The First 40 Days (post partum)

This is a book review, illustrated with my own personal experience and the intro to a lot of my upcoming posts. 

 

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This book, in my opinion, should be read by all expecting mothers. Wether it’s your first or your 6th child, if you are pregnant and haven’t read this book yet, I strongly suggest you do.

I was given this book by my friend Marisa Belger, the co-author of this book, and while I was not pregnant at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, was gifting it and suggesting it to pregnant women, and I wished this book had been written when I was pregnant with one of my first 3 children as it is full of beautiful nourishing recipes, thoughtful tips and deep wisdom.

As luck has it, I ended up getting pregnant with my fourth child, Haumea, and had her a few weeks ago ❤

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So now I am home and I get live The First 40 Days, that were entirely inspired by this book. I am on day 24 now.

The idea of the first 40 days is a cultural thing. Many cultures around the world observe the first 40 days postpartum as one of deep healing, gentleness, inward living and care for the new mother and baby. One where neither the mother or baby leave the house and where they both spend their time just being with each other with minimal distractions and lots of nourishment, love and self care. A time where family steps in and comes to take care of the new mother so she can focus all her attention on baby. We don’t have this tradition in the US unfortunately. Quite the contrary actually!

In the US a mother is viewed as strong and capable if she is out and about with her newborn just days after giving birth. Extra bonus points if her physical body bounces back quickly. “Wow, you are so amazing being out with your new baby and you barely look like you have given birth!” Women are proud to show up places with their newborn in tow. “I got this, I can have a new baby AND be social AND even go back to work! I might even throw a welcome party for my baby”

There is pride in that. And I get it because I was like that with my first 3 babies. I was physically capable of doing it all and so I did. I was proud to be able to do it all. Since when has busyness become a badge of honor? I wore that badge with pride. Thankfully because of who I am and my genetic makeup I was able to handle the lack of early self care without it depleting me too much. But while my physical body was handling it fairly well, how was my emotional body really doing during those times?

This time around I am PROUD to have made the commitment to SLOW DOWN. I am PROUD to say I am staying home with my baby and doing the bare minimum. Because of who I am (physically active, social, mother of four, self imposed obligations of taking the kids out of the house and entertaining them often, self imposed duty of cooking from scratch), making this commitment to do the bare minimum took more work than it would have to just go back to living life the way I usually do. And boy do I need this time at home. I think it’s worth mentioning that I live in San Francisco, a big city with lots to do, lots to explore and lots of people to see. If I lived in the country or a more remote place, taking this time at home might not feel like such a big deal. I also think it’s worth mentioning that my mother passed when I was a child, and my father and step mom live in France. My husbands mother isn’t around either. So this leaves us with no grandparents to help us out and no mother figure to take care of me.

I am being very mindful of my diet. While I am usually someone who eats well, balanced and varied, the way of eating suggested by The First 40 Days isn’t only about the “healthy” factor, it’s about the nourishing and healing factor. While previously I would eat big salads and drink smoothies and smoothies bowls, because really, those things are healthy and packed with vitamins and yummy things, so why wouldn’t I eat them? This book has given me new isights on how to gently care for a body that needs comfort and warmth.

I have been feeling amazing everyday. My kids are being cared for by community so that they are not bored at home everyday, I am being fed nourishing meals by my community as well as the great prep work I put in while I was still pregnant, and I am receiving healing sessions from my community as well. My husband is being a rock star dad and taking the kids places as much as he can when he is not working in order for them to have fun and for Haumea and I to spend time alone. My brother is also staying with us and being helpful with the older kids so I don’t need to rush out of bed in the morning and can take my time nursing and snuggling Haumea. Not only do I feel great physically, I  have also recovered the fastest from all 4 births, and my emotional well being feels stable, centered, grounded and patient. I never thought this is the way I would feel after bringing a fourth child in to this already rambunctious home of mine. I know things will shift when I start to interact with the outside world more, and I feel so ready to take that on. Adjusting to life with a newborn in this way is setting me up for success as I am integrating in a peaceful, quiet way.

Not only that, but I am getting to spend such amazing quality time with my baby. Time that would so easily slip away if I were at the playground with the older kids, or in the car going places while she is strapped in her car seat, (probably crying because that is not where she wants to be), or at park meet ups or strapping her in and out of the carrier so I can shop and run other errands. We will eventually get to doing all those things. But being able to spend HER first 40 days out of the womb in such a thoughtful, low activity way, in the comfort of an intentional cocoon, I imagine is a much sweeter transition than being brutally thrown in the chaos of what can sometimes be this modern life. I get to spend long moments singing to her, massaging her, rocking her, soothing her, snuggling her. And the other kids are learning to treat her gently as well, honoring her space, her quietude and her transition.

This time at home is allowing me to replenish and feel ready to take on whatever shape my life will take once I start leaving the house again and having more obligations and duties. And it’s allowing me to fully tune in to Haumea so that I can make choices that are considerate of her once life resumes it’s busier pace. Although I have a feeling this time we are spending here is going to shift my perspective and desires around how much we do and how often.

And I attribute all of this to the inspiration I got from The First 40 Days. Before reading this book I felt like I was good at birthing, post partum and integration of a new being in our life. I would have not expected the amazing difference my inner world would experience by taking these committed 40 days. Because making this commitment goes beyond staying home for 40 days, it also involves being committed at caring for myself, on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. I journal, I write, I sing, I perform self massages. I oil my hair and take baths. I stretch, read and meditate.

