't seem like it will really happen. I mean, seriously, a baby is going to emerge from my cervix? Are you kidding? I've seen this kid on the ultrasound (and since they've had to double-check the baby's growth rate because she's on the smaller side, I've had four of those), and most of the time, I still can't quite believe that there's a tiny person inside of me. There's a small part of me that goes in to every pre-natal appointment expecting that they'll tell me there's been a mistake, and I'm not actually pregnant at all, but that there's something seriously wrong with me instead. And yet, every time, there's a heartbeat, there's the baby kicking, and this week, the confirmation that yes, the baby is still head-down.

There really is someone in there. And very soon, she'll want to come out.