Monday, August 26, 2013

Jeremy's Healthy Breakfast Bowl + A Birth Story


That was...rough
Facebook status. 9:58pm, July 7th


7:25pm: Eleanor Hope MacGray is born

7:15-ish: I look at Jeremy between contractions and tell him pushing feels different this time. It's harder. It's taking a longer time. She must be big like they thought, I say. I'm very aware which was my goal, but I'm not sure I like it.


4:50pm- Leave the house for the hospital. Contractions are anywhere from 1-4 minutes apart. Some come within 30-40 seconds of each other. On others a few minutes pass, but they are getting much more intense.

4:25pm: I pack my hospital bag because I haven't yet. I like to live dangerously.

5:00pm: Checking into the hospital. Does your stomach get bigger if your baby is bigger? That's my theory because, never, never, has it been *this* ginormous before. Hello!


5:30-ish pm: 5cm dilated

6:20pm: Jeremy tells me I've been in the tub for 45 minutes. I am shocked. It feels like 10 minutes. Again, I have no concept of time.

6:40pm: I am unable to talk much between contractions. I lay my forehead in my arms over the tub. I haven't needed to throw up yet (sorry) which worries me a bit since I have during transition during my other labors which, in my mind, is 7cm. Was I not there yet? How could I not be at 7? I am silently dreading each contraction and telling Jeremy how it's not restful between them even in the absence of pain. I can't articulate why that is. I am hot. I need cool wash cloths draped over my shoulders and sips of ice water every few minutes.

7:00pm: Sitting in the hospital tub telling Jeremy to get the nurse. Feeling lots of pressure.

7:06pm: 9cm dilated and my water just broke. I'm back in the bed, having transferred from the tub. Everything is intense. They tell me I'm close and that it's all happening so quickly. I am shocked. It feels like an eternity, not quick. They tell me I've only been out of the tub for 5 minutes. I have no concept of time. I notice the doctor dressing for delivery. Seriously? Is this happening now? They check me again. Paper thin I hear. I think I hear complete. They say I can push with the next contraction. With each subsequent contraction and push I think and say "oh, no." 

At 1:00pm that day I sent Jeremy on a 2hr mountain bike ride. I had contractions but didn't say anything to him  becuase I wasn't sure if they would slow down and stop or keep progressing. Plus, I knew that either way we'd have time. Earlier that day my sister sent me a text asking me if she should stay in town where she had been visiting just in case I went onto labor that day, or make the 2 1/2 hour drive back home. I sent her off, assuring her I felt fine and was convinced this baby had no intention of coming. Then, around 11:30am our little family left the house to get the car washed and purchase our diaper bag. Good thing to purchase since I had three contractions on our 10 minute drive home. I needed to start paying attention. Truth be told, I had my first contraction while eating Jeremy's breakfast bowl around 10am but didn't know it was the start of labor. Later, when I realized I was indeed in labor and that she'd be coming that day, I was super excited. I felt good.

Jeremy's Breakfast Bowl - My last meal before baby

I started to time my contractions at 2:10pm while I edited my last blog post on why I want to have a drug-free natural delivery. It's intimidating to edit such a post while you suspect you are in labor and about to face everything you've written about. Although, it did help get my head in the game. From 2:10pm to 3:00pm, contractions went from ten minutes apart to six minutes apart.

Like I said, it was rough. Fast and furious, but rough. It took hours for my body to really get going, but once it did, it kicked into high gear. I tried my best to keep up. I knew it would be this way, as it has been for all my labors, but this one was quicker still towards the end. I checked into the hospital at the perfect time. I was still perky enough to walk in and change from my black Lulu Lemon ruffle skirt and aqua blue workout top (I had "big plans" for walking that day) into my hospital gown. Then I answered all of my nurses questions, greeted the doctor, and got my IV, all with smiles, stopping only briefly to quiet down and breathe with each contraction which by now, were progressively getting worse. I didn't know from that point it would only be two hours until I had myself a baby.