I want to point out, that while I wished I had had this book with my first baby, I feel like this book is even more relevant to me now that I have several children. For those of you who are mothers, you might already associate with the fact that we can put ourselves last as mothers, or feel like we have too much going on already to take the time to nourish ourselves properly, be it with food or self care. It’s so easy to fall right back in to the “I need to do so much for everyone around me, if I have time I will do something for myself after” mentality.  So making this commitment during my pregnancy, talking to my husband about it and making sure he is on board and gathering my tribe, my community to support us all during this time, was even more necessary now that I have been a mother for 9 years than it was 9 years ago when my first child was born.

This book is a must have in my opinion. Unless you are a lucky person who comes from a culture who already honors this tradition and have been raised with these principles. For me, a lot of this information was new and I am so incredibly grateful to the women, Heng, Marisa and Emily, who put it into words and turned it into a book so that the rest of the world can learn about it.

And I am incredibly grateful to my husband and my community for supporting me in my decision. Even though this time spent this way is a necessity for the well being of myself and baby, because of the world we live in, a part of me cannot help but think of it as a luxury, a luxury I am blessed to be able to take in this fast paced, go-getter, keep moving and do do DO! world we live in.

 

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A Birth Story with a Recipe :)

September 14th, 2017

 

Drinking ceremonial hot chocolate as my contractions get stronger. I am waiting for you baby as you work your way to the birth canal. It is now 9am. I feel strong, confident and ready. Connecting with you in early labor feels sweet. You are gentle, patient and peaceful. No intense emotions or feelings of being rushed. I am eager to meet you my love. We got this. We are working together and in harmony. I love you.

Last night at 11pm is when it became clear that labor was starting. I felt this surge of hormones, I started getting fidgety, slightly irritable, impatient and warm. “The tub! We must blow up the birthing pool!”; “We need to move the TV, my birth altar is not set up!”; “I have to go to the bathroom, NOW and Taru is in there! Why is he in there!?” Oh shit this is happening. Am I ready? Running through checklists in my head. Do we have all “the things?” Did I prep enough? Do we have enough food? What are we missing? Leif where are you?? Oh right, you’re blowing up the pool…. I was so tempted to ask him to stop doing that so he could come upstairs and move the TV for me, but I decided to sit on the couch and practice patience. The baby was definitely not coming NOW. I won’t give in to my frantic mind. Slow down. Breath. Wait. I am so ready for this. I’ve been so ready. I have everything I need and I AM everything I need.

“Babe, can you please move the TV so can I set up the altar?” He had come back upstairs and was as fidgety and excited as I was “Oh my god, we’re having a baby!”.

Setting up the altar allowed me to slow down, tune in to the energies I was calling in for this birth: gentleness, patience, strength, warriorship, breath, connection with baby, softness. And it allowed me to connect with all my goddess friends who provided objects for me to put on my altar. Once that was done, I decided to take a shower and try to get some rest as the contractions were still mild and far apart.

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My sleep was frequently interrupted with contractions and trips to the bathroom, yet I was grateful to be able to rest. Around 3:30am the intensity picked up a bit and I had to focus my breathing in order to allow for the contractions to pass. But again, I was able to fall asleep in between them. At 6am they got stronger still and I was laboring in bed until about 7:30am when the kids came in. I decided to get up and wash my hair, because if baby is coming today, when will I get the chance to wash my hair again? Plus I want to smell nice for myself while I am in the heat of labor. The shower seemed to have slowed things down a bit so I tried to stay on my feet and move and dance and cook. I made curry in the crockpot. I was feeling somewhat impatient again. Is this going to pick up? Are the contractions going to get closer together soon? Or am I going to be mildly laboring for days? Can we just get this thing done? The mood swings between impatience and staying in the moment were an added indicator that labor was really happening. “With each breath, I oooooopen my cervix”; “Come on already, get stronger and drop that baby!”; “I gently welcome your arrival in due time baby”: “Why am I still smiling  and not crunched over my exercise ball in contraction agony??”.

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It’s 9am and the kids are outside playing with Leif. I make myself a ceremonial hot chocolate, light the candles on the altar and say my quiet thanks to all my support team, present at the birth and energetically there. I set up a few symbolic items next to me on the table (a felt heart for love and gratitude and softness, a butterfly for transition, change and happiness, a clear quartz crystal for amplified energy and connection to spirit). I pull out my journal and start writing. This is what I need to slow down and become fully one with what is happening. No more impatience, no more fidgety energy, it’s time to drop in and connect with baby.

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I feel strong, confident and ready. Connecting with you in early labor feels sweet. You are gentle, patient and peaceful. No intense emotions or feelings of being rushed. While I kept on expecting those and almost calling those in, I am grateful this is not how you are doing this right now baby. I am eager to meet you my love. We got this. We are working together and in harmony. I love you.

 

After this little focused moment of drinking and journaling, things started picking up. I let my midwives know that it is almost time, and I get to work. I walk and dance in order for gravity to work with me. I hum with each contraction and invite baby to drop. I don’t rush. I allow baby to set the pace and I allow myself to get taken by the pace of each contraction. My biggest work here is to fully surrender and relax as much as possible in to each contraction so that baby can do it’s thing. I stay on my feet as much as I can as gravity will help baby to drift downward more easily. Baby is doing most of the work here and I am supporting that as much as I can. I manage to step out of my own way and I surrender. That is my biggest work right here, right now. I have stopped wanting to rush the process yet a part of me wonders if this will be a long birth as everything feels so….peaceful. I keep on expecting things to feel so intense and draining. But it never really gets there. The contractions hurt, and they demand my attention and focus, and as soon as they are over I am able to be fully present to the outside world, not too caught up in my active recovery. This is a new way of laboring for me. I am aware of what is going on around me. I feel when Kekaula, my 5 yr old boy, comes to me and comforts me. I hear Tika, my 9 yr old daughter, and respond to her when she asks me if I need anything. I feel it when Leif, my husband, and Jolan, my 3 yr old son, come and use the tuning fork on my sacrum when the contractions feel very intense. The tuning fork helps so much in managing my pain.

