Sunday, July 7, 2013

Why I Want a Drug-Free Natural Birth

Because food is not on my brain since I'm 7 days past due...Forgive me.

Birth of Jeremiah
Jeremiah's Birth Oct. 27 2006 030

When people find out I actually have the desire to do birth drug-free, and have had another child the same way, the reaction is usually the same. Why in the world would I want to do that? Why would I put myself through the pain when it is unnecessary? Some people look at me like I'm crazy. Modern medicine is there for a reason after all, so why wouldn't I take advantage of it? In a nutshell, people in general do not understand why in the world someone would pick the hard way when there is a much easier way. 

I am not a masochist. I don't love pain. If I have a bad headache I take ibuprofen. I'm not against drugs to help alleviate pain when I am sick. It's just that a woman birthing a baby is not sick, she's in labor. I think that might be the difference for me. Honestly? I think there's a lot of needless confusion and fear about giving birth ( I recommend renting "The Business Of Being Born" for more on that).

Jeremiah's Birth Oct. 27 2006 007

I've had a drug-free natural childbirth before when I had my son, and if I'm being completely honest, my reasons were less than noble. I did it because my husband wanted me to and I wanted him to be proud of me. He saw the value in the experience back then. I didn't fully, but still I wasn't opposed. My need for approval can be great. It makes him sad to know that's why I did it now because we both know his love for me is unconditional and I don't need to prove anything to earn it. Ah, human flaws! I went in blind, trusting there was some value to be had somewhere, but not really understanding what or why. It was...hard. I remember gritting my teeth and barely getting through the whole thing. At the end I felt accomplished, like I had achieved something to be proud of, but just didn't know what. I was proud of my natural childbirth for years but I couldn't fully articulate why. I didn't feel superior to anyone else for having done it, but a part of me felt sad for the women I knew who didn't have the desire or get to experience the same, but I couldn't tell you exactly why.

I have an tendency to get very curious about certain things in life. When it happens, I become very well read on whatever it is and seek to understand it fully. Childbirth is one of the things I got passionately curious about. I like this about me. To me, it means I am alive and finding my own way in life, instead of living and doing things the way someone else says I should. For me, it allows for living life intentionally and purposefully which takes effort and work but also means I have a real reason and understanding for making the decisions I do, which I think is responsible. Sure, I can live life more passively and not ponder the questions that arise when I get curious, but that's not for me. I want to know why. I want solid reasons and belief for doing the things I do. So, why would I pick the hard way instead of the easy way in childbirth? Because it's worth it.

krysta looking good

Because deep down, I believe I can do hard things. And I think going through life's hard stuff is what shapes us as people. Character if you will. Can I trust and be brave and strong enough to get through them? And if so, how well? What was the condition of my mind, body, heart and soul throughout the process? How scared was I? Did I need to be? I think these questions are worthwhile. It's one of the questions in my Christian life that gets raised again and again. I think embracing childbirth for all that it is (scary, hard, messy, beautiful, work, unpredictable) is a rare opportunity for growth. Because when things get hard down the road, when it really hits the fan, I can be confident in knowing, really knowing I can do it because I've already overcome in my hardest moment. That freedom and confidence throughout my life is totally worth it to me. In natural childbirth, every woman faces their darkest hour. You get to a place where you'd just assume die than go through with the rest of it. To choose to trust your body and endure, be steadfast, surrendered and determined is crucial. If you can do it then, in that moment when you're at your weakest, taxed and tested to the very depths of your can do it anytime you need to thereafter. That's pretty bad ass I think.  Personally speaking, the only person I cheat in choosing the easy way is myself. 

Feeling it with Olivia before the epidural

Is this for everybody? No, probably not. And any woman who has taken the time to evaluate what is most important for her at that time in her life has my utmost respect with her decision. Twice I've decided I just didn't have what it took to birth naturally and that's okay. Sometimes, being humans, we are just plain tired and our road has been too weary or we're not ready for such a thing. For my first baby, going au natural wasn't even an option. I would have not seen the point just like all the people I mentioned in my first paragraph. I didn't know the value to be had yet, and that's okay. I was twenty years old. Had I been forced to birth naturally back then, I can't say I would have been able to translate the hardness into anything beautiful or beneficial. I had to first be aware of the value to be had which came with time and life experience. As time went by, I started to see more clearly what exactly I had gained through my natural childbirth with Jeremiah. 

A few years ago I had to do a two-month long sugar cleanse (basically vegan, no wheat, dairy, fruit, or anything that turns to sugar in the body). For a foodie like me, with no prior experience with limiting any particular foods, it required determination, steadfastness, endurance, trust that I was doing what was best and a will to choose to stick with it day in and day out and not give into temptation and no-no foods. It seems lame to compare a cleanse with childbirth but I'm telling you, each day on that cleanse I was tempted to eat something I shouldn't and would get discouraged thinking about how long it would be before I could have normal food again (two months is a long time!) I felt very defeated, so I would tell myself this: Don't think about tomorrow or how long this will last, just focus on today and this meal. Determine to choose the right thing today and win this particular battle, and eventually, before you know it, you'll win the war. Dramatic? Yes. Effective? You bet. I realized at some point that I probably wouldn't have had the willpower to see the cleanse through had I not gone through the experience of natural childbirth. If I had, it would definitely have been a lot harder with many more "cheats". As the years have gone by since then, I've experienced and been put in several situations where I can directly correlate how successfully I handled myself or had a victory over something using what I learned I could do in natural childbirth. The list is endless. I've had enormous benefit even though I initially went in not knowing what I would come out with. And? At my husbands suggestion we gave our son the middle name Ethan, which means strong and enduring, after me in childbirth. Pretty nice perk if I do say so myself. 