And you guys? I did it. Drug-free and natural, just like I hoped! I was also pretty present throughout the experience which made time move at a strange, inconceivable pace and everything seem just a bit more surreal. I was very, very aware. This was my goal and I was completely resolved to taking it one contraction at a time, but it was getting tough. I had to keep refocusing on the present and getting through the contraction at hand and not think about what was next. When the time came for pushing, I didn't want to, which caught me off guard. I had wanted to with Jeremiah. But this time, It didn't bring relief. It felt unnatural even though there was immense pressure and the need to do it, all which bothered me. Something about pushing was harder this time. I told Jeremy that something didn't feel right, and it was very hard work, so "she must be big." Ellie was big, with a big head to boot, but she was also POS (face up) which makes pushing much harder. They told me this after she was born, but I knew something was up. I was just so...there. I can't say I liked it. And since I've been saying so, people have been responding with "but at least it was really quick." This, I've decided, doesn't mean anything. Had it not been as quick, it would also not have been so intense. Quick doesn't equal easy, lets just get that straight. Mmmmkay?


After she was born they placed her on my chest. They kept remarking on how big she was, but she looked itty bitty to me...until later when she suddenly looked gigantic and I wondered how in the world she had fit in my belly to begin with. You know the part after you have the baby and you think all is good until, like, two minutes later when all the cramping, stitches, teeth chattering shakiness, cold, soreness and flu like symptoms rush in? Well, being my fourth baby, they were all supremely heightened this time. I know these after effects notoriously get worse with each child a woman has, but still, I was quite in shock over the intensity of it. I had to keep asking if it was normal. I also was losing a bit more blood than expected and when they got me up to switch rooms I almost passed out twice. I guess you could say my body was ready to rest and recover already. I slept like it was my job that night...after pizza. My husband totally went out at 10pm and got us pizza from our restaurant.



KEL_6543 copy

Big brother and sisters coming to see the baby for the first time


So did I like natural childbirth? No. I didn't like or enjoy natural childbirth. But then again, I didn't expect to. Childbirth is It's hands down the hardest thing I've ever done. I knew I wouldn't "like" it. I wanted to embrace it. And I did. That's what changes everything. I was able to embrace and face something that was taxing and brutal, with intentional boldness-battling my fears along the way, and came out victorious. Childbirth like this is the most exhilarating and terrible thing I've ever experienced. Although, ask me about it the same night and I'll tell you it was only terrible.  :) Overall, I was much stronger and in control this time around than with Jeremiah's natural birth. I had a sense of- you got this- in my head. I did have to battle my fear of being able to handle the pain with each contraction, and not get too far ahead with the what if's -What if I can't take the pain thirty minutes from now? What if it gets worse?- And that was my biggest mental hurdle.


Eleanor Hope MacGray was born at 7:25pm, on July 7th 2013, weighing 8lbs 7oz, measuring 20" long, and screaming. 

Eleanor: Shining Light

Hope: "Hope" is the thing with feathers -
             That perches in the soul-
             And sings the tune without the words-
             And never stops--at all-
             Emily Dickinson



Ellie didn't settle down for quite a while. I was worried I had a cryer on my hands. I was even more worried an hour later when she still hadn't stopped. She's still so new and tiny but I can already tell she is the sweetest thing I've ever laid my eyes on. I think she's an old soul. She's very alert and listens intently when you talk to her. She has me completely smitten. I quickly declared she was my "plump chicken" which sounds weird if you don't already know that I call each of my kids some sort of animal (Isabella's my lamb, Jeremiah -much to his dismay- is my pig, and Olivia is my dove. Although, most recently she gets called "dragon" for her guttural yells, plus she sleeps "in the dungeon" which is really just dramatic speak for "downstairs." It's a loving name, I swear.)


The kids came to see their sister about an hour after she was born but only stayed a few minutes since she was still crying at that point and I needed to feed her. Jeremiah was especially attentive to her, wondering aloud about her, gushing with pride. Olivia, surprisingly, seemed to know exactly what was going on and who the baby was, like she had been expecting her. She remains curious about Eleanor and wants to be right up next to her wherever she is. For the most part she knows to be gentle which is amazing. Livy seems older to me now. Isabella held her right away and couldn't wait to celebrate her arrival. In typical Isabella fashion, she walked right up to me in my hospital bed, eyes wide with anticipation, a sly smile on her face and asked rather excidedly and bluntly "so, did it hurt?"

Um...yeah, I guess you could say that.

Jeremiah, in his typical fashion, was more compassionately concerned about me. He made sure to check on me a few times during his brief visit to make sure I was okay. I smiled and assured him I was. 