 

Kristin, my doula and dear friend, arrives. She looks beautiful in her white dress with large green feathers. Festive and radiant. What a gorgeous gift to get to see her during this beautiful and physically painful and demanding time. She sprays me with some delicate essences and puts a cold cloth on my neck. I didn’t know I needed that until she did it. It’s the little things.

 

I keep dancing and walking around. Going to Leif for a few support contractions. In all honesty, I like laboring alone. I don’t feel the need to have Leif physically supporting me during the pain. It’s nice when he does yet I don’t seek it out or demand it. It’s almost easier to focus my attention on the work when I am at it alone. I go back to the ball on the ground. My favorite place to be for most of the hard labor. Nancy, my midwife, arrives close to 12pm. Kara, my other midwife, shortly after. I can smell Kristin’s amazing cooking coming from the kitchen. Ghee and onions. Something tasty is being created for us. I am laboring hard by then, yet still present and peaceful. This labor is so different from the others. I am grateful and a part of me still doubts. If things don’t pick up, can our baby be born soon? Is labor supposed to feel so sweet, so serene, so…..perfect?

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I throw up. Ok! I am transitioning! If I had any doubts about it before, I know myself in labor and throwing up is a sign that my cervix is opening up even more and I am moving in to the next phase of labor. And yet. This baby is not intense. This baby is not rushing me. This baby is not demanding of my energy or attention. Its is doing its thing and asking the bare minimum from me. In labor, the bare minimum is still a lot, but this my fourth time, it feels so simple and beautiful almost. Kekaula comes to me often with gentle touches and rubs. He is so sweet, and caring, and thoughtful. His energy quiet and loving. I am so grateful for his presence.

 

I feel the baby drop. The pain has moved from my belly and upper womb space to my pelvis and lower abdomen. And the pain is getting more sharp. It’s going to be time soon. My moans are becoming longer, more focused, more intense. And yet. I’ve experienced such excruciating pain in previous labors, is this all this is going to be? I mean it HURTS, and I want it to be over soon, yet I feel like it could hurt so much more. Or have my pain management skills improved since the last birth?

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“Aurore, do you want to get in the water?” Nancy asks. “YES”. I had been wanting to go in yet a part of me was worried that getting in too early would slow things down. I wanted to get in the water when it was really time to push. And it was time. Baby was ready, I was ready, the midwives were ready. It was going to happen soon. And I was grateful.

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The water is warm and I immediately feel better being in it. But the pool is uncomfortable. We got a cheap kid pool off Amazon because I couldn’t find an inflatable birthing tub for rent and I didn’t want the aqua doula. I was slightly regretting it then. I couldn’t get comfortable as my butt was at the bottom of the pool, making contact with a too hard surface: the ground below me. I couldn’t let my body keep opening the way it needed to for the baby to come out. I try to relax. I can feel Kekaula putting his hand on my heart and keeping it there. Giving me his love and strength as I work hard to get his sibling here. Jolan follows suit and gently touches my face. While I am loving the comfort from my boys I am having a hard time getting comfortable and allowing for contractions to really do their work. We try putting a towel under my bum but that doesn’t’ really do enough. I try to have a few more contractions and invite the baby to keep descending but it’s clear that my favored birthing position won’t work here. I flip over on to me knees, allow for my face to rest on the side of the pool and after a couple contractions there I know it’s time. I start to push. It hurts. I am not a fan of this position but it’s what I have to work with right now. I bear down again and push. I put my hand on my vagina to feel if the head is close. It is. I hear Nancy confirm that. Everyone is in position. Baby is coming. It’s all up to me now. Baby has done it’s part, now it’s all up to me in how long it will take for the baby to actually be born, it’s all in the pushing now. I know this. How hard I push, combined with how much I allow myself to OPEN will be the answer to how quickly we meet our baby. So I push. HARD. I try to ignore the sensation that my anus is turning inside out and about to be ripped off. I feel the head. I hear the voices telling me they see the head. “The head! It’s not all the way out Aurore, one more push.” I push hard and I feel the head completely clear. That took so much out of me. “You are safe, you got this, you are safe”. Kara’s voice in my ear as she hugs my head. I guess the effort this is requiring is being witnessed. It’s not just how I feel, I am actually working really hard to push this baby out. “One more push Aurore, you got this!”. It’s all up to me now. I can get this over with now if I choose. SO I PUSH. And I let out a warrior cry. And I reach down with one hand as the baby slips out of me and is being handed to me from between my legs. It’s done. I did it. WE did it. This was the hardest push of all 4 babies. But it was quick. And it’s over. I am so relieved. I lay back with relief and exhaustion and happiness. “It’s a girl! Is it a girl?” I lift the baby up off my chest. It’s a girl! Welcome sweet face!!!

 

It’s over. Well almost. Maconium is all around me in the tub. I need to get out. I can’t sit in here and deliver the placenta unfortunately. I need to go on the floor mattress. It’s those last little efforts once the baby is out that feel so incredibly demanding. Getting on the mattress is such a feat of strength. As I get out of the tub I feel a gush down my legs. “Ewwww! She’s pooping!” I hear the kids. Brown liquid all over me. Maconium in my waters. A lot of it. This is why you came early my little doll. It wasn’t safe for you in there anymore. Thank you for coming early and keeping yourself safe.