Jeremiah's Birth Oct. 27 2006 060

I chose an epidural with my third baby, Olivia. I went into labor not knowing if I wanted to do it naturally or not and that's ultimately what sealed my fate. When I arrived at that do or die moment, I wanted relief. You'll always choose relief and comfort if your not determined otherwise, and you know what? That's okay too. There's no point in doing something hard for no good reason at all and at that point in life I was tired. 

If everything goes my way, this baby will be the first time I choose to go into a drug-free birth knowing exactly what I am doing and why. Barring any complications, I'm glad I get the chance. 

new born little man

I am really curious as to what I'll learn going into it willingly this time. I plan on taking it a step further and not just trying to "get through it" but be present and not shaken as well. My body is able to deliver a baby naturally and women everywhere have been doing it for centuries. The calm and control it will require will almost bury me, I'm sure of that. But I'm determined to take it one contraction at a time. One small win at a time...and eventually, I'll win the war. In the end, it may not be as gracefully or as picturesque as I see it in my head, but that's okay. There are lessons to be learned everywhere and places to be revealed to grow and I welcome that. My goal is to do the best I can with what I have. That's all anyone can hope for, right?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Grasshopper Pie

Grasshopper Pie

A little while ago my little man tore out this picture in a magazine and ran up to me with eyes wide "Mom! We have to make this!"

Grasshopper Pie

I filed it away with promises of getting the ingredients at the store, but weeks went by and I never did.  Finally, last week he saw me making my grocery list and ran to get the recipe from my drawer "Oh, mom? Are you forgetting this?" So I piled the cart with ingredients for grasshopper pie, stuff like marshmallows, milk, whipping cream, green food coloring and Oreo's, all to Jeremy's dismay and much to the kids delight.

I was very glad to be able to make this with him before the new baby comes and my time will be even more limited. He was very proud of his green pie and loved that "grasshopper" was part of the name. He toted it inside my grandma and grandpa's house last week for a family get together and took the first piece come dessert time.

Grasshopper Pie

Grasshopper Pie

Cool and fluffy, green and minty, sweet and milky, grasshopper pie is a classic and should make an appearance on your table this summer if you have kids. We used a recipe from a kids magazine so it called for mint extract and coconut extract for flavorings instead of the usual creme de menthe and cream de cacao. I don't recommend this as my first choice because it tastes better using the liquers, and there is not enough in the recipe to hurt children. Made with the extracts it was a little sharper tasting and my daughter thought it was a bit too much like the flavor of toothpaste (but in all fairness she uses a fresh mint Tom's toothpaste, so it probably did). So, use the liquers if possible for a more sophisticated flavor.

Grasshopper Pie

Well, I'm officially two days past my due date. I had an ultrasound and non-stress test yesterday and all is well and I am fit to carry this baby a little while longer. But...They are pretty sure this baby is big. Like, 8lbs 7oz big, and putting weight on rapidly by the day. This is by far my biggest baby. Isabella was 7lbs 15oz, so we know I can deliver an 8lb baby, but my doctor is a little concerned with it getting too big if I go a week past my due date. We'll at least wait until I'm a week past my due date to even consider inducing, and then we'd only consider that if the baby was getting too big. I'm generally against inductions unless there is an emergency or the baby is in danger. However, if I let the baby get too big I risk having to have an emergency c-section so I have to weigh what's worse.

Hopefully it doesn't come to that and she just decides to make an appearance before then. After all, my original due date was June 24th before they moved it to the 30th based on ultrasound measurements. Come on baby!!!

Grasshopper Pie

Grasshopper Pie
adapted from The Pioneer Woman, by Ree Drummond and Family Fun Magazine
makes 1 9" pie

  • 17 whole Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (we used Oreo's)
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • 24 whole Large Marshmallows (or Container Of Marshmallow Fluff)
  • 2/3 cups Half-and-half or whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Creme De Menthe Liqueur (more To Taste)
  • 2 Tablespoons Creme De Cacao Liqueur
  • Drop Or Two Of Green Food Coloring (I think we used 3)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Extra Cookie Crumbs, For Sprinkling

Throw the cookies and melted butter into a food processor and pulverize (or, if you have some aggressions or energy to expend, you can crush them in a large Ziploc bag.) Pour into a pie pan and press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Set aside.

Heat marshmallows and half-and-half in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. As soon as it's all melted and combined, place saucepan in a bowl of ice to cool down quickly. (Stirring occasionally will hasten this process.) Or put in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Once cool, add creme de menthe and creme de cacao. Taste and add more creme de menthe if needed. Add one to three drops green food coloring. Place back in the refrigerator to cool for another 10 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff. Pour cold marshmallow mixture into the whipped cream and fold together gently. 

Pour filling into chocolate crust (note: you might have a good 1/2 cup filling left over, depending on the size of your pie pan!) Sprinkle extra chocolate crumbs over the top. Place pie in the freezer and freeze until very firm, at least two hours.

Remove from freezer ten minutes or so before you want to slice and serve.