My Grandma, me, my Mom, and Grandpa

In my last post I wondered what change I might see in myself for having chosen this process. I have no doubt the revelations will keep coming, but I've already noticed a instilling of one of life's greatest lessons. I knew and understood this logically before but now I can feel it as well. I know it. In a nutshell? This life is hard. And in this life we will have trouble. Somedays can feel like a marathon to get through, and other times I feel like a complete failure. --Hold up people, I'm about to get deep-- During my contractions I found myself singing this song in my head. It goes like this :"Lord I need you, oh, I need you. Every hour I need you" Then I would get annoyed and angry at the lyrics and think to heck with that! Every minute, every second, I need you in this particular case. The same is true in my everyday life. Sometimes you are not rescued from the storm. Rather, you are made strong enough to weather it. It's in how you handle these times that count. I will not always be rescued from the woes of my life. But I will be met in them. I don't have it all figured out, by any means, and I still fail at times - epically- but I have learned to find some amount of comfortableness by just sitting in the midst of the hard stuff and being able to take it in, feel it's weight, and fight the temptation for a "quick fix" in lieu of the "real fix." I've learned to take it one second, one minute, one hour (one contraction) at a time and wait for clarity or strength in the midst because I trust it will come. I can also battle any anxiety about the future when I'm able to just meet each moment as it comes and learn to trust that I am always a work in progress, but have faith that I'm working towards something good. I don't think it's about being able to "like" or "enjoy" natural childbirth or any pain for that matter, but rather, for me, it's about being able to be vulnerable enough to be taught and changed by it even though that often hurts. I don't need to run from the hard stuff. With help, I got this

Coming home from the hospital

First family picture

Big daddy, little baby




HP 052

And? The wisdom tooth surgery I've been putting off for years because I'm too scared about being put under (I've never had surgery). Yeah. That's gonna be cake now. And, honestly? Like magic, I'm...wait for it----------not. even. scared. 


I just blew my own mind.

My friend Kel  came to the hospital and took a lot of these pictures for us. She's the best. 

Hey, wanna have what I had the morning Ellie Hope was born? Let me answer that for you, because it is so, so good. Yes, you want what I had.



This is Jeremy's Healthy Breakfast Bowl. We decided to name it that since it reminded me of the polar opposite of Garth Brook's Breakfast Bowl, which consists of bacon, eggs, sausage, cheddar, tater tots, and cheese tortollini, and is probably the worst possible thing to fuel up on in the morning, at least to me. In contrast, Jeremy's breakfast bowl consists of a fried egg, refried beans, fresh salsa or tomatos, a sliced avocado half, sautéed spinach with onion and garlic, and a dollop of Greek Yogurt. A squirt of lemon, a sprinkling of garlic flakes and sea salt, and it's heaven! I love savory breakfasts and this one fills you up with tons of vitamins and minerals, fiber and protein. Sometimes Jeremy sprinkles some diced pickled jalapeño over his bowl to spice it up. Any way you do it, it's delicious. We even found a way to only dirty one pan and one bowl for the whole process. First you sauté the onions and spinach in a pan, then remove it to a bowl until you need it. In the same pan, fry your eggs and move them to the side when done (or into your serving dishes. Next, warm the beans through in the same pan while you slice your avocado and lemon. By the way? You need the lemon and garlic flakes (we use McCormick brand) and sea salt. It's not optional since it brings all the flavors together.

Jeremy's Healthy Breakfast Bowl
serves 4

1 5oz package of baby spinach, or one big bunch or regular spinach
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
olive oil
butter, for frying eggs
4-8 eggs (I like one per person, but you may like two per person)
2 avocados, sliced
1 can Amy's refried black beans (this brand tastes so much better than others)
fresh salsa, like pico de gallo or chopped fresh tomatoes
Greek yogurt
lemon wedges, for serving
dried garlic flakes (spice isle)
sea salt

In a large saute pan over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and saute the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic cloves and sauté another minute. Add the spinach and cover with a lid until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with sea salt and transfer to another bowl.

In the same saute pan, fry your eggs over medium heat in a bit of butter until done to your liking. I like them over medium. Transfer your eggs to individual serving dishes. 

Warm the beans through in the same skillet used to cook spinach and eggs over low heat. While beans are warming, slice your avocados and divide them up between bowls. When beans are warmed, divide a scoop between the bowls. Next, add a dollop of Greek yogurt and scoop of salsa to each bowl. Squeeze lemon wedges over the spinach, avocado and yogurt. Sprinkle the entire dish with garlic flakes and sea salt. 

I try and get a little taste of everything in each bite.