 

Once on the couch it took you minutes to find my nipple and you wanted to stay there for the first few hours post birth. It was so sweet and nice to see you latch on so easily and effortlessly and eagerly. Breastfeeding is a breeze with you. We lay peacefully together on the mattress as I birth the placenta and final birthing details happen (Did I tear? No. How is my blood pressure? Good. Do I have a fever? No.)

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Now I get to take a brief shower while the midwives check you out and make sure all is good with you too and then I get to snuggle with you in bed for a whole week.

 

I love birthing. I love the process, I love the outcome and I love the post birth week. It’s the sweetest week I ever experience. Falling in love with a new being, spending hours looking at her quickly changing features. Figuring out her cues and sounds and signs. The post birth week is one of my favorite weeks ever.

 

Welcome Haumea.

 

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Reflecting on this birth as well as all my other births, here are the things I wish to share.

From my own experience, the way a baby comes in to the world is somewhat of an indication of who this baby is. Who I am in pregnancy, is also an indication of who this baby is. From the moment conception happens, our energies are blended and we influence each other. By looking back on who I was with each pregnancy and how each labor went, and then seeing who my 3 older children are, that information is very relevant to me. I can describe my mood in pregnancy followed with my experience of labor with each child and explain how those impressions are present in each one of my children.

 

Being able to discern where my energy ends, where baby’s begins and where we are blended is something that came with practice and lots of awareness. I was too young and stuck in my ego with my first child to be aware of those things. It’s upon looking back that I became aware of the details and started paying attention in following pregnancies. With each consecutive pregnancy I became more fluent with this understanding and pregnancy became increasingly more spiritual and meaningful.

While this last birth was not the shortest, it was by far the sweetest. And I can say with certainty that the reason for that is because of who I was bringing in to the world and because of who I am at this point in my life. The increased awareness that baby does the work in labor and my job is to step out of the way really helped my body open and soften the way it needed to. Allowing for sweetness to take over. Because as soon as I regarded the labor pains as the actual work and effort that baby was doing to get here, instead of the dreadful experience that is unavoidable in birth, I became so much more accepting of and even touched by the contractions as I was seeing them as an expression of my baby. And instead of wishing the contractions away or struggling through them, I would softly speak to my baby, encouraging her and supporting her as I knew this was an effort for her as well. Isn’t that a sweet reminder of what parenting is all about? Releasing control and stepping out of the way of our children so they can do the work they came here to do, and just support them as best as we can in their endeavors.

 

I’ve always loved labor. I know it sounds kind of crazy but I do love labor. I like seeing how far my body will go, how much I can stretch my physical comfort zone. I like the feeling of working with my baby to allow for it to be born. I like the deep commitment it takes to be fully present with the experience. I like the meditative state that is required to labor naturally at home. I like paying attention to the phases of labor and how I manage myself in each of those. I love how much of a spiritual experience it can be when I allow myself to soften and have contact with spirit instead of being stuck in my pain.  And I really love the feeling of my baby coming out of me, the actual birthing part. There is nothing like the sensation of having life literally come out of me.

I was made for this. My body responds to pregnancy and birth in a way that makes it that I cannot deny that I was meant for this. And I am so incredibly grateful that I got to do this 4 times.

 

 

 Ceremonial Hot Chocolate Recipe:

(I got this recipe from a beautiful book “The First 40 Days, the art of nourishing the new mother”)

*2 cups milk of choice (I use homemade almond milk)

*3 TBS cacao powder

*1 TBS corn meal (for added thickness and texture)

*1 TBS coconut oil or ghee

*1 tsp cinnamon

*dash of cayenne (optional)

*sprinkle of seal salt (optional)

*sweetener to taste, I used about 2 tsp honey

Warm the milk in a saucepan. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high until everything is well incorporated. Drink warm.

This gave me some good sustenance for my laboring hours. And when I threw it all up, the coming back out part wasn’t too unpleasant as the flavors were so potent! Sorry if this is TMI, this is a birth story after all…. 😉

 

Happy Mothers Day!!

Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers out there!! If you are a mother, it means you are blessed. And hopefully you are blessed with extra thoughtful people like I am!!!

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I got to sleep in past 10 am this morning!!!! And was woken up by a lively performance from my family, my husband playing the ukele and my kids singing a mothers day song, that they had obviously practiced all together behind my back 🙂

My daughter, the oldest, showered me with 4 (4!!!) different mothers day art projects that she had made and managed to not tell me about! That, in and of itself is a surprise! She never manages to keep her excitement from me, so the fact that she has managed to not only make me things but not tell me about them, shows me how much my almost 7 year old is growing. Thoughtfulness is sinking in and she is understanding the power of personalized gifts and emotions. I love her.

And they made me breakfast in bed. Pancake cutouts made by all the kids with a very special honey fruit sauce made by my daughter. That beautiful paper bouquet is from her also 🙂 While it was the not the relaxing breakfast in bed experience one would think of, as the baby was crawling all over me wanting to breast feed and the middle child was eating all my pancakes as quickly as my daughter could manage to pour the fruit mixture on them, it was MY perfect breakfast in bed, with all of them being themselves as the full expression of the art that my husband and I created together.

This day is a bitter sweet one for me. Feeling so incredibly blessed to be a mother myself, to have 3 gorgeous children with an incredibly caring and loving husband who also happens to be a kick ass involved father. At the same time I am filled with sadness that I do not get to celebrate my own mother, who died when I was 7 years old. Wishing she were a phone call away, so I can tell her how much I love her. Wishing she was in hugging distance to comfort me when I am struggling at my own mothering. I have had a tumultuous life starting at a young age. I have experienced more death and sorrow at a young age than most people have in their adult life. I have endured more challenging life situations than one would think capable of. Yet at this point in my life, I am realizing one of the hardest things I have had to do, is be a mother without the guidance of my own mother. From what I remember and what is often said to me, she was a goddess. She had 5 children, me and my 4 brothers,  and was an incredibly devoted and loving mother. She sang and danced and cooked and gardened. She was lively and friendly and loved by many. She was charismatic and beautiful. Spiritual and grounded. She was all the things I strive to be as a mother and I wish she were here to give me insight and direction, to allow me to melt in her arms when I am feeling weak, to hug her fiercely with love when I feel powerful. While her energy and spirit are very much present, nothing can replace a mothers physical presence, the look of love in her eyes as she watches her children, the gentle comfort in her touch.

Yet with all this sadness filling my heart, I would not be half the woman I am today if my life had been any different. All the struggles were necessary for me to live such a happy and fulfilled life today. Living in the dichotomy that all this pain was a necessity to be proud of who I am now, that I would not love myself as I do had it not been for all the loss and challenges I experienced. Not wanting to be anyone else than who I am now comes with the acceptance that I needed to loose some important people along the way, shed too many tears and have my heart be torn appart, my spirit crushed. Life is perfect. With all its imperfections and its pain, life is perfect. And I am perfect as I am, living with purpose, with love and intention. Showering my children with everything I wish I was given today by my own mother.

Happy mothers day to all you mothers out there. If you do not have your mother, I hope it gives you insight on what you miss by not having her and how that can empower you in your own mothering.

We are all blessed as we have children of our own.

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

It’s spring break for my daughter this week, so we get to sleep in, stay in our PJ’s late and take our time with breakfast! I love these kinds of days as the pressure of getting somewhere on time is taken away and we can all just relax and enjoy each other’s company. And what better way to do that than a kitchen activity! I had been wanting to make these cookies since I saw Peanut Butter and Ellie post them. Hers look divine and I wish I would’ve checked out her recipe one more time before making my own as I would have added more PB, but they cam out great and chewy and delicious nonetheless. Her cookies looked soooo easy and delicious and filled with awesome breakfast fuel that I just had to get my hands dirty with the kids and have fun in the kitchen making them!

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So I did. The kids and I made these this morning and it was really quick as well as super kid friendly to make. I wouldn’t make these with them on a school day but it’s perfect to kick start our week off 🙂

As you can see they all had a great time mashing all the ingredients together. This is the most fun for kids! They get to squish and mash and play with food and then end up with cookies that mom says it’s okay to eat for breakfast!? Win!!

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Ingredients (per bowl, which means I doubled the recipe so that each of my two oldest had their own bowl):

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup small oats, regular oats will do fine, i just prefer the small oats for texture
  • roughly 1 TBS peanut butter (could’ve used more)
  • roughly 1/4 cup raisins (my daughter preferred to use my homemade chocolate chunks)

Steps:

  • preheat oven to 350*F
  • put all ingredients in a bowl and mash them real good!!
  • shape them in which ever form you wish
  • bake for about 15 minutes
  • devour with a nice cold cup of homemade almond milk

Each bowl made about 8 cookies.

Garden Love and Gomassio

I finally started up my garden again this year after a couple year sabbatical. It feel so great to be playing in the dirt again, planting little seeds watching them grow, feeding our bodies directly from the earth and bringing awareness to my children of the importance of where our food comes from.

Growing up on an organic farm, we ate mostly from what my parents grew. And as a kid I took it for granted. That’s just the way it was! Food grows outside, we pick it, we eat it. During the summer time and school was out, we had to participate in the upkeep of the garden. It was a chore. All my friends were out playing and I had to stay back and put in my two hours before I could do anything. I didn’t like doing it. I complained often. But boy am I happy my parents did that! It is definitely one of those moments where my parents said “You will thank me later”, and I did 🙂

Having ma parents show me what real food was at such a young age, got me to grow into a food conscious adult, as well as bring awareness to the planet and living things. Now with my kids when we are out in our little city back yard, they observe bugs and ask questions about why I grow certain things and not others and talk about edible flowers. When having children, gardening becomes so much more than just eating from the source. And while I do not have the capacity to grow enough food to feed my family all the vegetables we require, it is still enough to have fresh greens daily and to involve my kids in something I find so important: Health and our Earth, and how the two are connected.

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We have been eating a variety of greens and herbs from the garden for several weeks now, but this is our first batch of radishes, and the kids were so excited to pick them!! Radishes are such a great vegetable for kids to grow because they are so easy, grow fast, are easy for them to pick,  and are cute and pink! Although they have a little spice to them, my kids didn’t seem to mind. I think the excitement of eating from the garden took over the slight spiciness 🙂 I remember loving radishes as a kid. When we ate them at my grandmas house we would put some fresh organic butter on them and then dip them in gomassio, this powder thing that my grandma would buy. For many years I reminisced about how tasty that was, thinking it was a childhood memory or that i had to be at my grandmas house to eat radishes that way. Until I found out that Gomassio was essentially just sesame seeds and salt. So I recreated this childhood memory with my own kids and it was perfect 🙂 We had some leftover gomassio and my daughter being the awesome little creative chef she is decided to use it to make a vegetable stir fry 🙂 I unfortunately have no pictures of that dish. IMG_2495

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp himalayan sea salt, or real salt

Steps:

  • smash them together until fine enough to dip radishes in it!
  • A mortar and pestle would be ideal here, but I broke mine a while ago and never bought a new one, so we used my daughters mini food processor

Pre-Party Smoothie

We had two birthday parties to go to yesterday. Which means there would be a lot of unwholesome eating in one day. I try not to be too strict with my kids with that stuff. I don’t want them to form a negative relationship with food because “mom never let us eat “junk””. At home I feed my family what I believe to be the highest quality foods and nutrient dense meals, and when we are out, while I still try and make sure they don’t spend the whole time gorging themselves with sweets, I let them eat what is offered.

I do put a limit on things such as “You either get a piece of cake OR a cupcake. You get the juice box OR the ice cream”. They are still just children and need a little bit of guidance, no? For the most part they are on board with this. And if I do catch my 6 year old daughter sneaking an extra piece of cake, or juice box or cookie (or anything else, because this happens, often) I try not to make her feel bad about it. I use this as an opportunity to check in with her and ask her how it makes her body feel, or if it makes her happy to eat sweets, or any other question that comes up that will allow me to have her be in touch with a deeper part of herself versus just the immediate palate satisfaction. While eating just for pleasure is fine sometimes, when it happens too often, it is not just for pleasure anymore. If it were up to my daughter, she would have it all, 3 times. My son can easily have his piece of cake and go right back to playing. The baby, well since he is only 15 months, has not really been exposed to sugar yet. Holding off as long as I can on this one. With two older siblings its just a matter of time.

So while I want my kids to be exposed to other peoples way of eating so they can make their opinions about food, their health is still very important to me. That is why I make them a Pre-Party Smoothie before we leave the house. The Pre-Party Smoothie allows me to make sure they get a good dose of healthy fats, fiber and protein in order for their little bodies to function properly not only to be able to play and have fun with their friends, but also so they can handle what ever foods they might eat that their bodies are not used to digesting often. And, if done right, they might not even be that hungry to have pizza AND cake AND ice cream. *wishful thinking* 

While I get my kids to drink their smoothies and juices regularly, they still sometimes put up a fuss. The Party Smoothie is easy because they know we are not leaving until their cup is empty. I make sure to remind them that this smoothie will give them lots of energy so they can play for along time.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 TBS hemp seeds
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 cups fresh greens (this time it was spinach)
  • Optional: a handful of sprouts because I had some handy.

Steps:

  • Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth
  • this made enough for 3 small servings

For some of my thoughts on eating at parties, you can check out my post from a few months ago:

https://anaboreal.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/tips-to-avoid-over-eating-at-parties/

Weaning from Mothers Milk

I have had several people ask me about how I weaned my kids from breast feeding. So I thought I would share it here in order to make it easier access for those who asked and also, hopefully, in order to help mothers who are in the process.

I have 3 kids. The baby is still nursing full time. My daughter self weaned at 2 1.2 years old. And my middle child had to be weaned about 9 months after his baby brother was born. So I have experience with both self weaning, and “assisted” weaning. For the purpose of this post I am sticking to “assisted” weaning, what I did with my son, what worked for us.

I am by no means a lactation consultant. I am just a mother who has her own experience with her own children. Every mother will have her own ways of doing things and what worked for me might not work for another, but I still feel compelled to share in case what I have to offer can help ease the stress for some.

Firstly, if you are looking for my tips and advice on night weaning, go here. I wrote about how I night weaned my two older kids at around age 10-12 months.

This post is intended to focus on the last daytime feedings of an already night weaned child.

The first piece of advice I want to give is: make a plan and stick to it. If you are really committed to weaning your child, make a plan, and stick to it. From what I experienced, being too flexible with dwindling down the nursing, just extends the time it will take for the nursing to stop. At first I was pretty vague with my son. I just said I would “slow down” or “limit” the feedings. If that  sounds vague and confusing, its because it is. Imagine a child trying to figure out what it means? I would say “Not now buddy, we will do gougoutte (french for booby) later”. When is later? After a coupe days of doing that with him, and him having fits because he wanted the boob now, I realized I needed to be more clear. For both of us. That’s when I decided to put him on schedule. It’s pretty known amongst parents that children in general thrive with routines and schedules. Children like to know what is coming next, it helps them handle situations more easily. I experienced the reality of this with weaning my son. As soon as I implemented a schedule, he was on board and within less than two weeks I managed to not only slow down the daily nursing, but I eventually cut it down to just the early morning feeding which was the hardest.

A little more detail. When I decided it was time to wean him, I stopped offering him the boob altogether. I waited for him to ask for it. Within just a few days I wanted to cut down even more and that’s when I tried saying no, later, but that didn’t work so well, so I implemented the schedule. I decided that he would get milk first thing in the morning when he woke up, and right after his afternoon nap. I told him this. I reminded him of it regularly. So when he would ask for the boob and I would say no, it wasn’t foreign to him.

Once I felt like he was doing well with this, I cut out the afternoon feeding. A very important note here: BEFORE he would go down for his nap I would tell him that when he wakes up, he is not getting gougoutte, he can have a banana or some water, or an orange, etc…. If I ever forgot to tell him this, he would freak out upon awakening. This seemed like a deal breaker for him. So I tried to never forget to tell him before he fell asleep that he was not getting the boob once he woke up. He would definitely ask after his nap, but didn’t get too bent out of shape when I would say no. I honestly think it took less than a week for him to get to that point. And about 2 weeks for him to stop asking altogether.

The last feeding to go was the early morning one. It was the hardest. Mainly because he would crawl in to bed where his baby brother was sleeping, demanding the boob and if I didn’t give it to him he would freak out and wake up his brother. So it took a bit longer to stick to my words as I didn’t want to wake up the baby. I essentially did the same thing as for naps though. Before bed time I would tell him that when he wakes up in the morning and he comes to my bed, we can snuggle but we aren’t doing gougoutte anymore. Little by little it caught on until he would just come into our bed and ask for a snuggle. Pure bliss. For real. I didn’t expect that stopping to nurse him would lead to such amazing snuggles. Here is a more emotionally charged post about this 🙂

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Although I had to wean my son, he still nursed until he was almost 2 1/2. I truly love nursing and he might still be nursing today if he didn’t have a baby brother. But I have noticed a growth spurt happen after the weaning. It’s like breast feeding him was the only thing keeping him in the baby stages. He is so much more verbal now, more independent. I feel like I can talk to him and have him understand me better. His brain doesn’t go into baby booby land just seeking comfort when something bothers him. He is just 2 1/2 now, I weaned him last october. And for a 2 1/2 year old he is pretty communicative and understanding. Although he still acts like a baby sometimes, for the most part, it seems as though the weaning has allowed him to start opening himself up to self soothing, or just needing a hug, which in a lot of ways is a relief for me.

So there you have it. My path to weaning my children. If you have any questions, I am more than happy to answer them. Again and always though, as a mother, follow your intuition and your heart, and do what feels best for you and your baby. We all have a unique bond with our children and it is important to stay connected and in touch with that bond in order to make intuitive choices.

I hope this post helps. Happy weaning!!

Sleeping like a Baby

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Who ever decided that this phrase was to be used as a positive comment? I mean babies, generally, aren’t great at sleeping. New borns wake up every couple hours to eat. If I were to get up every couple hours and go to the kitchen for a snack I doubt I would feel like I was getting good rest, (not to mention the amount of pounds I would be putting on). If you are one of the lucky one’s whose baby just decided to sleep through the night at just a few weeks old (I hate you), you are very lucky.

I have 3 kids, one of them is still a baby. And in my world, sleeping like a baby means you don’t sleep enough, at least from a parent’s perspective. My daughter was a decent night sleeper, but a terrible napper. I couldn’t put her down. She slept well on me but as soon as I tried to lay her on the bed she would wake up. I didn’t mind too much as she was my first and I had nothing else to do but to carry her around, go for walks, clean the house and such. It was extra cuddling time. It was just frustrating when I wanted to get a workout in or take a shower. My first son, had digestive troubles for the first few months, so nights were awful. I would have to walk him around at 2am trying to help sooth his aching belly. He was a great napper though. I could put him down and he would stay asleep for at least an hour. Which was awesome. Since him and I would spend so much time together in the middle of the night, I welcomed the hour long break in the day. My baby now, is a terrible sleeper all around. He wakes up frequently at night, and I can rarely put him down for naps. He naps on me during the day, and is snuggled by my side at night, frequently waking up for a snack or just to make sure I am still there.( God forbid I went to the bathroom during one of his wakings.)

I’ve learned to adapt to this. I do a lot with him sleeping on me during the day. Heck, I’ve even figured out how to workout! (yep, that’s me in the video). But he wakes up easily if one of his siblings is too noisy.

I’ve learned ways to make my life more manageable on intense sleep deprivation. I would even say I’ve become quite good at it. There was a time I would wake up resentful, not feel like doing anything at all, just zombie around all day and couldn’t get the older kids to bed fast enough at night just so I could lay down myself.

But now, I feel like I live a life full of awesomeness. I am not getting any more sleep than a few months ago. My baby still wakes up several times a night. But I’ve adjusted and just like most things in life, it takes on average 6 weeks for our bodies to adapt to any new routine. So I guess you could say that I have hit a sleep deprivation plateau, where my body has gotten used to the amount of sleep I am getting and I can now sustain the lifestyle that I have without too much struggle.

For the most part, I have accepted the fact that my life right now is not powered by sleep. But there are days when I get frustrated and just wish he would sleep more. So when I see or hear the phrase “I slept like a baby”, and I think, “wow you must’ve had a crappy night”.

“I slept like a toddler”. Now there’s a phrase that makes sense to me!! Both my older kids sleep great. And as soon as we night weaned them, they started sleeping through the night and haven’t gone back. It. Is. Wonderful.

I live a very full life on very little sleep. I have never been so tired and so happy at the same time. Although I do not get that much sleep, I have stopped resenting that. Letting go of the thought that I NEED more sleep, made it that I have been able to allow myself to function at whatever level I can each day without judgement. Sure I regularly want more sleep, but I don’t believe I always need it. Some days I feel like I am awesome and I get so much done, and some days I can barely get myself dressed and out the door for school drop off without wishing it was 7pm already. But everyday I am accepting. And that acceptance has taken away a lot of the frustration, the annoyance and the short temperedness. These early days with the babies are the ones that go by the fastest. It won’t be that long before the baby sleeps through the night. And soon enough they will all be in school all day long. Finding out who I am right now, in these moments of sleep deprivation, is an interesting process to me. As long as I don’t make it about other people and lash out at my family, then all is good.

So there are my thoughts on sleeping like a baby. The eternal optimistic that I am has found many positives in my sleep deprivation to make me not hate life, but I won’t hide that I am looking forward to the day I get more than 2-3 hours of sleep in a row. I am not ready for night weaning yet, and that is why it hasn’t happened.

If you have a sleep deprived life, please share your experience and what you do to deal with it. I hope most people have a better experience than I do, because truth be told, it does suck to not get enough sleep.

 

Think Ahead, Lazy Parenting

Advance meal prep is where it’s at when trying to be a lazier parent. Although I truly love being in the kitchen and can spend hours creating, cooking, mixing, etc…. There are days when I don’t have time, or I just don’t feel like it. I started doing serious advance meal prep when I was pregnant with my first child, almost seven years ago (!!!!) And I have since done that at the end of each pregnancy. As the due date approached, I would start cooking like crazy and freezing a bunch of stuff so that we would have an abundance of wholesome foods to eat once the new baby arrived, without me having to spend much time in the kitchen, therefor having more time to snuggle with my new baby 🙂 Combine this with the generosity of friends dropping off food, we always had a very easy and healthy first 6 weeks postpartum. I did this with all three pregnancies, and for some reason, once we ate all the food in the freezer, I would go right back to cooking everyday from scratch. But not this year! I have already started filling up my freezer and will keep doing it.

I am sharing this post with you for two reasons:

  1. Maybe you haven’t been doing this for your family, and I can help inspire you to start making big batches of food and freezing them for future meals, therefor easing your stress around meal prep at times.
  2. To share with you some of favorite go-to freezer meals that we eat throughout the “winter”.

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This was my freezer last year at this time, since I was about to give birth to my 3rd baby. There are several batches of muffins: carrot muffins, zucchini muffins, blueberry muffins. There are several soups: carrot soup, butternut squash soup, lentil soup. As well as some veggie stews, and chili. There are some curries in there and some apple sauce. As well as my go to raw energy bites. I had also made huge batches of raw granola, that I kept in the pantry.

I cannot share enough how nice it is to have a freezer full of nutritious wholesome meals. If I have time and energy, I truly like prepping my meals fresh, but I also like to be able to stay out an extra hour if we are having a good time somewhere without the worry of having to go home and cook a meal. Or if I know ahead of time that I will be out late, I can take one of the pouches of food out and let it thaw in the sink all day so that when dinner time comes we will have a meal just waiting to be heated.

And I love having a variety of muffins ready to be grabbed for my daughter’s school lunches and snacks.

I use a vacuum sealer. It keeps food fresh longer, without the unfortunate layer of ice that can form in jars. And it also saves so mud space. The soups and stews can be stacked, avoiding the clutter of too many jars.

I hope you find this post useful. What do you do to make your life easier in the kitchen? Any tips are greatly appreciated!  I truly value eating nutritiously, and I also value having fun, being lazy and living in the present, which a little bit of thinking ahead can help me accomplish 😉

Night Weaning

Since there’s been some interest on night weaning after I wrote my post about fully weaning my second child, I will share how we successfully night weaned our two older children. (I am writing this post with the thought that who is reading it is the person actually breast feeding the child.)

First I would like to share how much I love breastfeeding. It is one of the most amazing things about being a mama to be able to feed my child, while  bonding and snuggling. For that reason I breast fed both my older kids until well past 2 years old. That said, night nursing is a different story in my book. I definitely did it happily with all my children for the first several months. But come around month 7 or 8, I start feeling the exhausting coming on and start to resent the middle of the night feeds. With my daughter, I was over it and that’s why we night weaned her. With my son, I found out I was pregnant with our 3rd, so I wanted to make the shift in order to feel ready to welcome the new baby in our bed without an older sibling already in there.

First things first, let me make this clear: I wouldn’t have been able to night wean our kids without the help of my husband. If your husband or partner isn’t on board with helping out, or if you are a single parent, than this post is not for you. I wouldn’t know how to do it.

If your partner is fully committed than here we go:

  • if you don’t already use them, buy some earplugs. It will make it less difficult to put up with the cries and you might eventually be able to fall back asleep faster.
  • now just brace yourself, and resist the urge to get up and help your husband/partner. (I know the feeling, “I can do it faster/better, I’ll just go in there and do it myself so we can all go back to sleep”)
  • if you are co-sleeping, you will have to stop doing that. I tried co-cleeping and night weaning and it doesn’t work. If my baby knows I’m there, we cannot soothe him or her back to sleep without the boob.
  • if you aren’t co-cleeping, keep doing that 🙂
  • when your child wakes up at night, your partner needs to go in and soothe the baby back to sleep. (It is the same scenario as trying to night wean while co-sleeping.) For us that means, holding, snuggling, carrying, until the baby falls back asleep.
  • the first few nights our kids woke up a bunch, wondering when the milk was gonna get there “I know who you are and you are not the milk lady! Where is the milk lady!!! She normally comes in here and gives me something to suck on!!!”; “You again?? What the hell?!?!? Where is the milk lady??”; “Dang, is the milk lady really not coming? Even if I keep crying like this she won’t come?”; “Wow, she really isn’t coming. Ok then. I’ll go back to sleep”. That’s what I imagine is going on in their cute little head over the nights.
  • eventually our babies got used to my husband coming in and not me that their realized within about 1 or 2 weeks that it was much better to just sleep through the night.
  • if the baby stops waking up at night, congratulations, you did it 🙂

Your partner might not feel thrilled to be the one who has to wake up every night, but remind him/her that you have been doing it for months, that you need a break too and that once the baby is night weaned you will both get some sleep. If you’ve been night nursing for months, surely your partner can suck it up for a couple weeks 😉

I want to remind you that everyone is different, and we all have different ways of doing the parenting thing. I just know that this is what worked for both our older kids, and this is the technique we will use when i am ready to wean my youngest.

Since we night weaned our kids, they sleep through the  night. At first they would occasionally wake up either because of teething, or a soiled diaper, or some other thing that was bothering them, but there hasn’t been a challenging night situation with either the older kids since we did it.

I hope this post helps some of you. If you are someone who has successfully night weaned, please share your comments! If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.